Community voice echoes

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Invercargill residents Andrea Jerry Ryan and Tony Ryan were among the first people to see the city's He Waka Tuia Art + Museum.

FOR one Southland couple, the official opening of Invercargill’s transitional museum and art gallery was all about being able to share Southland’s heritage and whakapapa (genealogy).

Andrea Jerry Ryan and Tony Ryan were among the first people to get a look inside He Waka Tuia Art + Museum when its doors opened to the public on Saturday, on the corner of Don and Kelvin Sts.

“We’re here to support the kaupapa [initiative] and the community,” Mrs Jerry Ryan said.

“It’s a showcase of our history and the arts that go all the way back to where it all began.”

The opening marked more than two years since the Southland Museum & Art Gallery Niho o Te Taniwha pyramid site shut, and six years since the Invercargill Public Art Gallery closed due to earthquake risk.

The latest transitional museum was a collaboration between the two organisations.

Small groups made their way through the exhibition and were given the chance to draw on a titi (muttonbird) cut out, which would be added to one of the displays.

Labour list MP Dr Liz Craig also attended and said she had watched the progress of the building with excitement during the past few months.

“It’s going to be really great to have art back in the city and will, I’m sure, attract a lot of visitors.”

He Waka Tuia Art + Museum co-manager Gemma Baldock said one of the most important things about the site was being able to provide access to something the city was previously missing.

“That’s [access] to the collections, the knowledge, the community… It’s really special.”

When both organisations closed, the community was given the chance to have their say on what they wanted to see replace them.

How the space had been set up was a reflection of those voices, she said.

“We’ve picked four key themes #0from those consultation documents around how the community wanted to experience their collections and we’ve split the space.”

Visitors would now be able to passively view, interact with, and take part in a range of different installations all of which showcased what Southland was all about.

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