Saturday, July 20, 2024

New Hawke’s Bay archives site build in the frame

The construction of Hawke’s Bay’s new research and archives building, MTG Hawke’s Bay’s off-site storage facility, is now well underway, with the floor to be laid in mid-April.

MTG Hawke’s Bay director, Laura Vodanovich said that as construction proceeds, so does the complex task of packing up the collection and getting it ready for storage in its new home. 

“The Hawke’s Bay collection is officially valued in the millions, but really it is priceless,” she said.

“At the moment, items are housed in different locations, and they are being expertly sorted, packed, and labelled by the MTG Hawke’s Bay collections care, and access team.”

Hawke’s Bay’s Regional Research and Archives Centre will comprise a ‘lighthouse’ and a ‘darkhouse’.

The lighthouse will be an education, research and workspace, while the darkhouse will provide secure, temperature and humidity-controlled storage, with a focus on the protection and preservation of the collection.

“As a research and access facility, it will support the long-term care and protection of the collection, enable academic research and contribute to the advancement of knowledge in various fields, including art, history, taonga and design,” said Ms Vodanovich.

Hastings Mayor, Sandra Hazlehurst said it was heartening to see the construction progress.

“We are looking forward to seeing this thoughtful and beautiful design come alive, adding great depth to our city’s exciting architecture, and providing an important new avenue of learning and cultural understanding to our region,” she said.

Napier Mayor, Kirsten Wise said the new facility would expand on what was already being offered by the existing regional arts and culture spaces.

“This new space will serve as a fitting home for the creativity, knowledge, and heritage of Te Matau-a-Māui Hawke’s Bay. It will mean our collection can be made more accessible to people for research and educational purposes.”

“This building will have a crucial role in preserving and sharing the richness and diversity of our culture for present and future generations.”

Ngāti Kahungunu Iwi Incorporated chair, Bayden Barber said he was looking forward to having the region’s taonga relocated.

“In this location the collection will be more accessible in a state-of-the-art facility for iwi, hapū, whānau and community to reconnect with their precious taonga,” he said.

Hawke’s Bay Museums Trust representative, Jeanette Kelly said it was gratifying to see the progress being made, after years of mahi and fundraising.

“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.”

MTG Hawke’s Bay is the kaitiaki (guardian) of the collection. It is one of the most significant regional collections in New Zealand, comprising around 90,000 artefacts acquired over 150 years.

At any one time, about 600 items are on display at MTG Hawke’s Bay, with displays changed six to eight times over a year on average. Items in the Hawke’s Bay collection include the complete archives of New Zealand’s three most significant post-war textile designers William Mason, Avis Higgs and Frank Carpay, 6,000 taonga tuku iho, which have been carved, woven, plaited, hewn, lashed and flaked, and handed down through generations together with their rich stories, and a significant collection of written works by William Colenso, an important early New Zealand missionary, botanist, and Hawke’s Bay resident, recognised for his contribution to botanical exploration, scientific inquiry, and cultural exchange.

The ‘lighthouse/darkhouse’ project has been funded with the assistance 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 and Heritage Fund. Hastings District Council and Napier City Council purchased the property for $3.05 million, with a 50/50 split. Of the $7.7 million construction cost, Hastings has contributed $4.565 million while Napier has contributed $3.135 million.

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