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Museum Friends Seek Te Papa Lifeline

Jim Chipp

Alan Gray is concerned about the future of the Porirua Hospital Museum and the records it holds. The Friends of Porirua Hospital Museum hope a review by Te Papa museum team leader Ken Gorbey will secure its future. Friends chair Alan Gray says the hospital was once New Zealand's largest mental institution and dominated both the city's skyline and economy for a century. The museum houses a record of the development of how the mentally ill have been treated in that time, which Mr Gray says is important from the point of view of clinical training and public education. "We (the Friends) feel that unless you know the history, you could repeat some of the mistakes you made in the past." The building's remote hospital location is a deterrent to visitors and it is mostly used by medical and nursing students, Mr Gray says. Another problem is the dilapidated building's category A Historic Places Trust listing. As a limited tenure tenant of Capital and Coast District Health Board, the trust cannot raise funds, and the board is not in the business of restoring historic buildings. Lottery funding is unavailable because the building is government owned. A consultant's report estimates the cost of restoration at $450,000. "I haven't been involved with this for very long, but my first impression was that we should pick all this up and move it to where the people, are to inform the public about mental health. "But Ken Gorbey might have more realistic ideas in terms of running a museum every day." A more central location close to either Pataka or Whitireia Community Polytechnic could make a real attraction of the museum, he says. Mr. Gorbey made a name in establishing exhibitions at Te Papa and went on to successfully direct the opening of Berlin's Jewish Museum. He will speak at the Friends of Porirua Hospital Museum annual general meeting in the Community Room at Pataka at 4.30pm on Tuesday, May 20.

Reprinted with permission from Capital Community Newspapers Limited.

Alan Gray is concerned about the future of the Porirua Hospital Museum and the records it holds

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