26 Jul 2010

Museum exhibits removed in protest at move

10:40 am on 26 July 2010

Far North people angry at planned changes to the Kaitaia museum have begun removing exhibits - including valuable Maori artefacts - in protest.

The tiny Far North Regional Museum is to be incorporated in the town's new civic centre, Te Ahu, when it's finished next year.

Supporters of the museum fear it's about to be downgraded to a side-show for tourists.

Vic Hensley, a former chair of the Far North Regional Museum Trust, says five people have removed items and he may follow suit.

Mr Hensley says Te Ahu Trust has ignored the concerns of the museum director whose resignation earlier this month has left the collection without professional management.

However the current Far North Regional Museum Trust chairman, Phil Cross, says the museum will not be dumbed down or dismantled, as some trustees have alleged, and he hopes people will think twice before removing more artefacts.

Mr Cross says it's hoped that once the new cultural centre is built, many taonga held in the Auckland museum can be returned to the north.

The Far North District Council says the collection is safe.