MA news update 4 October 2016

We hear The Suter re-opening on Sunday weekend was loads of fun for all comers. Lynn Freeman talked to Director Julie Catchpole and Board Chair Craig Potton on RNZ The Arts on Sunday. For images, see Nelson Mail and Suter Facebook page. The Suter now has a refurbished heritage building and a shiny new addition, see information about the project here. There are three new exhibitions, a new website, and we hear the cafe is as fabulous as ever!

Waitangi Maori Performance

Waitangi Maori performers pose with visitors
(Greg McManus and Phillipa Tocker)

Congratulations to the Waitangi National Trust for winning the Maori Cultural Tourism Award in the 2016 NZ Tourism Awards last week. Having experienced their cultural performance and genuine manaakitanga, I know it is richly deserved recognition of the warmth and enthusiasm which the Waitangi staff share with all their visitors.

A member recently raised a query about the new Charities and Financial Reporting requirements. There have been quite a number of workshops run by Charities, DIA and others, and some more in the wider Wellington region for smaller entities (Tier 3 and 4) – 25 October – 3 November, see notices below. There is guidance, videos and templates available online from Charities or you can check with your accountant or local Citizens Advice Bureau. If you are still confused, please let us know.

Have you voted yet? Local council ballot papers need to be posted by this Wednesday, 5 October. The outcome in some councils could make life easier or harder for museums and galleries, so we’ll be watching the results with great interest. The advocacy workshop we’re running at this year’s regional forums looks at working with councils and other stakeholders. One of the museum volunteers at our first forum in Taranaki was also a local councillor. It was a pity he couldn’t stay for the workshop session, but he explained that he needed to keep on the move as it’s ‘shooting season’ for councillors!

We’re looking forward to many more interesting and engaging forums in the coming weeks, and to this week’s Kahui Kaitiaki at Takapūwāhia Marae.

Ngā mihi,


MA news update 28 July 2016

Today we visited one of our newest museums – the Pukerua Bay School Museum.

2016-07 Pukerua Bay School Museum staff

Our guides were founders/curators Paddy Rockell (art), Isaac Du Toit (history) and Aurelia Hercock Roberts (natural history), above (L-R) in the museum. Each of the three has a personal interest in museums, and after a successful ‘pop-up museum’ enterprise at Aurelia’s home in late 2015, set to work on the school museum in early 2016. With support of teacher Cat Lunjevich, they found out more about what a museum is and does, enlisted the help of professionals and wrote a Te Papa blog post. The result is an evolving museum, with changing exhibits and a growing collection, and three young people (ages 9-11) who are already envisaging their future museum careers. They have also enthused their schoolmates so that most of them are now museum volunteers – and also avid visitors of other museums. Look out for a profile of Honorary MA member PKBS Museum in a forthcoming MA Quarterly.

Last week I and some other museum and gallery people attended a workshop hosted by MBIE as part of their Creative Sector Study. The aim is to “gain a better understanding of the creative sector and how it interacts with the copyright and designs regimes. The study will culminate in a report looking at how the copyright and designs regimes are used by the various creative industry subsectors in a changing technological landscape.” They are not – yet – saying whether or not a review of the Copyright Act will be on the table, but the study will hopefully give us all a better idea of whether NZ’s copyright regime is in need of a major or only minor overhaul. It was clear from the workshop that I attended that there is currently a very wide range of perspectives, and almost universally poor understanding of copyright law.

I was alerted by the UK Museums Association to a new report looking at the symbiosis between philanthropy and public funding. Going Public examines the impact of private art collectors on public museums and collections in the Sheffield area, and concludes that, while it is increasingly important, “philanthropy cannot and should not be a substitute for government funding.”

We are planning our regional meetings and MA17 conference. Your Board will be discussing these in Auckland at its next meeting on Thursday 11 August.

MA News update 13 July 2016

Kia ora,

It may be cold outside, but there’s plenty happening in our museums and galleries this winter. Now that the school holidays are here, there are some great family and children’s programmes on offer around the country. Indoor activities in museums and galleries are a great way to enthuse youngsters and help caregivers combat winter ‘cabin fever’. Talei is on leave with her small boys and I hope that you’re all enjoying the break from routine.

While there may not be much snow down south for the skiers, there is plenty happening in Dunedin over the school holidays. Art, science and technology are being brought together to explore climate change in a collaboration between the US State Department and Dunedin’s International Science Festival. Two US artist/designers are working for a month with local communities, and the results of their project will be shown at Otago Museum.

During Leadership Week (1-8 July), the 2016 Blake Medalist (Sir Peter Gluckman) and Blake Leaders were announced at Auckland Museum, and the Sir Peter Blake Trust teamed up with Fulbright NZ to host an inspiring lineup of speakers to explore ‘Creating Enduring Leadership’ in Wellington. Check out the Fulbright’s video and #believeyoucan on Twitter to share some of their gems, eg MC Brad Jackson, ‘leadership is about asking questions, not dictating answers’.

Brad Jackson speaking at MA13

Brad Jackson speaking at MA13, Hamilton

Brad Jackson – remember him from his MA13 lecture on the museum as leadership hub and the Te Papa/VUW HKK museum leadership programme a decade ago?

Small museums can also take on big subjects, such as Aotea Utanganui in Patea looking at the history and future of transport in Crossing the Centreline. Further north, Mangawhai Museum has a new exhibition about local artist and farmer John Foster, and  These are just two of the many museum and gallery stories that have come to us recently – if you’re out and about over the holidays, look up your colleagues in museums and galleries.

Whanganui Regional Museum is embarking on a ‘transformation’. Director Frank Stark says that, “the upcoming Whakahoutanga project is designed to rejuvenate the Museum’s buildings and their contents with a combination of earthquake strengthening, reconstruction and refurbishment’. The museum building will be closed for about 18 months from 5 September 2016, with LEOTC programmes and admin being run from temporary premises.

Looking forward for MA, we’re working on our revised strategic plan, MA17 conference in Palmerston North, and regional meetings August – October 2016. This year we will focus on advocacy and collaboration, and are seeking your input to make them relevant and fun. If your museum or gallery would like to host, or you have ideas for topics, please contact us.
Ngā mihi,

News Update 21 April 2016

Kia ora

In late 2015 MA and Te Papa held a series of sector collaboration workshops, which we summarised in an open letter last November. Since then we have continued to work with Te Papa on specific priorities and actions. MA and Te Papa have jointly set out work to date and some targets and timeframes here. You are invited to contribute to and provide feedback on these priorities for sector collaboration and we will continue to provide updates on progress.

Here in the MA office we are very busy wrangling the MA16 Museums Australasia conference and ServiceIQ 2016 NZ Museum Awards. With over 500 delegates already, we have room for a few more, and you can still register for adjunct events such as the Digital Academy, EMP mini-conference, Graduate Research Symposium and Kaitiaki/Indigenous hui. Visit the MA16 website for all details.

ServiceIQ NZ Museum Awards finalists will be announced this week. The winners will be announced at a reception at the Aotea Centre from 5.15pm on Wednesday 18 May – which happens to be International Museum Day. It will be a celebration of international scale as we present the winners of the Museums Australia and MAPDA Awards at the same event.  We are inviting finalists/winners and would-be winners to take part in a masterclass on the morning of Thursday 19 May.

Elsewhere, a working group of museum professionals has been developing Operational Guidelines for Working Objects – items which are part of your collection, and which you demonstrate or operate for visitors. A draft has now been prepared for sector feedback – see notice below and on our website.

And in community matters, councils around the country are consulting on annual plans. We attended a session in Wellington recently to provide input on Wellington City Council’s proposed priorities – for arts and culture alongside other areas of council responsibility. It was good to see representatives of a wide range of arts, culture and heritage organisations taking part, showing that we are interested and engaged is vital if our value is to be recognised.

Nationally, we have been told that reduced profits from Lotteries will affect the funding available from Creative New Zealand, and presumably also from other Lottery grants Board sources. For an overview, see this article in Non Profit Quarterly. We are keen to know how much this is likely to affect museums and galleries. Please answer these three questions via our surveymonkey poll:

  • will a 10% (or higher) cut in Lottery funding significantly affect your institution?
  • what kind of funding do you currently get from this source?
  • what action, if any, do you think Museums Aotearoa should take on behalf of members?

As always, we welcome your ideas and feedback. We look forward to hearing from you via our poll, and to connecting with many of you at MA16 in Auckland next month.

Ngā mihi

Phillipa and Talei

News Update 5 February 2016

Kia ora

February already! Summer continues, cruise ships disgorge their passengers around the country, campervans are everywhere, and Chinese New Year holiday visitors are arriving. With school back this week, we’re getting into the year’s activities.

Opening this week is the new Waitangi Museum and long-awaited reopening of Christchurch Art Gallery, followed the week after by CoCA. Very different in origins and aims, the Waitangi and Christchurch openings are all encouraging signs that the value of museums to their various communities is being understood and supported.

MA and Local Government NZ are currently working on bringing together a range of voices and data to help quantify and articulate this value. Several recent and current initiatives are relevant.

This week Te Papa hosted an Australasian Visitor Research Forum, a day in which about 50 people from museums, galleries, zoos, outdoor amenities, universities and research agencies gathered to share perspectives and experience on understanding visitors.  Similar annual forums have been recently in Australia, and this is the first time in Aotearoa.  It is hoped that some of the presentations can be shared more widely, and that this dialogue continues, especially linking research and theory to practice in museums.

Another theory/practice symposium in Wellington this week explored research into intercultural dialogue and understanding generated through international exhibition exchange. Dr Lee Davidson (Vicotria University of Wellington) and her colleague Leticia Perez from Mexico have interviewed both visitors and museum staff involved in two touring shows in several countries: ‘E Tu Ake’ in Mexico, Quebec, Paris and Te Papa; and ‘Aztecs’ in Mexico, Te Papa, Melbourne and Sydney. The symposium was an excellent opportunity for some of those involved to share in the preliminary findings and extend the discussion into the broader area of cultural diplomacy. Such cross-disciplinary conversations are vital to encourage critical and innovative thinking and bring new energy into museum practice.

The importance of robust data to provide evidence of our work, especially to funders, came through in both these forums.  MA is running our National Visitor Survey this month, and we encourage all museums and galleries to participate. The standardised methodology offers statistically reliable data to participating museums, which can then be used and viewed against the national aggregate.  This annual snapshot provides vital baseline information to complement local data such as total visitation and qualitative feedback on exhibitions. It was referred to by several presenters at the Visitor Research Forum.

Information about the National Visitor Survey can be found here or by contacting We are looking for volunteers to help with interviewing across the country, and encourage staff – especially management – to take a turn as well.  It’s amazing what insights you can get from talking directly to visitors. Talei and I are looking forward to helping out in some museums and galleries locally.

Back in the office its full steam ahead with MA16 conference and the 2016 ServiceIQ NZ Museum Awards.

Ngā mihi

Phillipa and Talei

News Update 21 January 2016

Kia ora

Welcome back to our regular News Update for 2016. We hope you had an enjoyable and relaxing festive season and wish all our members and friends a very happy new year.

The summer has seen record tourism figures, including increases in all our international markets.

Media coverage over summer for museums and galleries has been very good, and we hope that reflects increased engagement. Internationally, the news is not so encouraging, with the UK in particular facing ongoing funding cuts. And we must acknowledge the passing of David Bowie, who has influenced more than a generation of cultural creation – may his legacy continue.

In Australia, an unwelcome Christmas present was delivered to the arts and culture sector with the announcement of budget cuts which will scrap the Book Council, and cut $36.8 million from government-funded museums and galleries, mainly those in Canberra. This comes after cuts announced and partially rescinded earlier this year during political upheavals, particularly affecting funding for the Australia Council.

With most museum and gallery funding in New Zealand coming from local councils, we will need to be well-prepared for our council elections in October 2016. MA is working on the evidence base for the value of our institutions, and how we can get our message across more effectively. We are launching a project to collaborate with the wider arts, culture and heritage sector and Local Government NZ to review current research information, with the aim of preparing advocacy material for members.

At MA we’re straight back into planning for our joint MA16 conference with Museums Australia, with more updates on the programme due out at the end of the month. Earlybird registration is available until 19 February, and includes a 10% discount for 3 or more delegates from the same organisation.

Don’t forget, MA is seeking participants for a pilot mentoring scheme to take place in the Auckland region during 2016. Applications are invited by Thursday 28th January. More information and application forms can be found here.
And please check the listings below for new activities and opportunities…

We look forward to catching up with you soon.
Ngā mihi
Phillipa and Talei

News Update 6 August, 2015

Kia ora

After the excitement of opening the Len Lye Centre, it’s disappointing to see that the reopening of Christchurch Art Gallery looks like being delayed until 2016.

There is also gloomy news on the economy, with record low dairy payout and falling exchange rate causing concern. A briefing by BERL Chief Economist Ganesh Nana this week advised caution, but did note the positive effect of a lower exchange rate on international tourism. I don’t expect any easing of the budget pressure on our sector in the foreseeable future! So we need to make sure our funders know how vital we are to tourism and well as local communities. MA is working on tools and data to support advocacy, and you can see the video of Dr Nana’s presentation on Value to MA14 here.

MA staff and Board members are busy this month with our regional meetings. The first two hosted by the Dowse and Aratoi have heard of some interesting new projects and participants have had really engaged debates on ethical matters. The workshops have shown that the same ethical scenario can have very different implications depending on the particular organisation and the individuals involved – especially when it comes to conflicts of interest.

We are enjoying the opportunity to talk to members at these meetings, and hear about what’s currently top priority or biggest concern.  Even if you can’t make it to a meeting, we’re always keen to hear from you.

Ngā mihi

Phillipa and Talei

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