Happy Birthday to us and, a special tour for you

Book the tour here  

FULLY booked.  Thanks for the interest.  Please update your booking if you are no longer able to attend.  We would hate people to miss out!

november evening

With Wellington Anniversary fast approaching we’ve been thinking about the history of our special place: Pito-one.

Our whare was opened on 22 January 1840 to commemorate the arrival of the first British immigrants to Pito-one’s shores in 1840. Before we were a museum, we were a bathing pavilion and enjoyed being a part of Petone’s beach scene.

Today, we are a proud member of Petone’s heritage community. Every day, we explore and celebrate the many stories of arrival and achievement in and around the Hutt Valley. From the important chiefs Te Puni and Te Wharepōuri, to today’s wonder wāhine – we have a wealth of stories to share, and we love hearing your memories as well.

To celebrate our birthday, we are inviting you on a special tour exploring the story of our whare and how it came to be.

To book your spot please click here.

Tour details
11am – 11.30am
Monday 22 January
Bookings essential (there will be birthday cake)

Remember, we are open every day this summer 10am – 4pm

Christmas hours

This summer we are open 10am – 4pm every day except Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.

This summer we are keen to kōrero with visitors from near and far. So, pop on by next time you are passing our whare-by-the-sea and share your story of arrival in Pito-one.

Hutt City Council - Waitangi Day in Dowse Square

Duration & Dimension: falling down a rabbit hole

Outside the NGV

Outside the NGV

Georgia and I were lucky to attend the Australasian Registrars Conference recently in Melbourne. This was a great opportunity for us as collection managers/registrars as it is one of the only events solely focused on our roles and relevant topics.

The theme was Duration & Dimension and we were hosted by the Melbourne Museum. The conference looked at the challenges institutions face in collecting, caring for, documenting and ensuring the longevity of time based media and digital artworks. This includes film, audio-visual art works, digital files, complex installations that involve AV components and even software, games and applications.


I didn’t even realise some of these challenges existed, for example some speakers talked about software or applications that became obsolete mere months after being collected. Terms such as bit-rot, checksum, fixity monitoring, and iteration reports were all new for us: there was a lot to learn.


A challenge for 2025

There is also the ongoing challenge of digitising analogue media such as film and magnetic tape material – the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia released a paper in 2017 that states ‘Tape that is not digitised by 2025 will in most cases be lost forever.’ Scary stuff for many museums however luckily for us we don’t hold much of this type of material at the Petone Settlers Museum Te Whare Whakaaro o Pito-one.

It wasn’t all doom and gloom however there were fantastic presentations about how to document these works, all the templates, processes and procedures needed (music to a Registrar’s ears!) from institutions such as:

Registrar speak

Registrar speak

It really was the place to be if you love a good acronym! AGNSW, LACMA, NGV, QAGOMA, ACMI, MOMA, MONA


One presentation that was a real highlight was from Sarah Davy at New Zealand’s own Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision. Sarah spoke wonderfully about the complete bicultural approach that Ngā Taonga take in preserving, managing and sharing all the amazing media they have in their collection. It was really quite inspiring.

Entering Wonderland at ACMI 1

Entering Wonderland at ACMI

Another highlight for me was the opening night reception at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image where we were treated to a trip down the rabbit hole into Wonderland – an amazing interactive and immersive exhibition exploring the story of Alice in Wonderland and its various interpretations over the years.

It was a fabulous few days of connecting with colleagues from New Zealand and Australia, learning huge amounts (and attempting to retain it all!) and exploring some of Melbourne’s wonderful cultural institutions. Lucky for us our collections colleagues are very generous in sharing ideas, project results, work processes and templates so we will be able to move forward into the future with the right tools and methods to help manage these types of collection items.

Geraldine FitzGerald: a local leader

“She never wavered in her beliefs in how girls should be educated and in the importance of this work.” 

– Anne Mulcock: A Quite Original Type of School  

As we continue to celebrate 125 years of women’s suffrage at our wharebythesea we’re proud to welcome a new display to our walls – Geraldine Fitzgerald (1871-1955).  In this blog we introduce one of the powerful forces behind girls’ education here in Lower Hutt.

Geraldine – or Fitz as she was generally known; was a charismatic, strong-willed woman with an innovative approach to education.  She is best known for establishing the Chilton Saint James school in 1918, on Waterloo Road in Lower Hutt.

Fitz was the eleventh of thirteen children born to Frances Erskine, nee Draper, a Russian immigrant, and James Edward FitzGerald.  With a musically and linguistically talented mother and father who held well-known and often publicly unpopular egalitarian views, we suspect that her commitment to suffrage may have been sparked early on in life.

We also wondered if Fitz’s mother’s influence can be seen in her teaching methods.

A memorable anecdote from Priscilla Greenwood, piano teacher at the school in the 1920’s suggested this might be the case.  Greenwood was in the middle of a lesson one day when Fitz interrupted and said, “Write me a tune for the twice times table.”

Evidently Greenwood’s efforts were successful as she was called on to set the rest of the multiplication tables to music also – including the thirteen times table!

Early influences aside, Fitz was a woman known for her fierce determination as well as her commitment to girls’ education.  We are proud to share the story of her leadership with our community.

To learn more about Geraldine Fitzgerald’s life and legacy, visit us at Petone Settlers Museum where we look at more closely at Fitz’s leadership and accomplishments.

We are open seven days for summer, 10am – 4pm.  Come on by for a visit next time you are in the neighborhood.



Web 1

Fitz’s display at our whare-by-the-sea

Portrait 1

Geraldine FitzGerald, c 1918. Courtesy of Chilton Saint James School



Open all summer

We are open seven days a week from Monday 22 October until Sunday 28 April 2019, 10am – 4pm.

With the warmer weather blowing into the capital we’re looking forward to welcoming spring and summer visitors into the museum to explore our displays.

From the story of British immigration in the 1840s to the significant leadership of chiefs Honiana Te Puni-kokopu and Te Wharepouri, right through to contemporary stories of women’s leadership in Te Awakairangi, there’s plenty to explore on a visit to our whare by the sea.

Come on down and say kia ora.
We’d love to see you.


Reflecting on Te Wiki o te Reo Māori with Sharee Adam


This week we celebrate Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori. Community Curator Arawhetu Berdinner caught up with Sharee Adam (Ngāti Koroki-Kahukura, Ngāti Paoa), a leading proponent in local reo revitalisation, amongst the bustle of our national hīkoi from parliament to Te Ngākau, Civic Square.

You can learn more about Sharee’s work in our current Suffrage 125 related exhibition: Whakatū Wāhine – Women Here and Now.


Petone Settlers Museum Whatatu Wahine - Women Here and Now July 02, 2018

Sharee Adam, photo credit: Mark Tantrum


AB Tēnā koe i te rangatira, kei te pea hea koe i tēnei rā?

SA Tēnā koe i te rangatira! Kei te harikoa te ngākau, ae.


AB What does this walk during Te Wiki o te Reo Māori mean to you?

SA Taking part in the hīkoi is really just about bringing people together again. With our mahi sometimes we get caught up in living life, it just gives [us] a chance to celebrate as a group in public.


AB How did your rōpū find the hīkoi today?

SA Yeah rawe, it was cool being amongst the tamariki and others who really support the reo. There must have been about a thousand* people in total so it was good to be among a thousand people who really support te reo, and you know, waving to everyone in the buildings was fun.

*editors note – numbers were recorded at 4300 making the Sept 10 hīkoi the biggest yet for Te Wiki.


Sharee whare

Image credit: Tōku Reo Trust


AB You’ve mentioned before to me how we’ll know that real progress has been made when it’s normal to converse in the reo during the daily activities we go about—buying your groceries, ordering your coffee, asking for directions. What kind of work do we need to put in to see this happen?

SA I think it’s about using te reo… people who have either learnt te reo or grew up in a reo environment should start using it ‘ahakoa te aha’—no matter what—and I think when it’s not considered a ‘feat’ to speak te reo for a whole day, or speak te reo a week, or a month, then we’ll know that it’s normal.

So in terms of what we need to do: the people who have reo need to start using it wherever and whenever, and start demanding it to be used in their spaces—whether it’s a grocery store or the coffee shop or library.

It’s just demanding that it (the Māori language) be used by using it. Not by telling people what to say, but if you use it, then sometimes you get it back.

How we will know it’s normal is when it doesn’t seem like an amazing task to stay in the reo Māori for the day. That should be normal for us… one day!



AB Learning and speaking te reo Māori can have many more benefits than just engaging your brain; can you tell us about the qualities you’ve experienced on your waka to fluency?

SA Probably just connecting with lots and lots of different people, from all different backgrounds. That’s one of the benefits that you wouldn’t think of, just by speaking te reo.

Travelling as well, around the motu, getting opportunities to go to hui, and noho, and symposiums—that’s one way to see the country. And I believe one day it will take me overseas as well, for some other kaupapa.



AB What’s one message you can give to those who are beginning their reo journey?

SA Kia kaha, kia mia, kia manawanui (be strong, be steadfast, be willing). Whāia te iti kahurangi, ahakoa he iti he pounamu (strive for something of great value).

Yeah, start! No matter how scary it might seem. Especially for our Māori people, it’s just that extra little bit scary for us because we’re ‘supposed’ to know it? You know, people think you should know it, but most of us don’t, so kia kaha.

It doesn’t matter where you are in your life, if you’re young, middle-aged or a little older, mea tīmata, you’ll start to see the world in a different light—having this connection and understanding te reo. Yeah, kia kaha.




AB Your work as a part of Tōku Reo Trust with Moana Kaio (Te Whānau-ā-Apanui, Ngāti Pikiao) was originally established to build on whānau wanting support for strengthening reo Māori in the home. You’ve since been working in partnership with organisations including the Hutt City Council,do you see your work expanding to a national level?

SA Yeah, tērā pea. We went to a national symposium and we took a group of students (we call them ‘language leaders’ or reo champions) to Hastings just a couple of weeks ago, and one of the presenters had our reo 2 go images up on their slide. They were talking about whakaraua te reo, revitalising the language within the whānau, and they mentioned our mahi as a part of their presentations.

Just today one of our students was at a hui, she said our reo 2 go was mentioned in a presentation by Stacey Morrison and Scotty Morrison, so tērā pea—if anyone thinks that we might have something to share, we would welcome being invited.


AB With the energy of this day before us, is there anyone you’d like to make a shout out to?

SA Awwwwww, I won’t say anyone in particular, because there’s too many, and I might forget one! But to anyone who has been on their [te reo] journey, even to people I haven’t met yet, ngā mihi kia koutou, hōia tērā waka, te waka reo, whāia te mātauranga me te aroha nui i roto i tō tātau reo.

Shout out to everyone. Ka pai!


Price’s Folly

Our newest display  peers inside a local icon and enigma – Price’s Folly. This local historic house with it’s ambitious architecture and fascinating history has intrigued generations of Petone-ites and tourists alike.

We are delighted to share the story of this icon with you online – and in person at our whare by the sea.  Perhaps you have a special memory of the house; do come by and say hello.  We’d love to hear your story of this fascinating building.


Folly today

Five of the twelve permanent residents of 66 Sydney Street, March 2018; Lucy Aurora Holtslag, Ange Holtslag, David Holtslag, Simon Hurley, Natalie Halliburton; Photo credit, Amber Griffin Photography


 Thomas Price creates an icon

Built in 1901, the 16-room, 465 square metre mansion at 66 Sydney Street was an instant icon. The ornate wooden house towered above its bungalow neighbours.  Amusingly, though Thomas Price christened the building ‘Sunnyside’ the locals quickly nicknamed it ‘Price’s Folly’. A Folly in architecture described a structure considered overly extravagant in its appearance compared to its functionality.

Thomas Price was a local timber merchant and philanthropist.  Thanks to his successful business ventures with a timber yard in Petone and a sawmill business in the Wairarapa, he donated the materials and skills needed to build an impressive spire for St Augustine’s Church.  The spire was the tallest in New Aotearoa New Zealand when it was built.

Price’s singular personality is evident in all his endeavours.  We think he would have enjoyed seeing today’s Petone – a bustling heritage and boutique destination.



Price's folly

66 Sydney Street, ‘Prices Folly’ or ‘Sunnyside’, Petone circa 1908; Photographer unknown; Private collection


A very useful Folly

The Folly has served as school room for the Wellington Education Board from 1905 until 1922 when it was transformed by local Tailor Brent Goldberg into his workroom and home.  In 1957 the Folly changed hands once more; this time it was converted into four individual apartments before being bought in 1985 by the Bitossi family who began renovations to turn the Folly back into a single family home.

During construction by the Bitossi family the house was used to film Open House, a 38-episode drama series centred on a community drop-in house. You can watch the first episode online here.

Sadly the house was gutted by fire in 1987.  And, though the Bitossi family were not harmed they did lose all their possessions, and turned to the Petone community who rallied behind them in an effort to continue the restoration of the Folly.

In 1989 the house changed hands again, this time it was taken over by Con McKinney, a cameraman on Open House who had also worked on the house as an apprentice carpenter before the fire.


Pic view of petone, Sunnyside

General view of Petone from Korokoro, ca 1902. Godber, Albert Percy, 1875-1949 :Collection of albums, prints and negatives. Ref: APG-0079-1/2-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22892569


A very creative Folly

McKinney’s careful restoration of the Folly is on display for inhabitants and locals alike.  If you are walking by you might notice the beautiful balustrade that McKinney recast in aluminium, or the brick fence reconstructed from the Folly’s original chimneys

Today, a community of creative Petone-ites call the Folly home. Resident artist Simon Hurley maintains his studio from the old Folly stables and Ange Holtslag runs her Silver Circus children’s-wear from her workshop on the second floor.

The tradition of making and living continues in this unique house, 117 years after ‘Sunnyside’ was first established.

You can learn more about the Folly through the combined work of the Petone Historical Society and the Jackson Street Programme through their ‘Discover Historic Petone’ downloadable app or by dropping by our museum by the sea.

We hope to see you soon.







Bodgies and Widgies – rebels without a cause in Lower Hutt


Our new display, Bodgies and Widgies, stirs up mid-century memories for many of our visitors.

The Bodgie

A.E. Manning, The Bodgie : a study in abnormal psychology. (A.H. & A.W. Reed, 1958) Reproduced with the  permission of Penguin Books.


Elbes Milk Bar on High Street was the place to be in 1950’s Lower Hutt.  Some of our visitors remember socialising there, while others remember being banned from the Elbes by concerned parents.  Our display and this blog look into the reasons for this ban and the far reaching panic our local youngsters caused with their fashion and musical tastes.


Milk-bar Cowboys and Brylcreem

Young men and women from the Hutt Valley were central to the creation of the idea of the ‘teenager’ in 1950s Aotearoa New Zealand.

The years following World War Two were a conservative time in Aotearoa New Zealand.  With the devastation of the war sitting heavy in the NZ psyche, many adults desired safety, order and control.  At the same time, American pop culture was gaining in popularity. Young people began experimenting with new hairstyles, clothes and activities.


Rock and roll dancers

Rock and roll dancers at Youth Club, Taita, Lower Hutt. Evening post (Newspaper. 1865-2002) :Photographic negatives and prints of the Evening Post newspaper. Ref: EP/1957/3619-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22744683


Many of the boys (Bodgies) wore ‘Teddy-Boy’ hairstyles, and quiffs styled with Brylcreem, while the girls (Widgies) cut their hair short and often wore trousers.  These changes might seem harmless to us today, but they were very challenging at the time.

Bodgies and Widgies met up in cafes and milk bars, socialising and listening to daring new music. Doris Day’s Secret Love was deemed too risky, with Elvis Presley’s first hit Don’t Be Cruel soon to follow. Here in Lower Hutt, Elbe’s Milk Bar on High Street became a popular spot where motorbikes could often be seen parked on the wide curb outside.

This new generation of teenagers had employment, leisure time and money to spend. They also had a keen interest in each other. The media reported sensationalised stories of gangs of Hutt youth meeting ‘for sex purposes’, shocking the population.


High Street

High Street, Lower Hutt. Ref: 1/2-047550-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22794347


To learn more about Bodgies and Widgies drop by and see us:

April–November Open Wed–Sun 10am–4pm

December–March Open every day 10am–4pm


Bike fix-kit with a side of Petone history

Every cyclist has had their fair share of punctures and flat tyres, and Petone Settlers Museum is here to help. We now have an air pump and a puncture repair kit, so if you’re having a spot of bother, pop in!  In the meantime enjoy a tasty cycle through recent bike history.

bike fix

Hello! I am your friendly local bike pump and repair kit, now helpfully located at the Petone Settlers Museum – stop by to see me if you get in a fix!


bikes petone

[Reference: Cyclists lined up on the Petone Esplanade. Ref: 1/2-C-18885. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22558339]

 pram blog

And not forgetting our smaller visitors, either! Pram wheels and runner bikes welcome also.

[Reference: Jackson Street, Petone, 1971.. Westra, Ans, 1936-: Photographs. Ref: AW-0445. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/37152885]

Located at 1 Jackson St Petone, our friends at Green Jersey Cycle Tours have plenty of exciting tours on offer too – take a look to see what they have for you, your whānau and friends.

jersey tours

It’s hardly surprising that cycling has been so popular in Pito-One all these years. The streets are flat and wide and there’s the view of the harbour as you roll along the Petone Esplanade on your choice of wheels (all the way to Wellington if you desire, not many suburbs can claim a flat commute to the big smoke!).

 Jackson street bikes

[Illustration:  Jackson Street, Petone 1924. Reference: Jackson Street, Petone. Ref: 1/2-092191-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/23183077]

In fact the popularity of cycling here led to the establishment of the Petone Amateur Athletic and Cycling Club in 1927 and with the establishment of the club came the coveted the Laycold Cup. The banked track in Petone Recreation Ground was a popular location for club cycle nights.

Petone cycle club

[Reference: Three members of Petone Cycling Club with their bicycles. Evening post (Newspaper. 1865-2002) :Photographic negatives and prints of the Evening Post newspaper. Ref: EP/1955/1301-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22546041]

A photo taken for the Evening Post in 1978 describes Constable Leroy Alexander (Roy) Cockburn as the last police constable to receive a bicycle allowance. Here he is in 1973 in Jackson Street.  Interestingly, in 2009 Christchurch Police announced that foot patrols would now be conducted on bicycles, noting that: “an officer on a bike is much smaller, quieter, and can go places that are not easily accessible to patrol vehicles. Also, a person fleeing… generally can’t out run an officer on a bike!”

Petone police

[Reference: Constable Cockburn on his bicycle in Petone, New Zealand. Dominion post (Newspaper) :Photographic negatives and prints of the Evening Post and Dominion newspapers. Ref: EP/1973/5443/18A-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22334191]


Signing off,

Lotte Kellaway



Taking care of your history

Jules here, from down by the Seashore – to share some tips to keep your family’s treasured documents safe and sound for years to come.

I spend my days at the Petone Settlers Museum recalling stories of local significance, and lending a helping hand to people as they look deeper into their family ties here in Petone.


Jules blog photo Grandmother and Granfather

Grandmother and Grandfather Коць

Using the Petone Settlers Museum Database, combined with knowledge of local history, we are able to trace some of the passengers from those early voyages to the Wellington area.


I always enjoy listening to the stories of our visitors, and I am impressed by the work and time people have put into researching and strengthening these family ties.

As those who have met me know, I am not originally from New Zealand. I carry with me my Canadian accent, as I spent most of my childhood just outside of Toronto, Canada.

Canada, much like New Zealand, is a land of immigration and settlement. My own family’s story begins much further back in places like The Ukraine, Poland, and Czechia. On a recent trip back home, I took the time to sit down with my grandmother and aunt to ask some of the questions I often answer at the Museum.

Spending my days helping others with their history has shown me how important it was to take a stake in mine as well. Luckily enough, my aunt and grandma were ready to go! My aunt already had a wonderfully preserved box of family history for me to rifle through.

I’ve had training in in archaeology and conservation as well as museums. So, as I excitedly opened the box, my inner history nerd knew that these documents and clippings were fragile and priceless. Although my aunt had already done an incredible (and invaluable) job of keeping these treasures, I could see a few simple things she could do to ensure their longevity and protection.

I began to suggest some techniques we use at the museum for our textile collection, and to my surprise, she was just as enthusiastic as I was! She too was invested and interested, and was onboard to help hold these traces of our family’s story for the next generation to connect with. It doesn’t take much- there are easy, cost effective ways to conserve and preserve like a pro.

Here are some simple techniques to help preserve some of your family’s more fragile or precious items:

Store items in a box with a lid, fire proof if possible.

Keeping your precious artefacts safe in an acid free box is probably the simplest and most effective conservation technique. The box is the cornerstone of care and preservation. It protects dust from accumulating also, in case of objects shifting, it protects them from getting crushed or damaged from the weight of other items. Moreover, it offers a layer of protection from pesky house hold critters that love to eat up old documents.


Jules blog photo Grandfather passport

One of my Grandfather’s early passports

Keep away from UV rays or strong artificial lighting.

Light will cause irreversible damage, often in the form of fading. Keeping your treasures in a dark safe space is always highly recommended. Yet again, boxes are a fantastic conservation tool.


When retrieving the items, it would be handy to keep in mind the light levels in the room at the time. Especially when it comes to very old delicate documents or artefacts. It’s best to look at your historical documents them in rooms with no natural light and low artificial lighting.


Storing the object in their natural form

Relieving pressure and stress on these treasures is always recommended. For example store paper documents – unfolded, and laid out flat. If you want to go the extra mile, popping them into an acid free photo-sleeve will really help, you can usually buy them from a craft store, or stationary supplier. If it is an artefact that has more of a shape and weight to it, we recommend putting a pillow or soft object in the box to let it rest on. If possible, remove staples or pins from textiles as they can rust and stain the textile.

These are good ways to get started, and we use many of these techniques down here at our whare whakaaro beside the sea. As a final reminder, always try to store textiles in climate-controlled spaces, not in attics or basements. It is tough in this Wellington āhuarangi, but keeping your family documents in a dry, dark space, will allow you and your family to conserve and preserve your family taonga for years to come.

Kia ora rawa atu! – Jules