Akaroa Museum is high on the Things to Do in Akaroa list. It’s open seven days a week, a good wet weather day activity and it’s FREE entry with interesting displays.
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Akaroa Museum Comte de Paris Exhibition encapsulated 180 years of French Settlement in Akaroa, showcasing some of the original settlers and their descendants that live across New Zealand, and one Marie Haley who still lives in the town and tells the stories of her ancestors with The Seventh Generation Tour Company.
Akaroa Museum * FREE
Open 7 days a week and entrance is FREE!! Akaroa Museum
71 Rue Lavaud, Akaroa. Opposite the Akaroa 4 Square and across from the Old Post Office, where The Seventh Generation Tours leaves from.
We arrive back to the Akaroa Museum at the end of the Akaroa Nature and History Tour, with enough time to drop in before the Akaroa Connection Bus back to Christchurch.
Akaroa Museum Opening Hours
Akaroa Museum is open seven days a week.
May to September (Winter hours): 10.30am to 4pm
October to April (Summer hours): 10.30am to 4.30pm
Closed Christmas Day and Anzac Day morning (25 April).
Akaroa Museum is home to the OLDEST house in Akaroa!!
It is the only surviving house constructed by French colonists in the early 1840s. Nationally important and is one of the oldest buildings in Canterbury.
Permanent Displays – French Heritage
On permanent display in the Akaroa Museum is a wide range of important information and treasures, from French settlement, and Maori history as well.
Heavily represented in the museum is the Lelievre family, (my ancestors) who breed fast and left numerous descendants and reminders. Including the marriage bed, their family photograph, writing desk and much more…
Etienne Francois Lelievre arrived in Akaroa as a blacksmith on the whaling ship the Nil, under an American commander. Lelievre built a hut in Akaroa and spent several months living ashore. He returned to France and came back to Akaroa in 1840 aboard the Comte de Paris as a crew member and continued as a blacksmith for Nanto Bordelaise Company.
Etienne is Marie Haley’s Great Great Great Grandad, who married Justine Rose de Malmanche, who arrived as an eight year old girl from France. Their eldest son Etienne Xavier married Louisa Helena Rodrigues who arrived as a young girl from the island of Madeira, Portugal.
In the 1830’s many French whaling ships came to Banks Peninsula each year. In 1837 the first European built a hut in Akaroa, Etienne Francois Lelievre, there he planted the famous napoleon willow next to his hut.
I was honored to be chosen as the only local resident in the Akaroa Museum Comte de Paris Exhibition display of the Comte de Paris descendants 180th celebration. In this beautiful temporary exhibition a selection of descendants were shown for what it means to them to be connected to the first French settlers in Akaroa. Here’s my take on living in one place for seven generations.
“This deep sense of connection moves me to tell stories with my own tour company, The Seventh Generation.”
Knowing who I am gives me the ground to stand on, to know where I am going –tūrangawaewae. Like the tall totara tree that once covered Banks Peninsula from summit to sea. They dig in their feet and stand firm through the strongest storms and their memory is long.
This is how I know the land, over seven generations through all the changes that have taken place. My Great-grandmother spoke of a forest fire that burnt for three months. I saw the last tui, and the first.
From knowing my history, I draw on a deep well of hope for the future. I know how far we have come; my great-great-great-great-grandmother, Rose Victoire Joanne de Malmanche, gave birth to the first born European child in Canterbury, in a tent by the sea, how much easier we have it now! (His christening gown was also in the Akaroa Museum Comte de Paris Exhibition). How we decimated the ecosystems, and how nature is already returning, faster than we could have imagined.
I have always walked in the footsteps of my ancestors and carry the responsibility to create a more beautiful, abundant place with stronger vitality (mauri). For I am not separate to this place, and you could not separate me from this place.
This deep sense of connection moves me to tell stories, with my own tour company and school education trips, so others can connect to both this place and their own history.
READ this list of 9 amazing historic places to visit including – Akaroa Museum
There are so many Akaroa hidden gems and Akaroa Attractions. Really you need a week here!
Don’t miss also the Okains Bay Museum filled with Maori artefacts and treasures, it really is worth the visit.
Other Akaroa Attractions and Historic Places of Interest
Takapūneke – read about it HERE
BEST to take a GUIDE
You will get so much more out of visiting the historic places of Akaroa with a guide, and really there is no other historic guide who will take you to the best hidden gems. A seventh generation local, natural storyteller and expert historian of the local stories.
Historian Harry Evison stated that Akaroa has a ‘richer set of narratives around the nations identity than Waitangi’ (Waitangi is often considered New Zealand’s most important historic site). NO ONE tells this story like Marie: Join her Today.