John is a senior reporter at the Bay of Plenty Times

Young people big supporters of new museum for Tauranga

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A vision of how Tauranga's museum could look located on the alternative Cliff Rd site, showing a building stepped down to Dive Cres, with a bridge over the railway line. Graphic/supplied
A vision of how Tauranga's museum could look located on the alternative Cliff Rd site, showing a building stepped down to Dive Cres, with a bridge over the railway line. Graphic/supplied

Tauranga's younger people have overwhelmingly supported the construction of a museum in the near future.

A telephone survey of 600 city residents revealed a strong age group bias, with 71 per cent of 18- to 40-year-olds saying a museum was important or somewhat important. Only 27 per cent ranked it as "not at all important".

Support dwindled in the older age groups where an average 55 per cent ranked a museum as important and 43 per cent not important.

Tauranga Historical Society president Stephanie Smith was heartened by the age breakdown of the survey carried out by Auckland market research company Curia. The poll was funded by Tauranga mayoral candidate Larry Baldock.

Ms Smith said it was the best news to come out of the survey because it was the younger generation that would have to look after the area's heritage.

"It is excellent news that the younger generation will carry the flag."

She said she would have felt a little gloomy if the figures had been reversed and it was the younger age group that was less enthusiastic.

When all age groups were combined, the support for a museum was 57 per cent in favour, 41 per cent against and 2 to 3 per cent unsure.

Ms Smith was not surprised at the low number of unsures, given the amount of discussion generated on the topic in recent years and the city's "glaring absence of a museum". She liked that the museum was generating strong feelings.

It looked like the tide was moving in favour of a museum, which it would not have been the case a few years ago, she said.

Grey Power Tauranga and Western Bay president Jennifer Custins said there had always been concerns among members about how much museum operating costs would impact on rates.

While some of the more open-minded people in the survey realised a museum would benefit their children, grandchildren and future generations, others saw it as not benefiting them at all.

"A lot of us in the older age group would go for a public/private partnership with the council. Is a museum these days a core council responsibility for ratepayers to fund?" she asked.

The survey also revealed that younger people were much keener on the museum being built in the city centre than the alternative location on Cliff Rd. Forty per cent backed the downtown, while 28 per cent favoured Cliff Rd, with a third unsure.

This was the near reverse of the over-40s. An average 47 per cent backed Cliff Rd, 29 per cent the downtown and 24 per cent were unsure.

Mrs Custins remembered how some of the opposition to the earlier project to build a museum on the waterfront had been driven by inadequate carparking. She believed it would continue to be an issue with a city centre museum site.

Ms Smith said that downtown parking may have had something to do with the popularity of Cliff Rd among older age groups. "Parking is a big issue for people in the city centre."
Papamoa Progressive Association deputy chairman Ron Melville said many residents would welcome an amenity that also incorporated a new entertainment centre and a low-key council administration building.

He said the emphasis was on drawing people into the CBD to promote Tauranga's values and history, all wrapped up in one cohesive, cost-effective and well designed package that was not necessarily totally funded by ratepayers.

Tauranga museum poll September 14 and 15
- 200 respondents surveyed on landline phones in each of Tauranga's three wards
- Sampling error plus or minus 4 per cent
- Conducted in accordance with New Zealand and international research codes of practice

- Bay of Plenty Times

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