Heritage Group Calls For Release Of Promised $250,000 Grant

Published: Thu 13 Jun 2024 08:21 PM
An artist's impression of the Flaxbourne Heritage Centre in Ward. SUPPLIED
A community group building a heritage centre in their small south Marlborough settlement has asked for funding promised by the council two years ago.
The 2016 Kaikōura earthquake wrote off Flaxbourne’s museum, so in 2021 the community launched a project to build a new heritage centre.
That build - the Flaxbourne Heritage Centre in Ward - is about two weeks away from being completed and is ready for its fit-out.
But money for the remainder of the project is starting to dry up.
On Monday, Flaxbourne Settlers Association chairperson John Hickman spoke to the council during long-term plan consultation hearings, calling for the council to release a $250,000 grant promised to them during the Marlborough District Council’s 2022 annual plan.
The heritage centre would mark the 1855, 2013 and 2016 earthquakes, and cover the area’s history of Māori settlement, moa hunters, European settlers, shipwrecks, people and landscapes.
It would house a number of community artefacts, and have an archive room and a cinema.
The centre would feature the geological formation of the landscape and the first fauna and flora, to the first Polynesian arrivals in South Marlborough, and European settlers.
It had been built beside the Ward/Flaxbourne Community Hall, which was soon to have a new playground and the Whale Trail cycle track connected to it.
Hickman told Local Democracy Reporting last week that he had been told by Marlborough mayor Nadine Taylor he needed to request the release of $250,000 from the council, which he admitted did come as a bit of surprise.
“We’re at that point now where we need that 250 grand,” he said.
“It’s less than 10% of the project [cost].”
Originally, the grant was supposed to be for the construction phase, but would now be needed for the fit-out given how far through construction was, Hickman said.
He said it was amazing to see the project come together.
“I think one of the highlights coming in will be the [former] lighthouse light,” he said.
He said the project was incredibly exciting for the community, and thanked local businesses in Awatere and Flaxbourne for their support and Andrew and Ngaire Lawson for their commitment and flexibility on the project.
“It is now a community project organised and built by locals,” he said.
During the hearing on Monday, Hickman told the council they had about $440,000 remaining in cash, although about $280,000 was about to be used to fund the remainder of the build.
It meant they had about $160,000 left in the “kitty” but this was needed for the fit-out, he said.
They still needed to raise more funds to finish the project and cover operational costs for the first year, Hickman said.
He added their operational grant from the council could need to be raised. It was currently about $7500 a year.
Power costs for the building were expected to be $8000, he said.
“This was highlighted as an issue two or three years ago.
“We were assured at the time council would support us where they could.”
The funding was supposed to come out of the council’s land subdivision account, so in theory, the release of the grant should not change the council’s draft rates rise, currently sitting at 12.58%.
That figure did not include Sounds roads repairs, which would bring the total to 12.95%.
The council would hear 106 submitters during hearings this week, expected to finish on Thursday.
Deliberations on the long term plan would take place on June 24, although the mayor had warned they had little wriggle room for funding if they wanted to maintain the current draft rates rise.
Submitters on Monday and Tuesday included “general topics” coming from the likes of community groups, such as the Blenheim Polo Park, Marlborough Equestrian Park, Marlborough Mountain Bike Club, the Youth Trust and iwi, among many others.
Hearings on Wednesday and Thursday included more general topics and the Sounds roads recovery.
LDR is local body journalism co-funded by RNZ and NZ on Air.
Maia Hart - Local Democracy Reporter
Content from the Local Democracy Reporting (LDR) service is published by Scoop as a registered New Zealand Media Outlet LDR Partner.
Contact Lois Williams - Local Democracy Reporter

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