After 35 years, Turangi Librarian, Pam Quinlan, is moving on. She will be missed. We repeat her comment from the article about her many years of service in the Turangi Herald: “I’m really passionate about our local history, we really need our own museum here in Turangi.”
That comment was particularly remarked to SWMBO by some Australian anglers – the first wave of West Island fishos booked into TRM for the next three weeks. Tourist anglers are always so inquisitive. But everyone else agrees with Pam. Sadly the original museum was closed when the Ministry of Works moved away and Taupo Council would not maintain it.
A book, A Museum Underfoot, (published by Friends of the Lake Taupo Museum and Art Gallery, the 2007 book is the life story of Trevor Hosking who was appointed as the Ministry Archaeologist during the hydropower project in the 1960s) features a brief history of the Turangi Museum. This was a very popular tourist attraction in the original Visitor Centre on SH41 – the main road from Turangi to Tokaanu. The book advises that a quarter of a million people went through the museum during the first twelve months it was open.
The original building is still there and still features an old horse-drawn swing plough mounted on top of a boulder to symbolize European settlement. It was established by the Ministry of Works primarily to display the largest collection of pre-Maori artefacts in NZ, unearthed during excavations for the Tokaanu Power Station tailrace.
It is time Taupo Council opened the museum again. But where have all the exhibits gone? Some were very valuable. i.e. A stone adze found on the Tongariro River was so valuable they made a replica for display purposes. It was about eighteen inches long (35 cm) and was dated from early moa hunter times. The original adze is now at Te Papa Museum in Wellington.
Also of particular local interest – the adze was made of a stone only found near Nelson. This would indicate that many years before Maori arrived, the original (?) inhabitants were trading (kumaras for greenstone?) with the South Island natives. Interesting reading which refutes much of the history now revised to support Treaty claims…