I just got back from a visit to the Tauranga Heritage Collection.
It’s a storage facility that cares for a collection of 30,000 uniquely Tauranga items awaiting a museum.
Some of these pieces have been waiting for a home since the Tauranga Museum was first proposed (I’ve heard someone say that was 80 years ago!).
I was privileged to be able to take 4 friends with me today to go and see it.
I see in the visitor book that about 800 people have looked through the collection in the last 6 years.
Surely a museum would be capable of getting 800 people per day?
Here’s what I saw.
(I fetched these images off the internet. They resemble what I saw).
6 Items From The Tauranga Heritage Collection I Saw Today
1. A canon that was used in the battle of Gate Pa
Wow. I got chills thinking about this being fired 100 years ago.
Similar to this:
2. A 1948 Austin 8 delivery vehicle For Tauranga City Streets
Fully restored and in working order, that was driven through the Tauranga city streets for more than 30 years.
I could picture the owner zipping through the dirt street of the city centre.
Similar to this (but crimson, not green):
3. A 4m long plywood surfboard Used At The Mount In The 60s
It could hold up to 4-5 people at a time in the waves at the main Mount Beach in the 1960s.
Similar to this:
4. A 700 year old Maori canoe bailer
Used to bail out water from a waka. It was found buried in Tauriko (which was a sea water estuary in those days!).
Wow. I pictured a Maori warrior or wahine, tipping water from a canoe 700 years before I was born.
Similar to this but much older:
5. A pair of now-extinct Huia birds
They mate for life. The male has a short beak that breaks open logs. The female has a long beak that fishes out huhu grubs to share with her mate.
Wow. I don’t recall ever hearing about such a symbiotic relationship before (and I watch a lot of David Attenborough!).
So sad that this species is extinct!
The display box which contained 2 stuffed birds was very similar to this painting:
6. The original printing press and guillotine from the Bay of Plenty Times
Both restored to full working order.
So cool to just be standing there next to these machines that clunked and whired to churn out news about Tauranga city 100 years ago.
The guillotine looked similar to this (but in much better condition):
Plus, up high on the shelves, in boxes were original copies of every newspaper back to the foundation of the paper in 1872 (which were scanned to microfiche for viewing at the Tauranga Public Library).
Want To Visit The Tauranga Collection?
It’s not easy. I took part in the Civic Heart workshops in January, that’s when I first heard about the collection and talked to 2 of the team. I followed that up with a call to the council who put me through. I talked to Dean Flavell who arranged our appointment, allowed me to bring 4 friends with me, and took us on our tour today. Thank you Dean.
You can make a request like I did, but please keep in mind, it is just that, a request. You may also like to know that there are public tours during history week in August every year.
(By the way, it was Dean who restored the Austin 8, and the BOP Times Printing Press and Guillotine that I talk about above).
I was impressed with the storage facility, and if we take another 80 years to get a museum in place, at leasts these treasures will be well looked after in the interim.
Let’s build a museum. Let’s not wait another 80 years.
Let’s change the exhibits every few months so that locals and visitors have something new to see.
Let’s hear the stories of how each piece is uniquely Tauranga.
Let’s imagine life 50 years ago, 100 years ago, 700 years ago which was going on right where we live and work today.
Let’s get these treasures out of the dark and into the public.
What do you think about these treasures being kept in the dark? Have you visited the collection? Do you plan to? Do you support/oppose a museum?
Have your say in the comments section below.