Southland’s heritage collections are set to be safeguarded, and the Gore District Council is playing a significant role.
The goal is to catalogue and digitise hundreds of thousands of items, then pack and store them in a regional storage facility.
Overseen by the Southland Regional Heritage Committee (SRHC), the project is a collaboration between the Invercargill City Council and the Southland and Gore district councils.
District curator of arts and heritage Jim Geddes said the long-term goal was outlined in the Southland regional development strategy.
The project was discussed at the council’s community services committee on Tuesday.
“The suggested two-year pilot project for dedicated cataloguing and digitising will do much to shape the planning of any regional storage facility,” Mr Geddes said.
“GDC is playing quite a significant partnership role in the development and implementation of this new regional collection management project.
“This partnership will involve us committing department resources to the new project through our existing arts and heritage salaries budget.”
The Gore component of the project was estimated to cost about $4.50 per household for two years, which would be covered in the budget, he said.
An initial scoping study was completed by Gore heritage projects officer David Luoni and presented to the SRHC in June, Mr Geddes said.
It was envisaged three teams of cataloguers would work at the same time to digitise collections in Invercargill and the Gore and Southland districts.
The SRHC collected a levy of $31.54 from every household in Southland.
“Out of that, museums are funded,” he said.
Earlier this year, the Southland Museum and Art Gallery asked the committee to lift the levy by $4.35 to cover its cataloguing and digitisation of its collection.
The GDC voted against the rise. It was then decided to extend the programme region-wide, Mr Geddes said.household in the district for two years to go towards the planning of a regional storage base, Mr Geddes said.
The project was incredibly important for the region.
There were hundreds of thousands of items stored in individual museums throughout the region, with the Gore district having about 26,000 pieces, Mr Geddes said.
Most of the collections were under public ownership.
The Gore District Historical Society’s collections would be among those to be catalogued, digitised and stored, he said.
“There are significant items that have come from Gore Publishing Co, which was the history of The Ensignand the publishing company.”
For a regional storage facility to work well, all items needed to be catalogued and digitally recorded, he said.
People would be able to access information online about the items in storage.
Gore Mayor Tracy Hicks said the region-wide project was definitely the way forward.
“We’re certainly leading the way in the Southland region, there’s no doubt about that,” Mr Hicks said.
Cr Ralph Beale asked what the overheads of the project would be, as transport of items would have to be factored in.
“With artworks particularly, you have to have specialist movers,” Cr Beale said.
“I like the concept of the idea but I do see some overheads.”
Te Papa in Wellington had used a storage facility for some time.