After almost five years of planning, construction has begun this week on the Hawke’s Bay Regional Museum Research and Archives Centre in Hastings.
The site at 307 Queen Street East was blessed ahead of Gemco Construction beginning the build that’s expected to take 18-24 months to complete, including a complex three to four month relocation of the region’s taonga and artefacts.
The project is a collaboration between Hastings District and Napier City councils, the Hawke’s Bay Museums Trust and Ngāti Kahungunu Iwi Incorporated and will provide secure, appropriate, permanent storage for the future care and protection of the extensive collection.
Hastings Mayor, Sandra Hazlehurst said it was another exciting step for the project that will create a modern, fit-for-purpose, resilient storage facility.
“What’s been designed is a space that is not only thoughtful and beautiful, it will also allow the safekeeping of our precious taonga for now and future generations,” she said.
“The location of this regional asset complements our city’s expanding arts, culture and hospitality offerings on the eastern side of the city, as well as ensuring the collection’s ongoing preservation.”
Napier Mayor, Kirsten Wise said the new facility would expand on what was already being offered by the existing regional arts and culture spaces such as MTG.
“This will bring the collection together under one roof to be looked after, but also be made more accessible to the community for research and educational purposes,” she said.
Hawke’s Bay Museums Trust representative, Jeanette Kelly said it was very gratifying to be starting the building work after years of mahi and fundraising.
“This collection is not only significant to the region, but also important nationally, comprising around 90,000 items, valued at more than $30m.”
“We are extremely grateful to those who have contributed funding to support this project, and our fundraising efforts will continue so we can ensure we have a facility befitting the prestige of this collection,” she said.
Investments of $5.79 million from the New Zealand Lotteries Commission, and $9 million from the Manatū Taonga-Ministry for Culture and Heritage’s Regional Culture & Heritage Fund, on top of the Hastings and Napier councils’ contributions, have made the project possible.
Ngāti Kahungunu Iwi Incorporated chair, Bayden Barber said he was very much looking forward to having the region’s taonga relocated.
“In this location any threat of tsunami is mitigated and the collection will be more accessible in a state of the art facility for iwi, hapu, whānau and community to reconnect with their precious taonga,” he said.
The facility’s design comprises a ‘Lighthouse’ and a ‘Darkhouse’ – the Lighthouse will be part-education and research space, and part-workspace, while the Darkhouse will be the secure, temperature and humidity-controlled storage component, with a focus on the protection and preservation of the collection.
The Hawke’s Bay Museums Trust is the official kaitiaki/guardian of the collection with Napier City Council’s MTG managing the day-to-day needs through a contract for service.
Local Hawke’s Bay firm, Gemco Construction, has been awarded the contract to build the facility.