The Central Hawke's Bay Settlers Museum is in the spotlight in Wellington this week, as a finalist in the ServiceIQ NZ Museum Awards 2019.

Curator and manager Jana Uhlirova, museum chairman Hans Dresel, committee member and volunteer Donald Tipene, and CHB Mayor Alex Walker are travelling to the awards ceremony at Te Papa where the museum is a finalist in the Exhibition Excellence Taonga Maori, for the recently exhibited Nga Taonga o Tamatea - Te Hokianga Mai.

CHB Settlers' Museum is one of four finalists in this category, which includes the Auckland War Memorial Museum.

Nga Taonga o Tamatea - Te Hokianga Mai drew taonga from across Central Hawke's Bay and brought home taonga that had been spread across the country. It was an exhibition aimed at building a relationship between the museum and the Taiwhenua, the first exhibition of its type at the CHB Settlers Museum.

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The judging panel said judging was made especially hard this year with so many high-quality entries to choose from.

They noted the high number and quality of entries in both the Exhibition Excellence Taonga Maori and Kia Toi Te Reo Most Innovative use of Te Reo Maori categories.

CHB Settlers Museum Curator and manager Jana Uhlirova says being a finalist is an amazing achievement for a small museum.

"I can only remember one other occasion when a small museum has won one of these awards. It's not often a museum operated almost solely by volunteers is even a finalist."

"And on a budget of almost zero," adds Donald Tipene, who spent countless hours working on the exhibition, loaning taonga as well as conducting tours.

Donald says there was no doubt that the taonga on exhibit needed to come home.

"My highlight was taking Maori youth through the exhibition and telling them about the taonga of 'your ancestors'. And seeing them start to glow with pride. They won't forget that."

CHB Mayor Alex Walker, who will be at the awards ceremony, says words cannot describe how excited she is about recognition of Central Hawke's Bay and the taonga of Tamatea.

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"To be named as finalists alongside nationally significant museums like the Auckland Portrait Gallery shows the talent and dedication that resides at the Central Hawke's Bay Settlers Museum and in our community."

The next exhibition at the Central Hawke's Bay Settlers Museum marks 100 years of the RSA in Waipawa and features a military scene of servicemen from 20th century conflicts, profiles of Waipawa RSA members, history of the Waipawa branch of the NZRSA and the war memorial clock tower in Waipawa.

It will be officially opened by the president of the Waipawa RSA Maitland Manning on Friday May 24, at 5pm, with drinks and nibbles. Entry is free and all are welcome.