History preserved online
By CLINTON LLEWELLYN
The year-long transformation of Stoneycroft House in Hastings into a modern digital archive to preserve Hawke’s Bay’s history is all but complete.
Hundreds of people are expected to visit the 1875-built homestead when it ofﬁcially reopens as the home of the Hawke’s Bay Knowledge Bank this Saturday.
The opening will come nearly a year to the day since members of the Hawke’s Bay Digital Archives Trust, various tradespeople and a small army of volunteers, began refurbishment and restoration work at Stoneycroft. About $200,000 has been spent on it since the trust secured an 18-year lease of the building from Hastings District Council last November.
The money was spent on restoring the interior of the building to its former glory, and installing the modern IT equipment needed to digitise and preserve photographs, documents, maps and other historical information from the region.
The data will be searchable via an online database on the Knowledge Bank’s website, planned to go live in conjunction with this Saturday’s opening.
Genealogists, professional and amateur historians as well as the general public will be able to browse the digital archives, paying a small charge when they downloaded a copy of a historical photograph or document.
“The National Archives tell me that in short order, we will have more information stored here about Hawke’s Bay than anyone will be able to store anywhere else,” said trust secretary-manager James Morgan. “A box full of recordings now, added with the extra information that will come in with more input from the public, will mean they increase in historical value.
“It’s just a matter of time.”
Visitors to Stoneycroft on Saturday will be unable to miss the mix of the old and new.
There are four large ﬂat screen televisions connected to some of the 30 computer work stations in the various rooms of the homestead, which have all been redecorated with period wallpaper and recarpeted.
Stoneycroft’s kitchen and bathroom have also been renovated and the ofﬁce of the building’s last private owner, Dr Diamond Allan Ballantyne, sound-proofed in readiness for it to become the region’s ﬁrst oral history recording booth.
Hawke’s Bay Knowledge Bank ofﬁcial opening, 1pm, Stoneycroft, Omahu Rd, Hastings.
Photo caption – The old and the new: IT consultant Tom Chamberlain and Linda Ward (front row), Grant Ancell, Marguerite Young, and Hawke’s Bay Digital Archive Trust secretary-manager James Morgan ( back row) in the new presentation room inside Stoneycroft. Photo: CLINTON LLEWELLYN.