By Helen Martin
Before lockdown, Helensville Museum was still closed for repair but there was plenty going on. The restoration work will continue when normality is resumed.
In January, Jennifer McCann and Emma Watts ran a Cluedo game, which was like the board game but with real-life characters who were interrogated by the players then given an impromptu trial. The prize for guessing the murderer was won by Shona Addison. President Leigh Bosch says it was a lot of fun. “Everyone, especially the young ones, loved it. We’ll be doing it again. Hopefully, next time we’ll have some buildings open.”
The following month the museum hosted Te Atatu’s Wheels Incorporated Hot Rod Club, following a visit from their President John Campbell to the Kaipara Classic Cars Shine in da Ville. The museum grounds served as the destination for the Hot Rod Club’s rally,and the event was so successful it will become a regular on the museum calendar.
An initiative to help locals during the water shortage saw the museum acting as a village well, complementing the Auckland Council initiative in the middle of town. After announcing on Facebook that people could take up to 1000 litres, Vice President Robyn Stewart and Leigh added dispensing water to their workload. "Whenever we were there, we opened the gates," says Leigh. "There's nothing worst than having no water and people were very grateful.”
The freezing and defrosting for the pest eradication, currently supervised by committee member Toni Walmsley, is nearing the end. Plans are in place to buy a small freezer so every new artefact that comes into the museum can be frozen at -18 degrees before it goes on display.
Repairs to the buildings are time consuming but progressing. Gib stopping in the annexeis finished, the skirting is now being done. Simon Lely from Rewiti has provided vinyl for the floor and has found someone who will lay it free of charge, while Auckland Museum have provided shelving and will help install it.
Robyn is running the building project, which still has a way to go. Floor coverings are problematic, as they have to be asbestos tested, an expensive process which is also time consuming and complicated. The floor in the courthouse is rotten in places and has to be replaced, while the story of getting the leaks in the schoolhouse roof identified has been as lengthy as a Norse saga. Leigh and Robyn are very grateful to GlenTompkins, a Helensville roofer, who has given his time free to help identify problems in the school house roof, which was repaired five years ago by an out- of-town company, and he’s doing a great job repairing the other rooves, which are showing the effects of age.
Toni, Robyn and Leigh, who has been doing the admin, going to meetings and networking, are also writing a business plan for the museum. Before the lockdown they were each working around 40 hours a week, trying to spend as little as possible in the process, and would love more community help. “I don’t think people realise the extent of what we’re doing at the museum,” says Leigh. “It’s a huge job and we’d be happy for people to come, even for just an hour, to give us a hand. As much as we want to re-open the museum, we’re not going to do it until it’s ready.”
The Covid-19 lockdown has brought on-site work to a halt. Spending time volunteering at the museum means gardens and family often lose out, so the lockdown has provided a breather for Leigh, Robyn and Toni to catch up on their own gardens and house maintenance and enjoy time with their families. But museum work continues. Robyn is planning displays and continuing to liaise with people, such as the security firm to fine-tune the security system and Leigh and Toni are working on their individual projects. Leigh has moved the office to her house and is finalising the end of year accounts while also working on the business plan and updating the photo records.