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Auckland War Memorial Museum opens new commemorative gallery

Auckland War Memorial Museum opens new commemorative gallery: Pou Maumahara Memorial Discovery Centre


On the eve of Armistice Day, the doors have opened to Pou Maumahara Memorial Discovery Centre, a significant new war memorial gallery furthering the preservation of Auckland’s history and creating a legacy for the First World War Centenary.

Pou Maumahara is a space in which to remember our service people, reflect on their deeds and discover their individual stories. It is a research space where visitors can contribute personal knowledge and information to create a legacy for future generations.

The gallery encourages users to delve into the stories of New Zealanders through digital interactives, photographs, diaries, military equipment and hundreds of precious military medals laid out in visible storage.

The gallery space has undergone extensive restoration. Its original heritage features and neo-classical design have been revealed for the first time in more than fifty years, featuring marble skirting, columns and an engraved timber stage.

Auckland Museum Director Roy Clare says that Pou Maumahara is something unique and meaningful to Auckland.

“In our role as a kaitiaki caretaker of this historic building and its precious taonga, we have made every effort to recover the integrity of the concept for commemorative spaces as originally conceived in 1929. Our forebears envisaged the spaces either side of the WW1 Sanctuary being used as sources of memory; in presenting this new gallery we are responding to their vision.

“As a legacy in the Centenary of WW1, the purpose of Pou Maumahara is one of sombre commemoration and reflection. But the gallery is aesthetically breathtaking; our visitors will be able to experience the latest standards of lighting, design and interpretation, consistent with Future Museum – our published 20 year strategic plan,” he added.

The gallery is home to Auckland Museum’s Online Cenotaph – a central point for the personal and official memory of people who served for New Zealand Aotearoa.

Gallery Curator Georgina White explains that while Online Cenotaph can be accessed anywhere, the experience of it within the Museum will be unique and enriched.

“Only in Pou Maumahara will visitors be able to talk with and ask questions of our expert staff, access subject-specific books and connect the Online Cenotaph records to physical objects from our collections," she said.

"I hope that visitors to Pou Maumahara feel excited about the potential for discovering stories in the hidden detail of objects, so much so that they want to rush home and re-examine the treasures they've stored in shoeboxes in their attics," says curator Georgina White.

The development of Pou Maumahara has been a collaborative process, involving contributions from many individuals. Beautiful flax panels were created by weavers from Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei; while students from Birkenhead College helped to write profiles on servicemen for a digital interactive, where you can click through a map of Birkenhead to discover letters, photos and stories about those who served.

The Museum acknowledges particular funding from a NZ Lotteries Grant which has enabled the restoration of the Museum’s heritage features and redevelopment of this gallery space.

Be one of the first to walk through this beautiful new gallery space, explore the digital displays or sit down with a book, plug in a laptop, reflect on those who gave their lives for our freedom and soak up the rich history around you.





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