On the road in the South Island

By Judith Taylor, Museum Development Adviser South Island, National Services Te Paerangi

West Coast

In 2015 the West Coast Heritage Forum launched its Strategic Vision document for Te Tai o Poutini West Coast. It’s a massive heritage inventory – from cycle trails and walkways to museums and marae – all with colour photographs, key stories and strategic intent for each project. The document makes fascinating reading, permanently marking heritage places in time and considering collaborative future options.

Copies are available from info@heritagewestcoast.co.nz.

West Coast heritage organisations have been meeting and collaborating informally since 1998. In 2004 Heritage West Coast Inc (HWC) developed a formal structure representing the interests of the area’s three councils, iwi, museums, historic places, Department of Conservation and any others wanting to be involved.

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Strategy development group: Rob Daniel (Vice Chairperson), Jackie Gurden (Chairperson), David Stapleton (Treasurer)

HWC aims to encourage and promote understanding of West Coast heritage and identity through a regional approach to coordination and support for strategic heritage developments. Building capacity, training, marketing and promotion, and conservation are aspects of the strategy. Jackie Gurden, Chairperson of HWC, says the strategy ‘has drawn together a very visual and powerful picture of the strength and depth of heritage on the West Coast and the significant investment that has and continues to be made. This had an immediate impact both in regional planning and tourism. The strategy has seven goals. We are now working very actively on many of these. The most prominent is our work with Tourism West Coast to develop tourism packages and an active marketing campaign to capitalise on the growth in the visitor market.’

In December I was on site in many of the West Coast museums where the museum projects described in the Strategy are underway. At Northern Buller a huge electric shovel boom and bucket from the Ngakawau complex has been relocated as a static outdoor display.

Coaltown in Westport is working on collections rationalisation, and The Blackball Museum of Working Class History has added another container for a display area.

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Blackball Museum of Working Class History

Hokitika Museum has published A Pictorial History of Hokitika 1865-1885. This has been produced to complement the Man Booker Prize-winning novel The Luminaries. This is a fundraiser for the museum and has the support of Eleanor Catton and Victoria University Press. It can be only be ordered online at www.hokitikamuseum.co.nz.

Coffee culture in Hokitika 1853?

At the busy Westland Industrial Heritage Park volunteers are going to restore a Bach Steam Engine. Built by Richard Bach in 1893 it is believed to be the oldest existing steam portable machine of ‘modern’ layout (with the crank on top of the boiler) surviving anywhere. The machine was purchased by Parsons and Co who brought it to Hokitika as part of a coffee making business.

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The Bach Engine

Volunteers are also working on a new railway project that will transport visitors through an adjacent area of bush.

Climate change and pest implications

This year some areas of New Zealand have had warm and humid weather. Museums without climate control and with no ventilation while closed may be noticing increases in pest activity. Insects’ metabolic rates rise and they produce more eggs and have shortened incubation periods at higher temperatures. The incubation time for silverfish eggs (Lepisma saccharina) ‘ranges from over 40 days at 22°C to under 20 days at 32°C’, while ‘at low temperatures, below about 15°C, reproduction and egg-laying is greatly reduced for many insects’.*

Future climate changes are likely to lead to increasing temperatures affecting the geographical spread of pests and their levels of activity. The rates of consumption also increase at higher temperatures, leading to more collection damage. Pest control measures are also more likely to be effective at higher temperatures, so measuring and monitoring your environment using dataloggers and insect traps over warmer months is a good place to start.

A good source of information is http://museumpests.net/. MuseumPests is a free web resource for museum professionals around the globe for all issues related to insect and vertebrate pests.

Watch An Introduction to MuseumPests.net on YouTube

Contact National Services Te Paerangi for advice about options for climate and pest control


* Museum Microclimates, T. Padfield & K. Borchersen (eds.), National Museum of Denmark 2007, p 58.