Byline: Ilona Hanne
A much-loved museum collection has moved to a new home in Stratford, and is now ready to open to visitors.
The Forgotten World Museum opens this weekend for the first time, but it isn't the first time the exhibits have been on display, says Dave Hunger - who by default is the curator of the new museum which is housed in a shed on his Pembroke Rd farm.
"The collection belonged to Murray McCartie of Tahora, who is a real collector. He has collected all sorts of things over the years and had them on display in his own museum first in Tahora about 30 years ago, then later on when he moved with family to the Lavender Farm on East Rd just out of Stratford."
Murray and his family have now moved to a smaller property in Stratford itself, which had no room for the museum.
"I didn't want it to just disappear, to be split up and end up in lots of places, so my daughter and I looked for someone to take it over."
Murray was delighted when Dave offered to host the museum.
"We had talked to a few places, but they didn't have the room or didn't want it all. Dave was helping us try to find a home for it and then he said he would build a shed and put it on display."
The collection is an important part of the history of Taranaki, especially the eastern part and it needed to stay here, says Dave.
"Murray's family have been out Tahora way for over 120 years, they are part of the history there and Murray's collection reflects that."
He didn't want the collection to leave the area, and says he felt it would fit nicely with some of his own collections and displays. Some of which are more closely linked than he expected.
"Right outside the new museum is an old roadman's hut which I was given several years ago. I have restored it and put it on display by the museum. Murray immediately recognised it, he said he knew a man called Bill who had lived in it when it was in use."
When Murray came down the driveway to see the new museum and saw the hut he said it felt like stepping back in time.
"I half expected to see Bill step out of it himself."
The museum contains a wide range of items from times gone by, from fence posts and battens to billhooks and wire strainers, cameras, sewing machines, ink pens and pots, phones and butter churns, old bank documents, mortar shells, the museum is a true collector's dream.
Murray was a champion woodchopper in his day, competing overseas in the USA as well as around New Zealand, and in setting out the museum Dave has created a space to display the memorabilia Murray collected related to woodchopping over the years.
"There were a lot of champion woodchoppers from Eastern Taranaki over the years," says Dave. "There must have been something in the water."
Murray remembers when woodchopping was in its heydey in the region.
"In the 1950s, at the Stratford A&P Show, there would have been over 90 axemen competing. There were a lot of us then."
When asked, Murray says he can't pick a favourite item in the museum, as they all help tell the story of life in Eastern Taranaki in days gone by. Dave, however, says he is no doubt as to what the most important exhibit is.
"It's Murray himself. His memories, his stories, listening to him talk about it is the real gem of this museum. He is a priceless exhibit."
While Murray won't be kept on a shelf at the museum, he does plan to spend some time there over the opening weekend, sharing his memories and stories with all who come.
Murray celebrates his 93rd birthday just before the opening, and as "he isn't as spritely as he was", Dave says the times that Murray is there will be determined on a day to day basis.
The Forgotten World Museum (393 Pembroke Rd, Stratford) will be open on Sunday, February 7 between noon and 3pm and Monday, February 8 between 10am and 3pm. Future opening times to be decided, but the museum will also be available for bookings for small groups and interested parties.