Another Milestone On The Journey Ahead
The South Pacific WWII Museum in Luganville is one step closer to construction with the official opening of our Museum Project Development Office in Luganville. The new office is located on the north east corner of land upon which the museum will be built in Unity Park at the west end of Luganville. It’s been constructed by Santo Hardware staff in a disused office that was renovated and fitted out over a period of months. The office space was made available to the museum project through the Acting Director General of the Ministry of Justice and Community Services, Mr Pacco Siri.
The opening coincided with the 75th anniversary of the sinking of the SS President Coolidge and the loss of life of Captain Elwood J. Euart. It was from the Euart memorial site east of Luganville that the day’s events commenced.
A memorial service to Captain Euart and the only other person to lose his life following the sinking of the Coolidge, Fireman Robert Reid was held, followed by a wreath laying by Deputy Chief of Mission of the United States Embassy in Port Moresby, Mary Drake, Minister of Lands, Ralph Regenvanu, President of the Sanma Provincial Government Council, John Olo Aru and the Museum’s Founding Chairman, Bradley Wood.
An airport opening
At the conclusion of the ceremony, guests made their way to Santo International Airport for the opening of a special exhibit by the Deputy Chief of Mission and the Lands Minister. The exhibit, featuring WWII aircraft parts recovered from the surrounding jungle on Espiritu Santo, is designed to pique the interest of inbound tourists and business people alike and raise awareness of the museum project.
The Museum Association would like to thank the board and management of Airports Vanuatu Limited for supporting the Museum project and for providing the space at the airport for this special exhibit.
With the morning’s commemorations and airport unveiling completed, dignitaries and museum board members assembled at the site of the new Museum Project Development Office in Luganville. Together with invited guests and members of the public, the office was officially opened.
The Museum Association was particularly honoured to have in attendance Former Minister of State and Former Deputy Prime Minister, Sethy Regenvanu, Luganville Municipal Council Councillor, Renata Netaf, Volunteers Abroad Service (VSA) Programme officer in Vanuatu, Brigitte Olul and Co-Author of ‘Big Wok’, Vanuatu ‘living legend’, Mr James Gwero.
In his address to the more than 100 people who attended the opening of the Museum Development Office, Minister for Lands Ralph Regenvanu recognised the importance of the museum in keeping local history alive. “It is very important that Vanuatu should institutionalize this important historical time in the life of this country and our region for our own benefit and for the benefit of future generations, and for this reason the Government of Vanuatu is fully supportive of this WW2 Museum project,” he said.
Minister Regenvanu praised the work of the Elwood J Euart Association and its vision for the museum and the greater role it has to play in reinvigorating the waterfront precinct in Luganville.
“The preservation of much of the waterfront that remains undeveloped as green space and public space is currently underway – all waterfront land that is not under lease has been secured now, including the entire area of Unity Park – and the acquisition of a number of undeveloped leases on the waterfront to incorporate them into this public-access waterfront precinct will commence next year. This is all in preparation for the Luganville Urban Development Project scheduled to start next year with funding from the ADB and the Australian Government which will provide the necessary infrastructure for this waterfront precinct. The museum will be a centrepiece of this redeveloped precinct.”
With our Development Office now open, we’ll now be concentrating our efforts on raising the necessary funds to enable construction to commence.
“We’ve got quite a way to go yet,” said Founding Chairman Bradley Wood. “But our new office gives us a confidence that says we’re on the right track. I’m quietly optimistic we’ll reach our funding target, but it’s now a case of developing the right fundraising strategy to get us there. We’re grateful of the support from VSA and the New Zealand Government for a volunteer placement – a fundraising strategist – starting with us on October 30th to assist in developing our fundraising strategy”.
The museum project has certainly been generating enormous interest both locally and internationally, and Bradley is confident of its potential for success. “The number of visitors to our website and social media pages has been quite remarkable,” he said. “We have interest in the project from around the world, from the UK and Ukraine to the US and Canada and of course throughout the entire South Pacific region. With that kind of support and the drive of our incredibly committed museum team, I’m very excited for what the future will hold.”