A new chairman has been appointed to lead the long and controversial saga to establish a museum in Tauranga.
After two years at the helm of the Tauranga Moana Museum Trust Board, city lawyer Vanessa Hamm has resigned from the trust to devote more time to her law practice and family.
"There was no dissatisfaction with how things were going," she told the Bay of Plenty Times.
The board's former deputy chairman, Neil Te Kani, has taken over the reins. He supports tangata whenua having a stake in the museum through governance and funding arrangements.
Ms Hamm's resignation was the second in the two-year history of the community trust which was established following the political fallout that killed off the council-led plan to build a museum on the downtown waterfront.
Tauranga historian Jinty Rorke resigned last December following her appointment as chairwoman of The Elms Board of Management.
A recent meeting of the Tauranga City Council agreed in principle to allow the museum to be sited in Cliff Rd next to the rose gardens. It offered clear views of Mauao and the harbour, with easy access from the CBD.
The fate of the council's 30,000-item heritage collection, currently in storage at Mount Maunganui, was linked with the success of the project to establish a 3000sq m museum. The council has agreed to spend $100,000 in 2014-15 to obtain resource consent for the 8500sq m Cliff Rd site.
Councillor Murray Guy succeeded in giving the trust some flexibility over where the museum could be sited, by adding that other options may be considered.
Agreement in principle for the museum to be built on Cliff Rd was conditional on the council being satisfied with the trust's business case and funding plan. It was also subject to the outcome of negotiations to identify common ground between the trust, The Elms Foundation and the Tauranga Moana Iwi Collective.
A recent museum trust newsletter reported "steady, if undramatic, progress" over the last 12 months. It said the board could now initiate fundraising with some confidence of council backing.
An application to the Bay of Plenty Regional Council's $38 million Infrastructure Fund next year would require further development of the trust's funding plan. Implementing the funding plan depended on the board raising up to $100,000 to contract an employee.
The latest newsletter said that the main focus for the 2013 would be to raise enough money to ensure a "sound administrative base for the main capital fundraising effort".
The trust's museum proposal last year envisaged raising the building and establishment costs over three to four years. The museum needed to be financially self sustaining, funded by a range of commercial activities including a contract with the council to store and exhibit the heritage collection.