Rescued room reveals real Ron

Nigel Ogle in his latest display, a memorial to South Taranaki author Ronald Hugh Morrieson.
Nigel Ogle in his latest display, a memorial to South Taranaki author Ronald Hugh Morrieson.

A far-sighted South Taranaki farmer has helped bring the legacy of one of South Taranaki's leading writers back to life in Hawera.

The Ronald Hugh Morrieson display at Tawhiti Museum, which officially opened this week, features an actual room from the author's old homestead, where he did all his writing.

When the Morrieson homestead was knocked down about 20 years ago to make way for Hawera's first fast-food restaurant - KFC - Hawera resident Robert Surgenor negotiated a deal and rescued the house's attic.

It sat on his farm, slowly rotting away behind a boxthorn hedge, while Mr Surgenor discussed with his friend, Tawhiti Museum owner Nigel Ogle, how best to use it.

"Without him deciding to do that, this project would never have happened," Mr Ogle said.

"You won't get any closer to Ron now."

Mr Surgenor said he had several offers for the attic over the years but refused them all in favour of somewhere local.

"Where it's gone is a good place for it."

The Tawhiti display took 11 months of building and restoring at a cost of $60,000.

Mr Ogle said the purpose-built facility is intended to help people get to know South Taranaki's quirkiest famous author.

Having had groups quietly visit the display over the past two weeks, Mr Ogle is confident it is going to fulfil its destiny.

"People who've seen it said they felt they really came to know Ron and that's all I ask," he said.

The display also shows pieces of the film Predicament, based on the book by Morrieson and shot in South Taranaki in 2009.

Taranaki Daily News