One of the largest private collections of Whanganui historical paraphernalia is looking for a loving home.
Lynn Teki has been collecting Whanganui relics for decades and now she feels it's time for someone else to take over.
"I was brought up in the old homestead, the Blyth estate, out at Harakeke," she says.
There's a photo of the house in her hallway. Her father, Norman Turner, worked on the property and the family lived in the cottage built for the men who built the homestead.
When old Mr Blyth died, Norman and his family moved into the main house, and that's where she discovered the treasures of the past.
Norman's next job was working for a contractor, driving a bulldozer, during which he learned about bottle collecting. He became a registered and licensed collector of antique bottles. He had a permit from the council.
Whanganui people remember him showing up at their homes, showing his permit and asking to prod their property with a steel skewer.
"I would go with him," Lynn says.
They searched backyards for glass and stoneware bottles. Lynn still has an impressive array of early Whanganui bottles.
"One day we dug up a saucer."
It was decorated with the motif of Chavannes Hotel, which used to stand on the corner of Victoria Ave and Maria Place. The building there now was built for the National Bank and is now called The Treasury.
When Lynn showed the saucer to her mother she was told they had a connection with the Chavannes family.
"So I started collecting Whanganui stuff. I used to go to the mart at the back of Chainey's [in Guyton St] and scavenge round in the boxes. I've walked the town and got stuff out of buildings … I used to go to church sales."
Lynn got to know people and, in time, locals got to know Lynn and what she was doing. She has so many stories about how she got access to treasures otherwise destined for the scrap heap.
Much of what she has she bought from Whanganui and all over New Zealand, as well as the modern market of Trade Me.
"I've gone to garage sales, Hospice [and other op shops] — if I see something, I buy it."
When the rules were different, she was able to dig at demolition sites, always with permission and appropriate safety gear.
When the old Hatrick building and its neighbours were demolished to make way for Trafalgar Square shopping centre, Lynn found a lot of things on the site, including three freshwater wells. She says there were decades when people unearthed things of historic value, they were dumped as worthless detritus.
She has pestered dealers, crawled under buildings, rescued more things than she can remember and scoured piles of ancient rubbish.
As well as bottles and stoneware, Lynn has accumulated postcards, letterheads, invoices, ledger books, other documents, crockery, silverware, books [lots of books], bricks stamped with the maker's name, woodwork, a cannonball, photos framed and unframed, buttons, badges, maps, directories from years ago, a full set of Wanganui Photo News — including the hard to find debut issue — with extras, inkwells, ornaments and containers of all sorts.
There are bits of school uniforms, a set of tableware from Girls' College and a city promotional set. There's a chamber pot and business personalised coat hangers! Names from the past are painted, etched, inked, engraved on all sorts of things.
Everything tells a story. She has a Wanganui Herald invoice from 1887 for advertising purchased by Collier's, a local music and piano supplier. The Herald letterhead includes a street map showing their location! A letterhead from Foster's Hotel has a picture of the building.
Lynn's reputation as a collector and safe harbour for Whanganui related material grew and people were happy to give her things, knowing they would be preserved for posterity.
Now her collection needs a new home. She wants to sell it in its entirety.
"I would love to find someone out there, with a genuine interest in keeping it all together. It's all interconnected; it is all Whanganui. The dream was to share it, and I haven't been able to do that how I wanted."
She doesn't really want to see it broken up.
"You can see how it all talks to itself. It tells the story of the town."
She has had school children tour the collection; she has given help to genealogists and historians and made everything available for research and simple curiosity.
The lucky buyer will get all the help from Lynn that they need to organise the collection — she calls it after-sales service. She thinks a Whanganui business could set it up as a customer drawcard.
Budding historians and eager collectors can call Lynn on 3437622.