An upcoming heritage exhibition is opening up a conversation on the history of Tauranga, unlocking treasures and memories from the past, and renewing the age-old museum debate.
Waterslides weaving through Moturiki Island and elephants parading The Strand are just some of the moments in time Supercut Projects’ Ellie Smith uncovered from her time delving in the archives.
Echoes: Tauranga Moana, presented by Supercut Projects, hopes to encourage the community to discover and learn about its past, with an interactive experience featuring hundreds of photographs, places, people, events and objects.
“I touched base with the Tauranga City Libraries because it’s only recently that they have digitised their archives on a website called Pae Korokī, so it’s now freely accessible for everyone.
“I also touched base with the Tauranga Heritage Collection, which have digitised a lot of their archives –not all of it as it’s a massive collection of about 30,000 pieces, but thousands are up online.
“We also asked The Elms Te Papa Tauranga if they wanted to be involved because their collection is also in Pae Korakī, so that was really a nice tie in as well,” says Ellie.
“Basically, I was going through online archives looking for anything that had a direct relationship to Tauranga – which is a lot of things.
“I was always aware of the collections in the libraries and the Tauranga Heritage Collection but just the vastness and the richness of the resources that we have in the city, I suppose that’s been a real eye-opener.
“We are in desperate need of a museum I think. We just have so many treasures and stories, and such a rich history that not many people know about.
“That’s the cool thing about ‘Echoes: Tauranga Moana’ I think, is that we have the opportunity to at least give people a glimpse of the history here.
“In the exhibition, it’s really clear to see how the city has changed over the years and the really familiar landmarks that remain.”
Ellie says a massive projection of these images will float along “and with the way that you position your hand, you can choose the way you want to interact”.
“It will frame your silhouette as it pops up on the screen with the images and then you can use your hand to grab what sort of images you want to learn more about.
“It’s a really interactive, innovative piece of art incorporated with these beautiful older images which is really nice.
In a new light
Ellie now sees Tauranga in a new light. “The city is going through such a change at the moment and the civic redevelopment is really exciting. This exhibition shows the way we have changed over the years and it makes me excited for the future of Tauranga.
“It’s been a real labour of love. It’s been a big job but the teams I worked with were so generous with their time. This is a starting point to show and interact with our history.”
‘Echoes: Tauranga Moana’ has been generously supported by Creative New Zealand, Tauranga City Council, Cooney Lees Morgan and Baycourt Community and Arts Centre.
It will be held at the Baycourt Community and Arts Centre X Space from May 19-May 27.