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Paeroa and District Historical Society Museum curator Lawrie Smith is on the hunt for writers, to help compile stacks of historical documents. Photo: ALICE PARMINTER

Writers of Paeroa, the museum is calling for you

Paeroa and District Historical Society Museum curator Lawrie Smith is searching for writers and researchers who like a challenge, as the society makes a push towards compiling years of history into written stories. 

The museum, located on Paeroa’s Normanby Road, is currently overflowing with papers, memoirs, journals and scrapbooks, many brought in as people clear out family estates. 

“Everybody’s written about [Paeroa], you know, there’s a number of writers that started something and they’ve died before they’ve finished it but their families just give us the work,” Lawrie said.

“Well, it’s almost as much work taking that and trying to recycle it!”

The museum previously published the Ohinemuri Regional History Journal in conjunction with the Waihi Arts Centre and Museum Association. It’s stories like these that Lawrie would like to see produced again. 

“It’s a voluntary thing, much like the Treasury, and we haven’t got the people with the writing skills,” he said. 

“That’s what I’m after, trying to find the people to come and help to add to the future. Somebody that can come in, we can give them a heap of stuff and say, ‘what do you think?’”

The stories needed to be made available, Lawrie said, in a way that would make them accessible for people interested in the history of the area. 

“I just think the stories should be completed a bit more and kept at the museum because that’s what it is, a repository of history,” he said.

“If someone’s moved into the town … after six months they’ll be thinking, well what can I do? Am I going to play bowls, am I going to do this? Some people are writers.”

Lawrie said stories like the ones in the Ohinemuri Journal were as important a record as newspapers, providing a snapshot of everyday life in the region. 

“A lot of work went into those too by various people over a long period of time,” he said.

“We were putting this book [Ohinemuri Journal] out once a year, twice a year at one stage. These are all stories written by people from here, about the people here.”

Lawrie said the museum also had plenty of resources already available, including a well-stocked library, for those who wanted to do research of their own.

“What I say to a lot of people is, if you want to study history read the first six copies of [the Ohinemuri Journal]. I refer to the journals all the time.” 

To get involved at Paeroa and District Museum, contact Lawrie Smith 07 862 8045 or visit the museum from Tuesday to Friday, 12-3pm. 

By ALICE PARMINTER, Public Interest Journalism funded by NZ on Air