Walsh Memorial Library

MOTAT’s Walsh Memorial Library houses an extensive collection of historical records, archives, and materials reflecting Auckland’s social history and New Zealand’s unique history of transport and technology.

Named after New Zealand aviation pioneers Leo and Vivian Walsh, the library opened in 1964, and serves to preserve and document heritage items, and provide the Museum staff and public with access to the collection.

The library is a reference only facility, meaning resources are not able to be signed out or taken off site. However, the library is open to the public, research requests can be made through the website, and much of the collection is available online. The space is also used to display exhibitions related to the library collection. Please see the exhibitions listings on the website for more information on what’s currently on display.

MOTAT 1, 805 Great North Road | Monday to Friday 10am – 4:30 pm | Closed on public holidays | Phone: 09-845-3690 | Email

 

Our Collections

The Walsh Memorial Library holds an impressive collection of manuscript, pictorial, published, and oral history collections based on New Zealand aviation, transport, technology, and Auckland social histories as outlined below.

Published Collections
This includes books and serials dating back more than a century ago through to present day. They cover a vast range of topics, from aviation, rail transport, and auto mechanics to printmaking, engineering, and New Zealand social history. We also have a large collection of manuals for a wide range of plane and car models. Our published collections are available to browse online here.

Manuscripts, Maps, and Plans  
These records reflect the MOTAT collections, and include manuscripts and hand-written letters from aviation pioneers, plans and blueprints for locomotives and tracks, statistics, and records for New Zealand transport histories, and more. Contact us for more information on this extensive collection.

Oral Histories
The library has over 400 hours of recordings archived, covering themes of aviation, transport, telecommunications, and more. Interviews with former MOTAT staff members and volunteers give an intimate and lively account of the development of the museum and its collections. Come in and listen to our interviews with Guy Robertson (pioneer of NZ aerial top dressing), Phyllis Harwood, (Auckland tram conductress between 1947 and 1956), and many more.

Pictorial Collections
The pictorial collections are currently being digitized, and include significant New Zealand collections like the Whites Aviation and Les Downey rail collections. Read in-depth articles about some of our collections, as written by our dedicated volunteers. 

To access a wider selection of our pictorial collections see our eHive.

Meet the Library Team


The library is run by a dedicated team of qualified and knowledgeable staff and volunteers. The Library Team are always on hand for research assistance, and can also provide digitization and image reproduction services for items in our collections. We welcome research requests in person, online, and by phone.

Philippa Robinson
Library and Archives Manager

My background is working with special collections, predominantly documentary heritage. I have a Masters in Library and Information Studies and a Postgraduate Diploma in Museum Studies. As part of the library team – it is an honour to be one of the kaitiaki of MOTAT’s documentary heritage and pictorial collections.

Nina Whittaker
Library Assistant

I work with many aspects of the library collection including the published collections, social media outreach, and digitisation. I have a postgraduate certificate in Information Studies and am currently a tauira at the Wānanga’s He Papa Tikanga programme. I am a bright-eyed advocate for information activism and good music.

Chelsea Renshaw
Assistant Librarian -Manuscripts & Archives

I care for the manuscript and archive collections here at the Walsh Memorial Library. I have worked in the heritage and culture sector for seven years and am currently completing a Masters of Information Studies. It is a privilege and a passion to assist with access to Aotearoa's documentary heritage.

Megan Hutching
Oral Historian

I work one day a week at MOTAT - usually Tuesdays - recording interviews about objects in the MOTAT Collection, and people's working lives in the areas of transport and technology for the Walsh Memorial Library. During the rest of the time I work as a freelance historian, specialising in oral history.

Paul Tibbutt
Library Team Member

I work one day a week in the Library, currently cataloguing photographs from the Leo White Collection. I retired after 48 years with NAC / Air New Zealand but still express my passion for aviation history through scale aircraft modelling, related research, involvement with the Library and the Aviation Historical Society.

Richard Williams
Library Team Member

I retired after a 46 year career with NAC and Air New Zealand in 1996. During this time my focus was on advertising and marketing and I was instrumental in facilitating early aerial publicity photography for NAC. Recently, as an aviation historian, I have made a valuable contribution to aviation history in New Zealand.

Warwick Brown
Volunteer

I work two days per week in the Library and am currently cataoguing the manuals collection, with the aim to make this publicly accessible. An ex-lawyer with several years of experience in the fine arts sector (awarded MNZM for services to art in 2013), I also helped organise the library’s art collection.

Freya Elmer
Library Assistant

I am working on the Digitisation Project. This project aims to increase accessibility to the collections, whilst preserving the original object. I have a love for all things arts related and am currently completing my Post-Grad Diploma in Museum Studies.