Trust Waikato gifts $1.9m collection to Hamilton City Council
Waikato Museum has celebrated a "significant milestone" with the gifting of a $1.9 million art and taonga collection to Hamilton City Council.
Representatives from Trust Waikato and the city council gathered in the bowels of Waikato Museum on Monday as the trust formally gifted its collection to the council.
Built up over 15 years, the collection compromises more than 260 pieces, including works by well-known New Zealand artists such as Dick Frizzell and Michael Smither.
Lance Vervoort, council's community general manager, said the museum and trust had enjoyed a "fruitful and engaged history" for many years.
The gifting of the collection was a milestone in the museum's history, he said.
Trust Waikato chairman Niwa Nuri said the trust started the collection in 1999 to ensure important artefacts and artworks stayed in the region.
Waikato Museum and its team of skilled curators were the ideal caretakers of the collection.
"There is still a need to ensure art and taonga, precious to the region, remain accessible to people in the region," Nuri said.
"However the trust believe Waikato Museum, as the recognised museum for the region, is the best place to own and buy art and taonga."
Hamilton Mayor Julie Hardaker used the occasion to announce the council had agreed to set up a fund for the purchase of art works.
Fifty thousand dollars a year would be dedicated to the fund, with money not spent carried over to the next year.
Hardaker said Trust Waikato had shown a commitment to the arts over many years and its collection was both varied and significant.
Collection pieces such as Peter Lange's brick caravan, entitled Holidays in Huntly, got people talking about art.
"It [caravan] created a lot of debate and that's the essence of art, to create debate and talk about it and decide for yourself what it means to you."
Dr Ann McEwan, art advisor to Trust Waikato, said the council's commitment to add to the collection was "enormously positive".
It was essential the collection continued to grow, McEwan said.
"If they [Waikato Museum] don't buy works, art and taonga, then these things leave the region, potentially they leave New Zealand, and we lose part of our history with them."