Partners sign up to $12m cultural heritage project

COMMITTED: Dignitaries are welcomed during the powhiri in Foxton on Saturday, including, far left, Kevin Hill from Muaupoko Tribal Authority; second front from right, the Dutch Ambassador Arie van der Wiel; and far right, Piki McFadyen who called the karanga.
COMMITTED: Dignitaries are welcomed during the powhiri in Foxton on Saturday, including, far left, Kevin Hill from Muaupoko Tribal Authority; second front from right, the Dutch Ambassador Arie van der Wiel; and far right, Piki McFadyen who called the karanga.

About 100 people braved blustery conditions to attend the signing of the Trust Deed for the Te Awahou Nieuwe Stroom project under a marquee outside the windmill in Foxton on Saturday.

Six organisations pledged to work together on the $12 million cultural heritage centre project, which will include a Dutch museum, Maori cultural heritage centre, a library, council service centre, cafe and visitor information centre.

Representatives from nine Ngati Raukawa hapu [collectively known as Te Taitoa Maori o Te Awahou], the Dutch Connection Museum Trust, Horowhenua Library Trust, Save Our River Trust, the Flax Stripper Museum Trust, and Horowhenua District Council signed the trust deed.

"The project would provide a unique community partnership, which addresses cultural, historical and economic development opportunities of local, national and international importance," said trust chairman Ben Vanderkolk.

Dutch Ambassador Arie van der Wiel said the project would provide a safe home for the treasures and stories of the Dutch community who emigrated to New Zealand in the 1950s.

Te Awahou College of Electors chairman Robin Hapi, who selected 10 trustees in May, said the occasion went extremely well.

Foxton Community Board, and Foxton Tourist and Development chairman, Paul Andrews, said the occasion was "fantastic" because so many people had got in behind at such an early stage.

Mr Vanderkolk said the project started to take shape in 2007, when Foxton won the right to site a Dutch cultural and heritage centre near the existing De Molen windmill. "The concept was later expanded to include space for the stories of Maori, European settlers, flax/harakeke and the river itself."

The 10 trustees appointed in May 2010 to drive the project are: Ben Vanderkolk, Alan Smith, Jeremy Eparaima, Maurits Kelderman, Arjan van der Boon, Jeremy Manks, David Clapperton, Bob Tamihana, Katrina Barber, and Charlie Pedersen.

Almost $2m has been secured for the project so far, and trustees hope building work will begin late next year, to be completed in 2012.

Horowhenua Mail