Museum to open soon

The Rakiura Heritage Centre during construction last year. Photo: Luisa Girao

A HUGE relief has been felt by the team involved in the new Rakiura Heritage Centre, on Stewart Island, as an opening date of December 1 has been set.

Rakiura Heritage Centre Trust building committee chairwoman Margaret Hopkins said the $3.6 million centre would have been open months ago but lockdown and the impact of Covid-19 delayed it, as well as the death of designer Chris Currie in late 2018 – new designer/builder Sally Papps, of Exhibition Design & Build was then contracted to undertake the exhibition fit out and began work mid-2019.

“It’s a huge relief – or it will be once it’s opened.”

A feasibility study for the new museum was done in 2009.

Exhibitions would include the history of Stewart Island.

“Starting right back to very early Maori contact with the island. We’ll have more of that than we had in the old museum.”

She said they had worked closely with iwi to ensure the story was told in a “meaningful” way.

“We’ve got so many beautiful artefacts and taonga in there that are going to be displayed far better.”

The building incorporated a gallery twice the size of the old museum, a large temperature-controlled storeroom, a workroom, meeting room, office and large foyer which featured the locally carved millennium pou.

Ms Hopkins said it was disappointing that, like other institutions and businesses throughout New Zealand, they had been impacted by Covid-19, causing delays and potentially a big drop in visitor numbers to the museum.

“But we are confident that we have a good business plan and will be employing a staff member to ensure longer opening hours for the Rakiura Museum.

“For 60 years we have been run entirely by volunteers with limited external funding but we hope to offer more for the visiting public with the larger gallery and increased retail.”

  • Entry would be $10 for adults and free for children.

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