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Happy birthday . . . Gore Districts Historical Society president Helen Seaton and life member Shirley Falconer cut the society's 50th anniversary cake which was made by Gore baker Jude Taylor at the celebrations held at the Maruawai Centre on Sunday. PHOTO: SANDY EGGLESTON

The foresight and vision of a group of community members who in 1969 who formed the Gore District Historical Society was celebrated on Sunday.

A 50th birthday function was held at the Maruawai Centre.

An hour-long programme compered by Lindsay Wright, of Wendonside, was followed by a history-themed afternoon tea.

Society president Helen Seaton said learning about history was like using an old camera.

“You focus on what’s important, capture the good times, develop from the negative and if things don’t work out, take another shot,” Mrs Seaton said.

It had been observed that people who belonged to the society lived long lives, she said.

“It just goes to show that belonging to the Gore District Historical Society is good for longevity.”

Gore Mayor Tracy Hicks said the past was very important.

“It’s absolutely important and it’s vital that we protect the past and we celebrate the past but we need to lay the foundations for the future,” Mr Hicks said.

Gore Historical Museum curator Stephanie Herring read the minutes of the first meeting of the society, held on November 12, 1969.

Mr Wright shared the story of his family whakapapa.

Gore District Council district arts and heritage curator Jim Geddes spoke about the foresight of Win Hamilton, who had been one of the driving forces behind the formation of the society and a museum. He described his involvement in Mrs Hamilton’s project, which began as a volunteer in 1982.

The museum made several shifts into different buildings until it finally ended up in the building where it is today.

The Maruawai project, which would be housed in the centre, would tell the story of the district from the beginning of its known history, using digital resources.

“We’re going to be able to tell some amazing stories and we are going to tell it in a 21st-century way.”

While there were many artefacts that could be displayed, it was the stories and people that were important, he said.