Community Contributed

Mina Mckenzie

Manawatū Heritage2023-08-17T21:32:29+00:00

Mina Louise Mckenzie ( née Gillespie), of Ngati Hauiti, was born in Palmerston North in 1930. She  attended Whanganui Girls College, then studied zoology, geology and chemistry at Otago University from 1948 – 1950 and Massey University in 1963.  

Throughout her career, Mina made a significant contribution to the museum sector in Palmerston North and nationwide. She was affectionately known as “Aunty Mina” to many both within and outside the national museum sector. She joined the Museum Council in 1972 and worked as the Curator at the Manawatū Museum (forerunner of Te Manawa) from June 1974 – 1978, before becoming the museum’s director until 1994, when she retired to work on other projects. 

Not only was Mina one of the few early women directors in Aotearoa, she was also the first Māori director of a New Zealand institution. She was the President of the former Art Galleries and Museum’s Association of New Zealand (later MAANZ) from 1988 – 1990.  

Mina was a mentor to many young people in the museum sector and helped establish the Museum Studies course as a degree at Massey University. She was an honorary associate Lecturer in Museum Studies at Massey University from 1990. Following her death, the Mina Mckenze Scholarship was established in memory of her contribution to the profession. She is also remembered at the annual Local History Week celebrations with the Mina McKenzie memorial lecture.  

Mina had two children with her first husband, Barry Woods (m. 1952), and in 1965 she married Bruce McKenzie and had four children. She died on March 11, 1997, at her home aged 67 years.