A changing of the guard at Te Hikoi

Te Hikoi Southern Journey Museum operations manager Karyn Owen receives the keys from former manager Carole Power.

CAROLE Power has left a huge legacy at Riverton’s Te Hikoi Southern Journey Museum.

The former manager may have handed over the running of the museum to new operations manager Karyn Owen, but there is still a lot for Ms Owen to learn.

Known for her enthusiastic, hands-on approach to managing the museum for the past nine years, Mrs Power said she was looking forward to a “change of direction”.

“It is time for new blood to come in to take the museum up to another level… we want the museum to keep getting better, evolving, changing and getting newer exhibits.”

It has always been about the museum for Mrs Power – whether promoting new exhibits, speakers, and even donating half of her office for the children’s discovery depot, her passion for the museum has been foremost.

Situated on the Southern Scenic Route, which stretches from Otago to Fiordland, the museum is crammed full of Maori, Chinese and Pakeha history, and it is all displayed in an informative and easy to absorb manner.

“The museum is relevant to what the tourists are looking for… we believe we are proactive and forward-focused, which is why we are continually acknowledged nationally and locally,” Mrs Power said.

Although heavily awarded, it was still word-of-mouth which had filled the museum with tourists, she said.

“Word-of-mouth is so powerful… one of the most rewarding aspects is people who come here from all over New Zealand and Australia who have been told they must come here [to Te Hikoi].”

Describing the job at Te Hikoi as her “dream job”, Ms Owen, is very excited to take on the role.

“I use to say to my friend, ‘I think Te Hikoi would be my dream job’, and now I am here.”

With an extensive background in management and the tourism industry, including working for the Department of Conservation, Venture Southland and as a tourist leader, meant she had developed many contacts which would be of benefit to her new role, Ms Owen said.

“Most of the tourism operators throughout the country know me.”

As for the future of Te Hikoi, Ms Owen is also passionate about the “big, little museum”, and is keen to “maintain its reputation as one of the best museums in the country”.

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