By Dorothy Preece.
Twelve members of the Mercury Bay Historical Society recently took a bus trip to Thames to visit The Treasury and the School of Mines Museum.
Staff and volunteers at The Treasury explained its unique purpose in preserving the history of the Hauraki/ Coromandel District in original documents gifted to The Treasury, housed the historic Carnegie Library building.
In the reading room the public can delve into the history books and documents held there or research their own family history on The Treasury computers.
The Mercury Bay visitors found many familiar old photographs and some books written by members of their own families. A special visit to the humidity-conditioned Archive was of particular interest, with staff emphasising not only the importance of the work, but also its enormity for so few staff.
Funding Manager Jan Wright explained the urgent need for funds, with several applications having been declined by funders this year. “In this post-Covid world, applications for foodbanks and restoration of infrastructure take precedence over preserved history.
“It seems likely that we will have to lay off staff, perhaps surviving with volunteers, or even closing the doors to the public altogether,” Jan said. “It costs $25,000 a year just to cover our overheads. The situation is desperate. We need Council support, and some dedicated benefactors.”
Next door at the Thames School of Mines the team of volunteers expertly explained something of the very difficult process involved in extracting gold from quartz. The visitors gained a small insight, not only into the important place of Thames goldmining history in the fabric of New Zealand, but also of the heart-breaking difficulty faced by the thousands who poured into the area to seek their fortunes. There were many surprises, too in the very extensive collection in the Minerals Museum. MB Historical Society Chairman Alastair Brickell, himself a geologist, declared the whole day to be “one of the best”.
Caption: Larissa Jackman and Harriette Brickell find memories in the Mercury Bay photos held at The Treasury.