Young Nōmana Chadwick stands outside the boundary fence line that is being erected around the Sarjeant Gallery at Pukenamu Queen's Park.

He is loving the presence of various pieces of heavy machinery now busy working around the 100-year-old Sarjeant Gallery.

The digger is currently being put to work laying the heavy posts for the wooden fence line which will wrap the entire redevelopment site.

As you can see, the apparatus is complicated and up close it's noisy too.


Like Nōmana and his mum Wendy Chadwick, the Whanganui locals who regularly use the Davis Library at Queen's Park will be getting a front-row seat to the redevelopment.

In particular, the construction of the new wing at the rear of the Sarjeant, which will be named te Pataka o Sir Archie John Te Atawhai Taiaroa.

With the archaeological plan in place, the construction will begin, involving first the excavation of part of the rear lawn in order to build a temperature- and humidity-controlled storage space for the famed Sarjeant art collection.

One of the largest art collections in New Zealand, with more than 8300 pieces, the collection covers 400 years of international art history and fully documents New Zealand's art history.

Previously stored for just shy of 100 years in the crypt-like basement of the Sarjeant Gallery at Pukenamu Queen's Park, the collection contains not only one of the largest paintings held in a public collection in New Zealand (Flight Into Egypt by Frederick Goodall) but also some of the earliest examples of photography in New Zealand.

Other more unconventional artefacts held in the Sarjeant collection are the handbag, shoes, hat and palette of the modernist painter Edith Collier; and some items are so mysterious they are just recorded as X numbers with no traceable origin or author.

These will be the subject of future research and study.

Standing outside the library with her son Nōmana, Wendy Chadwick said: "It's great we can watch the redevelopment progress now.


"I think it's really exciting that it will be such a wonderful gallery in Whanganui and that many local people will be able to get work on the project.

"It's fantastic that Whanganui will have an asset like this which will draw people here from near and far."