How I almost lost my husband in Gisborne

For the past week I have been posting blogs about our trip this summer around the East Cape of New Zealand’s North Island.

I will finish off on this particular road trip with details of our visit to a Gisborne museum: The East Coast Museum of Technology.

As I’ve mentioned previously (see musings) we LOVE museums – of any kind.

We have seen many different varieties from London’s Natural History museum to the Louvre in Paris and Te Papa in Wellington.

We’ve visited several small museums run and owned by one devoted collector or another.

But we’ve never quite seen anything like the ECMOT.

Running under a broad banner of Technology and its development the museum houses a surprising number of exhibits and admits it is an eclectic collection of yesteryear.

We walked through the door to see a small room full of old machinery.
Full as in FULL.
Not a corner left empty.
There were tractors, milking machines, butter churns and more – each with another display item sat atop them.
It was hectic and admittedly not to everyone’s taste but we’d paid a whole $13 to get the family in and were going to make the most of it. (I jest – please continue)

Sam was completely absorbed and reliving his agricultural days while I found an old newspaper printing machine to admire.

The children questioned many strange contraptions that they’d never seen before.
The adults gushed over their memories while drawing the line that we weren’t quite that old and correcting the over-used phrase “In the olden days”.

The small room lead to a larger room full of lawnmowers, medical machinery, telephone exchanges and my favourite section: Domestic Bliss.

While the rest of the museum was decidedly dusty and rusty the volunteers who run the museum deserve huge applause in particular for the display of kitchen and laundry memorabilia.

I dwelled here longer than the rest of the family.
I was fascinated with some of the older cookers, washers and fridges.
I’m not sure if I would have coped well in the days of washboards, mangles and cool boxes that had to be filled with a block of ice – but for some reason they appeal to me and I like to dream about what life would have been like.
I even appreciated a “Through the ages” display of irons even though I DETEST ironing.

I caught up with the rest of the gang outside by a collection of working handpumps that they were being interactive with.

Outside there was a large amount of what I thought were storage sheds plus a collection of historic buildings that had been moved to the museum. These included a cellblock/jail used in Ruatoria until 1989 and a small green shed that was Whakaangiangi’s Post Office until 1973.

Many of the surrounding storage sheds were actually open to the public and housed further displays: fire appliances, emergency vehicles, horse-drawn vehicles, stationary engines, military items and vehicles, agricultural machines and farm implements.

The museum is housed in the former Kia Ora Dairy Factory premises and run entirely by volunteers.
I admire them tremendously but boy they have their work cut out for them.
It appears that (thankfully) many establishments donate items to the museum as buildings and businesses close or are re-developed.
I hope the museum gets more volunteers as I wonder if they are coping with the growing number of exhibits.

We were only visiting Gisborne while on holiday, if we lived any nearer I think it’s safe to say I would not see much of my husband.
Sam was in awe of the whole place and itching to get his hands on some of the old machines (in a renovating way not a stealing way!).

The adjacent Makaraka railway station site has been purchased by the museum and is to be developed into a vintage railway including local railway station buildings, goods sheds and telephone exchange buildings.

We will definitely be visiting again next time we are over in that area – I’m keen to see how the place develops.
I hope that it gets lots of assistance to grow without losing its unique character and becoming sterile.

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After our museum visit we left the east coast and travelled home to Cambridge via Waioeka Gorge (you can read about our stay at the remote DOC Manganuku campsite).

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