NOT OVER: Opotiki Children’s Arty House founder Shona Hammond Boys says this is not the end of the art house for children in Opotiki.

THE Children’s Art House may have closed its doors, but its founder has declared this will not be the end.

The art house in Buchanan Street closed last week after 12 years serving the community.
Founder Shona Hammond Boys said the site had been cleared out, emptied of more than a decade of art and memories.

In spite of the setback, she said restoration work would continue on the 32 murals around town, and the art house would be making a return in coming years.

“I absolutely promise the children there will be a bigger and better art house in Opotiki,” she said.

The closure has come following a decision by the property owner, Whakatohea Maori Trust Board, to repurpose the property.

Ms Hammond Boys said she understood the trust board had sold a pre-school for financial reasons and was looking to relocate some of the four-year-old children to the art house site.

However, Whakatohea chief executive Dickie Farrar said there had been no sale of any pre-school facilities.

The decision was based on developing the area further, and the trust was exploring other venues for the art house.

“It is unfortunate that we have had to make this decision, but it has not been because we are ‘cash strapped’,” she said.

“We own the art house, plus the pre-school next to the art house, along with the bare land beside both.

“We are considering our options for development of the block.

“We have been looking at options of where else the art house could be relocated to and did indicate this to Ms Hammond Boys,” Ms Farrar said.

“We recognise that the art house has done some amazing artwork and the facility has been utilised by all age groups. The art house has been in our community for a very long time.”

Ms Hammond Boys said the decision had been a thoughtless one, without accounting for the work the art house did.

“There was no empathy for the children,” she said.

“They have never visited or been in the children’s art house. They don’t know what they are doing.”

james.sandbrook@opotikinews.co.nz