Club pays tribute to trio's work at museum

The West Otago Vintage Club's museum owes a lot to volunteers, who devote thousands of hours to it. Some of the 
longer-serving volunteers are (from left) Betty Steel, of Heriot, Sadie Lietze, of Tapanui and Brenda Redditt, of Brooksdale. Photo by Yvonne O'Hara
The West Otago Vintage Club's museum owes a lot to volunteers, who devote thousands of hours to it. Some of the longer-serving volunteers are (from left) Betty Steel, of Heriot, Sadie Lietze, of Tapanui and Brenda Redditt, of Brooksdale. Photo by Yvonne O'Hara

The West Otago Vintage Club paid tribute to several of its older and longer-serving volunteers recently, during its Christmas function, held in February.

Sadie Lietze, of Tapanui, Betty Steel, of Heriot, and Brenda Redditt, of Brooksdale, have been involved with the club, its museum and historical archives for many years.

All life members, the three women were 90 at the time of the function, while Mrs Redditt turned 91 a couple of weeks ago.

The West Otago Vintage Club was established in March, 1958 after concern about the district's older tractors and other farm equipment being taken for scrap and being lost forever.

Murray Rodger and Bill Thomson called a meeting in February, 1958 to discuss the problem and proposed establishing a vintage club to protect the remaining machines.

The then Kelso and Heriot divisions of Federated Farmers and the women's institutes were asked to nominate members to be part of the new club.

''They needed women on the committee,'' Mrs Lietze said.

The club, along with the West Otago Historical Society and the West Otago Steam Society, fund-raised and opened its own museum in 1985 to hold its collection of old tractors and farming equipment as well as other vehicles, household goods, district historical records and other artefacts, (including a moa foot found in a local paddock).

An extension was added in 1997 to showcase the household items as well as the archives.

''The men were only going to allow us a bay [for the household items and archive] but we said we were having more than that and finished up taking a quarter of the [new] area,'' Mrs Steel said.

She said many of the household displays were kept in the ceiling of the building and had to be accessed by a ladder. While Mrs Redditt is involved with the archives and has spent many hundreds of hours researching the history of the district, Mrs Lietze and Mrs Steel have also spent much of their time looking after the displays, cataloguing, recording histories, restoring artefacts and helping with club activities.

''At times we get into mischief,'' Mrs Steel said.

''We get thrilled when someone brings us in something [for the museum].''

They also open the museum for two hours a day on Saturdays and Sundays for anyone who wishes to visit.

''We got really excited the other week when we had three people through,'' Mrs Lietze said.