How to care for wooden objects and taonga MāoriTiaki taonga rākau, taonga Māori hoki


Wear gloves when handling wooden objects. If the item is heavy and gloves would affect your grip, use clean, bare hands instead.

Storing and moving

  • Keep your wooden objects in an area with consistent temperature and humidity. Fluctuations in these conditions can cause wood to expand and contract, leading to cracking, bending, and breakage.

  • Store wooden objects on shelves or pallets, rather than directly on the floor, to protect from flooding.

  • Protect wooden objects from exposure to light.

  • Inspect wooden objects for insects like borer and other beetles, which can cause significant damage.

  • Wood is highly flammable, so protect your items and have a fire safety plan in place.

  • Keep spaces clean by dusting shelving and vacuuming floors, but avoid applying oils to wood.

  • When moving a heavy object, make sure to use at least two people and have a clear path laid out before you start. Secure any drawers or shelves that could come loose.

For more advice on furniture preservation, download a PDF from the American Institute for Conservation of Historis and Artistic Works: Caring for your works [PDF; 278KB]

Taonga Māori protocol

If your objects are taonga Māori, consult with an iwi representative for advice on how to properly care for and display them.

Preservation of wet wood

Timber which has been submerged or found in a wet environment requires special treatment. The following presentation explores first aid response and the preservation of wet wood, through the rescue recovery of timbers from the HMS Buffalo shipwreck off the coast of Whitianga, Coromandel.

University of Auckland has a purpose build conservation laboratory for wet organic archaeological material.

‘National Conservation Laboratory for Wet Organic Archaeological Materials’ brouchure [PDF; 4.2MB]

For further advice on maritime archaeological sites contact:

Find a conservator

New Zealand Conservators of Cultural Materials has a comprehensive list of conservators across Aotearoa. If you wish to find a conservator in your region view their directory.