Knowledge Bank preserves Hawke’s Bay history

The history of some of the most interesting and influential Hawke’s Bay families and events are being captured and digitised safely for posterity thanks to Hawke’s Bay Knowledge Bank, which is managed by the Hawke’s Bay Digital Archives Trust.

The brainchild of the late James Morgan, former Editor of Hawke’s Bay Herald Tribute, the Knowledge Bank was established in 2011. It has a team of approximately 100 dedicated volunteers who preserve the region’s history by scanning and transcribing family and business photos, documents and oral interviews from Stoneycroft, a historic building in Hastings.

“James had the vision for many years,” Knowledge Bank Chairman, Peter Dunkerley, says.

“When the Hastings District Council was considering the future of Stoneycroft, there was a need to find a purpose for it rather than renovating and leaving it empty, so fortunate timing meant that both projects could work together.”

At last count, the Knowledge Bank held 796 collections, of which 456 were available on their website. There were 5000 text documents, 25,000 still images and 238 oral histories available. The information is available free of charge to the public via the Knowledge Bank website (, which has an astounding 35,000 hits a month.

“These are very encouraging statistics and provide a vote of confidence in the organisation, which gives us every reason to ensure the Bank’s long term future.”

With the Knowledge Bank growing at a pace that stretches the organisation’s funding to the limit, a $1,000 grant from Hawke’s Bay Foundation to help with a new server upgrade was welcomed.

“To ensure all the valuable information that has been collected is secure, we have three backup servers – one on site, one in Auckland and one in Palmerston North. A Cloud backup site is also being considered. We are very grateful for the grant from Hawke’s Bay Foundation because as the archive grows, more and more storage is required, and this will be a continuing challenge to fund.”

The Knowledge Bank volunteers welcome old family photographs, letters, diaries, oral interviews, community group records and business archives from all members of the public so they can expand and develop their digital library.

“We receive information from local companies, community organisations and Hawke’s Bay residents who support the Knowledge Bank’s mission to preserve Hawke’s Bay’s past for future generations,” Peter says.

Community Group Fund supports Knowledge Bank for long term

The Hawke’s Bay Digital Archives Trust, which manages Hawke’s Bay Knowledge Bank, set up a Community Group Fund with Hawke’s Bay Foundation after it received a bequest of $12,000 from one of its founding members.

Anyone can donate or leave a bequest to the Knowledge Bank’s Community Group Fund to help it grow. The fund’s most recent boost came in the form of a bequest from the late Leonora McCormack.

Leonora passed away at the age of 95. She and her late husband, Tom, were well-known farmers from Patoka, who later retired in Taradale. Together they have left a significant legacy to our wonderful region.

Leonora’s $50,000 bequest has been invested, and every year the income generated will support Leonora’s chosen charities. She specified that 50% of the income is to go to the Hawke’s Bay Knowledge Bank, and 50% to go to Hawke’s Bay Foundation’s annual distributions round, which is open to all charities based here in Hawke’s Bay.

A gift like this ensures the Hawke’s Bay Knowledge Bank and others can be assured of regular long-term income.