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
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.