New old museum for Tauranga

By: Brian Rogers brian@thesun.co.nz

You’re welcome to sniff our ropey old relics

We’ve solved the apparent problem of Tauranga not having a museum. We’re opening our own.

The Sun’s new pop-up museum is nearly complete and will be open any day now.

It’s not the fancy- schmancy version that some of you aspire to, but apparently can’t afford.

But at least it’s a start.

In fact it’s so small, you can stand outside and look in. We had to start somewhere.

It’s about half the size of a phone booth, which is all the budget remaining after the consultants have been  handsomely paid.

It’s a temporary solution until someone can think of something better that doesn’t fleece the ratepayers in the process. Because it’s fine to rip off ratepayers if they agree to it.

But clearly in the case of the museum, they’re not too happy about that concept.  

That doesn’t mean the city shouldn’t have a museum; in fact we must have one. Just the process of paying for it needs a major re-think.

Small collection

The Sun museum is starting off small and the plan is to build it up.

Based in my historic building at No.1 The Strand, it tells the story of the Old Bond Store and includes some relics that we have recovered over the years, including some items that belonged to the original owner, James Mann.

It took us a bit of tracking down and some horse-wrangling to obtain and some help years ago from the late Jinty Rorke, but the relics are finally back in their rightful place.  

Barrel measures, liquor handling equipment and Mann’s journal are among the collection.  

Unfortunately, there was no hard liquor to be found. Just the empties.

There’s my grandmother Vera’s old telephone from the farm. It has nothing to do with the Old Bond Store, but it was famously used to call grandad Claude to tell him the cows had got into the front garden and to get his butt back to sort it out before all the petunias were recycled into cow pats.

There’s a piece of gnarly rope of unknown heritage, but it smells really old.

It’s worth coming to the Sun’s Tauranga Museum just to sniff  the rope. It might have been used to moor the Endeavour, but probably not old enough to have come off Takitimu.

There’s a frayed piece at one end, so maybe it was the rope used to moor the Hunters Creek barge, which could explain why the barge became a shipwreck.

Don’t pull the pin

A very special piece is the World War II hand grenade that nearly killed Hitler. If only someone had pulled the pin and thrown it in the right direction.

Pop Wallace brought it back from the war.

It has probably been defused, but just in case, please don’t pull the pin unless you  see a guy with a comb-over and a really narrow moustache.

Speaking of Pop, there’s a selection of his vintage fishing gear. Much of it he made himself, while pretending to be working at the hydro dams - or as the family preferred to call them, the trout farms.

I never met Pop, but he sure left us boys a heap of cool old fishing stuff. Plus a life lesson in how to look busy at your work, while secretly, you’re tying trout flies and making your own rods and reels. Incidentally, he was the original inventor of the salt water fly, sometimes now called a skute, suddenly all trendy again.

But let the record show my great grandfather Pop Wallace long ago perfected the skills of catching fish with a bunch of feathers.

Quick tour

The tour of the museum won’t take you long - at this stage probably about 3 minutes. As the collection grows, we’ll keep you informed.

Anyone with any relics they’d like to see displayed in Tauranga’s new museum, drop me a line. We will do our best to preserve them and put them on show for the public, unlike the massive collection that the council has hidden away, that the public never gets  to appreciate.

I’d like to think the council would come to the party and loan a few relics. I’d especially like to see the Armstrong Gun displayed near its original home atop the Redoubt and occasionally fire it in the general direction of the council building, just to make sure they’re awake in there.

The council is playing Dog in the Manger with all the museum relics and doesn’t want anyone to see anything unless it’s in a grandiose mega-museum that the city will probably never afford - all or nothing mentality - while in the clutches of the current crop of ratepayers who, rightfully so, are adamant about having control of how their rates are spent.

Other options

So why isn’t the city exploring interim options to display even a few of the 30,000 relics? Why not have a boutique pop-up museum, or even a series of small locations, rotating some of the artefacts that can be easily shown?

Maybe they’d deign to allow display of some relics in conjunction with photos of the ones that are in storage... an audio-visual history of the Western Bay.

There must be plenty of empty buildings suitable for a short-term museum option, at least. That would really test the waters and measure the community’s appetite for something grander, should the budget ever magically appear.

More magic money

And speaking of magic money matters, many of you are eagerly awaiting the next controversial instalment of the epic “Jacinderella” mini-series. There’s more to come, so watch this space.  

In the meantime, some advice that could be attributed to Pop Wallace: Don’t pull the pin until you’re ready to throw.

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