Spotlight on a Member: Ōtaki Heritage: Te Whare Pouhere Taonga o Ōtaki

Sue Carroll and Jenn Corbitt, Ōtaki Heritage volunteers working on museum archives

When heading along Ōtaki’s Main Street, you may see a rather incongruous yellow building that’s missing a front door. Ever wondered what’s inside?

Originally built in 1918 to house the BNZ’s Ōtaki branch, including ample living accommodation for the bank manager and his family, the Ōtaki Borough Council replaced the original facade during the 1960’s as part of a conversion to house its council chambers for several years. KCDC continued to run a service centre there until 1998, when it was relocated to the new purpose built library nearby.

Spotting an opportunity to preserve the building, the Ōtaki Heritage Bank Preservation Trust was formed and leased the building from council in 2003, where a museum was then established. The Ōtaki Historical Society also took up residence in the building - an ideal location to house the many historical documents, maps and photos accumulated over the years. During 2023, the two organisations came together to form Ōtaki Heritage: Te Whare Pouhere Taonga o Ōtaki and, as they say, the rest is history!

Ōtaki Heritage is a popular visitor destination on the Kāpiti Coast, as demonstrated during the recent Kāpiti Heritage Clue Hunt, when some 150 visitors were welcomed over the three day Wellington Anniversary weekend.

Whether coming to browse the thematic exhibitions (‘Ōtaki Beach Stories’ opens soon..), view the fascinating exhibits on display, including a working pianola, beautiful Art Nouveau grandfather clock and furniture rescued from a local shipwreck, or to research family ancestory or perhaps the history of your property, Ōtaki Heritage offers something for everyone.

None of this would be possible without the dedicated team of Volunteer Trustees, Visitor Hosts and those dedicated to cataloguing and maintaining the wealth of objects and records held in the museum. If you have a curiosity about the past, enjoy engaging with people, offer computer skills and have a keen attention to detail, then do take a look at the Visitor Host, Museum Promoter and Collection Administrator roles []

And if you would like to come and visit this fabulous treasure trove at 49 Main Street, Ōtaki, access is via the former bank manager’s private entrance located on the west side of the building, with ample parking available at the back!

Photo of Sue Carroll and Jenn Corbitt, Ōtaki Heritage volunteers working on museum archives.