Telephones, cameras and everything in between, explore the evolution of communications at MOTAT Great North Road!

Our Communication Collection holds objects significant to the introduction and evolution of telecommunications, computing and audio visual technology dating back to the 1830s right through to the latest technology. We also hold the first analogue computer used in New Zealand: the only working example of a Meccano Differential Analyser in the world which was built between 1934 and 1951.

Read more about visiting during our Workshop Open Days.  


The importance of New Zealand’s telecommunications needs was realised in 1862 with the opening of the first telegraph line. This prompted the installation of more private and military telegraph lines and the first submarine cable which was installed in 1865 to connect the two NZ main Islands.   

Through our interactive activities, you can learn about different forms of communication, from telegraphs and Morse code to mobile phones, and take a hand-on approach to a real life manual telephone exchange.  

Audio Visual

Our still and moving camera collection includes examples of cameras used in New Zealand when the first photographers began working as early as 1848, right through to the more modern film cameras used in the 1980s. Improvements in photographic technology made it possible for many families to own simple cameras to record their experiences, with some of the earliest home movie cameras first produced in the 1920s. 

Our collection is largely static and incorporates an array of associated items such as projectors, sound recorders, record and tape players. Collection items are on display throughout the MOTAT Great North Rd site.


*Please note that only selected collection items are on display. Please view our Exhibitions section to find out more about current displays.