Funding boost for regional heritage research centre and archive

05 Oct 2021

Funding boost for regional heritage research centre and archive

Heritage research centre and archive, The Treasury, has received a $150,000 funding boost from Thames-Coromandel and Hauraki District Councils towards realising its vision of preserving the history of early families, businesses, and industries in Thames Valley region (the Coromandel Peninsula and the Hauraki Plains).

The Treasury is housed in the historic Carnegie Library building in Thames’ Queen Street. Its archive is a modern architecturally designed box that sits alongside. Hidden inside are stories of families who forged some of New Zealand’s foremost heavy industries. From steam engines built by A&G Price to Phoenix Breweries, famous for their German style beer and the fact they eventually became part of New Zealand Breweries and later Lion.

“The Treasury’s establishment is testament to what a keen group of volunteers can achieve when they put their minds to it,” says board chair, Greg Hampton.

The original founders raised $1.1 million to build the purpose-built, temperature-controlled archive, which was completed in 2013. Among the treasures preserved within the temperature-controlled walls are also what is thought to be some of New Zealand’s first telegrams and full collections of some of the region’s community newspapers, and collections from local historians and goldmining families.

Greg says The Treasury is keen to raise its profile with the community and visitors to the region and the funding granted in the two councils’ Long Term Plans would help deliver on that vision. Thames-Coromandel District Council and the Thames Community Board agreed to a combined community service grant of $60,000 in Year 1, $40,000 in Year 2 and $20,000 in Year 3, and Hauraki District Council has confirmed $10,000 per annum for three years. 

“The challenge for all charitable organisations like The Treasury is to have sustainable continuous funding streams, so the next step is working on a funding strategy with a specialist group to ensure our sustainability,” says Greg. “Without The Treasury the risk is that all the historic documentation hidden in garages and under beds around the region would be lost over time. That’s the value of the archive and having the professional people to manage and maintain that. Collectively all those pieces of information help to paint a picture of the history of our region and if we don’t preserve it, then it’s gone forever.”

The funding from the councils comes on the back of successful applications to the Lotteries Commission, the Ministry of Culture and Heritage Museum Hardship Fund, Trust Waikato and a significant donation by a member of the Coromandel Heritage Trust. Greg says the combined funding had allowed The Treasury to employ a manager and collections assistant for 12 months, starting in September. It also allowed The Treasury to advance the build of its new website and IT infrastructure, including taking the catalogued and digitised archive items online sometime during 2022, making them accessible to everyone, known as the Collections Management Project.

“It’s amazing how many people don’t know about The Treasury and if they do know of the physical location, they don’t know what we do,” says Greg.

For a small fee, people can drop in at the Carnegie Library building and be assisted by volunteers to find nuggets of early history from the homes or working lives of people and businesses throughout the region. Digitising the collection would mean all the information would be available online.

Greg says there is still a lot of cataloguing to be done and the documents housed at The Treasury are rich and detailed, and of interest to a wide demographic. “Approximately 50 volunteers offer their time to the service of helping visitors to source historical information or help catalogue the collections coming in,” says Greg. “The Treasury would not be viable without the valuable contribution of our volunteers and we thank them greatly.”

Pictured - The Treasury in Thames.