Council may come to historic village's rescue

FUNDING DISCUSSION: A discussion will take place about how to fund Howick Historical Village.
FUNDING DISCUSSION: A discussion will take place about how to fund Howick Historical Village.

Financial relief for Howick Historical Village could come within a year.

Mayor Len Brown says it is timely to have a debate about whether such facilities should be funded by local boards or regionally by all ratepayers.

Auckland War Memorial Museum gets $20.6 million from ratepayers, and the Museum of Transport & Technology (Motat) $11.7 million under the umbrella of council-controlled organisation Regional Facilities Auckland (RFA).

In contrast the village, which houses 32 historic New Zealand buildings, gets about $300,000 each year from the Howick Local Board.

"I've been a patron of the Howick Historical Village and it's a great localised place that actually has regional pull," Brown says.

"They continue to grow and I don't want to give too much away because I have to be fair to all of them, but suffice to say I think they do a brilliant job. It's a great place to visit and I'm always encouraging people to go there."

Village board president Max Heron told the Howick Local Board that work needs to be done to increase its regional appeal.

"We have in my opinion a hugely under-sold asset down there but to bring the people in from the larger community we have a lot of work to do."

Heron says the village is looking at how to raise more money by itself.

Brown says a coming review of the RFA board will include a discussion around what should be funded and cared for regionally.

"This discussion is timely and it will happen in the same timeframe as the review of our budgets up to June next year."

Heron says the village is "eternally grateful" for the local board funding but "we are on the bones of our bum all the time".

Over the past year the village had an income of $719,000 and its costs were $721,000. Staff have not had a wage increase for two years and about $35,000 is needed for cosmetic maintenance in the coming year, he says.

Eastern Courier