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Environmental Commitment

MOTAT is committed to sustainable practice and we are working hard to reduce our carbon footprint. Some of our initiatives include water conservation, material recycling and waste reduction, and energy conservation and monitoring.

MOTAT is working towards being more sustainable future for both our museum and the wider community. We believe we must preserve our natural environment for future generations, and this starts with taking action in our own workplace.

MOTAT is recognised as one of the country’s leading tourism operators by Qualmark, New Zealand Tourism’s official quality assurance agency. Our Qualmark Gold Sustainable Tourism Business Award recognises our exceptional customer experiences and integral sustainable practices. To earn this, the Museum underwent a comprehensive evaluation against industry standards of best practice. This required the organisation to be independently reviewed under criteria focused on the specific service, facilities, environmental practices, safety, and operating systems that the business has in place.

MOTAT has signed up to the New Zealand Tourism Sustainability Commitment, an initiative of the Tourism Industry Aotearoa (TIA). This aims to see every New Zealand tourism business committed to sustainability by 2025. Being sustainable includes environmentally, socially, and economically. In agreeing to adopt the commitment, MOTAT signs up to the 14 goals TIA has determined organisations should meet to achieve the vision of leading the world in sustainable tourism.

A major achievement for MOTAT is the Carbon Reduce certification from Toitū Envirocare for measuring and reducing the Museum's carbon footprint. This is the first step towards attaining the aspirational goal of a zero-carbon footprint.

We are currently working internally and externally to balance our transport history preservation with sustainability. We have a licence to burn coal in our pumphouse, boiler, and STEAM engines, and we offset our carbon emissions from these collection items. MOTAT recognises that to honour these pieces of Aotearoa history and still reach our Toitū Envirocare zero-carbon footprint, we need to improve in other areas of sustainability. This is an ongoing process, and our sustainability team is making changes regularly to get us closer to this goal. 


  • Continuous improvement to the MOTAT sustainability plan to reduce the museum’s impact on the environment

  • Sending our shredded paper to Auckland Zoo for animal bedding

  • New polystyrene, battery, and fluorescent tube recycling 

  • Recycling of paper, cardboard, and other recyclables

  • Use recyclable packaging in our gift shop and café

  • New bins for compostable café packaging and soft plastics

  • Using organic cleaning products

  • Purchasing local products where possible to support local suppliers and reduce carbon emissions

  • Harvesting rainwater from rooftops for use in our toilets and watering our gardens

  • Using sensor tap systems in our toilets

  • Using trigger guns for watering gardens to reduce water use

  • Using energy-efficient light bulbs and appliances

  • Having lighting in our exhibition spaces on sensors

  • Offers a sustainability education programme for schools

  • Upcycle or donate used exhibition props and items

  • Monitor climate-controlled systems to improve efficiency

  • Monitor energy performance to improve efficiency across the organisation

  • Having dual-flush toilets and waterless urinals