Work begins in March on the fit-out of the new Western Bay Museum in Katikati thanks to NZ Lotteries Commission funding.

“We are over the moon that the funding has been granted. This is fantastic news for Katikati and the wider region,” says Western Bay of Plenty District Council councillor Mike Williams.

“I truly believe the museum in Katikati's main street will assist with the town's arts and crafts culture and give visitors another reason to stop and spend time in Katikati.

“I take my hat off to museum manager and curator Paula Gaelic who has fought so long and hard for the museum and for this grant,” says Mike, who has been closely involved with the museum for several years.

The museum will tell the story of the Western Bay region from pre-Maori times to the current day, through constantly changing exhibitions, based on the collection of the former Katikati Heritage Museum.

Paula says after three years of hard work, she is ecstatic about the grant and the on-going support from the Western Bay of Plenty District Council, Katch Katikati, volunteers, local businesses and the wider community.

“In the words of the old song written by Claude Grayling of Katikati I feel like we are ‘Sailing along on a moonbeam'. Lotteries Commission has very strict criteria for funding and we had to make sure we ticked every box. This grant is confirmation we are on the right track with the museum.”

The $75,000 funding will be used to fit out the former Katikati Fire Station, which has been extensively renovated and prepared to house museum exhibits, and is currently hosting ‘Unexpected Heroes' featuring local people involved in World War I, which continues until the end of March.

Now the funding is approved, work can begin on making the cabinetry for the museum's most precious and delicate items, including the 1860 ‘Killen gown' donated by descendants of the pioneer family, which hasn't been displayed before.

“It will be part of our first exhibition Fun and Games, which isn't just for children and which we hope to open in March,” says Paula.

Claude Grayling's song ‘Sailing along on a moonbeam' was recorded by Pixie Williams on the TANZA label in 1951 and Paula would like to hear from anyone who has a copy of the record which could be added to the museum's collection. Anyone with a copy is invited to contact the Western Bay Museum phone 07 549 0651.