No one who has visited Kaitaia's Museum @ Te Ahu could possibly have missed the largest exhibit, an anchor from the French ship St Jean Baptiste, commanded by Jean Francois Marie de Surville (1717-70), one of three that were cut adrift from the ship in 1769 when it was caught in a storm off Tokerau, in Doubtless Bay.

Museum trustee Sarah Wale said the anchors, which were discovered in 1974, were almost certainly the oldest authentic European objects found in New Zealand, and were implicated in one of the earliest encounters between Māori and Europeans.

However, in all the years since its discovery and preservation, the anchor in Kaitaia had been on loan to the Far North Regional Museum (now Museum @ Te Ahu) courtesy of its owner, the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.

That was about to change though, with ownership to be passed to Museum @ Te Ahu on Saturday next week (November 9).


"The trustees and staff of Museum @ Te Ahu will be honoured to accept the gift of this important taonga, and are especially delighted that it should occur during the museum's 50th anniversary year," Ms Wale said.

The ceremony would begin in the atrium at Te Ahu at 10.30am, followed by the handing-over, signing of the Deed of Gift and speeches in the museum, "in the presence of the anchor."

Anyone who would like to be part of the occasion, and learn more about the history of a very important artefact, would be most welcome, she added.