Project needs time and ‘big bickies’
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But more help was always welcome, Mr Morgan said. “We could do with 20 volunteers every day to cope with the amount of information we need to digitise,” he said.
Donations were also welcome, Mr Morgan said, with the trust, reliant not only on donated funds but also equipment, such as the recent gift of 15 computers by Bannister and von Dadelszen lawyers.
Some people who brought in their family history documents were happy to donate an amount to be issued digital copies for other family members, but other than that, the only income came from the annual $25 fees paid by Friends of the Knowledge Bank, but they numbered less than 100.
Mr Morgan said the trust’s aim was to cover its costs but also invest in new technology like a new $26,000 ST View scanner it wants to buy to digitise old newspapers, currently preserved on microfiche.
“It costs us big bickies to run the show, and to get equipment like the scanner so yes, we are permanently in need of funding. We would love anything from a tuppence to $2 million.”
Mr Morgan said a November 30 open day would be fitting way to mark three years of planning, followed by 12 months spent restoring Stoneycroft, laying a kilometre of cabling and installing computer hardware and software and the first year of operations. “The last two years have been huge in demand of our time, and the next two years will be equally as huge,” he said. “But we are making some great strides. I believe in three or four years when the people of Hawke’s Bay see what we are accumulating now, they will be gob smacked,” he said.
Records for posterity
Elsie Leipst has a simple reason for giving over her collections of newspaper clippings, photographs and journals covering her 40-year career as a Plunket and Hawke’s Bay Hospital nurse to be digitised by the Hawke’s Bay Knowledge Bank.
“I have no family to leave it to. I am 94 now, so at my age I have got to do something,” said Ms Leipst, one of the first graduates of the hospital’s now defunct training school, who moved up to clinical nursing director when she retired from the hospital in 1974.
Her friend, renowned Hastings potter Bruce Martin, 87, who founded Kamaka Pottery with late wife Estelle in the mid 1960s, is another who is in the process of having his historical documents digitised.
He had already sorted a lot of his records for his forthcoming book, The Herron Migrates, which details the couple’s business and their trips to Japan to work with master potter, Sanyo Fujii, “But a lot of it is also Hastings history,” said Mr Martin whose Japanese-style anagama kiln on the back of his Bridge Pa property, the largest in New Zealand built with help from Mr Fujii, is now under the protection of the Historic Places Trust.
The Knowledge Bank wanted more locals to come forward with their “shoe boxes of memories”, said communication officer, Nikki Beattie.
“People forget about their family history or the documents get disposed of. We want to preserve it for posterity rather than them discovering that 20 years later, much to their horror, the earwigs or mould have deteriorated it,” she said.
People cold [could] loan or donate their records to the knowledge bank – which would be given a unique collection number and be uploaded to the website and order digital copies of documents for the other family members, she said.
The accumulated knowledge could also help “fill in the gaps” for other Hawke’s Bay families researching their ancestry, while historic land records such as maps, title deeds, and photographs, would also help preserve the “history of the land,” she said.
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Photo caption – Saved: Elsie Leipst, left, Knowledge Bank communication officer Nikki Beattie, renowned Hastings potter Bruce Martin and manager James Morgan pore over her newspaper cuttings in the restored cottage kitchen at Stoneycroft House in Hastings. Photo: CLINTON LLEWELLYN