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300 years of our history on display

Henry Christensen didn’t mean to accumulate walls and shelves full of historical items – it was “just a hobby on the side, gone wrong”.

That hobby has culminated in the 300 years of history – the oldest artefact is a music book from the 1700s – that’s displayed in the Mt Bruce Pioneer Museum, which attracts over 2000 visitors a year.

Christensen said it all started when he acquired an old pedal-operated milking machine – still one of his favourite items in his collection to this day.

“It snowballed from there. I never knew what was going to come up next.”

Other favourite items for Christensen include a still fully operational gramophone and a telephone exchange.

There is even a room set up as a 1900s shop. One of Christensen’s favourite sections in the museum, it “took a while to complete”, with old-school grocery supplies stacked up on the shelves, many with the original contents still inside.

Among the other vintage items on display are typewriters, record players, chainsaws, cameras, and washing machines – although this list doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface.

A great deal of effort has gone into amassing the collection but Christensen reckons it’s been worth it – and he believes he has just about every type of item covered.

The number of antiques he’d accumulated accelerated as news of Christensen’s collection spread, and people started contacting him when they had anything of interest.

“Most of the time people ring me or bring stuff to me. It’s mostly from a Wairarapa origin.” Christensen said.

These days, though, most items are unlikely to pique his interest – or find a place in the museum.

“I’m not on the lookout for anything else – there’s no room.”

Bella Cleary
Bella Cleary
Bella Cleary is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age, originally hailing from Wellington. She is interested in social issues and writes about the local arts and culture scene.

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