MOTAT in Synergy with Hanwell

Over its 55-year history, the Museum of Transport and Technology (MOTAT) has acquired almost 100,000 collection items that trace the development of New Zealand’s nation and showcase the role New Zealanders have played as innovators, inventors and adventurers on a global stage.

MOTAT holds key pieces of the nation’s transportation and technology history. The collections cover a wide range of materials and formats in a diverse arrangement of storage and display environments. Long term improvements to conservation and collection care is a primary focus for MOTAT and this work is driven by the museum’s in-house team of conservators led by Conservation Manager Kristie Short-Traxler.

In 2017 Kristie joined the MOTAT team, accepting the brief to develop a sustainable and nationally recognised conservation team and to implement a framework to help safeguard MOTAT’s collection for the future.

As with any scientific endeavour, her first challenge was to understand and measure MOTAT’s environment in order to know what needed to change and where conservation resources would be best deployed.

This required the review of current technologies in use for monitoring environments and comparing them to the museum’s needs.

Radio telemetry technology has been used to monitor temperature and humidity in the manufacturing sector, most notably in the food and pharmaceutical industries. It has also been used in the museum sector, particularly in Europe and North America to monitor storage and display environments since the 1980s.

Following initial research, Kristie contacted Hanwell Solutions and was put in touch with their Australian distributor, ECE Fast, who worked with Kristie and the team at MOTAT to demonstrate the benefits of Hanwell Synergy.

MOTAT had relied on a monitoring process consisting of individual data logger monitors which required museum staff to manually download collected data from each unit. Therefore, the decision to install Hanwell’s Synergy System was an easy one as it immediately reduced the amount of time and resources needed to gather this data from MOTAT’s three dispersed sites.

ECE Fast’s General Sales Manager, David Hughes, explained “The MOTAT project was a fantastic challenge for us to showcase our ability to ensure the smooth set up and training of a large system within a 4-day round trip”.

Hanwell’s Synergy system is not only the largest monitoring system installed at MOTAT, but it is one of the largest radio telemetry systems ever installed in a New Zealand or an Australian museum, with around 40 sensors being installed by the ECE Fast team over 3 sites.

Following the success of the system installation, the museum team are now able to better monitor and manage environmental data because they can interpret, share and react to critical environmental changes swiftly.

“One of the particular benefits of this Synergy system is its flexibility” says Emma Prideaux, MOTAT’s Conservation Technician and the team member responsible for the day to day operation of the Synergy system.

“I find that it is easy to expand our monitoring program, by adding extra monitors where they are needed. As MOTAT is so large, the convenience of Synergy’s wireless monitors has been a real highlight too.  We need to be mobile so being able to collect data swiftly via a web browser, from anywhere and at any time means we can be much more agile in our conservation efforts.”

The ease with which this data is gathered has also given the new conservation team the ability to share their knowledge with other museum staff, so that everyone working at MOTAT can better understand the roles they can play to support conservation of the collection.

“As a museum, MOTAT’s most precious assets are its diverse collections” explains Kristie.

“Thanks to Hanwell’s Synergy System we can now build the foundations of a sustainable and data-driven environmental programme to protect New Zealand’s heritage.”

Thanks to Hanwell’s Synergy System we can now build the foundations of a sustainable and data-driven environmental programme to protect New Zealand’s heritage.



  • MOTAT needed an effective and comprehensive environmental monitoring system across its three disparate sites.
  • Previous systems were very labour intensive and not easily interrogated.


  • Conservation Manager, Kristie Short-Traxler and Hanwell distributor, ECE Fast discussed requirements and best fit. ECE Fast recommended Hanwell Synergy to help.


  • Hanwell Synergy system monitors 3 sites across Auckland for temperature, relative humidity, visible and UV light levels in storage and display areas. This allows the Museum to gather baseline data and to see how well their buildings and enclosures buffer against climate.

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