Blacks Point Museum secured $25,000 of funding from the National Services Te Paerangi (Te Papa) museum hardship fund.
The funding enables the Blacks Point Museum Trust to employ a part time curator and a part time stamper battery operator for one year and develop a new e-commerce capable website.
The museum fell into financial difficulties when COVID-19 hit, causing a significant decrease in visitor numbers last year. For the first time the museum ran a loss in the financial year 2020/21.
Buller District Council’s socio-economic development officer in Reefton, Rachel Fifield says the museum was in financial difficulty.
“The museum’s collections are important history for Inangahua and for Aotearoa/New Zealand. The amazing collections tell the story of discovery of the first gold-bearing quartz reefs near Reefton in 1870 and the years that followed,” she said.
Ms Fifield worked with the museum’s secretary, Pat Russel, to submit a funding application to Te Papa so that the public would still have access to historical items showing the eight decades of industry progression, technology and innovation, community life, woman’s suffrage movement, and the development of the hydroelectric plant which brought the first public electricity supply to Reefton in 1888.
The museum’s difficult situation was made worse through the loss of two key volunteers who were operating the museums stamper battery and who did a lot of maintenance work.
Ms Fifield says the funding enables the trust to let the museum’s amazing collection shine, make it more accessible to more people, and create new income sources to reduce the need for outside funding.
“Looking back COVID-19 had a big impact on the museum, but it forced the trust to re-evaluate how the museum can stay viable,” she says.
A spokesperson for OceanaGold says: “Ms Fifield’s work as Reefton socio-economic development officer in helping to secure this funding from Te Papa for Black’s Point Museum is exactly what OceanaGold had envisaged when the company provided funding as part of the Globe Progress rehabilitation and closure programme.
“We are really pleased to see the ongoing practical outcome of this position and look forward to what can be achieved during the third and final year of our involvement.”
The Blacks Point Museum was founded in the 1960s by Blacks Point residents to preserve the history of the Inangahua area.
The museum houses a historical collection of memorabilia, artefacts, and machinery celebrating the past 150 years history of the Inangahua area.