Petone Settlers Museum to reopen

Somes Island Swim, Petone Amateur Swimming Club Members, 1948. Photograph by Morris Hill. Collection of Petone Settlers Museum.The Petone Settlers Museum will reopen on Saturday July 17 following a well deserved refurbishment that marks the 70th anniversary of the opening of its building.  The Wellington Provincial Centennial Memorial was built to commemorate the arrival of the first New Zealand Company immigrants on Pito-one’s (Petone’s) shores in 1840 and was officially opened on 22 January, 1940.

A new exhibition, Tatou Tatou, will commemorate the historic meeting of the great Te Atiawa chiefs, Te Wharepouri and Te Puni, and the first British settlers on Petone foreshore and explore the ongoing ramifications for Maori and Pakeha. Tatou Tatou, meaning ‘we, you and I’ or ‘all of us’,  also features early settler dramas of fire, earthquakes, floods, bloodshed and industry boom and bust. 

The refurbishment will breathe life back into this important landmark, which some may also remember as a bathing pavilion, incorporating the charms of the existing building while creating a contemporary museum experience. Children will be able to relive the settler Somes Island Swim, Petone Amateur Swimming Club Members, 1948.  Photograph by Morris Hill.  Collection of Petone Settlers Museum.experience with a “Passport to Petone”, interactive booklet.

The museum also provides schools with a unique resource within the larger Wellington area.

On 18 December 1938, Ivor Te Puni, a descendant of chief Te Puni, wrote a letter to the Prime Minister of New Zealand requesting that in light of the 1940 Centennial Celebrations, commemorating 100 years since the arrival of the European settlers, he remembers the Maori people who ‘gave’. The result of this remarkable letter was the depiction of Te Puni on the arched window of the Memorial’s façade, extending his hand in welcome to the new settlers.

‘…since we have been locked together ‘Tatou tatou’ wouldn’t it be a fitting tribute to the memory of my worthy forbear the late chief Te Puni, the head and representative of his tribe to have a monument erected at and unveiled at the coming celebrations?’

Souvenir of the New Zealand Centennial, 1940.  Collection of Petone Settlers Museum.Watch out for The Beatgirls performing swing-time classics there on August 14, 5:30-6:30pm, as part of the Petone Winter Carnival.

Photographs courtesy of Petone Settlers Museum.