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Significant loan of Taonga Maori

Friday, August 13, 2010

“The Auckland Museum Trust Board has approved the loan of 13 significant taonga Maori to the people of Rotorua”, says Sir Don McKinnon, Interim Director Auckland Museum.

The objects representing a significant part of the Te Arawa people traditions and history will be part of the new $22 million extension and redevelopment of Rotorua Museum. The new galleries will tell the great stories of Te Arawa and the Rotorua region.

“This loan has been the result of months of discussions with kaumatua of Te Arawa and Rotorua Museum. It represents an ongoing legacy of special relationships and ties between the people of Te Arawa and Auckland Museum for over 120 years” says Sir Don McKinnon.

One of the taonga, a pataka (food storage house) named „Te Oha? will be a once in a generation opportunity for research, conservation and education. „The dismantling process and reconstruction will be very exciting?. The house is made up of many small and large individually carved and uncarved pieces interlocked and lashed in a traditional manner. The house has incorporated pieces of a canoe left by adversaries making the prospect of dismantling and re-construction a challenging and interesting exercise.

The decision will be welcomed in Rotorua. “I am sure I speak for the people of Rotorua in expressing genuine gratitude to the Trust Board of Auckland Museum for its decision today said Greg McManus, Director Rotorua Museum. “The loan of 13 significant taonga, many of which have not been seen here for over a century, is indeed visionary and a recognition of the special relationship that has existed between Te Arawa and Auckland Museum since the nineteenth century”.

“All of us involved with the negotiations over the past few months have been extremely impressed with the spirit of cooperation and respect shown by the Board and management of Auckland Museum throughout the process. There is no doubt that these loans will be a major boost to Rotorua Museum as it continues to develop as a major cultural institution in its own right” says Mr. McManus.

The range of objects being loaned include a gateway which was located at Lake Okataina and was partially buried by the Tarawera eruption, an adze associated with the construction of the Te Arawa waka, a small stone tool carving that is said to be a lone survivor from Mokoia Island following the arrival of Hongi Hika in 1823, parts of a fully carved meeting house named Rangitihi, two waka huia (treasure boxes), a bird perch and a mere pounamu (greenstone mere).

Museum works to secure precious taonga

Monday, November 23, 2009

Rotorua Museum is undertaking to secure a number of Te Arawa taonga from institutions across New Zealand and around the world for long term display in the new Don Stafford Wing.  Some of the works are associated with prominent Te Arawa ancestors, others are representative of important events in Rotorua history.  These carvings, woven works, and works of art will be key in illustrating the stories that will be told in the new wing. 

Te Arawa/Ngati Whakaue representative Fred McRae has been working with Museum staff and exhibition developers Story!Inc for over 12 months researching the taonga and assisting with approaches to the relevant institutions. 

”My work has been focused on suitable pieces that will enhance the Museum,” says Fred. 

“I research the provenance and the whakapapa to descendants of the carvers and weavers and look at the context and stories associated with the objects.” 

Fred’s work is undertaken in liaison with Story!Inc to ensure that the story will be told sensitively but with interest and entertainment in mind as well.  Through this process there is also careful communication with Museum staff and the Pukenga Koeke (Rotorua Museum’s committee of Te Arawa Elders) to ensure the correct linkages are made.

The taonga being sourced will bring to life a number of great Te Arawa stories and some particularly striking pieces will provide visual impact.  But as Rotorua Museum Director Greg McManus explains, securing the objects for display is not easy. 

“Negotiating the loans is a very long process which started well before the physical work on the building.  We are thankful for the strong support from Te Arawa in this process and grateful for the co-operation of the museums we have been working with. It is not always easy for museums to agree to loans of significant objects from their collections, especially if they are on display in those institutions, but it is our job to support the aspirations of Te Arawa in securing the return of their taonga to Rotorua so future generations of local children can see the works of their ancestors without having to travel to other cities.”

A Delicate Demolition

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Dramatic changes have taken place at Rotorua Museum since the beginning of Stage III of the Rotorua Museum Centennial Development.  The Museum’s extreme South Wing has been completely removed.  A gaping hole and two isolated gable facades are all that remain.

This wing was made up of inferior structures built in 1911 and 1983.  Some of these additions were not in keeping with the original intentions for the building’s design and other parts were in poor condition.   The demolition was a precise and revealing process.  As the dismantling progressed, contractors were able to explore and assess areas of the Bath House not previously accessible. Great care also had to be taken to ensure the features of the building that were to be retained were not damaged.

Another significant part of the Stage III project so far has been the underpinning of the existing building.  Whilst largely unseen, this process was vital to strengthen and stabilise the aging Bath House and the thermal ground that it stands on.

 With the underpinning completed, the long but exciting phase of rebuilding and extending the wing now begins.  The outer shell of the wing is expected to be completed by April 2011 with another four months for the internal fit. The completed new wing wing will open to the public in August 2011.


The original gable facade remains in place.


The 1912 dormer window is removed.


The demolition is complete.


The final stage begins

Monday, May 25, 2009

After four years of planning and preliminary work the final stage of the Rotorua Museum Centennial Development is about to begin. Trees and scrub have been cleared from the site and the road to the south of the building currently being realigned. The first construction work on the building will begin in June.

Stage III is the most significant period of construction that the Bath House building has seen since it opened to the public on August 13th 1908. Five major additions or alterations have taken place in the last 101 years and now this final phase will see the building completed to the original footprint proposed by Dr Arthur Wohlmann.

The south wing of the Bath House was the most incomplete section of the building and despite additions in 1911 and 1983 significant work is still required to fulfil Wohlmann’s proposal. Construction is expected to take 22 months with an additional four months required for internal fit out. Stage III will provide an extra 1260m² of floor space. In addition to two new galleries for temporary exhibitions, the existing south wing exhibitions will be redeveloped and extended to provide an enhanced museum experience.

The redevelopment provides the museum with an exciting opportunity to re-look at it its exhibition content, flow and design. “We are effectively starting with a blank canvas,” says Deputy Director Cherie Meecham, who will lead the installation of the exhibition spaces. “It is a unique opportunity to take the best of our existing exhibitions and enhance them with new stories and interpretive techniques. We can also address issues of layout and flow without the constraints of existing structures”.

Business as usual throughout project

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Even though staff will be flat out behind the scenes during construction for Stage III of the Rotorua Museum Centennial Development, it will be business as usual for the museum. Careful planning and consideration to maintaining access to a full range of exhibitions has meant there will be minimal disruption to the visitor experience.

The Maori Battalion and Te Arawa exhibitions are currently being relocated to the Rotorua Trust Galleries (north wing) and will reopen to the public before the end of May. A new Maori Battalion cinema experience has already been constructed and is operating as normal.

The last of the south wing exhibitions, the Tarawera exhibition, will be relocated in early 2010. At this point the south wing doors will be shut and will not re-open again until August 2011 when the new exhibitions will be opened to the public.

The north wing exhibitions and Rotorua Stories cinema experience will not be affected by the construction. As a result of this careful planning visitors will be able to see all the exhibitions they would normally experience, just in a different place.

Construction Contract Awarded

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Bay of Plenty/Waikato branch of building company, Watts & Hughes Construction Ltd, has been awarded the contract to complete Stage III of the Centennial Project. Watts & Hughes recently undertook the successful expansion contract for Rotorua’s District Library, which was completed on time and within budget.

A significant number of local Rotorua businesses are expected to secure sub-contract work on the approximately $9 million construction programme.

Funding successfully secured before work begins

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The $22 million funding target for the Rotorua Museum Centennial Development has been reached. The fundraising efforts for the project have been driven by the Rotorua Museum Centennial Trust which was established in 2006. Following the most recent meeting of the Trust on 8 May, Trust Chairman Lyall Thurston was able to confirm that the target of $22 million has been achieved.

“It’s a reflection of the high regard this building is held in that full funding has been secured before construction of the final stage has started,” says Mr Thurston.

The project is of both national and local significance and funding has been forthcoming from a wide range of sources. Strong commitment from Rotorua District Council, Rotorua Energy Trust, Bay Trust and the Rotorua Chamber of Commerce at the very early stages of fundraising set a solid platform for funding approaches to be made at a national level.

Museum and Supporters Celebrate Opening of New Wing

Friday, November 14, 2008

Rotorua Museum is celebrating the completion of Stage II of the Rotorua Museum Centennial Development. The occasion was marked at a special function in the new Rotorua Trust gallery space on the 13th of November.

The function was attended by over 130 project supporters including representatives from Rotorua District Council, central Government, local and national funding agencies and local business supporters.

The extension provides an additional 187m² of space adjacent to the existing 220m² gallery. The combined space will now be known as the Rotorua Trust Galleries.

“The Rotorua Trust has contributed significantly to the present day success of Rotorua Museum,” says Rotorua Museum Director Greg McManus. “Their support over the past 10 years has been unwavering and has allowed us to develop a community facility of an international standard. We are proud to acknowledge this ongoing partnership.”

During his speech Chairman of the Rotorua Trust Graham Hall acknowledged the efforts made by Lyall Thurston and Rotorua Museum Centennial Trust to raise the $22 million required for the project. To date over $21 million has been raised, with a further $900,000 still required.

Deputy Director Cherie Meecham in the new Rotorua Trust Gallery.

Deputy Director Cherie Meecham in the new Rotorua Trust Gallery.

The ventilation towers have been replaced with replicas of the original towers.

The ventilation towers have been replaced with replicas of the original towers.

Rotorua Museum announces Don Stafford Wing

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Rotorua Museum has acknowledged the important contribution of historian Don Stafford to Rotorua Museum and to the wider Rotorua community with the announcement that the Museum’s South Wing will become know as the Don Stafford Wing.

The South Wing, the focus of Stage III of the Museum’s Centennial Project, currently houses the Arawa, Tarawera and Maori Battalion exhibitions and will be expanded and completely refurbished the Centennial Project.

Rotorua Museum Director Greg McManus says the contribution made by Don Stafford deserves significant recognition.

“Don Stafford has devoted his life to this District and the people who live here. He made a crucial contribution to the establishment of Rotorua Museum and his incredible generosity in terms of knowledge and time knows no bounds. It will be an honour to have Don’s name permanently associated with this museum. I cannot think of a more worthy person.”

Mr McManus also announced four other areas where key supporters of the Museum will be acknowledged. The existing and new north wing art galleries, due for completion in November, will be known as the Rotorua Trust Galleries. The south wing extensions, which will begin in 2009, will house two new art galleries which will be known as the Southern Trust Gallery and the Chamber of Commerce Gallery. The Pump Room of the Museum (lower and upper foyer) area will become known as the BayTrust Pump Room.

Don Stafford addresses guests at the Rotorua Museum Centennial dinner

Don Stafford addresses guests at the Rotorua Museum Centennial dinner

Don Stafford with US Ambassador William McCormick

Don Stafford with US Ambassador William McCormick.

Bath House Centenary Celebrated in Style

Monday, August 11, 2008

The red carpet was rolled out for over 100 invited guests at a special dinner celebrating the centenary of the official opening of the Bath House on August 13th, 100 years to the day of the official opening. US Ambassador William P. McCormick was the guest of honour at the dinner held at Rotorua Museum. Accompanied by Defense Attache Capt. Dawn Driesbach, the Ambassador was invited to the dinner to celebrate the involvement of the US Navy at the 1908 opening of the Bath House.

The building was opened by Admiral C S. Sperry, Commander of the American Great White Fleet which was docked in Auckland at the time. Speakers at the dinner including Museum Director Greg McManus, Centennial Trust Chairman Lyall Thurston, Ambassador McCormick and Capt. Driesbach gave a range of fascinating historical accounts and variety of perspective from the day. Museum staff Ann Somerville, George McLeod and Wallace Te Ahuru also entertained the visitors with a dramatisation of official reports from the 1908 opening.

$7.5 million Government Grant Announced for Rotorua Museum

Friday, July 4, 2008

Prime Minister and Minister for Art, Culture and Heritage Helen Clark today announced a major grant which will ensure the ambitious project to complete the Rotorua Museum building will be achieved.

Announced during her speech at the “Roof Shout” for the north wing extension, the $7.5 million grant is from the Regional Museums Fund for Capital Construction Projects. This sees the total amount of money raised for the project reach $21million, enough to complete stage III of the project, the south wing extension and refurbishment.

Lyall Thurston, Chairman of the Rotorua Museum Centennial Trust says:

“It is wonderful to have the importance of this project recognised.
As a project that was started by the New Zealand Government 100 years ago, it is fitting that the final funding should be provided by the Government of today.
We thank Helen Clark in her role as Minister for Culture and Heritage for identifying this project as one of national significance and for recognising the important role Rotorua Museum plays in the cultural life of Rotorua and New Zealand. This is a project to complete a building that is now 100 years old, but it is also a project that will see Rotorua Museum poised to meet the highest international museum standards in the future.”

Museum Director Greg McManus is delighted with the announcement:

“Staff and supporters of the Museum are obviously thrilled with this announcement. So much effort and planning has gone into the project and it is hugely rewarding to witness the hard work of so many people come to fruition. Personally I am stunned and enormously grateful to the Government for such a generous commitment.”


Prime Minister Helen Clark announces the $7.5 million grant to guests at the “roof shout” for the North Wing extension.

Latest images from the Rotorua Museum Centennial Project

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

With only a few months until completion, the details of the building can now be seen with many of the windows and doors in place. The North facing gables, delicately removed earlier in the construction process, have successfully been reattached to the new facade.

The next major step is the addition of the tiles to the roof. Three types of tiles will be used including replicas of the original ridge cap tiles. The ridge cap tiles were part of the original building, but the tiles deteriorated over time and were never replaced. This seemingly small detail will greatly add to the character of the building.

Download the June 2008 project update here.

June progress 1 June progress 2
June progress 3 Steve Chadwick

Top left: The framing of the new wing.
Top right: The gables have been reattached to the new metal frame.
Bottom left: Details of windows and doors are now visible.
Bottom right: MP for Rotorua Hon Steve Chadwick (pictured) and Associate Minister for Arts, Heritage and Culture Hon Judith Tizard were part of group to recently take a site tour of the extensions.

March 2008 Update

Monday, March 3, 2008

The North Wing extension and Rotorua Trust Gallery, is starting to take shape with the ground floor now poured and two key milestones reached.

After months of planning and exploratory work, March saw two delicate manoeuvres take place to remove the ventilation towers and the north facing gables, each in a single piece.

The existing ventilation towers were installed in 1953 after the deterioration of the original towers. However, the 1953 towers were not in keeping with the 1908 design and will be replaced with replicas of the originals that provided ventilation from the steamy treatment rooms below.

One of the most challenging tasks of the North Wing project to date has been the removal of the façade of the north facing gables. The façade of each gable has been successfully removed in one piece so they can be re-used on the new wing.

Images from January 2008 – March 2008

Tower Gable lifting
Gable back Framing

Top left: A ventilation tower is removed.
Top right: The first gable is lifted.
Bottom left: The rear of the first gable.
Bottom right: The first floor framing is erected..

November 2007 Update

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Progress on the stage II of the Centennial Project has been helped by Rotorua’s fine spell of summer weather.

Museum staff have enjoyed their first tour of the construction site. Site Manager Wayne Currie explained to staff that a protective lining has been laid beneath the concrete floor to safeguard the new wing against hydrogen sulphide.

Images from November 2007 – January 2008

Digger Membrane
Reinforcing Staff tour

Top left: Digging the foundations.
Top right: Laying the protective lining.
Bottom left: Reinforcing.
Bottom right: Staff tour the construction site.

Stage II of Centennial Project begins

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Stage II of the Rotorua Museum Centennial Project, the North Wing extension, officially begins on Wednesday 31st October with a ground breaking ceremony.

Stage II will see the construction of the new Rotorua Trust Gallery, a high quality 187m² exhibition space adjacent to the existing 220m² North Wing Gallery and will extend into the northern car park of the Museum.

The extension includes a major upgrade of the air conditioning system for the North Wing Galleries. Additional display space and improved air conditioning will provide the museum with more opportunities and flexibility to secure higher quality and larger touring exhibitions.

Greg McManus, Director of Rotorua Museum, explains why the air conditioning is such an important feature of the new gallery:
“The new air conditioning system will enable us to control the environment to a very high standard. It will allow us to control temperature and humidity and also remove Hydrogen Sulphide from the air before it enters the galleries. This is very important as H2S is known to adversely affect some types of artworks and we need to be able to demonstrate to potential lenders that we can ensure their works are safe when at Rotorua Museum.”

The Museum’s normal operations will be largely unaffected by Stage II of the project as most of the work will take place on the exterior of the building. The Rotorua Trust Gallery is due to open in November 2008.

One iconic tourism attraction lends its support to another

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Agrodome has long been an iconic part of Rotorua and is now further extending its links into the community by becoming a Project Partner for the Rotorua Museum Centennial Development.

Established in 1970 by Godfrey Bowen and George Harford, the Agrodome is today managed by the sons of the founders, Paul Bowen and Warren Harford.
“The Rotorua Museum Centennial Project is a fantastic opportunity for the Agrodome to give something back to the community and to help ensure this iconic building is finally completed for all New Zealanders and overseas visitors alike to enjoy,” says Warren Harford.

Warren Harford of the Agrodome is presented with a certificate of acknowledgment by Centennial Trust Chairman Lyall Thurston

Warren Harford of the Agrodome is presented with a certificate of acknowledgment by Centennial Trust Chairman Lyall Thurston

As a long serving tourism business the Agrodome has played a key role in the promotion and development of Rotorua as a visitor destination and the spin off from tourism growth has been vital for Rotorua Museum. Warren Harford and Lyall Thurston

Museum Director, Greg McManus, says
“The tourism industry provides Rotorua Museum with opportunities for revenue generation not enjoyed by most regional museums in New Zealand, allowing us to provide a much better museum for our community at a relatively low cost. It is an excellent example of how the whole community can benefit from the tourism industry.”

Major contributions move project closer to funding target

Monday, October 1, 2007

The Rotorua Museum Centennial Trust is well on its way to reaching the $19.45 million target for the project. Over $11 million has been raised to date. This includes major contributions from Rotorua District Council, Rotorua Trust and Bay Trust.

The Centennial Trust has recently received three further major contributions towards the project.

The Environment and Heritage Committee of the New Zealand Lotteries Grants Board has made a grant of $500,000 towards the construction of Stage II, the North Wing Gallery extension and building refurbishment. This is in addition to a grant of $200,000 received in 2006 for the Viewing Platform, Stage I of the Centennial Project, and continues the long history of support Rotorua Museum has received from Lotteries for the development of the building and major exhibitions.

Funding for stage III has received a boost with the Ngati Whakaue Education Endowment Trust making a grant of $300,000 towards the final stage of the project.

A contribution of $100, 000 has also been received by the New Zealand Community Trust.