Artist impression

It doesn’t happen that often, but Napier and Hastings councils are working together for the good of Hawke’s Bay, joining forces to purchase a building that will house the region’s treasured artefact and taonga collection.

Once redeveloped, the former Briscoes site in 307 Queen Street in Hastings CBD will provide a modern, fit-for-purpose facility that will not only house the collection, but also provide community access alongside storage and preservation services. 

Originating in the early 1850s, the collection is considered one of Aotearoa’s most prestigious, historic and significant collections of regional and national taonga and artefacts, and contains about 90,000 items.

Over the last 18 months, Hastings District and Napier City councils have worked in partnership with the Hawke’s Bay Museums Trust and Ngāti Kahungunu to secure permanent storage for its future care and protection in accordance with museum best practice.

The estimated cost of the project including the property purchase is $11.5m. Both councils are contributing $3.3m each through their respective 2021-2031 Long Term Plans, with fundraising now beginning in earnest to raise approximately $5m additional to ensure the building and site is repurposed appropriately. The councils and the Trust will be looking for external funding from contestable central government funds, regional contestable funds, private enterprise partnerships, private trusts and philanthropic organisations and individuals.

The timeline for construction and completion are dependent on Councils’ success with funding approaches to central government over the coming months. If successful, the project team envisages commencing the redevelopment work “this time next year”, pending building consent, available resource and materials. Construction is expected to take around 15 months, plus a four- to six-week period to relocate the collection from Ahuriri to Hastings. 

The regional collection will continue to be owned by the Hawke’s Bay Museums Trust, a council-controlled organisation, jointly funded by the Hastings District and Napier City Councils. The day-to-day care of the items and archival material will continue to be managed on behalf of the region by MTG Hawke’s Bay, located in Napier.

Hawke’s Bay Museums Trust chairman Richard Grant said finding a long-term solution for storing the collection had been a high priority for the Trust for a number of years. 

“The Trust is pleased to have the collection relocated to a facility that will be able to house its entirety under one roof in Hastings’ cultural precinct close to Ngā Pou o Heretaunga, the Hastings City Art Gallery and the Hastings War Memorial Library in Civic Square, and Toitoi in the opera house precinct.”

Ngāti Kahungunu Iwi appointee to the Trust, Nigel How, said procuring the site aligns seamlessly with the Trust’s objectives, including the development of quality cultural facilities within the region and the advancement and promotion of our cultural heritage and arts through the use of the collection. 

“Personal connection with taonga, including archives, art and images, is a fundamental part of holistic community wellbeing. The new facility will provide further opportunity for these connections to be made in synergy with MTG.”

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