Treaty museum needs $10m

By Yvonne Tahana

Waitangi Trust launches fundraising drive because it receives no taxpayer money.

2015 will mark the 175th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi. Photo / Supplied
2015 will mark the 175th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi. Photo / Supplied

The Waitangi National Trust is launching a $10 million fundraising drive today to build a new museum at the Treaty Grounds. It also wants to increase its digital presence and help more schoolchildren to travel there.

Trust chairman Pita Paraone said the drive was necessary because the trust did not receive any public money as the grounds were gifted to the nation by Lord Bledisloe in 1932 on the condition that taxpayers would not be burdened.

It is a handbrake to development and the trust's income took a cut when in 2008 it stopped charging the 80,000 Kiwis who visit every year $12. The trust does receive lease rentals from a hotel and golfcourse and owns a forest. And the 60,000 international visitors who pay from $25 provide a significant amount of the trust's income.

"We don't want to be a burden on the state but that doesn't mean the state can't give us money as long as we don't apply. A lot of New Zealanders have always been under the impression the Government gives us the money to maintain the place - well it doesn't," said Mr Paraone.

"This is where New Zealand gave birth to itself as a nation and I think we need to remind our people of that."

Plans are under way to build a new museum in time for the 175th anniversary of the signing in 2015. It will showcase taonga connected with Treaty signatories. Mr Paraone said the long-term dream was to house - even on loan - the original Treaty which is held at Archives New Zealand in Wellington.

If he could achieve that, he would retire.

CEO Greg McManus said the trust was looking at ways to subsidise school students' travel costs to the Bay of Islands and improve its online presence to tell the history more effectively. It is also increasing its marketing.

"The vision of the trust is to enhance in the psyche of the nation - that Waitangi [is] a place for all New Zealanders and a place of accord ... History tells us that those promises weren't always kept ... but what my optimist streak and certainly the aspiration of the trust is that Waitangi will assume its rightful place in the minds of all New Zealanders."

Treaty numbers

$10 million needed to build a new museum
80,000 annual New Zealand visitors
60,000 international visitors
3 years until 175th anniversary of Treaty signing in 1840

- NZ Herald

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