Museum to get whaling wing

An extension to the Picton Maritime and Heritage Museum to include a whaling wing is expected to be completed within 18 months.

The Picton Historical Society, which owns the museum, considered plans for an extension to house the museum's whaling memorabilia after Jon Perano offered to give whale-chasing boat Cachalot III to the museum when he began restoring it in 2005. The 10.5 metre boat is too large to go in the current museum space.

The need to extend the museum to house whaling artefacts was emphasised again last year when Mr Perano's cousin, Ron Perano, also offered to display his replica Swiftsure whaleboat at the museum.

Yesterday, the cousins officially signed over their boats to the museum and in return, Picton Historical Society president Mike Taylor signed an agreement to build a home for the boats.

Jon said the Picton Museum was the only rightful place to house his father Gilbert Perano's boat which encompasses a part of Marlborough whaling history.

"This is home for Cachelot. She was built here and she worked here. I have done it as a project on my own and if I put it in the museum it's there forever," he said.

Ron said he was inspired to build a replica of the Jackson family whaleboat after seeing a similar boat beautifully displayed at a museum in Freemantle, Western Australia four years ago.

The boat was officially launched at the beginning of the year and part of the agreement with the museum allows Ron to take the Swiftsure to boat shows.

Last week, the Marlborough District Council's community and financial planning committee agreed the museum should be allowed to expand on land next to their London Quay building. Resource and building consents would be needed.

Since then, the society has secured a $50,000 donation from a charitable trust set up by a former Picton resident. The society does not know who is behind the charitable trust. It was simply told by a lawyer that someone wanted to donate $50,000 to the extension.

Picton Museum extension liaison officer Bill Brehaut said the donation was a big help in getting the project started and would be put toward the initial design and engineering of the estimated $1 million extension.

The society hopes to secure funds through lotteries grants but must raise about $350,000 on its own.

The museum extension would be two storeys high with the mezzanine floor giving an overview of the whale boats, he said.

The Marlborough Express