The pre-eminent collections include precious Maori and pacific artefacts. If you time it right, you could see, and take part in, a traditional Maori cultural performance which introduces the story of Aotearoa (the Maori name for New Zealand). There are over 1000 objects pertaining to the arrival and the settlement of Maori. The stand out being the full size meeting house with its intricate carving and a traditional war canoe carved from a native totara tree.
The next floor is dedicated to the natural history of the Pacific and New Zealand's place in it. It chronicles the split from Gondwanaland and tells stories of the now extinct giant Moa and documents numerous volcanoes. Visitors are treated to a highly interactive display including a “real” news bulletin covering an eruption just outside your house!
The top floor is dominated by the War Memorial. It provides detail on how war has shaped New Zealand's identity and it's outlook on life. From the muddy trenches of Gallipoli in World War I to the human cost of war in the second world war. Both sections have won numerous awards for their depiction of this crucial time in the nation's history. For aviation buffs, there is a real Spitfire Mk XVI on display.
As with any museum, there are a variety of touring and international exhibits. It pays to ask at the visitor centre to see what is on offer. For those wanting to get to grips on New Zealand's place in the world, the Auckland War Memorial comes highly recommended.
The Auckland Domain, Parnell, Auckland.09 309 0443