Council agrees to name new museum Te Unua Museum of Southland

Te Unua Museum of Southland will be the name of Southland’s new museum.

At a full Invercargill City Council meeting on Tuesday, Councillors discussed two options for the name – Te Unua Museum of Southland and Te Unua Southland Museum.

Invercargill City Council started Project 1225, the project to rebuild the city’s museum, in December 2022, with the construction of a collection storage facility in Tisbury. A new museum and dedicated tuatara facility in Queens Park will follow.

The name Te Unua was gifted to the museum rebuild project by Waihōpai Rūnaka in 2021 following the establishment of the Museum Governance Group.

Invercargill Mayor Nobby Clark said the gifted name reflected the vision for the museum and the nature of the service that was to be developed.

“As seen in the museum concept designs released last week, Te Unua has been considered in the plans and has shaped the cultural narrative of the new facility. The double-hulled waka can be seen connecting the south and north entrances to the museum,” Clark said.

“Te Unua is a perfect fit for our new facility. The story behind it connects so well to what our vision is and I’m really looking forward to seeing it come to life in our museum.”

Mana whenua have also indicated their support for the name.

Invercargill City Council mana whenua representative Evelyn Cook said she was pleased that the use of the name Te Unua could be agreed upon.

“Te Unua Museum of Southland sat comfortably with all four rūnaka in Southland, but what was important to us is that the name is consistent with the story we are telling. I think there is a good rhythm to the name.”

design Tribe director Rau Hoskins said the museum architects found the notion of Te Unua to be very compelling.

“Part of our job in designing has been responding to the geography of Southland, which has included the Sub-Antarctic Islands and Rakiura.

“We felt that creating a design that honoured that name and the partnership that is embedded in that name was a really important thing to do. As insinuated in the Te Unua name, we wanted this museum to be a place that brought the community together and recognised it as a place of continuous arrival.”

In June, Council agreed to connect with the four Southland rūnaka to request feedback on whether to confirm or change the already gifted name for the new museum facility. Feedback received from mana whenua was supportive of keeping the gifted name and also the preference of incorporating ‘Southland’ into it.

Also on Tuesday, Councillors approved concept designs for the new museum and a budget increase of $6 million, bringing the total cost of the project to $71.5m. Council will look to seek external funding of $17m.

Project 1225 has already received a funding boost of $5m from Community Trust South and a total of $1m from ILT.