Stories

Our stories will take you behind the scenes of MOTAT's collection and museum experiences. Uncover the extraordinary stories of New Zealand's transport and technology history.
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New Zealand's Science Technology Future

As MOTAT hosts the Science Fiction Science Future exhibition we look at local research groups and innovative companies who are inventing the future around us.
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Space technology agreement set to advance tertiary education in Aotearoa

By Makayla Wallace-Tidd, Communications Coordinator, Museum of Transport and Technology (MOTAT). A new memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the Ministry for Business, Innovation, and Employment (MBIE) and Maxar Technologies will assist in boosting innovation in Aotearoa.

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Documenting COVID-19: One year on

By Abi Beatson - Abi is the COVID-19 Digital Archivist at the Alexander Turnbull Library. Aotearoa New Zealand’s heritage organisations are piecing together, item by item, story by story, our collective experiences of COVID-19 over the last year. We asked if they would share some of the items in their collections.

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6 women in STEM to follow on TikTok

By Makayla Wallace-Tidd, Communications Coordinator, Museum of Transport and Technology (MOTAT). With almost 1 billion views, #womeninSTEM in the place to be right now.

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New Zealand's Science Technology Future

As MOTAT hosts the Science Fiction Science Future exhibition we look at local research groups and innovative companies who are inventing the future around us.

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Saintz Dance Academy: The whānau that's inspiring the next generation of dancers

By Makayla Wallace-Tidd, Communications Coordinator - Museum of Transport and Technology, (MOTAT). Saintz Dance Academy is a Tāmaki Makaurau, Auckland based organisation that allows our younger community to explore dance and increase their confidence and happiness, all in one safe space.

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The little known life of Frank Stewart

By Freya Elmer, Assistant Librarian — Pictorial, Walsh Memorial Library, Museum of Transport and Technology (MOTAT)

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The Art of Travel Posters

A constant flood of colour imagery on TV and computer screens, and in magazines, is now part of our daily lives and it is hard to imagine an age when most illustrations were in black and white. Posters have been around since Roman times, but it took two discoveries to make printing colour posters an economic proposition.

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Best Reached by Rail: Special Occasions

The 1920s and 1930s were a pivotal era in the democratisation of family holidaymaking in New Zealand. During these years the state-owned New Zealand Railways (NZR) ­– and its emerging publicity and advertising machine — helped to propel a boom in domestic tourism by using sophisticated, aspirational marketing to appeal to holiday consumers, especially families.

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Last of the Great Flying Boats: The Short Solent

The Solent flying boat enjoys a special place in New Zealand’s aviation history; and when it is only one of two left in the world it becomes unique . In fact, MOTAT’s ZK-AMO is the only Short Solent Mark IV variant left in existence. The Solent was operated by Tasman Empire Airways Ltd (TEAL) at the beginning of international passenger air travel, and was the last large civilian passenger flying boat used on a regular service.

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A better future at the push of a button

Every day at MOTAT, we rely on our 150-person-strong team of volunteers who are essential cogs in the smooth running of the Museum. As well as assisting our MOTAT teams in various roles and departments, many of our wonderful volunteers are busy behind the scenes working on their own personal projects – like Michael Watling.

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A Lego®-lover's paradise: Getting ready for Bricks and Blocks!

Back for another year, MOTAT, in conjunction with Auckland Lego® User Group (AuckLUG), presents Bricks and Blocks; the ultimate Lego® fan display! Join us on the 5th and 6th of December as we showcase an array of intricate and astonishing Lego® displays, including cityscapes, vehicles, pirate ships and of course, trains!

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Jean Batten's Stamp Collection

In 1990 the National Library of New Zealand’s Sub-Committee on strengthening Resources supported MOTAT’s Walsh Memorial Library in purchasing a lot of Jean Batten memorabilia from the Hendon Aircraft Sale at Sotheby’s. This included aero club badges, stamps, first day covers and other ephemera addressed to Batten.

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A Polarising Sauce: The Essence of Anchovies

In 2017, MOTAT received the donation of an unopened bottle of sauce carrying the title “Essence of Anchovies”. At first it may seem an unusual object for a Museum of Transport and Technology to hold within their collection so let’s take a closer look at the unique history of this object. By Christen McAlpine.

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Taking the Waters: Strange Treatments at a Government-Run Spa

The incredible geological activity in and around Rotorua have made it a literal tourist hotspot. The Rotorua Baths was a famous government-run health resort in the early 20th century. Best Reached By Rail exhibition curator Todd Dixon explores cutting-edge treatments that were on offer such as high frequency valves and electric baths.

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A Meccano computer: MOTAT’s differential analyser

A mechanical analogue computer built from Meccano in the 1930s to solve complicated differential equations? Yes, MOTAT has one of those.

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Open Wide: A Short History of the Murder House in New Zealand

"The Murder House" is well known to generations of kiwi kids. Often a lone wooden building within the school grounds, filled with sharp metal objects, a strange medical smell, and a woman in a white uniform who could transform cotton swabs into bees; the school dental clinic or "Murder House" wove itself into the cultural fabric of New Zealand society.

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Some Assembly Required: A Brief History of Early Ford Assembly in New Zealand

In the 1930s, New Zealand had a thriving car assembly industry. In 1939, NZ was second only to the USA for car ownership and the Ford Motor Company's New Zealand assembly lines were running hot. By Robyn Entwistle.

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Christening the Collection

In 2020 MOTAT’s vast array of christening gowns were re-examined, hoping to shed some more light on the Collection. By Emily Hames.

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Redressing the Balance – A brief history of Letter Balances and the Penny Post

During my recent research of MOTAT’s Weights and Measures Collection, the letter balances, or postal scales, stood out – when did they first become popular and how are they relevant to New Zealand’s history? By Robyn Entwistle.

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Oh Dam! Dam Technology in New Zealand: Part 1

Early dam building technology and innovation in New Zealand from forestry to water providers. By Freya Elmer.

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Preserving Time

During the unprecedented times of the COVID-19 pandemic, a trend that re-emerged was the appreciation of a more slow-paced life...By Hayley McCormack.

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MOTAT’s Queen of the Rails

How one of Auckland’s Last Trams contributed to the development of the Museum of Transport and Technology (MOTAT). By James Duncan

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Time Flies When Having Fun

During an exploration of timepieces within MOTAT’s Collection, we rediscovered several unique and kooky clocks. Here’s what we found…by Emily Hames.

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Going Viral: Polio and the Iron Lung

New Zealand has a long history of epidemics and pandemics — from the influenza epidemic reported by Māori in Foveaux Strait in 1817–20, to today’s COVID-19 pandemic.

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Time According to New Zealand

Highlights of some of the unique and interesting timepieces from New Zealand’s history that can be found within the MOTAT Collection.

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The Arrival of a MOTAT Icon

Many people are familiar with K 900 locomotive, which was on display at MOTAT’s Great North Road site for many years, but how many know the story of its journey to MOTAT?

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