An invitation to Tauranga‘s Heritage Collection

Tauranga Heritage Collection Manager Dean Flavell talks about the Tauranga Heritage Collection.

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Tauranga City Council is inviting the community to tour Tauranga’s hidden taonga, on one of a series of tours of the City’s heritage collection, which is currently held in storage.

Join Heritage Collection Manager Dean Flavell and Curator Fiona Kean for a fascinating glimpse into a collection that comprises of more than 35,000 artefacts that help tell the story of Tauranga's history and heritage.

Learn how items are cared for and discover the wide range of conservation, research and education work undertaken by the Heritage Collection team.

The tours are a rare opportunity to get an up-close look at objects from the collection, including objects that have never been seen on public display.

With consultation on the civic precinct redevelopment currently underway, the community are being asked to share how they would like to see the city’s heart revived.

The refreshed civic precinct masterplan includes provision for a museum and exhibition centre in the CBD, which will see new opportunities for both residents and visitors to Tauranga to connect with the city’s heritage and history.

The Tauranga Heritage Collection is poised to play a key role in how the public learn about Tauranga’s past, present and future.

Dean Flavell with artefacts from the Tauranga Heritage Collection. Photo: Rosalie Liddle Crawford.

“Tauranga’s Heritage Collection has been safely locked away in storage for nearly 25 years," says Tauranga City Council’s Arts and Culture Manager, James Wilson.

"The collection gives an incredible insight to how our city has changed, grown and developed over the years, and we are excited to share some of the secrets of the collection on these guided tours."

Tauranga City Council’s Arts and Culture Manager, James Wilson. Photo: John Borren.

Whilst the collection is currently hidden away from public view in storage, a lot happens behind the scenes to keep our heritage alive.

“I think when we talk of the collection being in storage, there are many pre-conceptions of what that means. These tours will demonstrate the care that goes into looking after the city’s taonga, and how the Heritage Collection is about so much more than storage," says James.

"Our wonderful team use the storage facility for a wide range of archival, research, preservation, education and outreach work, and these tours will get you up close to that work, and provide a taste of what could be displayed in a museum for the city.."

Dean Flavell with a car in the Tauranga Heritage Collection. Photo: SunLive.

About the Tauranga Heritage Collection:

The Tauranga Heritage Collection is rich with taonga important to Tauranga Moana and includes artefacts of national significance. The first museum collection was displayed in 1872, and the collection has grown through acquisitions, gifts, and donations ever since.

In 1969 the Tauranga City Council supported the Tauranga Historical Society to open the Tauranga District Museum.

In 1976 the collection moved to the Tauranga Historic Village in 17th Avenue. In 1998 the Museum closed and the collection went into storage.

The collection comprises over 35,000 items, with one of the oldest artefacts being a Māori hand-carved tatā bailer, carbon dated as being 700 years old.

The collection also features contemporary items that tell the story of the city, including the 13 tonne anchor and ship’s compass from the wreck of the Rena.

Much of the collection is currently accessible online, with over 10,000 items catalogued on the Tauranga Heritage Collection website. An education and outreach programme, “Hands on Tauranga” connects the collection with young people, with many items loaned regularly to local schools.

Tauranga Heritage Collection Manager Dean Flavell. Photo: Rosalie Liddle Crawford.

About the Tours:

Free guided tours of the collection are being offered on Saturday April 9 & Saturday April 23. Tours run for approximately 45 minutes, and will be led by Heritage Collection Manager Dean Flavell, and Heritage Collection Curator Fiona Keane. Tours run throughout the day, commencing at 9.30am, 11.00am, 1.30pm and 3pm.

The tours will be conducted in accordance with the Covid-19 protection framework red setting requirements. All participants on the tours will be required to wear a face-covering. Each tour group will be limited to just 10 people.

Due to security reasons the Tauranga Heritage Collection storage facility is not open to the public outside of the scheduled tour times. The address of the facility is not publicly available, and full location details will be provided to those who have a confirmed tour booking. The location is approximately 10 minutes’ drive from the Tauranga CBD, and 5 minutes’ drive from central Mount Maunganui.

There is no charge for the tours, however due to limited capacity of the tours, please note that pre-booking is essential.

Due to the nature of the storage facility, the tour route may include stairs. If you have specific access needs, please contact Tauranga City Council directly to discuss.

To register for a place on one of the tours, head to and search “Heritage Tours” or click here

For more information on the tours, please email

The tours will be led by Heritage Collection Curator Fiona Keane and Heritage Collection Manager Dean Flavell. Photo: Rosalie Liddle Crawford.

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Posted on 09-04-2022 09:49 | By Kancho

It’s a ploy to support building a low priority museum that is largely a white elephant. I was bought up to not have what you can’t afford . The biggest problem has always been skewed priorities and pandering to minorities. I agree with a the comments thus far.

@Murray Guy

Posted on 03-04-2022 18:01 | By

I would be extremely happy to see all of the Maori artifacts returned to the appropriate Iwi and any remaining "symbols of Colonisation" distributed to other Museums or as you suggest, displayed in the empty art gallery, libraries and community centres. In a world where our children are being given portable computer equipment and encouraged to educate themselves by exploring the Internet, the need for a council owned empty building is increasingly becoming redundant. Much more can be gained by viewing "masterpiece" artworks on the Internet than by being carted en-mass to a dreary building that you have no interest in and limited time, before you are carted away again. School visits are used to justify council expenditure and activities far too many times.

Don't get taken in 'Lets get real'

Posted on 01-04-2022 14:01 | By Murray.Guy

This is part of the strategy to get the community on board. A con job. Tours are limited to 10 and feedback has it that tours are all booked out. TCC and new museum advocates will now report that ’due to demand tours booked out, proving the community demand for a CBD ego focused museum. IF ANY CREDABILITY the museum artefacts could be on display, rotated, in an area established in the Art Gallery, libraries, vacant commercial building, other as appropriate. Council and museum advocates refuse to consider more appropriate locations that are accessible, high profile outside of the CBD, refuse to consider any business model (EG: Classic Flyers self sustaining).


Posted on 31-03-2022 16:30 | By

Let’s have more of this instead of a museum.... See it once with a guide and you won’t ever need to enter the proposed white elephant.