Mayor recognises historical achiever

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Lakes District Museum’s boss says he’s grateful but embarrassed to have been awarded a mayoral citation.

David Clarke, who’s run the Arrowtown-based museum for the past 27 years, was honoured by mayor Vanessa van Uden in the last days of her mayoralty last month.

Unlike veteran local nurse Judy Stewart and Queenstown community stalwarts Craig ‘Ferg’
Ferguson and Brendan Quill, who also received citations, he was away from work when Van Uden popped in to present his.

“My staff grabbed it and stuck it on the wall, which was embarrassing,” he says.

“They seemed to be more excited about it than I was. But it’s nice – it’s recognition for everybody who’s involved in heritage because it’s sometimes a bit of a thankless task.”

On his watch, the museum bought the Arrowtown Post Office and saved a row of miners’ cottages on Arrowtown’s main street, plus Queenstown’s Williams Cottage.

He’s also overseen the Arrowtown gaol restoration project, now underway.

Clarke’s also Arrowtown RSA’s vice-president – “my grandfather was a colonel and he was in both world wars”.

A former two-term Arrowtown councillor, he’s still a council planning hearings commissioner – he recently approved Remarkables Park’s proposed Queenstown convention centre.

In his museum role, he’s overseen various building revamps and extensions.

His next big project will be the earthquake strengthening and restoration of the former Bank of New Zealand building which the museum is based around.

“We’d like to take it back to the original facade.”

Clarke is thinking of declaring his museum innings closed when he reaches 30 years – “but I keep coming up with new ideas”.

scoop@scene.co.nz