In 2021, Tasman District Libraries received funding from the New Zealand Partnership Programme (NZLPP) to enable them to develop more material for their online heritage repository. “We received funding to move from Kete to the Recollect platform and to fund our staff member Pania Walton to gather oral histories as Pania already had training in this area.”
“The funding supported our strategic aim to treasure our community stories and history, building our heritage repository– Tasman Heritage. That’s why we took the opportunity to start gathering oral histories.”
Pania had a lot of connections with lots of places and she was able to interview a range of people. Some of those interviewed were people from the Riverside Community – in the Lower Moutere near Motueka. The community was founded by Christian Pacifists in 1941 and is Aotearoa New Zealand’s oldest intentional community.
Next came interviews relating to Abel Tasman National Park. One contact led to another until there were a range of voices included in the oral histories. There is Ropata Taylor (Ngāti Rārua and Te Ᾱtiawa) chair of Ngāti Rārua Ᾱtiawa Iwi Trust Board, Sarah McClintock Suter Art Gallery curator and collections manager, Jeremy Glasgow bach owner and conservationist, and Renée Thomas (Ngāti Rarua, Ngāti Toa, Te Atiawa, Ngāti Tama, Ngāi Tahu) kaitiaki of the whenua at Mārahau. These oral histories provide a glimpse into a small sample of the wide range of relationships, experiences and histories contained in the Abel Tasman National Park area.
These are rich stories of people from communities steeped in history, culture and who are connected to their environment. The Tasman heritage project is an important resource for collecting local voices and stories for future generations.
“The feedback we have received has been really encouraging – it’s a slow burn but we have a long-term view that this is an investment for the future. Our Tasman Heritage repository is still in the early stages and some of our collections are still being digitised.”
Glennis says Tasman District Libraries plan to continue collecting stories. Pania has now moved on from the library, but volunteers are available and people are coming in with stories all the time. Besides oral histories, Tasman Heritage collections contain documents and images.