Local Govt | National News Video | Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Search


Museum Rebuild: the little museum that could

Russell, the tiny tourist town in the Bay of Islands has always prided itself on its links with its past. Its reputation as a tourist Mecca is to a great extent based on the large number of its well-preserved heritage buildings and early colonial charm. With its weather board houses, the oldest standing church in the country, Pompallier Mission and of course that famous flagpole just up the hill, it’s one of the few places in New Zealand where you get a real sense of the country’s diverse and lively history. An integral part of those links with that past is embodied in the Russell Museum, Te Whare Taonga O Kororāreka, which has been a big part of the community since 1956, as well as a tourist attraction in its own right.

But time doesn’t stand still, not even in Russell, and the museum trustees have decided the building is no longer fit for purpose. “It’s long overdue, our mighty little museum is going to get a little bigger and a whole lot better,” says Museum Trust Chairperson, Heather Lindauer. “It’s grown over more than 60 years evolving and changing. It has achieved a great deal but it’s time to look ahead and plan for the future and future needs. It’s an exciting prospect. We maybe a small museum but we have some of the biggest stories in the country to tell.” Planning is still in the early stages, she says as is the all-important job of talking to and listening to the views of the local community.

Early designs are on show at the museum and have already drawn some sharp criticism as well as enthusiastic support. “Architects Isthmus Group, have been given the tricky task of coming up with a building design that will have to tick a whole lot of boxes,” says Curator Kate Martin. “It needs to provide the space and amenities expected of a 21st century museum and demanded by visitors these days.” But she adds, “It is equally important to produce an empathetic design that is true to the significant site the building occupies both historically and culturally. While it absolutely must fit in with the general look and feel of our village, it’s important it is not faux, false or pastiche. Russell has employed many building styles and techniques over the years and we hope this will be the latest addition to the compelling incentives for people from all over the world to visit our town.”

Ms Martin says she’s reluctant as yet to put a firm figure on the cost of the rebuild because the design is still very much a work in progress, but it will be several million dollars. She does acknowledge it will be a big ask for a tiny community like Russell with a permanent population of only around 800 people. “Little communities do wonders all around New Zealand every day,” she says. “A lot of locals are already giving us their time, energy and considerable skill for free, we now need to expand and build on that, and we know we can.”

Initial plans envisage a two-storied structure comprising two rectangular buildings referencing the boat sheds of the surrounding area and Russell’s long maritime tradition. The colour and exterior cladding are still under discussion between the architects and Heritage New Zealand to ensure compliance with legal, heritage and aesthetic requirements. Exhibition space being designed by Story Inc. will allow visitors to better explore the area’s powerful narratives of the arrivals and encounters in the Bay of Islands that centred on Kororāreka Russell, and that are pivotal to the founding of the New Zealand we know today. “Our rich museum collection will be enhanced with digital technologies to provide exciting interaction and multi-layered storytelling that will connect us and our visitors to our dual Māori and Pākehā heritage and to our shared future,” adds Ms Lindauer.

Local Community Board Chairman, Terry Greening, believes it will be an economic asset not only for Russell but for tourism in the whole of the Bay and Far North “You have a re -invigorated Waitangi Treaty Grounds on the other side of the water and developing plans across the North. A re-invigorated Russell Museum will add to an improved experience for visitors both local, regional and international and that’s surely what we are all after. I am looking forward to what we can achieve.”

© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Lest We Forget: ANZAC Day - WWI 100 Year Anniversary

The Governor-General, The Rt Hon Dame Patsy Reddy, GNZM, QSO, will represent the people of New Zealand at the 2018 Anzac Day commemorations in Gallipoli. On Anzac Day, Dame Patsy will speak at the Joint New Zealand and Australian Dawn Service in Anzac Cove, and at the New Zealand Commemorative Service at Chunuk Bair later that morning... More>>


HiveMind: Fair Enough? How Should New Zealanders Be Taxed?

Have Your Say - Scoop and PEP invite you to share your issues, ideas and perspectives on the NZ tax system with other New Zealanders using Scoop’s HiveMind tool. This Tax HiveMind is intended to complement and feed into the review being run by the Government-appointed Tax Working Group (TWG), which is looking at the fairness, balance and structure of the tax system with a 10-year time horizon. More>>


Gordon Campbell: On Thompson + Clark & Russia’s World Cup

Daily, the coalition government keeps running into examples of the toxic legacy left behind by National – and just as regularly, even the simple fixes are proving stubbornly difficult to enact. Take the case of the security firm Thompson + Clark ... More>>


Gordon Campbell: On The GCSB’s Security Hang-Up With Russia

So our GCSB has chimed in, alongside its British, Australian and US allies, with warnings about a “fresh wave” of Russian cyber attacks, although the warning has been curiously framed. More>>


PM's Europe Trip: CHOGM & Bilateral Meetings

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is in Europe for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in London and meetings with counterparts in Paris and Berlin. More>>


Addressing Climate Change: No New Offshore Exploration Permits

The Coalition Government is taking an important step to address climate change and create a clean, green and sustainable future for New Zealand, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced today. More>>


Road Safety Summit: Actions To Improve Identified

The Local Government Road Safety Summit held last week identified actions that will lead to lasting changes to road safety in New Zealand, says Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter. More>>





Featured InfoPages