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Lyttelton is embarking on a fundraising campaign for its new community-owned museum, Te Ūaka  Lyttelton Museum, its name gifted by Te Hapū o Ngāti Wheke, referring to a landing place, place of arrival, or a berthing or mooring place for  a watercraft. 

Artist, events’ organiser and resident Gill Hay is overseeing the campaign as Fundraisng Chair, supported by friends who have a long history with the Lyttelton Museum  Opened in 1969, the Museum’s first curator, Baden Norris was aided by a committee of local residents as volunteers.  Hay notes that Te Ūaka will be professionally staffed, but community owned and run.  The Christchurch City Council will no longer own the Museum’s building as they did previously, but they have gifted the land Te Ūaka will be on at 33/35 London Street.

Of central interest to Te Ūaka’s collection is its association with the Antarctic and Lytttelton’s role in its exploration.   There are related objects and records in the collection, with some currently held in the Canterbury Museum.  It is anticipated both museums will share items from their collections, the director of the Canterbury Museum Anthony Wright commenting that he is very impressed by the concept and thinking behind  Te Ūaka.  ‘We look forward to building on the existing long-standing and strong relationship between our two institutions, particularly in telling the Antarctic stories that are such a fundamental part of Christchurch and Lyttelton.’

Hay is also excited about Te Ūaka’s role as both museum and community space capable of renewing the heart of Lyttelton. ‘Prior to the earthquakes, you use to see lots of school children visit Lyttelton because of Ngāti Wheke and the port’s colonial past.  Going to the Lyttelton Museum was part of what all the schools did.’ 

And the new Museum building itself is important as well.  Hay maintains that as the earthquakes damaged and destroyed all the significant commercial buildings in Lyttelton, Te Ūaka is the first rebuild on the main street.  For Lyttelton to have this building in such a prominent position is important.  ‘The Ministry of Culture and Heritage and Rata Foundation are supportive of the project and there are a lot of businesses active in Lyttelton, the Port Company and various engineering and oil companies and transport firms, bringing goods into port.  We are hoping that some of those people will come on board and support this project.  There are naming rights for various spaces.’

‘It is hopefully the beginning of Lyttelton’s commercial rebuild.  On the top floor there will be a meeting room and there is a real shortage of those in Lyttelton.  The space will have a stunning panoramic view of Lyttelton Harbour.  There is also a commercial space on the ground floor of the building as well to generate income for the future.’

‘When we reach a certain level of fundraising we can begin building and continue raising funds for the fit-out.  The Lyttelton Market on Saturdays will be right in front of the new museum.  Thousands of people come to that every weekend, so Te Ūaka is part of a much bigger picture.  It is about Lyttelton’s wider growth and development as well.’


Te Ūaka designed by Warren and Mahoney

For more information or to discuss ways to support Lyttelton’s new museum Te Ūaka contact:

Gill Hay, Fundraising Taskforce Chair.  03 3288972 or


Te Ūaka The Lyttelton Museum.  Warren and Mahoney

Te Ūaka The Lyttelton Museum

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