Mangawhai Museum "There’s so much here; so much to learn, so much to do.” June 2019

Joy Wilson volunteers at Mangawhai Museum

Volunteers are the life-blood of the Mangawhai Museum. Currently 88 volunteers fill a wide range of roles essential to the success of the museum, including reception, manning the café and the shop, taking care of the collection, maintaining the museum displays, looking after the grounds, fundraising, event management, research and writing, education, and genealogy.

Joy Wilson is a member of this community of volunteers. Joy started five years ago before the museum opened, first helping to clean collection items, and then moving into textile conservation. As the new collections database was set up she assisted with the numbering and descriptions of garments. In the museum display you can see the delicate stitching that is stabilising the fabric of an old dress. The storage rooms out the back are an exemplar of systematic organisation, all led and executed by volunteers.

Although Joy found learning about conservation and the technical aspects of caring for the collection hugely interesting, when the museum opened in 2014 Joy elected to take a role in reception. “I like the public contact and I think my back of house experience helps me do a better job front of house”.

“Retirement”, says Joy, “is not just the end of your working life; it is the beginning of the rest of your life. You have to do things, learn new things.” As a relative newcomer to Mangawhai volunteering at the museum has provided her with stimulation, new friends and a sense of fulfillment and belonging. “It is neat to be part of such a wonderful organisation. The people here are so professional, so organised. It makes you feel very proud. You meet people all the time; the volunteers become your friends. It’s a really good way of becoming part of the community. “

Mangawhai Museum is looking for new volunteers to help with front of house and Joy encourages others to join. “It’s an amazing place. There’s so much here; so much to learn, so much to do.”

Contact the museum administrator, Ana, on 09-431-4645, or go to the Volunteering Northland website.

Story by Helen Frances, volunteer reporter for Volunteering Northland