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Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some answers to questions we often encounter at the Hokitika Museum.

You can make a financial donation, gift items to the collection, help as a volunteer, provide backing for grants and other activities. Find out more here.

A museum stores items of cultural value for the community but not all of them are suitable for display. Some are kept for their value to researchers while for others, for example irons, we simply have too many to put them all on display. Other objects, like textiles, are very susceptible to damage caused by light and can only be displayed for short periods of time. Some collection items are waiting for the research required to flesh out their story so that the display is meaningful.

For security reasons, it is not prudent for us to publicise this information. Some of the valuable items in our collection are rare books, photographs, cameras, maps, birds and textiles. The collection is very varied and contains some real gems—for example ‘Cook’s cloth’, a piece of material gifted by Captain Cook to the King of Tonga, part of which was subsequently given to Premier Richard Seddon. The Meccano Dredge alone has been valued at $6,500. Altogether the collection has a market-value of $1.6 million but the value to the community is much higher.

Around 35,000 and growing.  We have a Photograph Digitisation Programme where we scan photos to archival standards.  

No, we have to use our discretion when items are offered to us or we will run out of storage space.  We don’t take any items that we already have plenty of, unless there’s a special story that goes with it; we also turn down items that are badly damaged, deteriorated or infested with insects, as we do not wish to put the rest of the collection at risk.

The Museum is a community service operated by Westland District Council.  In order to keep the Research Center open, we need to recover costs and require users to pay towards the service we provide.


Our Donor Guide outlines all you need to know about gifting an item. If you think your item would be of interest then please fill in the Gifting Items Proposal Form, or contact a Curator to discuss the potential donation. Phone 03- 7556898 (Monday to Thursday), or email

Probably the stagecoach which is too big to fit through the doors!  Hokitika Museum’s collection also includes two boats which are stored offsite: the Countess and the Merewether.

If your ancestors lived in this area, there is bound to be some information about them in our records.  We have electoral rolls, rate books, school records, cemetery records, obituaries and many other means of tracking down your family —you’ll be amazed at what you can find!. Make an enquiry through the Research Services Enquiry form.

One of the basic rules of collection care is not to handle artefacts unnecessarily in order to minimise damage. We wear gloves because the natural oils and sweat contain acids that degrade surfaces over time. Also dirt on our hands could contaminate objects. Wood, metals, textiles, paper and photographs are all susceptible to lasting damage if handled with bare hands.