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Iconic Kiwi Museum Contents To Be Sold By Auction


Iconic Kiwi Museum Contents To Be Sold By Auction

After over 33 years as one of Northland’s most visited tourism destinations the famous Wagener Museum in Houhora in Northland closed its doors for the last time on Queen’s Birthday weekend, and its vast collection of New Zealand artefacts, folk art, “kiwiana”, early technology and many items of international significance will be sold by Auction at Webb’s from the 20th of October this year.

Since its founding by Auckland personality Wilf Wagener in 1970 the Museum has delighted over 1.5 million visitors from all over New Zealand and the world. The Wagener family has over the years built the collection to over 50 000 items. It was believed to be one of the largest private collections in the Southern Hemisphere and housed exhibits in almost every conceivable category, but with a nod in the direction of the colonial, quirky and everyday.

A love of history and the unusual was the genesis for the Museum and its unique character has enabled visitors to gain an insight into New Zealand’s early colonial history as well as enjoy a wide range of Maori and international arts, carving and folk art. In addition the museum houses important collections of conchology (shells) ,bugs and butterflies, minerals, militaria, early technology, Kauri gum, antique farm machinery and what is believed to be the largest collection of chamber pots in world.

Today, changing tourism trends and a decision by the family to dedicate its energies to the restoration of the original 1860 Wagener/Subritzky homestead has meant that the difficult decision has been made to close the Museum and offer the contents for sale.The Wagener Family Trusts will shift their focus to the restoration and renovation of the homestead and the creation of an historic gallery. Keith Wagener for the Wagener Houhora Endowment Trust said he was delighted with progress to date and confirmed that plans were well advanced for the creation of the historic gallery that was to form the basis of the restructured Museum. The sale he said was a necessity to move forward “ I anticipate there will be some real bargains for people, but this auction is the only practical way to sell the collection. I also believe that some of the pieces are so rare we will see international interest”.

The collection itself is a treasure trove of unique pieces, the like of which has never before been offered to New Zealand collectors. Webb’s Director, Ann Webb, says “this will be the largest auction ever undertaken by the company in its 26 year history. We believe that buyers from all over the world will have an interest in this sale. For the last two months we have been investigating the provenance of certain items, the range and breadth of the collection makes this a once in a lifetime event, almost our whole staff will be involved in the cataloguing and marketing of the sale”.

Some of the items in the sale include:

- A very rare pre-european Maori Rua ( storehouse) door.
- A rare and important Moa period amulet.
- A collection of Maori folk art carvings,furniture and meeting house pieces and approx 300 registered Maori artefacts.
- Firearms, including smugglers guns and an attributed American Confederate army colt .44 Dragoon revolver whose potential Civil War provenance is being investigated.
- An array of the most charming early 2oth century gaming and slot machines and music boxes.
- Spectacular fretwork and folk art carved decorative pieces.
- Extensive natural history collections of beetles, butterflies, minerals and shells.
- Exotic antlers and taxidermy including a prized extinct Huia.
- Over 400 chamber pots.
- A collection of Victorian coloured glass hanging lamps and kerosene lanterns.
- Kauri gum pieces in carved and natural form.
- China, clocks and early photography including an image if the 1924 All Blacks.
- Militaria including bladed weapons, insignia and firearms.
- Early technology including typewriters, sewing machines, hand worked and electric washing machines, radios and tools.
- Antique farm machinery, buggies, karts and saddlery.
- Early books and toys.
- Antique, silver, brass and furniture.

The Wagener Museum contents will be Auctioned by Webbs in three sessions at their Manukau Road and Penrose Auction Rooms, and onsite at the Wagener Museum at Houhora. The three Auctions will take place during the week commencing the 20th of October. The on-site sale at the Museum in Houhora, Northland will be on the weekend of the 1st and 2nd November and the sales will be extensively publicised in the media. Further information will be available online on a regular basis at


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