This week I had the pleasure of meeting the Compulsory Military Service group at the RSA in Napier. While it’s great to share what we’ve been doing at the museum, and what we’re planning to do next, even better was getting to meet such a lively and engaging group of people. Talking to groups provides me with valuable feedback from the community about how we’re performing and what we should be focusing on. Being at the RSA and talking to this particular group was very timely in the lead up to ANZAC day.
I was pleasantly surprised at how busy the RSA was and at the number of people and groups doing different things around the place. This is completely at odds with some statements that RSA’s around the country are struggling to stay viable and experiencing diminishing use and numbers. From what I saw nothing could be further from the truth.
RSA’s are such an important part of New Zealand’s social and cultural history and I’m delighted to see that Napier RSA is alive and well. Institutions such as these are valuable resources for us in our role as keepers and sharers of local social history. They are strongly networked into the community and a mine of information. Of course the collaboration directly with the RSA was never stronger than during the period of development leading up to our WWI Centenary exhibition From the Uttermost Ends of the Earth; Hawke’s Bay at War 1914-1918. Every time I walk through that gallery different aspects command my attention. Recently I have been looking at the photos of unknown soldiers on the gallery walls, wondering who they are and what their story is, did they survive and come back from the war? If anyone can help identify these men we would love to hear from you and ensure their stories are captured and kept for future generations.
Like the RSA our role is to keep memories alive, make history tangible, relevant and accessible for all. And we’re pleased to be able to say that we’ll be free again for ANZAC day this year with the doors open from 7am. Our very popular poppy making activity will be continuing with visitors able to make a poppy and leave it at the museum with a message or take it home as a keepsake. The children’s activity trail around the museum will have a war focus and RSA fundraising poppies are available at the museum. Last year we had a barista coffee cart in the foyer, which was appreciated by our visitors so we’re glad to say they will be back for ANZAC day. Switch coffee will be hot and ready to enjoy on our tables and chairs in the foyer and on the forecourt.
Visitors looking at photos of soldiers
Laura Vodanovich – Director, MTG Hawke’s Bay
Published in Hawke’s Bay Today Saturday 9 April 2016