North Otago Museum curator of archives Chris Meech has just celebrated his 10th anniversary with the Waitaki District Council. He started as part of the library team, then took up his current role in 2014. Reporter Sally Brooker asked him to look back – and forwards.
Q Where did you live before coming to Oamaru a decade ago?
Port Chalmers was home to my family and I before we moved to Oamaru in 2008.
Q What attracted you to the job at Waitaki Libraries?
The clear open skies, affordable housing and the lifestyle on offer for a young family were big attractions to Waitaki. We had visited Oamaru on occasion for the Victorian Heritage Fete and fell under the spell of the arts and heritage so magnificently on show. I was working at Otago University Library and a job at Oamaru Library came up. It was a chance to work at a progressive and vibrant community hub that I was fortunate to take up.
Q What does your current job as curator of archives entail?
My role involves caring for documentary heritage of the Waitaki district. It’s pretty diverse work interacting with people, our database and a wide variety of collections. Recently I’ve been working on a platform to share gallery, museum and archive collections online. As an initial offering we have more than 2000 historic photographs, artworks and objects, so watch this space.
Q What do you like best about it?
the heart of my role are people and collections. I enjoy enabling people to connect with the archival record, whether it be for family history research, as evidence of past actions or for the production of knowledge. I relish working alongside the amazing volunteers whose dedication and toil allow the archive to flourish.
Q What other activities do you take part in, outside of work?
Family life with teenage boys fills a lot of my time, otherwise I enjoy exploring the coastal marine environment and spearfishing. At the moment I’m learning Te Reo Maori through the engaging Takina programme.
Q Do you envisage living here for another decade or more? If so, what is keeping you here? If not, what do you seek elsewhere?
The crystal ball is cloudy on this question. I’d be lucky to be living and working in Waitaki in 2029.
Q What advice will you give your children about finding a good place to live and work?
Follow your dreams, but keep your eyes on the path ahead.