From Humble Beginnings:

Graeme Craw, farmer and earth-moving contractor, founded the collection back in the late 1950s. His strong interest in the Industrial Revolution and its impact on early New Zealand society led him to start preserving the machines and their stories which came out of this era. He was one of the first collectors to put together a collection of one make of vehicle showing its chronological development in design and technology.

The collection encompasses vehicles, machinery and memorabilia from the 19th and 20th centuries including the 1873 Dubs A62 steam engine.

Initially the collection was housed in sheds Graeme built at his farm, located at Anawhata, West Auckland. As the collection grew he needed more shed space and so purchased the old Montana Winery in Titirangi. Here Graeme set the collection up as ‘The Packard and Pioneer Museum’ and opened it to the public. However, the Waitakere City Council wanted to add the Anawhata farm into their regional park. Graeme sold the farm to the council along with the Montana land and buildings. He purchased Tarai Station at Nukutawhiti, (where some of the collection is still housed) and the newer half of the Northern Co-op Dairy Factory at Maungatapere, Northland. As you can imagine the museum took several years to shift out of Montana.

The largest of the buildings purchased was the Dairy Factory’s ghee storage shed, approximately the size of a football field. Moira, Graeme’s wife and Fenton, one of Graeme’s two sons, remembers standing in the middle of the shed and remarking that it would take Graeme years to fill it. Guess what, it was full in about six months.

Graeme started his love of the American manufactured Packard automobile when he purchased ‘CD9,’ a 1924 Packard straight-eight Tourer; ‘A gentleman’s car made by gentlemen’. Today the collection encompasses 55 of these outstanding automobiles, covering most models from 1919 to 1958 when Packard ceased production.

At Maungatapere, Graeme took visitors and clubs through the collection by appointment. However after a long illness, Graeme passed away in 2007. After Graeme’s death the family decided to hire a manager and once again open the collection to the public as this had been Graeme’s wish. Today, Graeme’s son Fenton and his wife Geraldine direct the museum and the collection is open to the public Wednesday to Saturday, 10.00am to 4pm.