Museum trust, RSA distance themselves from complaint

The Cromwell Museum Trust and Cromwell RSA have distanced themselves from a complaint to the Ombudsman.

On May 1, the Office of the Ombudsman opened an investigation into the Central Otago District Council and its consultation surrounding the Cromwell Memorial Hall.

The investigation was instigated after it received a complaint from community member David George earlier this year.

The complaint centers around what Mr George regards as a lack of community input into the hall.

He has also been vocal on multiple community Facebook groups about the inclusion of the Cromwell Museum and the relocation of the town’s war memorial as part of hall plans.

On Thursday, the organisations issued a joint statement expressing support for the Cromwell Memorial Hall and Event Centre project and stating Mr George did not speak on behalf of either of them.

The cultural facility would ensure the museum’s "collection, local stories and ongoing research will continue to develop and be available for community access", the statement read.

The added advantage of a temporary exhibition space would also enable the museum to develop in-house displays and have the opportunity to host exhibitions from other institutions, not feasible in the current museum building in The Mall, it continued.

Cromwell Museum Trust chairman Martin Anderson said the trustees were "united in their position" and Mr George’s complaint did not reflect the views of the board and "is at odds with what the broader community want and voted for".

"He is not a volunteer at the Cromwell Museum and does not speak for the museum in this matter."

Cromwell RSA president Denis Ryan said the Cromwell RSA wanted to acknowledge its support for the relocation of the museum to the proposed new Cromwell Cultural Centre.

The shift would give the RSA the opportunity to exhibit a lot of its memorabilia that up until now has been locked away.

"This memorabilia needs to be open to the public for viewing especially for the younger generation to learn and remember those that have sacrificed so willingly of their lives for our continued safety and peace," Mr Ryan said.

"I would also note that David George is an associate member of the Cromwell RSA and his comments on Facebook are his own and in no way do they represent the feeling of the RSA group."

According to the RSA website an associate member of the RSA is a member of the community "over the age of 18 years who have not served in the armed forces or police and identify with ideas of NZRSA".

Mr George said he was unaware of the statement from the museum trust and RSA until contacted by a reporter on Thursday.

"I was at the RSA meeting yesterday [Thursday] and we just carried on. That really set the tone for me. Let’s just get on with our community and whatever stands in our way, we will work together," he said.

He said he had not expressed to the museum his concerns or his ideas on what the future of the museum could be.