Discover why Marguerite Durling is leaving a legacy to Auckland Museum.

Tell us a little bit about yourself

I came from England to live in New Zealand with my parents and two sisters in the 1950s. We arrived in Auckland on an Easter Sunday (no shops/movies/restaurants open in those days). We had several hours to fill in before we could move into our hotel, so the taxi driver said he would take us to the only place that was open – Auckland War Memorial Museum. We spent our first afternoon there getting to know a little of our new home and culture.

Growing up in Henderson, Auckland Museum became our "go-to" place on weekends and holidays, if we weren't at the Parnell Baths. This continued when we girls were grown and taking the next generation to the Museum.

I had a career in education and business. I first worked for a correspondence school and later, after a working holiday in the United Kingdom, I worked for the UK Probation Service. Back in Auckland, I worked for a firm of accountants, then a company that specialised in importing handmade rugs and tapestries from around the world. I stayed with that company for nearly 40 years and got to travel the world for them. When that company closed, I became Assistant General Manager for Diabetes Auckland, a charity supporting people with diabetes.

You are currently a volunteer – tell us more about your role

In the early 2000s, my mother became terminally ill with cancer. After nursing her I found myself out of touch with people. I was fortunate enough to see a notice in the paper calling for volunteers at the Museum. I was accepted to join the volunteer team at the Museum, initially on the Information Desk. After a year or so, I took the opportunity to train as a guide and have been guiding ever since (except Lockdowns)

After retiring from my paid job at Diabetes Auckland, I was able to put some of my skills to use in other roles at the Museum: Office Reception; minute taker for the Investment Committee; transcriber of recorded interviews in various departments; transcriber for Documentary Heritage and Pou Maumahara.

During recent years, I have discovered that I have a skill that computers can't do and that is reading and transcribing handwritten letters:

  • During the course of these projects, I have got to know on a personal level the various members of the Williams Missionary family (first-hand reports of the New Zealand Wars, family concerns, church concerns) in a way one could never do from a biography.
  • For Pou Kanohi (New Zealand at War), I transcribed a large number of letters written by soldiers to home. Again, doing this has put a very personal face on the war for me (letters written in the back of a truck bouncing across the desert - long letters as a way of reaching out and holding on to home and family).
  • For Documentary Heritage, during the 2020 Lockdown, I documented 16 of the earliest Minute books of the Institute and Museum so that they are now available online for anyone to access in a readily searchable format. During the 2021 Lockdown, I transcribed Thomas Cheeseman's handwritten correspondence with various botanists in New Zealand and around the world - an insight into the man and his thinking.
  • For Pou Maumahara, I have transcribed handwritten lists of Merchant Navy and prisoners of war. I am currently working on lists of New Zealand Navy personnel between 1920-1940 (approximately 20,000 people)


I am now anxiously awaiting the opportunity to do some guiding again.

Why do you love the Museum?

The Museum holds so many personal memories for me, going back to our first day here:

  • Holding my little sister's hand as we queued all the way up the stairs to see the newly-opened 1866 Street of Shops.
  • Visiting with my partner for lunch and to visit the Hall of Memories where his brothers are named.
  • So many friends on the volunteer team and the staff (Christmas parties in the Events Centre, guide training sessions, volunteer Zoom presentations).
  • Even coming to sign the various condolence books.
  • Standing on the steps at dawn on Anzac Day; I will never forget the special service to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of WWI; I have no idea who the lady next to me was, but we hugged and cried when 11am sounded.


I am currently Vice-President of the Auckland Museum Institute and have been on that Council for 12 years now. This is one of the oldest Societies in Auckland (153 years) and it has mirrored and influenced the growth of Auckland, supported its preservation initiatives and promoted life-long learning all those years.

Why have you decided to leave a Gift in Your Will?

For me, Auckland Museum has both stayed a constant and responded to the need for change. It has become not just a heritage landmark but a part of the DNA of our city and my family. Having no children of my own and being the last to carry my family's name, I wanted to give something back to the city that has given so much to me (great life, great health, great community). I couldn't find anywhere better than the Institution that has been the background of my family and supporting this Museum to meet the needs of the next generation.

Not only have I left a gift in my will, but also I am giving gifts now so I can enjoy seeing how they are utilised. I have confidence in how the gift in my Will will be used after I am gone.

Support your Museum

Support your Museum

Like Marguerite, you too can make a difference by remembering Auckland Museum in your Will.

Leaving a gift in your Will is a generous way to contribute to the Museum’s future. Your legacy, large or small, will enrich the lives of future generations by ensuring that they can enjoy all that you love and value at Auckland Museum today.

Get in touch to learn more about our legacy programme, or click here for more information about leaving a gift in your Will.