Petition to save piece of Auckland history not enough

September 25, 2015

Petition to save piece of Auckland history not enough

New Zealanders as well as Australians have voiced their connection to this iconic exhibition. Photo: Courtesy George Hawkins’s petition on change.org

The curtains are set to close on a popular exhibition in Auckland Museum this weekend despite strong opposition.

Over 5000 people have put their support behind a last-minute bid to keep the Centennial Street exhibit also known as Auckland 1866.

Auckland teacher George Hawkins organised a petition on change.org to save the exhibition which was built in 1966 in conjunction with a centenary celebrated by then leading department store Milne and Choyce.

“Something needed to be done,” said Mr Hawkins. “This decision was very last minute and the public needs to be consulted.

“It’s a connection to Auckland’s history that you can interact with.”

Mr Hawkins is due to give the petition, which had been signed by 5001 people this afternoon, to the Auckland Museum tomorrow afternoon.

“It is last minute because the last day of the display is Sunday, but we need to let [the Museum] know the public’s opinion and it would be good for there to be public consultation.”

The Auckland Museum has acknowledged the petition, but says the exhibition is still due to close this weekend.

“The reality is that after 48 years, the east gallery in which the exhibition is housed is in need of some much overdue upkeep and restoration,” said an Auckland Museum spokeswoman in a statement provided to Te Waha Nui.

“Taking the feedback into account, and understanding the huge public support for 'stories of Auckland', we’ll be prioritising this in our planning for new and refreshed galleries.”

The petition has support from around New Zealand and Australia, with people voicing their connection with the exhibition.

Heather Neill, from Taranaki, posted on the change.org site about its multi-generational appeal.

“Don't remove our heritage! I loved Centennial Street when I was a child, my children loved it and I have started taking my grandsons to it!”

Kiri Sheldon, who is based in Australia, posted: “It's an important part of the museum, and digital is everywhere already. Centennial Street is a valuable way to share part of our history.”

Tim Bray, from Auckland, also voiced his support. “I'm 51 and still vividly remember loving Centennial Street as a child. I believe that sometimes places like Centennial Street are more exciting places than the digital realm.”

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