Anthea Hatfield is a dreamer and when she dreams, she dreams big.

This weekend Hatfield will achieve a dream when she opens Raetihi's newest attraction, the Raetihi Arts Trust Gallery with Bernice Frost.

The gallery located on the corner of Seddon and Duncan streets is housed in the former BNZ building that closed in 1996.

At that time, Frost purchased the building with some friends to prevent it from being turned into a ski lodge or something similar.


Over time the ownership became dysfunctional with three owners opting out of the project while Hatfield bought in.

"As we walked out of the bank there was just Bernice and myself and I said 'Bernice, we own the whole thing now, let's do it. Let's pursue our dream'," Hatfield said.

"We've restored the whole building, the outside and the inside. We had to send the old tin ceiling over to Sydney to have the panels done."

The work did not finish there and for over five years the two women have been working on the category two certified heritage building.

The bank building was modernised in the 1960s when rimu panelling was pulled out and replaced with what Hatfield called "ugly old plywood".

"In order to do the major repair on the outside of the building, we had to take some of the wood off and put on all new materials," Hatfield said.

"We're up and running now. We're good to go."

Between them they spent approximately $100,000 on the restoration, while the trust was awarded a $57,000 grant from Lottery Environment and Heritage for the outside.


They also purchased a nearby property for $70,000 which they had removed to open up the area surrounding their gallery.

"If we sold it tomorrow, we would hardly get the money back, but that's not our plan. We want to make Raetihi a fabulous place with a fantastic art gallery," Hatfield said.

"I like the idea of having an art gallery. A good gallery can be an asset in a town. Look at Whanganui. Whanganui's world famous for the Sarjeant Gallery."

The gallery opens at 1pm this Saturday, April 27 and will feature the works of Melbourne artist Emily Humphries and photographs by Glyn Hubbard of Ohakune.

Hatfield owns three buildings in Raetihi, the information centre, Angel Louise Internet Cafe & Restaurant and Raetihi Chambers.

"I've got a dream of making Raetihi the best town in New Zealand, believe it or not," she said.

"If I had the money, I'd do the whole town."