Our Collections

The Museums Wellington Collection comprises a wealth of objects and taonga in addition to artworks, textiles, ephemera, photos and books related to the social and cultural history of the Wellington Region.

The four historic buildings which house the majority of these important objects are our biggest collection items – The Bond Store, Carter Observatory, the Winding House and Nairn Street Cottage. Objects that are not on display are housed in our Off-site Collection Store. Here our Collections Team manages the day-to-day care and registration of our objects. All objects and records are maintained in line with our Collection Management Procedures.

Occultating Instrument

Space Place

This Occultating instrument is used on our 9″ Thomas Cooke refractor [or refracting telescope]. It helps the viewer to see fainter objects in the night sky, such as distant stars, by blocking the light from brighter objects. It is made of solid brass and dates to the mid 20th Century.

Gibeon Meteorite

Space Place

This 2.5 kilogram iron meteorite is a piece of a meteor that broke up high in the Earth’s atmosphere, scattering fragments as heavy as half a tonne over Namibia’s Gibeon desert. Gibeon meteorites were first identified in 1838, although indigenous people had long been using them to make spear points and tools. This meteorite is 90% iron and 8% nickel, with small amounts of cobalt and phosphorus.

William Wallis’ Toolchest

Nairn Street Cottage

Believed to have been made by William Wallis and taken with him to the Crimean War, this tool chest was brought to New Zealand By William in 1858 when William immigrated to New Zealand with his wife Catherine. William was a carpenter – a trade that was highly desirable in the fledgling colony. This toolchest and the tools that were once inside were likely used to build his family’s first home – Nairn Street Cottage – as well as many other buildings throughout Wellington, allowing William to become a very wealthy man.

Nit Comb

Nairn Street Cottage

Several nit combs were discovered hidden in the children’s bedrooms at Nairn Street Cottage – thought to have been hidden by the Wallis children in an attempt to avoid the process! Then, as now, nits could be a real problem. And once there were nine children in the Wallis household, controlling them would have been a regular task and one unlikely to have been enjoyed by the younger members of the family.

Vera Fulton’s Autograph Book

Wellington Museum

This autograph book belonged to Vera Fulton, the daughter of John Fulton, who supervised the building of Wellington’s Cable Car tracks and tunnels. Vera kept this book partly as a diary, an autograph book and for her drawings. The book is full of charming cartoons throughout, including the one pictured here – titled ‘ladies first’ – of a young boy trying to dodge his cod liver oil.

Wooden Fish from SS Takapuna

Wellington Museum

A wooden carving of a fish from the saloon of the Union Steam Ship Company’s Takapuna. The white and gold paint has faded but it’s still a funny and charming specimen. The SS Takapuna was built in 1883 and ran an express mail and passenger service between Onehunga, New Plymouth, Wellington and Lyttelton until 1924. After withdrawal from the fleet, she was dismantled and the hull was sunk in Cook Strait.

Watersider’s Hook

Wellington Museum

‘Watersider’ was slang for a waterside worker, and hooks like these would have been used to help workers guide cargo being winched from ships onto the docks. This hook has a special story to it – several years ago an ex-watersider visited Wellington Museum and recognised this hook as his own from the initials he had carved onto it. He had thrown it into the sea many years before; and it somehow found its way out of the water and into our collection and the Telling Tales exhibition.

John Fulton’s Tool Box

Cable Car Museum

John Fulton was the supervising engineer for the construction of the Cable Car tracks to the new suburb Kelburn. This solid wooden chest contains 11 tools within the top shelf and 4  drawers: a cold chisel, Small anvil, pinch bar, spirit level, sharpening stone, two small spanners, plane, small wrench, a measuring tape, and a collapsible ruler.

Ticket Punch

Cable Car Museum

This ticket punch was used on the cable car to punch passengers’ tickets. This technology is still around today, such as on the regional trains to and from Wellington. It’s a tool that’s being superceeded by technology – we can watch its decline as we move towards digital methods of payment, using technology such as snapper cards and paywave. Paying for a ticket with cash, getting a paper ticket and having it punched by a conductor with their the humble ticket punch is a practice slowly disappearing from public sight. This item is not currently on display.


While we are grateful for donations and bequests, we are unable to accept an item until it has been through the formal acquisition process.  Please contact us if you have an item you would like to donate. The documents below will tell you more about Wellington Museum Trust’s Collection Management Procedures, and our most recent accessions and de-accessions:

Significance Project Statement

Collections Policy


De-Accession and Disposal

The Experience Wellington Collection Management Procedures is available on request.

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