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Hokonui Museum

With the establishment of the Arts & Heritage Department of Gore District Council a dedicated research project was initiated to help realise the long-held community vision of a social history museum to interpret the history of Hokonui. From 1996, oral histories were gathered, and archives searched to help give substance to the myriad of legends and tall tales that surrounded the illicit distillation of spirit in Southland.  And this work proved timely; given the lapsed embargos on many official Police and Customs records that would ultimately provide accurate information on the more than 30 prosecutions for Breach of the Distillation Act – along with a valuable historical context. 


The first physical incarnation of this work was the Hokonui Moonshine Museum, and this was completed and officially opened in 2000.  A joint venture with the Gore Visitor Centre, this operated as a successful social history focused visitor attraction for just over 20 years.


The story of Hokonui has certainly lived on into the 21st century, but it had always been the museum’s desire to host the actual (albeit legal) manufacture of this legendary spirit.  From 2020 – with the aid of technology, expertise, capital funding, and creative input not available at the time of opening, the museum has now advanced an enterprise-based development that gives visitors a complete Hokonui Experience – while providing the Hokonui Museum & Distillery with a national and international point of difference.

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