The year of 2020 has certainly been one for the history books, and the Rotorua Museum is thankful for the community's contribution to a collection for future generations to see.
Cat Jehly, Rotorua Museum Te Whare Taonga o Te Arawa collection lead, says they were happy with the engagement in this project, and it was clear people appreciated the opportunity to share their stories and to offer items for the collection.
"So far we've accepted five offers for the collection, and are still working our way through other potential acquisitions."
She says the museum has been offered poems, Anzac crafts, original artworks, digital images and videos, soft toys and signs.
The items are being acquired so they can be preserved and made accessible for future generations, as part of the wider museum collection, she says.
The Wilkins family donated a handmade sign and large unicorn and Wendy Wilkins had said: "Our kids made this sign the first day of lockdown to thank all the essential workers driving down Ngongotahā Rd.
"The handprints were from each person in our family giving a 'high-five' or 'helping hand' to our community. The response was amazing when we did the 'clap at 7pm' every single night.
"We had loads of hoots and toots, trucks honking and sirens going all day and night - even when we weren't outside but our lights where on.
"Nurses, plumbers, police officers, Countdown workers, Fonterra truckers, ambulance workers, teachers, Infracore staff - all stopped in to thank the kids for their sign and smiles each day.
"It was just lovely to know that at a time of such uncertainty and fear, this simple sign made each day a little more hopeful, and that now in our 'back to normal' lives it's still remembered."
Local weaver Anna Hayes donated a harakeke woven teddy bear called Pūmahara and had said: "As the whole country started to put teddy bears in their windows I felt a little left out, as my teddy bears left home years ago.
"My passion is Māori weaving so I wove the attached bear from harakeke growing in my garden. When I created him, Easter time was approaching. I made him so that an Easter egg could be put inside him and he sat in our front window receiving many smiles.
"Weaving has been my saviour and I was so grateful for the ability to create during lockdown, something that appeared to bring joy to many.
"His name is Pūmahara which translates as wistful, nostalgic, thoughtful, or memory."
Cat says Covid-19 has had, and continues to have, a huge effect on our community, and its role as a museum includes gathering and preserving these experiences for the future.
"These objects tell the personal story of our region and how they coped during the pandemic. The purpose is to preserve these objects beyond our lifetime.
"The museum collection team really appreciated the time people took to share their experiences of lockdown with us, and the offers of personal items to be preserved as part of the history of Rotorua."
Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick says it is important to have records of a time like this to capture it as a moment in history that has impacted us all – locally, nationally and worldwide.
"It has been very humbling to hear about the all-of-community response that occurred.
"From council and government agencies, to the Te Arawa hub and other community support networks, we all joined to make a difference."
She says there are still stories emerging and she is incredibly proud of the community.
"I think we are more connected as a result. It's important we don't lose the lessons learned.
"We now have, for instance, an extensive network of databases that were collated to reach those in need or those who were isolated, and I think that will help us become an even stronger and more resilient community."
Steve says the Covid Card trial in Ngongotahā is also a classic example of the strength of co-design when you want to achieve something and need to activate with a degree of urgency.
"In 2021 I'd like to see us extend the community resilience and connectedness we've seen this year, get progress on more housing, and build on the all-of-government collaboration we need alongside us to deal with local issues."