History shaping our children’s future

Peter McQuarters

Being involved in various heritage museum projects over the years has demonstrated some rewarding outcomes.

A lifelong passion for “old stuff” and the stories behind it have always been a fascination.

But Labour weekend duty over at The Fire Museum at The Plains opened my eyes to the career opportunities showing off this old gear can generate.

And it made me reflect on the various ways different heritage attractions have influenced the generations.

For example, I know of several instances (there will be many others) where youngsters have attended Warbirds Over Wanaka some time over the past three decades, been totally inspired, and are now  flying with various airlines, or flying choppers commercially, while others have taken up flying with the military.

One Ashburton woman I can think of has attained great heights in a military career across the pond, having her interest sparked by attending such airshow events.

She’s currently flying huge air-to-air refuelling aircraft.

Way to go Anna.

So back at the fire museum and one of the great unexpected joys has been the raw enthusiasm displayed by youngsters of both genders, dressing up in firefighter gear and exploring the big red trucks.

Once the gear goes on they are totally into it.

Kids these days often stun us with their knowledge and it’s not uncommon to hear them explain back to us how the various things work.

One young fella with his eye on the old radio comms and siren set up on the dash panel, asked all sorts of questions about different modes the gear offered.

“Will it work in YELP?”

But one little dude visiting with mum and dad was clearly into all this at a level even the others couldn’t match.

At just two-and-a-half years of age, he was utterly and totally absorbed with the big old International fire truck.

His folks say all he talks about is fighting fires and if he’s in a playground with skipping ropes, he turns the rope into his fire hose and goes around dampening imaginary hotspots.

In the supermarket, anywhere, he’s not fussy about locations, he’s always in firefighter mode.

What is also interesting is that he shows a great interest in shows on TV with paramedics and ambulances as well.

His dad Shane reckons he’s just got this thing where he wants to help people.

He wants to protect them.

Fight the fire. Heal the hurt.

That is a noble ambition for anyone, but at two and a half?

So don’t be surprised in 18 or so years if one Zachary Walton is lining up to become part of the volunteer FENZ crew in Ashburton.

Or perhaps he might set his sights on a professional career in New Zealand’s emergency services.

If displays like the collection at the Ashburton Fire Museum motivate and inspire young visitors to go on and later serve their communities then the whole reason behind them is even more special.

And with displays reinforcing fire safety messages as well, the whole thing really steps up.

Here’s me thinking for all these years it’s all about collecting and displaying old stuff.

Turns out, it’s just as much about inspiring our young.

– By Peter McQuarters



Broadcaster Peter Mac is Ashburton born and bred and the afternoon host on the

Hokonui Radio Network.

The views expressed in this column are his and do not reflect the opinion of his employer or the Ashburton Guardian.