Forget Mangaweka, head to Manakau
Manakau could become the new Mangaweka as a deer-themed museum complete with helicopter opens on Saturday.
The Deer Story museum on State Highway 1 beside the Manakau village has already drawn curious punters after a Hughes 500 helicopter was shipped into a parking spot on the roadside on Sunday.
The helicopter will be a permanent attraction for the museum, the brainchild of Sanson deer farmer Percy Burlace.
Burlace said for 40-odd years he had been in the deer industry, and it was part of the history of New Zealand.
The museum would feature displays on the history of deer industry – from 1841 when they were introduced through to modern farming for venison and velvet.
Young people today did not understand the history of deer farming in New Zealand, which was a relatively recent development, Burlace said.
“It all started as a pretty dangerous business, capturing wild animals and turning them into farmed animals of today.”
He said the museum would be good for tourism in Horowhenua, and entertaining local people.
Burlace said he bought the deer recovery helicopter from Opotiki, and it linked back to his own 40 year involvement with deer.
“I was one of the idiots who used to do the net shooting and jump out of helicopters in the early days; and survived to tell the story.”
Meanwhile, neighbour Allan Taylor, of Taylor’s Secondhand and Collectables, said people were already stopping and taking photos with the helicopter.
He said the aircraft did have similarities to the iconic DC3 plane on SH1 at Mangaweka.
“Yeah, people are trying to climb in it already.”
Taylor said his business had local regulars but most of his customers came from the wider region, including Wellington, and through-traffic.
The museum could become a definite tourism boost for the rural village and its surrounds, Taylor said.
“I think it’s going to be good for Manakau, getting people to call in.”