Who we are

We are a local museum in the ex coal mining village of Blackball, telling the story of the 1908 strike which saw the local miners lead the country into a new political era. We also mount local heritage exhibitions, exhibitions on current social and political issues, host a schools' programme teaching students the virtue of collective action, and run events reflecting a people's  culture.

The Museum was opened in 2009 and is supported by: E tu union, Tertiary Education Union, Public Service Association, the Dairy Workers Union, the Maritime Union of NZ and First Union. Infrastructure development has been funded by TrustPower, Development West Coast, Lotteries NZ, the West Coast Development Trust, Blackadder Trust and the Grey District Council.

Current Board: Nick Secker, Wayne Collins, Garth Elliott, Paul Kearns, Caroline Selwood, Tania Smallridge, Paul Maunder.

Summer Exhibition: Life on the Flat; based on the memoir of Norma Christie. The exhibition describes the life of a small community of mainly Scottish immigrants living on the flat below Blackball in the 1920s and 1930s.

Schools' programme

We run a one day interactive programme, Without our brain and muscle, designed for years: 6-10.  The children are transported back to early last century conditions, the miners going to work for insufficient pay and the family budget stretched. What can they do?


Celebrating Mayday is a major event on the Museum's calendar, bringing people from all over New Zealand. This year's programme, to be held at the Blackball Working Men's Club will be as follows: Te Puawai AGM, 10.30am; lunch 12 noon,  the Cuban Ambassador, Mario Alzugaray speaking on US imperialism in Central and South America, 12.40pm. Forum, chaired by the Honourable Damien O'Connor, on the topic of whether the West Coast is prepared for climate change with the Honourable James Shaw the keynote speaker. Local body representatives will also be speaking and we are hoping for the young people's voice to be represented by the climate extinction group. The Cuban Ambassador will also speak on climate change as it is affecting Cuba.  1pm-3pm. Following that the winter exhibition on climate change will be opened, and a Mayday March held through the village to the community centre where Kiwi/Possum's play about land issues, Whenua/DP4Lot 173 will be presented. Dinner at 5.30pm followed by a Mayday Quiz at the Working Men's Club. All are welcome, a koha of $10 for lunch, $15 for dinenr and we'll take the hat around for the players.

Stop Press: We were recently honoured to receive the inaugural Frederick George Evans Grant from the Workers Institute for Scientific Education. The grant was made 'in recognition of the museum's significant role in retaining a living record of NZ workers' struggles historically and its contribution to the awareness of current working class issues and struggles.'

Addition to Museum complex. Our new accessible toilet, funded by Lotteries Community was opened on Feb 24th by Mayor, Tony Kokshoorn.


An intervention

The Museum has facilitated the setting up of a co-operative incubator as a response to the need for a transition economy. More information and details about applying for membership is available at www.tepuawai.co.nz.

Te Puawai launched by Cuban Ambassador.

Links: video  Walter Shaw of Blackball reminisces - YouTube; Pike Commemoration in Blackball 2016 -YouTube; Picket at Pike River Mine -YouTube. Accommodation www.blackballhilton.co.nz. Food www.blackballsalami.co.nz. Walking Croesus Track. Walking and tramping in Southern Paparoa Range.


Copyright Mahi Tupuna - Blackball Museum of Working Class History