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Central & Western Murihiku Southland Archive

Te rohe - Location
Main Rd, Tūātapere, next to the old Railway Station. We also belong to the internationally recognised 'Safe Space Alliance'.

Ngā haora mahi - Opening hours
The Community Archive Heritage Hub is now open to the public as follows -
Winter Hours (June-Sept) Tues-Fri each week, from 1-4pm only.
Special opening days are often held for commemorative events, or public workshops.
To visit outside of these hours or for group bookings, please contact us.

As we are run by volunteers as a non-profit, there may be the odd time when exceptional circumstances mean we cannot be open. We will post on our Social Media, so please check.

Family History/Genealogical Research/Whakapapa Group:
Held on the third Thursday every month. This is held in the afternoon at 1.30pm, cost is a gold coin donation, unless you have a group membership (please ask for more details of this cost saving service). You are welcome to bring your own laptop or tablet, use our wifi and share our range of resources at the Community Archives, also help and support each others research.

Te utu - Admission
Images online are free to view.

Visiting our Community Archives Hub to view the records, maps and photographs we hold is free, you can also undertake research for free. Research can be undertaken on your behalf for a small fee. If you want copies of images/records, we charge these at cost. To attend special interest groups there may be a small cost, see below:

If you wish to help support this volunteer community project, a family history research group membership donation with benefits is available, and we are currently setting up a 'Friends of the Community Archives'. Or, you can simply contribute by making a donation, to help share our local history more widely. Please contact as above for more information about either of these options.

Central & Western Archive, Murihiku Southland:
Tūātapere School commemoration of opening, from 18th June.
- Four Square 100th Birthday & local Grocers history, from 1st July.
Waiau River - from source to sea, on display until 30 July.
Dr Elder, exemplary rural GP, permanent static display.
Hump Ridge Track Great Walk Opening - history of the track, from mid Oct

The Community Archive Heritage Hub is now open to the public as follows -
Winter Hours (June-Sept)
Tues-Fri each week, from 1-4pm only
3rd Thurs of month, Family History/Whakapapa Research 1.30-3.30pm, gold coin donation - bring your own laptop or use ours. Afternoon tea provided.
To visit outside of these hours or for group bookings, please contact us, we can seat 16 and have 3 public use computers.
As we are run by volunteers as a non-profit, there may be the odd time that an exceptional circumstance or emergency means we cannot be open. If we have prior warning of this, we will post on our Social Media, so please check.

Our Waiau district Community Archive, featuring both a storage and research facility is newly open (Oct 2023). The Heritage Hub we operate covers the area overseen by our Tūātapere Te Waewae Community Board. Our motto is: "By the Community, For the Community". We are rightly proud of our new Community Archive Heritage Hub and the collections we have been gifted by the community, and all that this means for us, as we gather our taonga or treasures together to preserve them for future generations to access.

The Central & Western Murihiku Southland Archive was originally set up as a trial based Community Archives project in 2022, with an Online Museum, to digitally gather, store, preserve, record, and share our district's history. We started out digitally preserving the wider district history, as we wanted these community archives to be freely available to all. This trial was so successful, that we soon created a new Heritage Institution under the operation of a local community owned non-profit that had Heritage as its objects and aims, and opened our publicly accessible in person Heritage Hub, situated at Tūātapere in the Waiau district of Murihiku Southland.

Remembering of course that today's life is tomorrow's history, we are still keen to continue to digitally capture our communities progress as changes take place, so please contact us with photos, information or other paper and film based items you wish to preserve and share with others, from within the areas we cover (see below).

The need for collection of physical archives, (focusing on paper and film based items) from across the Waiau District of Murihiku Southland, became apparent. Our Waiau residents have made it clear they wish and expect to be able to retain and care for their own local history records. Local residents wanted to be empowered to retain and preserve their own unique district history. As of 23 June 2023, our heritage based governance society has taken over ownership of our new building, a Community Archive and base for the Online Museum operation. We are operated by a registered community non-profit, Tūātapere and District Promotion Incorporated. They have as their objects/aims": "To preserve historic values and sites, maintain continuing information of the area."

Our Whare Taonga or House of Treasures, was kindly gifted by Whānau Āwhina Plunket for a nominal sum and with massive support by the Tūātapere Te Waewae Community Board. We are excited to announce this new step in our heritage preservation journey and the progress we are making in bringing change to our community in the ways they can access, contribute to, learn from, engage with and share our local district heritage, both themselves and in our community. Our Community Archive Heritage Hub was officially opened by Mayor Scott on 13 Oct 2023, with a mihi by Ōraka Aparima Rūnaka.

Even though our aims are to preserve historic values, sites and information, we concurrently run different local heritage preservation projects on top of our normal heritage institution operations. For our 2023/2024 focus, we will be moving on to specifically target preserving the history of the Waiau Valley and wider surrounds, including Clifden and the Monowai and Manapōuri power projects, noting that the Monowai Power Scheme is 100 years old in March 2025. We will also collate stories of how reducing the flow of the Waiau River has impacted the Waiau districts and the Tūātapere community in particular. We have started this part of the project by focusing on the earlier Waiau River Crossings. If you can provide any photos and information from either of these areas or points of interest, please contact our Heritage Hub Project Manager as below, for how you can help out. This project combines both digital preservation and physical archive collections of suitable and relevant materials.

Additionally, we have started digitising Tūātapere Hump Ridge Track history and have original documents in our Archive Store. We are keen to secure further funding for the parts of our new DigiHub that we have not yet been able to afford, although we have raised the money for the first stage of necessary equipment. We are now seeking funding for the second stage. This is required to undertake our vastly increased workload by a growing number of community volunteers. While the scope of our projects for the DigiHub are quite a large undertaking, we desire to have this fully operational and the current work load and project undertaken, well before the Humpridge Track officially becomes New Zealand’s next Great Walk, which will hopefully be during 2024 after weather events have forced postponements. If anyone can help us with this project, whether it be for funding, digitising or if you have any in-depth knowledge of the track itself, please let us know if you can help. We will also be transforming our Heritage Hub into an "all things Hump Ridge Track" related, for the opening.

Kia ora to all our volunteers who are already doing valuable mahi/work to help preserve our various district histories and this one too.

Ongoing Programs and Policy:
The physical Community Archives Hub is not competing for collections with any other institutions, but is instead ensuring that our local and district community records are preserved for posterity and are made freely available, particularly to those communities to which they pertain. This new building will also provide a home base for the DigiHub equipment, which enables us to undertake ongoing preservation projects. This provides new services for our community to learn, share, research, preserve and enjoy their history and past heritage, in ways that bring us together and encourage us to record and share our community stories and create community memories for all.

We will also be continuing our digital preservation of community held historical material, as it is especially important for communities who have no history repository locally, to have a place to keep their local heritage safe and to promote the history of their communities and those who settled the area or worked there. But all district histories within our boundaries are welcome. Any district, town, farm, business, family, event, nature or community project within our designated area (the old Wallace County region) is considered and if you would like to have the history of this recorded for our current and future generations, please make contact with us to arrange this. For more localised records, we accept these from within the local Community Board boundaries.

Collection information:
We accept photos, articles, memories, books, records, maps, posters, other ephemera, basically all paper and film based items, plus any objects you may want photographed as a district record, from across the region we cover, for digitizing and putting into the online museum and community archive. You can also ask us to take photographs of objects and properties for the archive. We now also have equipment to transfer VHS to Digitial storage. If this is of a historical nature and you wish to donate a copy to us, the service is free. If you wish your own personal tapes to be transferred, we will do this for a donation to cover our costs, as a way to help us be self-sustaining in some of our operational costs in future. Oral history and video recordings is something else we will be working on shortly. If you have a story of local or district history to tell, please do let us know, and we will arrange one of our volunteers to work with you to have this recorded for posterity.

For physical archives (paper, film and fabric records), we are only collecting material relevant to our local Waiau District, Murihiku Southland and the surrounding communities which share services. Please contact us if you wish to offer any physical material from the Waiau District of Murihiku Southland to our Community Archives for safe storage, permanent preservation, and sharing with our local community. We will assess the material for suitability before accepting. We now have a vast collection of local and district physical archives in our collection.

We have a formal Collecting and Disposal Policy which has been shared with other district public institutions and which is available to all other interested parties on request. Please contact us.

Geographical area covered:
The area we are covering with the digital archive is one in which the settlers within it often moved around to live and work in different local districts, so their family collections can be held together and not spread across varying institutions. The Western part of the district covered by the archive will be roughly from Piopiotahi/Fiordland in the West, right across the Waiau District, and along the coast south west coast, down into the Aparima/Riverton area in the South. Our coverage extends all the way over to Central Southland up to the old Wallace County district boundary. We are predominantly focusing on collecting from within the Waiau area, first and foremost, as our museum here is no longer operational, but other communities across the wider district are interested in the project and are also supporting our endeavours. Families from across the area are contributing their own history.

For the geographical area of our physical archives collections, please see the boundaries of the Tūātapere Te Waewae Community Board area, but basically this runs from Monowai in the north-west to Pahi in the South, and across from Raymond's Gap to the east of Merrivale on the Ōtautau road, across to Fiordland National Park.

Special collections held:
It is a privilege as well, to be chosen to be the holder of all the research material generated for the upcoming Central Western district book series on early Ōtautau, from the "Between River & Stream" project, as the town prepares for its 150th Celebrations at the end of 2024. Many settlers from this area made their way west as land opened up, so it is wonderful to see the community connections between these two districts. We have also just been donated an entire digital archive of the 100th Centenary book on Tūātapere, 'The Hole in The Bush' with the author giving permission for us to recreate this text and the photos within the community archives. These are both thrilling developments and both authors are keen to see their works easily accessible by the communities they represent. We are keen to also work with any other local and district authors.

We are also home to copies of two of the Waiau District's former newspapers/newsletters for the local communities this area services, the Waiau Gazette from 18 April 1969 and the Link & Chain Community News Bulletin from July 1985. We also have many copies of the Western Wanderer from 2007 onwards, but not so many from 2008 - 2018, so if you have these, we would like more!

We have also recently had donated a vast array of material relating to the Clifden district, Lake Hauroko, and Wairaurahiri River, with a range of both historical, and environmental background to this area, including documents about fossil finds, wildlife preservation projects, biological rejuvenation projects, pest eradication programs, environmental monitoring and ecological tours operating from across the district. These items will be digitised and added to our online portal as part of the wider Waiau Valley project, encompassing the two Murihiku Southland Power Schemes and the impacts these have had on the Waiau River itself and the surrounding districts.

Research Facilities:
We have highly trained and very experienced historical researchers available should you need help finding information and our charges for doing this are very reasonable. Please note that any material we hold for public viewing is freely available to everyone and if you need copies of anything, a donation to cover our copying costs will suffice. Please contact our Social Historian and Project Manager for information about our research service, as per details below.

We recently received funding for some publicly available computers for you to use when you visit our Hub. So, we are now able to provide FREE computer access, FREE internet access and FREE help to visitors for basic computer skills, to enhance the skills of those in our community who may suffer from 'digital divide'.

Donating Material:
For more information, or to make donations of material, please just ask. We give a huge shout-out to all those across the local towns and districts, who are making contact to arrange for us to consider receiving care of community history that they had kept safe, for such a wonderful occasion as this. We also appreciate those local communities who are organizing to drop off their history donations to us for digitising and also participating in helping provide further information as needed and thank our new volunteers who are hard at work organizing and researching district history.

The Central & Western Archive is being run as a sub-group of the Tūātapere & District Promotions Inc. as overarching governance. We would like to acknowledge and thank the following supporters, sponsors and/or funders, of their community project, so far:
Southland Regional Heritage Fund
Tūātapere Te Waewae Community Board
Tūātapere Hump Ridge Track Charitable Trust
Tūātapere & District Promotions Inc.
Tūātapere District Lions Charitable Trust
Tūātapere Service Station Ltd
Tūātapere Presbyterian Church Pop Up Shop
Four Square Tūātapere
Community Trust
Lottery Grants Board
Meridian Power Up Fund
We are grateful to all those, locally, regionally and nationwide, who have helped us to achieve what we have so far. We could not have achieved what we have without your help, funding and support.

Remember this is YOUR archive in your local community, a place where you can save and store any local history.

You can either donate this to our care on behalf of the community, or even have it copied for free, without it leaving your ownership, if you would rather engage with our digital sharing and preservation program. The online archive is a place where everybody within the community can contribute, comment, interact, share memories and our combined history. We do not need to take your important history to keep unless you wish us to. We can professionally copy it, ensure these copies are safe and share them with the community. Your heritage remains in your hands if you want this to happen, but it also ensures both yourselves and the community have a copy kept safe from future degradation or disaster.

If you have precious family or club memories you want to share with others but retain ownership of, the online community archive is a perfect solution for you.

Our Core Values, Mission and Vision Statement can be seen pinned to the top of our Facebook account, or feel free to email and ask us for a copy. These are also on display at the Archives Hub. Any further pātai or questions, please ask us.

Final note:
As this is a new site, a new model and a community voluntary Heritage Institution, please can you bear with us as we progress, grow and add new features, both online and at the Community Archives Hub. The plan is for each local community to have their own entries within the site both online and at the Heritage Hub, and for all the early settler families in each of these, to also be included in that, along with all past and current clubs, societies and businesses, community events or environmental projects, with a brief history and photos of each. If you can help us by providing a history of yours, please contact as below.

Ngā momo kohinga -
Collection Strengths


  • Aotearoa art - Contemporary
  • Aotearoa art - Modern

Archives and manuscripts

  • Maps and plans
  • Newspapers

Books and journals


  • Contemporary photograph
  • Documentary photography
  • Historic photography

Social history

Taonga Māori

  • Medicine (rongoa)
  • Tatoo (ta moko)


Ngā wāhi -

  • Central & Western Murihiku Southland Archive


  • Central & Western Murihiku Southland Archive

    Reference library

  • Central & Western Murihiku Southland Archive

    Education programme

  • Central & Western Murihiku Southland Archive

    Public programmes

  • Central & Western Murihiku Southland Archive

    Guided tours

  • Central & Western Murihiku Southland Archive

    Membership club

  • Central & Western Murihiku Southland Archive

    Touring exhibitions

  • Central & Western Murihiku Southland Archive

    High resolution images available for order

  • Central & Western Murihiku Southland Archive

    Wheelchair access

  • Central & Western Murihiku Southland Archive

    Free Wi-Fi

  • Central & Western Murihiku Southland Archive

    Function space

  • Central & Western Murihiku Southland Archive


  • Central & Western Murihiku Southland Archive


  • Central & Western Murihiku Southland Archive


  • Central & Western Murihiku Southland Archive

    Electric vehicle charging

  • Other facilities

    Our Whare Taonga or House of Treasures is set up as a safe, friendly space where you can relax and research, or view our archives and displays. There is a kitchen where you can prepare a hot beverage from our community supplies, or even cook/heat up your own lunch if visiting for an extended time, or if you are volunteering with us.

    We run a system of fully monitored 4k cameras with alarms and climate control. As Members of the professional body Museums Aotearoa, we operate under Culture and Heritage Sector Aotearoa guidelines. You can be rest assured that if you donate us items to care for on behalf of the community, that these are being kept safe and cared for in a way that reflects both Professional Ethics and Standards within our industry. We have secure, multiple backups of original and digital collections, both in physical form and cloud based, and we have future funding for a NAS in a Heritage Grant Commitment Schedule.

Whakapā mai -

  • Central & Western Murihiku Southland Archive

    Postal address

    Our Community Archives Heritage Hub Project Manager resides in the Waiau District. Please email for postal address if required. Making contact before sending items for digitization or physical donation is a requirement, due to prior review of any material for its suitability, also to assess any storage, privacy and copyright issues the items may present.

  • Central & Western Murihiku Southland Archive

    Phone number


  • Central & Western Murihiku Southland Archive
  • Facebook Instagram

  • Central & Western Murihiku Southland Archive

    Staff details

    Our Community Archives Heritage Hub Project Manager and Digitising Archivist is Suzie Best.

    In her ‘other life’ she is a Researcher/Historian, the author of the series of books, “Between River & Stream”. You can see more details about these under:

    We currently have 6 other volunteers, doing mahi/work both on digital archives and physical archives and with our local district research material and in generating finding aids for these. If you would like to offer to volunteer for us in any capacity, please get in touch via the above methods. Some roles require your presence at the Community Archives Hub Building, others can be done from the comfort of your own home, such as transcribing old archives from cursive script, into typing.

  • Kei te mahere -
    On the map