The war canoe Te Toki a Tapiri embarks on its last journey from Princes Street to it's new home at Auckland War Memorial Museum in the Domain

October 1852

The Auckland Museum is formed.

November 1867

At a public meeting it was resolved “that all present at this meeting form themselves in a Society to be called the ‘Auckland Philosophical Society’".

March 1868

A further meeting resolved “that the name of the Society be altered to the Auckland Institute”.

Auckland Museum Institute Council 1927 including Gilbert Archey and Dr Purchase

May 1868

The first monthly meeting of the Institute was on 4 May 1868 and the first paper read was by T. Kirk, “'On the Botany of the northern part of the North Island'”. At the same meeting a resolution in favour of incorporation with the newly formed New Zealand Institute was unanimously agreed to.


Mr T. Kirk appointed as Assistant Secretary of the Institute and Curator of the Museum.

January 1869

The Institute wrote to the then Trustees of the Auckland Museum, “communicating the fact of the incorporation of the Institute and requesting them to take steps for the transfer of the Museum.” In October 1869 the transfer of the Museum to the Institute was made by the Superintendent “on a guarantee being given for the due preservation of its contents and the admission of the public.”


The combined name “Auckland Institute and Museum” was first used in the Annual Report of 1880/81.

Thomas Cheeseman stands in the Māori Court at the Princes Street Museum


Thomas Cheeseman appointed as secretary and curator.


Sir Gilbert Archey was the director during this time.


The Institute seal appears about 1927-28 and was probably the work of Gilbert Archey (Māori motifs etc). Other possible designers/co-designers were A.W.B. Powell or L.T. Griffin. The motto Whaowhia means 'filled' as a treasure house is filled or a mind should be stored with knowledge.


In 1967 the Museum staff numbered 45, including the Director, E.G. Turbott, the Assistant Director A.W.B. Powell, six curators, a librarian, two cleaners, nine attendants and three coffee lounge staff.


The Auckland War Memorial Museum Act 1996 came into being, separating the Institute from governance of the Museum and establishing the Institute as a "body corporate with perpetual succession and a common seal".

1996 - Today

The Auckland Museum Insitute is now charged with the support of the Museum and Museum Trust Board by providing advocacy, promoting the use and understanding of the Museum's collections and activities and supporting the function of the War Memorial aspect of the Museum.

Since 1996, it has focused on its historic roles as 'Learned Society', membership body for Auckland Museum, and appointing body for four Museum Trust Board members. The Learned Society function is described as promotion of the research, appreciation and popularisation of science, literature and history via such activities as lectures, Museum tours, field trips and publications, and also affiliation to other bodies like the Royal Society of New Zealand.