Preserving the past and making history
by Andy Bryenton
Mangawhai’s museum turns five years old next week, with a gala dinner celebrating this milestone for what has become an icon of the town, and a testament to its community spirit.
With its distinctive stingray shaped roof evoking the spirit of the harbour and heads, the Mangawhai Museum has been called one of New Zealand’s best regional museums by the Lonely Planet Guide and has served as a hub around which further arts, history and culture-based endeavours have accreted since its inception.
Initially the vision of the Mangawhai Historical Society back in 2000, collections began to be assembled in 2003. Specialist museum designer Chris Currie was part of the ‘brains trust’ who charted the course toward opening day, along with the designer of the unique stingray themed building, David Foster. A dedicated group of local volunteers set to the task with a will.
The land was sourced from the Kaipara District Council and the build began in 2009. Meanwhile, preparing the collection of artefacts and displays was an eight-year labour in itself. The finished product opened in 2014 with a cross-section of stories covering the history of Mangawhai, from pre-European times through to the present day.
Now, five years on, the museum is still primarily run by dedicated volunteers, many of whom have been on board since day one. A special fundraising auction dinner is planned for August 24, with numerous auction lots donated by the business community.