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New Trust Board Line Up Takes NZ Liberation Museum - Te Arawhata Into The Future

Sir Don McKinnon stays on as Patron and hands over reins as museum enters new phase

The new trust board of the NZ Liberation Museum – Te Arawhata in France will focus on continuing to grow visitor numbers and enhancing day-to-day operations to make it a must-visit destination in Europe.

Outgoing chairperson of the New Zealand Memorial Museum Trust, Sir Don McKinnon, who stays on as Patron alongside former Prime Minister Helen Clark, says the new board brings a strong mix of skills from the business, legal, financial, Māori and creative worlds.

“This depth of knowledge will enable them to take Te Arawhata to the next level and continue to grow the museum into a successful and sustainable business well into the future,” he says.

The new Chair of the Trust is David McLean, current Chair of KiwiRail.

The new Chair of the Trust is David McLean, current Chair of KiwiRail.

Returning board members include:

  • Major Mark Hall (rtd), who has been re-elected Deputy Chair
  • The Rt Hon. Sir Lockwood Smith
  • Bruce Bernacchi, lawyer and chartered accountant

The new trustees include:

  • Andrew Barnes, innovator, entrepreneur, and philanthropist Andrew Barnes
  • Peter McKinnon, Strategic Advisor with the Trust since 2017
  • Waipa District Councillor and Deputy Mayor Liz Stolwyk. Cambridge and Le Quesnoy are sister cities and the relationship between the towns is significant to the Waipa District.
  • Francois Tumahai (Ngāti Waewae, Ngāi Tahu and Ngati Whatua Orakei), CEO of Arahura Holding Limited and Chair of Te Runanga o Ngāti Waewae a sub-tribe of Ngai Tahu
  • Ben Upton, lawyer and partner at Simpson Grierson.
  • Luke van Velthooven, Manging Director of APL Property.

Freedom, friendship builds lasting legacy

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Since opening six months ago in the northern French town of Le Quesnoy, Te Arawhata has attracted thousands of visitors including travelling Kiwis, French, British and tourists from all over Europe, corporate groups, and schools from France and New Zealand.

Te Arawhata commemorates the triumph of Kiwi soldiers who liberated the people of Le Quesnoy from four years of German occupation during World War One.

Sir Don says the common thread among the new board members is that they all care deeply about Te Arawhata upholding the legacy of the soldiers who liberated Le Quesnoy.

“The museum stands as a symbol of friendship between Le Quesnoy and Aotearoa New Zealand and ensuring that friendship endures for the next 100 years.

“It’s not only a place for Kiwis, but for people from around the world to visit and celebrate freedom, friendship and the importance of learning from the past to support a better future.”

Sir Don led the development and fundraising for the $15 million project which was funded through generous donations from private donors and members of the public. Fundraising continues with the aim of reaching beyond the $15 million target.

“I’m hugely proud of what the team behind the museum has achieved and this next phase is critical to establishing Te Arawhata as a key location alongside the other remembrance sites on the Western Front.”

New chair, David McLean says: "I'm thrilled to be joining the NZ Memorial Museum Trust as Chair now that it is entering the next phase of its growth. The Trustees led by Sir Don McKinnon have done an incredible job, supported by very generous donors, to establish the wonderful NZ Liberation Museum - Te Arawhata in Le Quesnoy.

“Our challenge now is to give as many people as possible the chance to learn more about the story of New Zealanders in the First World War and the lasting friendship with the people of Le Quesnoy."

Peak tourist season kicks off

Museum Manager, Josh Hansen, says feedback from visitors is overwhelmingly positive with many feeling the emotional impact of the visitor experience created by Wētā Workshop, and the story of Le Quesnoy.

“Spring in France has brought a wave of new visitors to Te Arawhata. It’s been a pleasure to welcome many French tour groups and school students from New Zealand and France over the last few weeks to Le Quesnoy.”

Southland Girls' High School and James Hargest College from Invercargill were among the schools visiting this month as part of an exchange where they stayed with French families in Le Quesnoy and explored the stories of the museum.

“We are on course for a very busy first summer and we’re looking forward to welcoming visitors as the peak tourist season in Europe kicks in.”

Next week’s Anzac Day commemorations will be the museum’s first since it opened in October last year. As is tradition in Le Quesnoy, Anzac Day is commemorated on the nearest Sunday to April 25. The museum has a number of special events planned over the weekend of April 27 and 28don’t know if we need this.

Mr Hansen says remembering the sacrifice of Kiwi soldiers side by side with the people of France is the ultimate symbol of the friendship these soldiers helped create. “Being part of Anzac Day in Le Quesnoy means you become a part of this community formed through the remembrance of our shared history. This is something to be remembered and celebrated.”

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