$12 million birthday announcement
Published on 06 September 2019
Twelve million dollars will be allocated from the Government’s Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) to assist the redevelopment of the historically and architecturally significant Sarjeant Gallery Te Whare o Rehua Whanganui.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Regional Economic Development, Fletcher Tabuteau, announced the funding in Whanganui on Friday, 6 September, at a community celebration held to mark the Gallery’s centenary.
Under-Secretary Tabuteau said there was strong evidence the project would revitalise a key regional tourism asset and drive growth in Whanganui’s creative industries, leading to job creation and stimulating Māori enterprise.
Whanganui’s Mayor, Hamish McDouall said the announcement was “tremendous news – and all the better to be receiving it on the day we celebrate the Sarjeant’s 100th birthday.”
Mayor McDouall said the support from the Provincial Growth Fund demonstrates confidence in Whanganui’s future, in the Sarjeant Gallery and in the role of the arts in regional economic development.
“This stunning building, when it is restored and strengthened, with its new wing named after Sir Archie Taiaroa, will continue to inspire our community and visitors to Whanganui – just as Henry Sarjeant intended.”
Sarjeant Gallery Director, Greg Anderson said, “Recognition by the PGF of this project’s value and significance to Whanganui and our region is very welcome – it will help ensure that the legacies of Henry Sarjeant and Sir Archie Taiaroa live on for another century and more.”
Mr Anderson recognised the efforts of all involved in funding the redevelopment, particularly Nicola Williams, Chairman of the Sarjeant Gallery Trust, and a widespread and dedicated community of donors who have so far raised $9 million towards the project. “These supporters include local people and organisations from across New Zealand and the world.”
Project Director, Gaye Batty, who has overseen similar New Zealand projects of this scale, says the Sarjeant Gallery redevelopment project is “spade-ready.”
“We have received a strong level of interest in the project from construction companies within the region and we’re now in the final stages of our tender process.
“We are delighted with the outcome of our PGF application,” she says. “During the detailed design process it became very clear that inflation in the construction industry would have an impact on our 2016 cost estimate of 34.9 million, so we sought the additional funding to address this. We’re very pleased to have had this response from central government.”
“It won’t be long now before activity begins to happen on site and things start to get really exciting. We are about to create a new chapter in the history of the Sarjeant Gallery.”
The Sarjeant Gallery Te Whare o Rehua Whanganui is a building of national significance in New Zealand – it’s valued for its classical architecture, construction materials, unique location and heritage significance.
Constructed largely of unreinforced masonry, the building is currently rated at only 5% of the current new building code.
The Sarjeant Gallery is one of New Zealand's oldest art galleries and is home to one of the country's most significant art collections.
The Sarjeant Gallery’s permanent art collection comprises over 8,300 artworks spanning four centuries of European and New Zealand art history.
Proper museum storage conditions are required to preserve the collection, which museum professionals have confirmed was at considerable risk of long-term damage. The redevelopment will address this and allow the collection to remain in Whanganui.
The redevelopment involves earthquake-strengthening and upgrading the original Sarjeant Gallery building, while new storage and exhibition facilities will be constructed in a modern extension to the north of (behind) the original building.
The new wing will be named Pataka o Sir Archie John Te Atawhai Taiaroa, honouring Sir Archie Taiaroa, a loved and respected kaumātua and an inspirational leader of the Whanganui people.
It will include education/classroom space and an auditorium for events, conferences and other activities.