Whale centre gets lottery boost

00:34, May 21 2014
National whale centre
BUILDING A PRESENCE: From left, Nigel Hutchinson (trustee), Luit Bieringa (project director), Neil Pardington (designer from Base Two) and trustee Nick Gerritsen.

The National Whale Centre has won New Zealand Lottery Grants Board funding and will open its doors by the end of the year.

Centre trustee Nick Gerritsen said yesterday the centre had signed a lease with Port Marlborough for the foreshore building above Dolphin Watch & Nature Tours and Wilderness Guides on Monday.

The centre's supporters were very happy to start their official presence in Picton and had already started work on developing the centre, he said.

He would not say how much funding they received from the lottery board, but said it was enough to cover set up cost for the centre, including the services of leading professionals at a standard similar to The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa in Wellington.

"This is our starting point, not our permanent home, but it will provide us with a physical presence.

"We want to build our presence and give visitors another reason to stay and spend time in Picton," Gerritsen said.


The Lotteries Board judges had told the centre's supporters they thought the project was innovative and considered it aligned well with the board's cultural heritage outcomes goals.

The National Whaling Centre team have emphasised the different approach it planned to take to Picton's whaling history, so it would be different from the Picton Historical Society's museum, which is just a few hundred metres away along on London Quay

Project director Luit Bieringa said they hoped to open Picton to the world and share with visitors the region's long history with whaling.

"The centre will be an information-sharing portal that will be continuously updated as things happen around the world linked to whales. It will be a place people can visit on a regular basis, not just a once-off display," he said.

The displays will each have ipads linked to more in-depth information, videos and images available for visitors who would like to linger and learn more.

The centre would officially open fulltime later this year, but access would be available before then on open days and planned events.