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: Blackball Belles

Following on from last summer's popular 'Blackball Blokes' exhibition, Caroline Selwood and Tania Smallridge have been gathering the women's stories. Open now.

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 on Saturday April 28 at the Blackball Working Men's Club, is as follows:

10.00am: AGM of Te Puawai Co-operative Society Limited. Shareholders and supporters, or even the curious, are welcome.

11.00am: Presentation by Te Puawai working group of a proposed co-operative structure for Blackball’s response to the Paparoa Track opportunity. All residents and wider district stakeholders welcome.

12.00pm Cultural interlude: Songs of Solidarity.

12.10pm Lunch. $10/unwaged $7.50.

1.00pm Forum. Transposing the values and intent of Labour-led Government (biculturalism, equity, living wage, diversity, regional development…) to

the West Coast (Local Bodies, Development West Coast, Economic Development agencies, local business, media, NGOs, tourist operations, CBD development).

Keynote speaker: Right Honourable Shane Jones, Minister for Regional Development.

Also in attendance in mentor role: Labour MPs, Poto Williams & Rino Tirikatene; plus Cuban Ambassador, Mario Alzugaray. Local body representatives, community and business leaders and all citizens of a progressive mind are invited to attend the forum, with an eye to next year’s local body elections.

3pm Opening of new Exhibition at Museum: A woman’s right: Equal Pay, Equal Opportunity (past and present) by Poto Williams. Curated by Blackball Museum.

3.30pm. Afternoon tea and for those who wish, travel to Punakaiki for The Petrel Festival (food available).  

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