Tenth birthday cel­e­brated


Ten years ago, the new Owaka Mu­seum was opened to much fan­fare, and the ex­pec­ta­tions for it have been more than re­alised.

It is run by paid staff dur­ing the week, but week­end vol­un­teers have faith­fully been on hand to open it for tourists and lo­cals. Th­ese 16 will­ing work­ers were hon­oured re­cently, at the an­nual din­ner for The Catlins His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety, with badges for ten years’ ser­vice.

Many of us had ear­lier in the day been at the fu­neral for Ge­orge Ber­ney, who had been in the so­ci­ety for at least 40 years and his con­tri­bu­tions were ac­knowl­edged.

Pres­i­dent Mike McPhee said in the past 10 years the mu­seum had gone from strength to strength. He enu­mer­ated many of its achieve­ments, in­clud­ing per­haps the most im­por­tant one of digi­tis­ing pho­tos and cat­a­logu­ing the whole col­lec­tion so that any­one in the world can ac­cess it.

We have also con­ducted oral his­tory in­ter­views and hosted var­i­ous ex­hi­bi­tions, notably Catlins Folks by The Catlins Area School pupils.

Some spe­cial events in­clude mu­si­cians, movies and book launches, as well as 50 ex­hi­bi­tions in the com­mu­nity gallery.

An­nual events in­clude the her­itage bus tour, the Those Were the Days book­let fea­tur­ing the sto­ries of res­i­dents both past and present, and the an­nual mar­ket day.

The mu­seum is also the rest­ing place for the steel waka, a strik­ing fea­ture of the town, which hon­ours the name and ship­ping


At the din­ner, mem­bers were shown a short DVD of the open­ing of the mu­seum in 2007, which was ap­pre­ci­ated by all there, while pro­duc­ing some sor­row for those now gone, in­clud­ing the for­mer pres­i­dent of the so­ci­ety, Anne Brown, who guided the project so ably.

As the mem­bers went up to re­ceive their badges, they men­tioned some funny sto­ries they had dur­ing their ten­ure, in­clud­ing the time when vol­un­teers had in­ad­ver­tently left the front door open. Two Ja­panese tourists ar­riv­ing the next day got a big shock when a pierc­ing alarm went off.

Other tales re­volved round the in­ter­est­ing things peo­ple had asked: ’’Where will we find the city of Owaka?’’ was one.

See pho­tos op­po­site page... his­tory, both Maori and


The highly suc­cess­ful Owaka Mu­seum re­cently turned 10.

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