A community treasure

8 AugCollections / Community

Cindy Lilburn shows digital animator Mick Finn through the collection

Cindy Lilburn, our Collections Manager for Social History, has been given a special award by the Palmerston North Heritage Trust, in recognition of her devotion to heritage matters in Palmerston North and the surrounding areas.

Cindy was originally from the Wanganui area and attended Wanganui Girls’ High School and Massey University, where she studied history. Practically all of her working life has been at Te Manawa, where she has outseen several directors. This is important to note, because it indicates the longevity of her connection with the Palmerston North historical scene, and the depth and richness of her contribution.

Cindy’s role as registrar or collections manager – the title has changed over the years – has given her an impressive knowledge of Te Manawa’s collections, and of the material culture of our region. She is generous in sharing this knowledge, and a huge number of publications acknowledge her assistance with research that draws upon Te Manawa’s holdings. Her unstinting and good humoured help can always be relied upon. She frequently appears in the media talking knowledgeably about items as diverse as Shetland rugs, WWI bicycles, historic wedding dresses, and the Maori taonga of our region. She provides a strong voice for the material culture of our region on a number of other bodies, including the Heritage Trust itself.

But Cindy’s contribution does not end there.  She joined the Manawatu Branch of the Historic Places Trust around the same time as she commenced work at Te Manawa, and has been chair of it, and its successor, Historic Places Manawatu-Horowhenua for at least ten years. She knows a huge amount about the historic places and sites of our region and has devoted years to their protection and promotion.  Whenever there’s a rumour that a historic building is endangered, Cindy is in her car to check it out and photograph it for the future record.  She is the person who makes submissions to the planning processes of the Palmerston North City Council, and the Horowhenua and Manawatu District Councils, and liaises with like-minded bodies. She does the research and follows through with great tenacity. She also leads well-researched tours of historic sites and precincts and is a regular contributor to Local History Week. She provides the institutional memory for many historical endeavours in our area.

Cindy Lilburn has devoted her life to the heritage of our region, and has done so without any sense of self-aggrandisement for more than 30 years. Her dedication underlines the value of those who acquire a depth of knowledge and sense of place over many years. Individuals like Cindy are community treasures.