Stunning display tells Manawatu story

MATHEW GROCOTT
Last updated 13:45 07/05/2012
Coach House Museum
WARWICK SMITH/Fairfax NZ

READY FOR VISITORS: The Coach House Museum in Feilding has reopened. Pictured are, from left, Sir Pat Higgins, Bernard Higgins and Brian Hunter, president of the Manawatu Historic Vehicles Trust.

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The history of the development of Manawatu, and the machines that helped it happen, goes on display on South St, Feilding today.

The newly redeveloped Coach House Museum opens to the public today. Yesterday, about 300 invited guests attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

There Manawatu District Mayor Margaret Kouvelis said she believed the museum would become a "national icon" that would draw visitors to Feilding.

"The history of our region is celebrated inside. Those who visit will be wowed."

The displays contained "the history of ordinary people from all over our district", she said.

Rangitikei MP Ian McKelvie said the importance of preserving New Zealand's history had been heightened by the Christchurch earthquakes.

As a result, tough decisions had had to be made about what buildings were worth saving, sometimes at the cost of millions of dollars.

Similar decisions, though on a smaller scale, had to be made by the trust that runs the Coach House, he said, as the items on display cost money to restore and maintain. It was not possible to keep everything.

"It's challenging for our country to preserve our history," he said. "I suspect as a country we don't pay enough attention to our history."

Communities had to pay attention to things that needed preserving.

"If we don't, we're going to lose some stuff."

The new $3.5 million Coach House is three times larger than the original museum on Bowen St.

With the growth in size has come an expansion in its mandate, museum manager Paul Gibson said.

The Coach House's focus had broadened from horse-drawn vehicles and implements to the development of Manawatu, first by Maori and then by European colonists.

The new museum is based at the old Feltex building and will eventually include a cafe and gift shop.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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