Old homestead bank of knowledge

By LAWRENCE GULLERY

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Hawke's Bay's first Knowledge Bank will be officially opened at the historic 137-year-old Stoneycroft Homestead in Hastings this week, four years after the initiative was first proposed.

The Hawke's Bay Digital Archives Trust has restored the interior of the homestead on Omahu Rd to accommodate the Knowledge Bank.

It offers a computerised record of pictures, film, biographies and oral history of Hawke's Bay.

Galleries downstairs introduce people, places and events of interest to visitors while studios upstairs will be used to collate more information on the history of Hawke's Bay.

The upstairs studios include the region's only sound-proofed oral history studio.

Stoneycroft Homestead is also home to the new Lily Baker Library. The library includes a collection of important records accumulated by Hawke's Bay genealogists over a long period of time.

Much of the information will be available on a website, which is also due to be launched next month.

The homestead was built in 1875 as a town house for Mr W J Birch, who used it as his town residence while he farmed on a remote property on the Taihape Road. The homestead is registered as a Category 2 Historic Building by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust, with the whole site subject to a heritage covenant established in 1995.

The homestead and land was purchased in 2005 by the Hastings District Council, in recognition of its historical importance, and its location at the gateway to Hastings.

The park-like setting will also increase the area of green space within the Lyndhurst urban development.

The council has spent about $100,000 on upgrades to the homestead since it bought it seven years ago with more recent developments including a formal rose garden, new entry gardens and signage.

Former Hawke's Bay Herald-Tribune editor James Morgan set up the Hawke's Bay Digital Archive Trust and began campaigning for the initiative to be set up at Stoneycroft in 2008, when the council called for public proposals for the homestead.

Hastings Mayor Lawrence Yule will officially open the ceremony at 1.30pm on Saturday, December 1.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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