Big plan for mu­seum

Plan­ning is un­der way on a $3 mil­lion rede­vel­op­ment of the tim­ber mu­seum in Pu­taruru. Edi­tor Mathew Grocott met on Mon­day with two of the men be­hind the plan

South Waikato News - - FRONT PAGE -

The New Zealand Tim­ber Mu­seum in Pu­taruru has the po­ten­tial to be­come a tourist mecca ac­cord­ing to those plan­ning its rede­vel­op­ment.

Mu­seum trustees Graeme Hall and Tony Jaques say their plans for the mu­seum would make a tourist des­ti­na­tion ca­pa­ble of at­tract­ing peo­ple from Europe and North Amer­ica, not to men­tion Ki­wis.

South Waikato District Coun­cil’s cor­po­rate and en­vi­ron­ment com­mit­tee ap­proved a $400,000 grant to the mu­seum trust last week, the first step in the $3 mil­lion needed.

The trust will seek the rest from grants bod­ies, do­na­tions and cor­po­rate spon­sor­ship.

The men paid trib­ute to those who had set up and run the mu­seum in the past. The fa­cil­ity held a valu­able col­lec­tion of ex­hibits and archives but im­prove­ments were needed in how they were dis­played.

‘‘It was a hap­haz­ard devel­op­ment,’’ Mr Hall said.

‘‘Any mu­seum needs a flow so you can go through in a log­i­cal or­der. There are sev­eral sto­ries to tell.’’

Sec­tions of the new mu­seum would cover the na­ture of na­tive for­est be­fore forestry, the milling of na­tive tim­ber and the cre­ation of plan­ta­tion forests.

The funds from coun­cil would go to­wards stage one of the site’s rede­vel­op­ment which is set to open be­fore the rugby world cup.

Stage one will fea­ture the re­lo­ca­tion of build­ings on the site to cre­ate a vis­i­tor’s cen­tre with a cafe, shop and con­fer­ence fa­cil­ity un­der one roof.

Camper­van ac­com­mo­da­tion on the mu­seum site will also be de­vel­oped with power and waste­water fa­cil­i­ties in­stalled.

‘‘We’re lift­ing the cafe up to the con­fer­ence fa­cil­ity’s level,’’ Mr Jaques said. The two build­ings would be joined and deck­ing built around them.

The con­fer­ence area will have dis­plays on the his­tory of the area in­cluded a re­lief map of the Waikato River Val­ley he said.

Once com­pleted the mu­seum will also in­clude a wildlife re­serve, new ex­hi­bi­tion ar­eas, re­vamped ex­hibits, a wed­ding venue and back­packer ac­com­mo­da­tion aimed at cy­cle­way users.

Other build­ings will be moved to cre­ate a vil­lage green area en­abling the trust to hold events such as mar­kets, per­for­mances and fes­ti­vals.

It will also pro­vide a des­ti­na­tion for pro­posed light rail trips to Pu­taruru from Ro­torua and is at the start of a planned cy­cle­way to Ro­torua.

Fi­nan­cial es­ti­mates pre­sented to last week’s meet­ing fore­cast ad­mis­sions to the mu­seum will dou­ble in the 2011 to 2012 fi­nan­cial year as will in­come from wed­dings and func­tions.

The mu­seum is also look­ing for vol­un­teers. Mr Hall said they were af­ter peo­ple with an in­ter­est in help­ing pre­serve the area’s in­dus­trial his­tory.

‘‘If we don’t do some­thing about pre­serv­ing what we’ve got I think we’re deny­ing fu­ture gen­er­a­tions of some trea­sures.’’

MAK­ING PLANS: New Zealand Tim­ber Mu­seum trustees Graeme Hall and Tony Jaques look at plans for the up­grade of the at­trac­tion.

NEW LOOK: The tim­ber mu­seum will get a $3 mil­lion re­vamp.

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