Mangawhai Museum was opened in December 2014 in a spectacular building shaped like a stingray. In a few years it has become one of Northland’s most popular museums, to the point that Lonely Planet describes it as one of regional NZ’s best museums.
With such extraordinary publicity, Warkworth Oaks decided to organise a special visit to Mangawhai to check out the museum – specially since it’s only a 45 minutes drive from the village.
The trip was completely booked out with 14 residents who spent the morning at the museum admiring the engaging displays on the area’s history and environment. The collection is full of stories and treasures centred around the beautiful Mangawhai Harbour, including tales of shipwrecks and gold bullion, the plight of the Fairy Tern and the saving of the harbour entrance.
One of the most impressive sections of the Museum is the one dedicated to the establishment of Mangawhai Heads Surf Lifesaving Club in 1963. Local surfers who were skilled at reading the winds, tides, waves and rips volunteered in assisting people when they got into trouble in the water. The lifeguards first operated from a two-metre square corrugated iron shed until the new club house was officially opened in 1969.
The museum also provided residents with the chance to reminisce and cherish fond memories, with a section full of stories and artifacts from their childhood. Among the museum’s highlights, the replica of a 1960s house in a small wagon captivated our residents – they couldn’t stop saying to each other “do you remember this?” followed by the opportunity to share their own special memories.
Afterwards there was lunch at the Mangawhai Golf Club’s onsite cafe which was very relaxed with good food and pleasant staff. Before returning to the Oaks the group drove out to Mangawhai Heads and admired the views out to sea with the many visible islands: Little Barrier, Great Barrier, Sail Rock, the Hen and Chickens and, in the far distance, the Mokohinau Islands.