Frequently Asked Questions and Information Sheet | Sarjeant Gallery Whanganui
page-template,page-template-full_width,page-template-full_width-php,page,page-id-17200,bridge-core-1.0.4,ajax_fade,page_not_loaded,,vertical_menu_enabled,side_area_uncovered_from_content,qode-child-theme-ver-1.0.0,qode-theme-ver-18.0.6,qode-theme-bridge,disabled_footer_top,qode_header_in_grid,wpb-js-composer js-comp-ver-6.6.0,vc_responsive

Frequently Asked Questions and Information Sheet

Why is the Sarjeant Gallery Collection so special?

For one hundred years the Sarjeant Gallery Te Whare o Rehua Whanganui, on behalf of the people of our city, has been building its collections of fine art and applied art objects. With a collection now numbering over 8,000 pieces, in all media, it is unrivalled in regional New Zealand and can be viewed in similar terms to the major municipal collections of Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin. The Collection is nationally significant due to its size and depth of content. The Sarjeant Gallery itself is one of the finest purpose-built art galleries in the country, the building and the Collection are inextricably linked and are a part of our national history.

What is the Sarjeant Gallery Te Whare o Rehua Redevelopment Project?

The Redevelopment will see the construction of a new wing to the north (the rear face) of the existing gallery, honouring the memory of Sir Te Atawhai Archie John Taiaroa. This space will be named Pataka o Sir Te Atawhai Archie John Taiaroa.  It will incorporate suitable storage for the Sarjeant’s nationally significant collection, improved education facilities, large exhibition spaces and spaces for retail, events and a cafe. The original gallery, which has a Historic Places Trust Category 1 rating, will be earthquake strengthened and restored, retaining its historic architectural features.

What is the timeframe for the Sarjeant Gallery Te Whare o Rehua Redevelopment Project?

The Sarjeant Gallery redevelopment project construction phase commenced in the last quarter of 2019. The construction phase includes restoration of the existing building and construction of a new wing and will take up to two years. If everything goes to plan it will be reopened in mid 2023.

How will that be paid for?
To date the Whanganui District Council has committed approximately $5m spread over several years. Remaining funds have come from Central Government, Lottery Grants Board, public and private trusts, individual philanthropy and private sector corporate sponsorship.
Won’t the council have to underwrite the whole project cost?

The Sarjeant Gallery Redevelopment is now funded.  Should the need arise for additional funds in the final stages of the project, the Sarjeant Gallery Trust will undertake to fundraise for the outstanding amount.


What about running costs?

Enhanced retail, events spaces, a cafe and other revenue generation opportunities will help to offset the potential costs. Providing environmental control to protect the collection will bring additional energy costs; and the insurance costs of the building will increase. The on-going running costs have been accounted for in the Council’s 10 Year Plan.

Is iwi involved with the Gallery redevelopment?

Yes. The new wing will be named in honour of the late Sir Archie Te Atawhai Taiaroa: rangatira of Whanganui Iwi and a highly regarded leader amongst Māori and Pakeha. This space will be named Pataka o Sir Archie John Te Atawhai Taiaroa – the meaning of the word Pātaka is that of a “house of storage”, a place where valuable things are safeguarded. Te Whare o Rehua will contain the old and the new, the Sarjeant Gallery and the Pataka o Sir Archie John Te Atawhai Taiaroa.

In 1995 Whanganui Iwi supported the representatives on the Sarjeant Gallery Trust Board, the late George Waretini and Alvin Ponga, in the gifting of the name “Te Whare o Rehua” (the House of Inspiration) to the Gallery. Rehua is associated with kindness, enjoyment and entertainment. His house in the highest heaven is the repository of fine gifts, artefacts and the aesthetic arts. The name firmly places the Gallery within the Whanganui community; Whanganui being the name given to the region by tangata whenua.

Who are the architects for the Sarjeant Gallery Development?
Warren and Mahoney – one of New Zealand’s top architectural practices. Visit for more information.
How were the architects chosen?
In 1996 the Sarjeant Gallery Trust Board, supported by the Whanganui District Council, undertook an Architectural Design Competition funded by a grant from the Edith Collier Trust. Council approved the design competition and, in June 1998, a Cultural Heritage Assessment was undertaken on the Gallery and this formed part of the Architectural Design Competition Brief which was completed in August 1998 and the competition launched. The winning design by Steve McCracken of Warren and Mahoney was announced a year later in August 1999 and then subject to public consultation and review by stakeholder groups.
Has New Zealand Historic Places Trust been involved in the process?

Heritage New Zealand (formerly the NZHPT) recognises the importance of the Sarjeant Gallery building, the part it plays in New Zealand’s and Whanganui’s cultural history and the need to ensure its longevity. They have expressed their support and agreement with the proposed redevelopment in a letter which accompanied the application to the Regional Museums Fund, and have renewed their support for the developed design plans both in letters to central government and in support of the Resource Consent application.

A Memorandum of Understanding has been agreed between Whanganui District Council, Te Rūnanga o Tupoho on behalf of Te Awa Tupua and the New Zealand Historic Places Trust to oversee and to advise on developments impacting on the Category 1 Sarjeant Gallery building.

What is being done to seismically strengthen the original part of the gallery?

The post-tensioned strand strengthening methodology has been selected as the best option for the earthquake prone building.

How has Whanganui District Council supported the project?

Whanganui District Council has:
• Launched the fundraising leg of the project
• Moved the project to the ‘developed design stage’ at a cost of up to $1 million (completed in June 2014)
• Gained resource consent for the full redevelopment project including strengthening of the existing gallery and construction of an adjoining wing which will house new facilities and environmentally controlled storage (completed in August 2014)
• Supported the temporary relocation of the Gallery (completed in May 2014 for the operation, public programmes, education service and December 2015 for the collection) to 38 Taupō Quay while fundraising and subsequent construction of the redevelopment is undertaken
• Allocated a total of $5M towards the Sarjeant Gallery Redevelopment Project. This is  inclusive of $4 million from its Earthquake Strengthening Rate, noted in the current 10 Year Plan.

Why did the Gallery move to Taupō Quay?

In order to mitigate the risk to the public, staff and collections due to the earthquake risk posed by the original Gallery and pending the redevelopment, Council decided on 20 December 2012 to temporarily relocate the Gallery and its collection to an interim location called Sarjeant on the Quay which is at 38 Taupō Quay.

The relocation was necessary due to the earthquake prone status of the Sarjeant Gallery posing a safety risk to staff and the public and the risk of damage to the collections.

How long did the relocation take?

Relocating the gallery operation and the collection took 21 months.

The building work at the temporary gallery was completed in April 2014. The Gallery in Queen’s Park closed to the public on 2 March and the public gallery operation – exhibitions, events, education etc – moved to Taupō Quay over the following two months. The Gallery re-opened to the public at Sarjeant on the Quay, 38 Taupō Quay on 24 May 2014.

At the same time, the collection totalling more than 8000 items was relocated to the first floor of 38 Taupō Quay – this was completed in December 2015. The transition project included full documentation and condition reporting of the collections, making possible the launch of the digital collection portal ‘Explore the Collection’ in 2017.

What did the relocation cost?

The total project cost was $2,678,000 over five years. This included the rent of the interim location, the move of the collection and the purchase of storage equipment which will be re-used in the redeveloped Gallery.

The Gallery was awarded a grant of $472,680 by the Lottery World War One Commemorations, Environment and Heritage Committee towards the costs of the store fit-out and temporary staff to expedite the collection move.

Will there be an entry fee when the new gallery opens?
No. It is important to Whanganui District Council and Gallery management that the Sarjeant be accessible to all sectors of the community and that the gallery be at the heart of the community. Donations will always be gratefully accepted and will go towards the running costs of the redeveloped gallery.