Last Thursday we held the opening of Portable: the history of South Taranaki ports and this was well attended. Comments on the new exhibition were really positive; two favourites seem to be the photos of Opunake Port and the refurbished Port dioramas. Joe Bray, from Got it Covered in Hawera, did a wonderful job of restoring them, and Arthur Brown Construction produced very smart cabinets to house them in.
Here’s my speech from the opening, and some photos from the event:
Tena koutou, tena koutou, tena koutou katoa. Welcome to Aotea Utanganui and the opening of Port-able, a history of South Taranaki ports.
I’d like to extend a particularly warm welcome to all those representing the Taranaki Regional Council, Kelvin Day and our colleagues from Puke Ariki, and Libby Sharpe from Whanganui Regional Museum for being with us this morning. Also Lynne Walker, Manager Libraries and Cultural Services and my South Taranaki District Council colleagues. Welcome also to those representing the South Taranaki District Museum Trust, Councillors and Community Board.
When I think of shipping, I tend to think of the Onedin Line – graceful sailing ships, tall dark captains and women in beautiful clothes. Or of people emigrating to New Zealand, leaving behind their families and all that was familiar, in order to start a new life in a new country – oh the romance of it all…
When I read about South Taranaki’s shipping history what I find is hard work, hardened men, and hard journeys. Then there are the shipwrecks, the failed businesses ventures, and the lost opportunities. Not the most romantic vision ever.
And yet, somehow, there *is* romance in this story. The early days of shipping, and of our ports, were days of pioneers taking great risks, both personally and financially, to build our district into the wonderful place we enjoy today.
One of the key elements of this exhibition is the resurrection of the port dioramas which were part of the old museum. They were not able to be installed during the rebuild of the museum and many people have missed them. Thanks to the meticulous work of Joe Bray, from Got It Covered in Hawera, they have been brought back to life in such a way that we can enjoy them here, but also travel them to other venues in the future.
For a smaller museum, this exhibition was a major undertaking. My thanks to my staff for their hard work, and our colleagues at Puke Ariki and Whanganui Regional Museum for their patience with my occasional questions. Most importantly our thanks and gratitude to the Taranaki Regional Council for their very generous funding of this exhibition, which has allowed us opportunities we would not otherwise have had, and, more importantly, for their faith in us and the stories we have to tell. Thank you.
I hope you enjoy Port-able: a history of South Taranaki Ports.