There was a strong sense of momentum about the development of a museum for Tauranga when an enthusiastic crowd of supporters gathered at Tauranga Art Gallery on Thursday to celebrate International Museum Day.
“We've been here 16 years and it's the first time I've ever felt that things are starting to come together,” says Adrienne von Tunzelmann who attended the event.
“I actually do feel there is a real momentum gathering finally in Tauranga.”
The Trustees of the Tauranga Moana Museum Trust hosted the evening, which provided opportunity for museum supporters to catch up over refreshments and canapes. Museum experts addressed the audience, talking about modern museums and their relevance and value for regional cities.
Emily Loughnan, Creative Director from Click Suite in Wellington, spoke on the use of technology in a modern museum.
“Tonight I'm talking about bringing history alive by using technology and telling great stories. I work with museums, libraries and galleries and help them translate their stories into digital format and to make them engaging for audiences.
“That's really my thing. We're based in Wellington but work with people all around the country.”
Emily, who does a lot of her work with Te Papa, flew back to Wellington immediately following the Tauranga event, as she was due to attend an exhibition opening the following day.
Ben Barraud, who was set designer and second unit art director for The Hobbit, is now Head of Design at Te Papa. Responsible for the design of Te Papa's Gallipoli exhibition, he spoke on his experience with setting up such an important display.
Cate Hlavac, a Tauranga Museum Trustee, spoke to the future direction and planning for a museum for Tauranga.
“I think it's progressing really strongly as we'd expected,” says Tauranga Moana Museum Trust co-chair Kelly Barclay.
“Council have signalled they've got to do a lot of due process and they're keeping to their timetable. At this stage we have to wait for them to come through but I think there's a real groundswell of support and a feeling of need for it.
“After the Banksy exhibition here in the Art Gallery there was a feeling and interest around town of how cultural activities can really enhance Tauranga and make it an exciting place to be. There were queues out the door here at the Art Gallery and I think a museum would really complement that and provide a strong focal point for the cultural community.
“It's also an economic community. We're encouraging people to support the museum and the Council in going forward. And investing in what is really a civic community and an asset. We're also aware that there is central Government funding available and we're confident that they will come to the party with a significant contribution. The time is right to capture that funding.”
Tauranga City Councillor Larry Baldock says he is really pleased with the feedback they are getting, “that the time has come for Tauranga,”
“People are realising and supporting the fact that we need a museum. I'm really excited about what's going to happen, and that we're going to get there. It's going to be fantastic. Because we've waited so long we're going to get something really special.”
“There's scars on my back from the last museum project that I supported on the waterfront,” joked Terry Molloy, another supporter of a museum for Tauranga. “They've just healed now so I'm ready for the next round.”
“The opening of the tidal stairs was just magic,” says Adrienne. “We've been down to the tidal stairs three times now and there's just a whole lot of different people coming into town, very intergenerational. There's grandparents with grandchildren. A lot more multi-cultural. What really started it was the Hairy Maclary statues.”
Mayor Greg Brownless is pragmatic.
“A lot of people are talking about the museum,” says Greg, “But it's a matter of turning the words into some sort of action and for that to happen there's quite a lot to sort out. Let's see if all the people who have promised money actually deliver and we should be able to get something going.”
Terry Molloy, Ann Pankhurst and Adrienne von Tunzelmann.
Ben Barraud and Emily Loughnan.
Viv Hill, Harry Hill, Annie Lewis and Tony Macartney.