Port Otago has assumed responsibility and ownership of the Port Chalmers Maritime Museum building and will pick up the Museum's building maintenance, rates, insurance, electricity, security and compliance costs for the next 35 years. The museum, which is managed by the Port Chalmers Historical Society, will remain the building's sole occupant.
Port Otago has also committed $20,000 annually for 10 years, specifically to attract young people with an interest in maritime history to join the society.
The Society and Port Otago have signed a Heads of Agreement, formalising this long-term partnership.
Port Otago Chief Executive Kevin Winders says it is important the region's maritime history is saved and sustained into the future. "As the associated port, supporting our local museum is the right thing to do. There are real treasures housed within that building, not to mention the role the historical society plays in our community."
"This agreement allows the society to concentrate its time and funds on core activities, while we help keep the collections secure and dry."
"In addition – with an eye on the long-term future of the museum and society – there is a need to get young people involved. We have committed $20,000 per annum specifically for this purpose, to help attract the next generation through the museum doors."
Port Chalmers Historical Society President Brian McCormack says the museum is unique in New Zealand for the variety of social and maritime history it contains – and the agreement secures its future. "It is prestigious for Port Otago to have the museum within its precinct, as part of its port. And it's prestigious for us as well. We'll be able to modernise how we present our collection, and we know that the collection will be preserved and be there for many years to come for visitors to enjoy and appreciate."
Society committee member Coral Kaan says that both the society's committee and membership are ageing. "We need to encourage younger ones in Port Chalmers – especially business people with some business savvy – to become involved."
"This agreement takes a financial burden off us and secures the viability of our museum for the future. And, for Port Otago, it's a feather in their cap – to be able to show off Port Chalmers maritime history."
"Many thanks to the committee, lawyers and Port Otago for putting together a beneficial package to all parties involved."