In announcing the King Country Education Trust, CEO Dennis A. Smith explains that KCET’s creation is all about succession planning, following the long and productive career of local historian and author, Ron Cooke.
“It doesn’t matter who asks for something historical or where they ask it, and it will eventually end up on Ron’s desk!” is a common sentiment from Taumarunui locals.
“Ron will know!”
“Speak to Ron!”
“Ron will have it!”
Ron Cooke is a King Country resident well recognised as Mr Historian in the region.
“KCET has stepped in to assist Ron since the sale of The Memory Bank by the Taumarunui Museum Trust in October 2018,” CEO, Dennis A. Smith explains.
The sale of the building created a crisis situation for Mr Cooke and the time was deemed opportune to consider succession planning. KCET is currently in a planned two-year transition phase preparing for Ron’s eventual retirement.
“Ron’s local knowledge and his wealth of photographic and documentary resources is invaluable. I see my role as a backstop to ensure that nothing is lost and that he can transition into retirement in a dignified and natural manner,” Mr Smith explains.
KCET has purchased Ron’s valuable archives and undertaken to honour Ron’s pledges to historical donors and supporters.
KCET acknowledges a huge responsibility to honour Ron’s commitment to past donors as well as contractual obligations to the Ruapehu District Council.
CEO of RDC, Clive Manley is keen to see public access to the Finding Aids that they have helped to fund remains permanently available to the public.
“When public money has been used to index the records, not withstanding commercial realities, it is important to Council that this public access remains, where ever the resources actually are,” he says.
Ron’s commitment to protecting the valuable resources is total.
He says, “With my dogmatic approach to the long-term security of the collections, I know that I may have made myself unpopular at times, but I will always honour the trust that many people like Bob Thomas, for example, gave me.”
Publisher of the Taumarunui Press newspaper, Bob Thomas, entrusted his lifelong collection of newspapers to Ron with strict conditions. Taumarunui Museum Trust has had the entire collection microfilmed and they are searchable in the Taumarunui library.
KCET is currently in the process of incorporation as a Charitable Trust, which will also ensure that future donors have real tax benefits. “While the KCET trustees are funding the KCET operation initially themselves, with IRD Donee status, 100% of future support will be able to be claimed as a donation for tax purposes.” Mr Smith says.
KCET has two founding trustees, Ron Cooke and Dennis A. Smith. More details are available at: About Us.