Lloyd Burr: The Government should fund Le Quesnoy museum

OPINION: It's a damned shame that New Zealand's only off-shore war memorial museum project has to go cap in hand to the public to raise $15m.

The Government hasn't put any money towards the project, which honours the sacrifice tens of thousands of New Zealanders made in both world wars.

The museum is located at Le Quesnoy in northern France where Kiwi soldiers defeated the Germans and liberated the village in the First World War.

DONATE HERE: Click here to donate money to the project

At the moment, the museum is just the shell of a beautiful, grand building that was once the mayor's residence, and then the headquarters for the Gendarmerie (Military Police).

The vision is to turn it into an interactive museum dedicated to the Kiwis who fought for our freedom throughout Europe when the world went to war in 1914.

Lloyd Burr: The Government should fund Le Quesnoy museum
Photo credit: Newshub

It will be the place all Kiwis must visit when they're in Europe to learn about the significant contribution our forebears made in the war efforts. 

The town of Le Quesnoy revers New Zealanders, and many streets, parks, schools, and gardens are named in our honour.

The local council gave the building to the War Memorial Museum Trust at a discounted price, and fully supports the project.

The museum site will also feature a series of accommodation options for visitors, as the town currently lacks tourism infrastructure. It'll boost the economy, and provide an income for the museum.

In order to get to this stage though, the museum trust needs money - around $15m of it.

Lloyd Burr: The Government should fund Le Quesnoy museum
Photo credit: Newshub

Arts, Culture, and Heritage Minister Jacinda Ardern says the Government's contribution has been to amend legislation allowing tax rebates for donations made to NZ charities registered overseas.

While Ms Ardern's office says the trust has not made any other requests to the Government for funding, they refused to say if they'd be willing to fund some of the $15m.

In the grand scheme of the Government's budget, all or some of the $15m needed by the museum project is nothing.

Yes the teachers need more money, and so do nurses, and Police - but they wouldn't be living in the world we do without the sacrifice of Kiwi soldiers in WWI and WWII.

Australia's government - and Canada's - have put serious funds into their respective museums.

But in New Zealand, it seems the Government honours the troops by crowd-sourcing.

Lloyd Burr is Newshub's Europe Correspondent.