A respected specialist in cultural precinct developments says the proposed Taupō project would benefit both the town and the Central North Island by being a significant drawcard for visitors.
Wayne Marriott is an advisor to Council's Cultural Precinct Project and has worked at Southland Museum and Art Gallery and GM Museums Aotearoa. He is a former Heritage New Zealand and Maori Heritage Council member, currently serving as a Board Member of Creative New Zealand and the New Zealand Arts Council. He oversaw the redevelopment of the Nelson Provincial Museum and Whakatāne Museum and Library project and has worked nationally and internationally on both museum and cultural precinct projects.
Mr Marriott says the proposed Taupō cultural precinct project has the potential to take heritage and tourism to a new level, and would work well for both the local community as well as visitors.
"Through the closure of Rotorua Museum and the lack of progress on the establishment of a Tauranga Museum, it is uniquely positioned to share the stories of not only the district but also the wider region."
"This is positive for domestic and international tourism – it adds another string to the bow of the local economy. We often talk about tourists as the catalyst, and economically we have to say they are, but at the end of the day if your museum doesn't inspire your local community then your advocates become detractors and you have to question what purpose it has."
While Mr Marriott acknowledged one challenge for a project of this size and scale is funding, there were some "true, tried, and tested" models available. These include funding raised locally from rates, Central Government's Regional Museums or Provincial Growth Funds, and more to be raised through the generosity of philanthropic individuals, trusts, or other sources.
"There is a very good proposition that could be put forward to the Provincial Growth Fund on what this would achieve, for this community, the region, and nationally."
Mr Marriott said the timing was right because the current museum was beginning to show limitations. "Your museum is a really good example of something assembled by some enthusiastic people decades ago for future generations. For a small museum like this there are challenges. Firstly, its location, secondly the nature of the building – several wooden buildings cobbled together over the years has its challenges in terms of long-term preservation of objects within the building. At present only one gallery is air-conditioned, and this is essential to the preservation of items and retro-fitting climate control is rarely cost effective."
"By thinking outside the square by putting the museum, library and civic administration buildings together, you're creating a very visible public front in which council functions can be literally hidden. Bringing in consultants, having conversations with the community and with tangata whenua, ensures a very sound foundation on which this project is built."
Mr Marriott said ensuring this project meets standards required by national and international institutions creates a good chance objects held throughout the country may be returned to Taupō, enabling research, knowledge and a greater understanding of this material.
"The current museum doesn't meet these requirements, with no air-conditioning and fire and pest risks. The community has a responsibility to ensure they provide the safest possible environment, sending a clear message to other institutions this community is responsible, engaged and – most importantly – passionate about ensuring the story of their whole community is shared."
WANT TO SEE THE OPTIONS FOR THE CULTURAL PRECINCT PROJECT?
Come along to a public meeting at the Great Lake Centre at 5.30pm on Wednesday, October 3 2018 to hear from the master planners and have your say.
If you can't make it in person, you can watch the meeting and ask any questions via our Facebook page – we'll be going live!
> Find out more about the Cultural Precinct Project masterplan options and have your say