No sign of anyone to champion museum

By Michele Hunter

I was in my first year of university when a working party was set up to establish a museum in my home town. It was too late for my childhood, but surely by the time I had children there would be a place I could take them to explore the history of Tauranga and the wider Bay of Plenty.

Fourteen years on, there's still no sign of it.

Despite Tauranga now being one of largest and fastest-growing cities in New Zealand, there isn't even a makeshift museum here and our artifacts and treasures are stored in a building in Mount Maunganui - hidden from the eager minds of the next generation, and the tourists and cruise-ship passengers pouring on to our shores each summer.

A conversation on the issue emerged in the newsroom yesterday as reporters recalled the modern museum in New Plymouth, and developments and upgrades for Napier, Rotorua and Whakatane's museums.

It then shifted to the fact Katikati has a museum and Waihi has a gold-mining museum - world famous in New Zealand for it's pickled-thumb exhibit.

I'm happy to hear the newly elected councillors are keeping an open mind about the council's future involvement in a museum, but disappointed the new line-up lacks a group prepared to champion what is a necessity rather than a luxury in any city.

Councillor Bev Edlin has been involved in raising $7 million for a museum and library complex in Horowhenua and seems to understand the value they bring.

She told the Bay of Plenty Times: "Museums help people understand, they give the community another depth and dimension."

The other councillors were happy to do more talking about a museum, but didn't see it as a financial priority. Councillor Matt Cowley felt the Greerton Library was a higher priority. I'm a supporter of libraries - but we already have some.

A museum could help educate residents on the significance of historical events such as the Battle of Gate Pa, helping them understand the energy and funds behind the commemorations planned for next year.

While other towns and cities are busy getting on with it, Tauranga residents are missing out on an opportunity for education, tourism and a greater connection with their city and its past.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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