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Surf’s up in Tauranga! Future museum acquires Dusty Waddell Collection for future generations

Dusty with his incredible surfing collection that will feature in the future Tauranga Museum.

The future Tauranga Museum has caught an epic wave with the acquisition of the legendary Dusty Waddell Collection for future generations.

Renowned as one of New Zealand’s premier compilations of classic Kiwi surfboards and surfing memorabilia, this collection will continue to make waves for future generations once the Tauranga Museum is built as part of Te Manawataki o Te Papa.

Including more than 130 surfboards, ranging from iconic longboards to sleek shortboards, the Dusty Waddell Collection is a testament to the evolution of Kiwi surfing.

Alongside these gnarly boards, the collection features a treasure trove of memorabilia, from vintage skateboards to groovy posters, blockbuster movies, retro T-shirts, slick diecast models, and stylish wetsuits.

The man behind the magic, Dusty Waddell, a well-known Tauranga businessman and surf enthusiast, has poured his heart and soul into curating this epic assemblage. Representing a vibrant tapestry of New Zealand’s surfing history from the swinging ’60s to the radical ’80s, Dusty’s passion shines through every piece.

Delighted about the collection’s new home, Dusty says, “I always hoped for the collection to be kept together and am thrilled it will be housed and cared for in the new museum for future generations to enjoy.”

Dusty’s journey into surfboard collecting began in 2005 when his son Scott bought a long board which rekindled Dusty’s interest in surfing – “It started with one board, that went to five, five went to ten, and so on – end of story.”

Greg McManus, Director of Arts, Culture & Heritage at Tauranga City Council, shares in the excitement of this acquisition: “In the view of our assessor, this is likely the best collection of surfboards and memorabilia ever offered for sale in New Zealand.”

James Jacobs, President of Bay Boardriders says, “Surfing has had a significant influence on New Zealand culture and it’s so awesome that we all can experience the evolution of surfing and pay homage to those that have laid the platform for where surfboard shaping has got to where it is today. Also, to have this resource in Tauranga Moana where there is a deep history of surfing, and the first ever national surfing competition was held here in 1963, is really fitting.”

The Dusty Waddell Collection joins over 33,000 artefacts in the Tauranga Heritage Collection that celebrate the rich cultural heritage of Tauranga and are currently stored inside a large climate-controlled warehouse in Mount Maunganui. As the new Tauranga Museum, slated to open its doors in 2028 as part of Te Manawataki o Te Papa, takes shape, visitors can look forward to an immersive journey through our city’s rich heritage and culture and now New Zealand’s vibrant surfing legacy.

Te Manawataki o Te Papa will transform the city centre into a vibrant community space and include a museum, library and community hub, civic whare (public meeting house) and exhibition gallery. Construction kicks off this year with the library and community hub, followed by construction of the museum, civic whare (public meeting house) and exhibition gallery.

Surfers at Mount Maunganui Surf Championships. Published on 29 April 1963. Credit: Tauranga City Libraries Photo gcc-2489


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