On the first of this month, I had the privilege of attending the site blessing for the new collection facility being built in Hastings. This facility will store the hugely important and significant collection we care for on behalf of the Te Matau-a-Māui community.
We didn’t get to this site blessing easily – decades of work and many people got us to this day. My predecessor, Douglas Lloyd-Jenkins, and staff who’ve been at the museum long before me had been working on finding an appropriate long-term solution for the care of the collection. Trust Board members, past and present, have championed this cause. Te Rōpū Kaiāwhina Taonga members, while no longer an operating group, all played an important role. Rose Mohi, who was Chair of Te Rōpū, has continued to promote and champion this project.
More recently a Joint Working Group was formed by Hastings District Council and Napier City Council. This working group has councillors and staff from both Napier and Hastings, Hawke’s Bay Museum Trust members and iwi at the table. It is this group who worked together to find a suitable site, develop plans and pursue funding, which finally led us to 1 September outside the empty Briscoes building on Queen Street East, Hastings at 7:30am.
Kaumatua Jerry Hapuku oversaw proceedings with around 40 people in attendance. Mana whenua were present, including kuia Wikitoria whose photo was carried in by her mokopuna Marei Apatu. Two mauri stones were laid to bind the elements and provide the life force for the new facility. On the day Marei Apatu spoke on behalf of hapū, the marae past, and Wikitoria. Other speakers came from Hastings and Napier Councils, the Hawke’s Bay Museums Trust and MTG Hawke’s Bay among others. It was a significant moment for museum staff, to finally know that the collection will be given the home and respect it deserves. It was also a significant moment for Te Matau-a-Māui, which holds the largest and most significant collection outside the four main cities. We hope this new space will enable more engagement with the collection and that the community will come to fully understand and appreciate the treasure you own.
This new facility will provide a permanent and safe home for the region’s treasures of 90,000+ items. It will provide space for staff to work on the collection; preparing them for exhibition, condition reporting, treating, packing, etc. There will be a dedicated space for archive researchers, who often come for many hours or even days and need a quieter space to concentrate. The new facility has a space for groups to come in and view items by appointment and the same space can also accommodate education groups when it’s not in other use. The layout of the collection store will allow for group tours to introduce people to the collection and to understand the range of items it holds.
It is so great to finally be here - Haumi ē Hui ē Tāiki ē!
Published in the Hawke’s Bay Today newspaper on 15 September 2023 and written by Laura Vodanovich, Director at MTG Hawke’s Bay.
Image: Site blessing, 1 September 2023
13 October 2023
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