Make a big difference to The Big Idea.

Help us tell the most creative stories.

Become a supporter

A Celebration of Aotearoa's maritime past and present

Endless Sea
Stories told through the taonga of the New Zealand Maritime Museum


Endless Sea by Frances Walsh

A fascinating new book published in November by Massey University Press focuses on the sea which encircles Aotearoa, and 100 objects from the collection of our national maritime museum.

The Museum, which opened on the Auckland waterfront in 1993, has a sprawling and eclectic collection that takes in Māori and Pacific voyaging craft and the prototype of the legendary speedy Hamilton Jet through to art work and model ships. Its taonga tell history-ranging stories — from the infamous 1985 bombing of the Rainbow Warrior to inspired inventions and maritime disasters.

From relics of the age of the great ocean liners and evidence of magnificent obsessions to a host of crafted sailboats and America’s Cup winner, Black Magic, the Museum — and the book — is packed with delights. They span the country, from a cannon that guarded our first shipyard in the north in the late 1820s and a souvenir of the Bluff oyster fishery to an eco-surfboard fabricated in Wellington’s Lyall Bay.

Four of the stars of the collection are also stars of the book: the First World War hospital launch Nautilus, the scow Ted Ashby, the redoubtable little steamboat Puke and the elegant sailboat built on the shores of the Coromandel, Breeze. These are all working boats, maintained by the Museum’s shipwrights and operated by the Museum’s many volunteers.

Objects tied to the Museum’s relationships and place are among the key taonga. When the Museum opened in 1993, kuia from Ngāti Whātua Orākei, who maintain the ahi kā in Auckland, gave it tukutuku panels that tell the story of ancestors who settled here after the long voyage from Hawaiiki.

Shot by the renowned photographer Jane Ussher, Endless Sea is beautifully designed as a jacketed hardback, the ideal companion for anyone who loves the sea and mucking about in boats—or who wishes they were.

Further information: 


Written by

Sarah Thornton

18 Nov 2020