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Heritage Hauraki Coromandel Launch A Great Success

Mercury Bay Regional Museum
Project Office
June 23, 2005


Monday 20th and Tuesday 21st June saw the gathering of the majority of the Museum and Heritage practitioners from the Coromandel, Hauraki and neighbouring areas at the Mercury Bay Regional Museum.

The conference was to consolidate the work done over the last year to bring the sector together for mutual support and training, and to give the local authorities a focussed group to liaise with in regard to their obligations under the Local Government Act 2002 – to take regard of the cultural wellbeing of their local population.

Eddie Morrow from Tourism Coromandel and Grant Collie from the Mercury Bay Regional Museum project have facilitated the work of the group over the last year, and chaired the conference sessions.

Day 1 – opened with a review of the draft strategy for the sector and preliminary discussions on the final report, which will be presented to Local Authorities, NZ Government and National Services Te Paerangi at Te Papa, who have helped to fund the process.

We were joined for lunch by the Associate Minister for the Arts, Culture and Heritage – Hon. Judith Tizard MP (and acknowledge the assistance of local Labour Candidate Max Purnell in assisting with her visit) as well as several members of Thames Coromandel District Council, including Mayor Philippa Barriball.

Grant Collie gave an overview of the Mercury Bay Regional Museum Project and then Judith Tizard then gave a speech from the heart (ignoring her prepared speech!) on the importance of heritage in the wellbeing of the community. Arts, Culture and Heritage can give a focus to the young to stimulate them in positive ways. As a local resident of the Mercury Bay, she was very supportive of the aims of the group and wished it all success as she officially launched the group.

Dr Rodney Wilson, the Director of the Auckland War Memorial Museum, in his role as a board member of Museums Aotearoa, gave an overview of the recently launched STRATEGY FOR THE MUSEUM SECTOR.

This will act as a defining document for the Museum Sector nationally and it is good news for local museums as there is a call for greater support to be given to smaller museums, especially now most of the major urban museums have been upgraded. He also gave a fascinating update on the Auckland Museum project and its $63M budget. The Mercury Bay Regional Museum Project team were also grateful for his offer of assistance in preparation of their forthcoming Navigators exhibit.

The session continued with a hearty discussion on local authority support issues with Mayor Barriball and other elected members and officials. This was the first opportunity that many of the group had had an opportunity to discuss these issues face-to-face with the council, and all felt that it had been a useful session. This dialogue will continue at the LGNZ/NSTP organised meeting in Thames on the 7th July.

The rest of the day was given over to a series of workshops to work on the local strategy plan and some very tired, but happy people continued the discussions at an informal dinner.

Day 2 – Began with a discussion on the Interactive Traveller, by Carl Muir of Tourism Coromandel, which gave the participants a better awareness of the market that is out there and how to maximise the income from this area.

This was quickly followed up by John Gaukrodger, the Hauraki Area Manager with DOC, who gave an overview of DOC heritage projects in the region as well as explaining the relevance of Heritage in their work.

He enthusiastically supported the formation of this group and offered all support to its work.

Gail Henry, Area Manager for NZ Historic Places Trust gave a similar presentation and likewise accepted that this group was the natural vehicle for the sector to liaise with regulatory and funding authorities and offered her full support.

Geraldine Dunwoody then gave an update on The Treasury archive project in Thames, stressing that the project was to support the sector, not to replace local archives. It will provide a safe and environmentally secure site for the storage of important official and family archives, leaving the owner with a high quality facsimile and peace of mind.

Then it was back to work on concluding workshops and a discussion on the administration of the group.

It was decided to appoint Rae Katene, from MB Historical Society as the administrator, and to request that Eddie Morrow and Grant Collie continue as facilitators.

The conference ended with a call for any other groups or interested parties to join the group and to encourage attendance at the meeting in Thames on the 7th July.


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