Rakiura Heritage Centre offers an early sneak peek

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    The original Rakiura museum was built in the 1960s. Photo: Luisa Girao

    STEWART Island may have its new $3.6 million heritage centre up and running by the middle of next year, but some visitors will be able to have a glimpse in the new building soon.

    The site will be open for the first time during the New Zealand Archaeological Association Conference next month.

    Rakiura Heritage Centre Trust building committee chairwoman Margaret Hopkins said they still had a lot of work to do with the centre, but the museum’s Lockerbie collection would be displayed during the conference.

    “The centre will not be ready, but we will lay out the collection for everyone to come and look at it.”

    The 509-square-metre centre was expected to be officially opened in April.

    Ms Hopkins said the feedback from the community had been very positive so far.

    The challenge of the new museum was figuring out which items they would put on display as a “big part has been put in storage”, she said.

    “Stewart Island is special in so many aspects and we will be able to celebrate this.”

    She was hoping to combine “Maori and Pakeha” stories at the site and urged the community to get involved.

    “We are quite excited to tell our story well.

    “We currently have some objects in the old museum, but I don’t think they show the stories as well as they could.”

    Ms Hopkins believed the new centre, which incorporated environmentally-friendly design features including solar power generation and water collection, would be an extremely important asset for the island.

    “Everybody sees the museum as a huge benefit for the tourism. Especially when the weather is bad because there isn’t a lot of other indoor things to do here.”

    Similar to the old museum, the heritage centre would mostly be run with the help of 12 volunteers, but she would also like to employ someone.

    “We don’t have a paid position. It is just the work of volunteers. So we hope to employ someone, that way we can be open for a longer time. It deserves it.”

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