Lakes District Museum ready for tourist season

Published: 16 December, 2022

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The Lakes District Museum in Arrowtown was officially reopened on Friday, 9 December after a lengthy restoration process.

Minister Stuart Nash (second from left), with members of the community following the ribbon cutting ceremony at the Lakes District Museum

Minister Stuart Nash (second from left), with members of the community following the ribbon cutting ceremony at the Lakes District Museum.

The ceremony included kapa haka performances from Arrowtown School’s Junior Group, traditional music from the Arrow Miners’ Band and dozens of jam scones.

Stuart Nash, Minister for Economic and Regional Development spoke at the ceremony, and was truly impressed by the thousands of hours that had gone into the restoration. “I went through here about a year ago and it was a shell, it was hard to imagine what it was going to look like, and the fact that you have restored this back to how it was is absolutely incredible.”

“One of the first things I do when I go to a new town is go to the local museum, because you always get a feel for the flavour of the area you’re coming into. And there is such a rich history in this part of the world—the pre-European history is fantastic, then the coming of the gold miners—everything about this place oozes history,” said Stuart Nash.

The Government contributed $2 million of grant funding from the COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund to help towards seismic strengthening and upgrades of this iconic regional museum.

The $3.5 million project made the downturn in international visitors into an opportunity to upgrade the museum and provide employment and training opportunities for people in the region.

The Museum was identified as earthquake-prone in 2018 and the restoration project had three key components:

  • The strengthening and restoration of the stable and BNZ Bank Buildings.
  • The restoration of the Category II listed building to its original stage, supported by Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga.
  • New displays including an extended display of pre-European Māori history in the Southern Lakes and local geology. This has enhanced the visitor experience for both locals and overseas tourists and ensured the stories of Ngāi Tahu are part of the narrative.

The formalities were closed with a four-person ribbon cutting ceremony, with Minister Stuart Nash, Paulette Tamati-Elliffe of Ngāi Tahu, Charlotte Peasey of the local school and Taylor Reed, Arrowtown’s oldest resident.

From there, the doors were officially opened, allowing hundreds of local residents to explore the upgraded museum for the first time.