The $3.6 million Rakiura Heritage Centre is set to become a reality after a $1 million Government grant announced today.
The Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage Hon Maggie Barry announced on the Island today that the Government has granted $1,088,595 (GST excl.) from the Regional Culture and Heritage Fund (RCHF) towards the Rakiura Heritage Centre Trust’s $3.6 million project to construct a purpose-built heritage centre on Stewart Island.
Rakiura Heritage Centre Trust chair Margaret Hopkins said the grant was “quite amazing” and brought the project to the point where construction could begin – meaning the long-held community vision was becoming a reality.
“It’s more than met our expectations. We’re absolutely delighted.”
Mrs Hopkins said Island residents valued their heritage, from the stories of the first people on the island and all of those who had followed.
“This grant is much needed for the protection and preservation of the collection, and is crucial to the development of our growing tourism industry on the Island,” she said.
Rakiura Heritage Centre Trust funding manager Jo Learmonth said the RCHF grant essentially filled the pot for construction, with about $125,000 more needed in time to fund the centre fit-out.
“Minister Barry has been fantastic, as have the Ministry for Culture and Heritage staff we have worked with. This is a big, positive thing for the community. We’re really excited.”
Southland District Mayor Gary Tong congratulated the trust for its outstanding work and said the heritage centre would enhance the Island as a must-see destination for New Zealanders and visitors from around the world.
The project was first conceived when Rakiura National Park was established in 2002. A feasibility study was done in 2009, and a concept plan in 2010. After extended negotiations around location, funding applications and other fundraising efforts began.
Substantial funding has been secured in the past 18 months, including $300,000 from the Lotteries Environment and Heritage Fund and $780,000 from the Lotteries Significant Project Fund. This funding is in addition to earlier funding secured, including $300,000 from the Community Trust of Southland, and $50,000 from the Stewart Island/Rakiura Visitor Levy.
The Heritage Centre will house the relocated museum and its collections to a more appropriate standard. Mrs Learmonth said the museum held a significant regional collection and the new centre would allow increased access for exhibitions, education and research.
The RCHF funding is granted on the condition that the project secures an unencumbered resource consent by 20 December 2017.
A decision on this project’s resource application is due in the next few weeks.
Construction will begin later this year and take about a year to complete.