Just like the spark from a flint that turns into flame, each artefact at the reopened and newly refurbished Waitaki Museum is a precious touch point for the culturally significant stories the Waitaki District has to offer.
Acting Director Chloe Searle is very keen to see visitors back in the museum being inspired by the exhibitions. The basis of the latest ground floor exhibitions will remain the same as they touch on key tales and lore that are threaded throughout the Waitaki District’s local history.
Visitors can learn about the volcanic creation of the land, the local Māori history, the Victorian settlements, and then take to the road to see more remnants of this history for themselves.
There was a desire for more space to showcase extra items of importance, but as the museum still exists in the same historic building, they got creative with their displays.
The European Settlement section, a real strength for the museum, displays 100 items in every corner shortlisted down from 400 artefacts available.
The contemporary Māori history section worked on with Upoko Runaka David Higgins, includes stories of important local people and places.
Drawers are utilised across the museum including the highlight, the Waitaha Taoka/Stewart Willetts Family Collection, that unveils over 9000 toki (adzes) and other taoka found near the mouth of the Waitaki river in the 1950s, later donated to the Waitaki District Council in 1996. The extensive taoka on display is one of the oldest and largest collection of artefacts found in Aotearoa. The richness of this collection paints a clear picture this southern land was a centre of industry, one that was made to last as some of the taoka are still sharp, hundreds of years on.
These important exhibitions are another way for us to travel, and even more stories will be shared in 2021, with plans to refurbish the upstairs starting to take hold.