The Petone Settlers Museum was constructed in 1939 to commemorate the centennial of the Wellington Province. It marks the arrival in Petone of the first New Zealand Company immigrant ship the ‘Aurora’ in January 1840.
The building serves as a memorial for the whole of the Wellington Province and was originally a bathing pavilion.
A national competition was held to design the building. The winner was the Auckland-based architect Horace Lovell Massey (1895-1979).
The building consisted of a central Hall of Memories, flanked by two changing rooms for beach-goers. The focal point of the building is an arched etched-glass window on the north façade, which depicts the first meeting of the New Zealand Company Settlers with the local iwi Te Āti Awa. A relief representing the prow of the ‘Aurora’ protrudes from the base of the window.
The building was opened by Governor-General, Lord Galway, on 22 January 1940.
In 1977 the building was converted to a museum and is now known as the Petone Settlers Museum/Te Whare Whakaaro o Pito-one.
The Museum focuses on Māori and Pākehā settlement of the Wellington region and collects, cares for and shares our social history as well as showcasing other topics of local interest.