Archive for July, 2011

News Update 26 July 2011

Last week I visited Christchurch for the first time since January – and since the most devastating earthquakes. Walking around the barriers around unstable buildings and outside the central city cordon, I was just one of a number of onlookers. Some like me were seeing things for the first time, others were locals, all trying to get a sense of the scale of the disaster and what is happening in the recovery efforts. It was very sad to see so much damage, shops and businesses, museums and galleries closed to the public, and the city so quiet.

However, there are encouraging signs of new energy and momentum. Despite continuing aftershocks, teams of people are repairing, planning and rebuilding all over the city. Cafes are re-opening, parking fees reinstated, and there was even a busker outside Canterbury Museum playing to the trickle of workers and tourists walking past. His recorder music – ranging from ‘La vie en Rose’ to ‘Favourite Things’ – was hauntingly appropriate in the grey winter afternoon.

Canterbury Museum – fenced in (July 2011)

While many museums and galleries are still closed lots is happening. Canterbury Museum is planning to re-open on 1 September. They are working hard on sorting out collections, installing exhibitions and dusting off the galleries to welcome the public back with several new shows.

Christchurch Art Gallery will have to wait until the council and CERA staff move out, an unstable neighbouring apartment block is demolished and various repairs are made to the building, all of which is likely to take until the end of the year. In the mean time they are very busy with collection work and off-site projects. CAG staff post regular news updates online, and their ‘Bunker Notes’ blog is both whimsical and informative

current ‘exhibitions’ at Christchurch Art Gallery (July 2011)

The second annual museum sector Remuneration Survey is now underway. Strategic Pay’s survey team has been contacting museums and galleries to invite you to particpate – which also qualifies you for a discount on the price of the report. Following feedback from 2010, some minor adjustments were made to the list of museum-specific positions. Strategic Pay will also be liaising with local councils where appropriate, as all councils now subscribe to their biannual Local Government Survey. The first museum sector survey provided excellent data as well as an overview of remuneration practices in the sector. With more participants and cumulative data, this will become an even more useful tool for museums and for our advocacy on behalf of the sector – I encourage every museum and gallery to take part. You can contact Strategic Pay on 09 303 3045 or

While UK textile historian Annabel Westman was here for the MA11 conference earlier this year, she recorded an interview with Radio NZ. It was broadcast on The Arts on Sunday on 24 July, and you can listen to it here.

In the UK, the latest round of funding cuts is biting deeply. The Museums Association has conducted a survey, The Impact Of Cuts On UK Museums, which reveals that one-fifth of UK museums have had cuts of 25% or more. Of those:

•over 60% have cut back their public events
•half have reduced opening hours
•over 85% have cut staff
The MA also reports that over 40% of local authority museums have cut paid staff by 10% or more in the last year. The report can be downloaded here.

I hope to see many of you at the museums and galleries session which is part of the Diversity Forum in Hamilton on 22 August. This promises to be an inspiring and interactive forum exploring diversity in programming and audiences, with a focus on engaging youth. It is also an excellent opportunity to meet and talk with colleagues from other museums and galleries. You can download the flyer and registration information here.

Nga mihi,



News Update 13 July 2011

The latest museum news round-up is full of positive stories of happenings in museums and galleries around the country as well as the effects of more earthquakes in Christchurch and the recovery efforts.  You can find this in the members’ area of our website here (note: you need to be a member of Museums Aotearoa to access this information).

More rounds of consultation are underway aorund the country.  Especially at the local government level, this seems to be continuous – if not drafting the next Annual Plan, there’s a specific topic such as animal control, transport or parking to consider, or another round of Long Term Plan consultation.  One reason for this is that we’re living in a time of constant change.  So it seems incredible that many of us, including Museums Aotearoa, are still operating under 103-year old legislation.

Currently much of our not-for-profit sector is governed by the century old Incorporated Societies Act 1908 – an Act which the Law Commission argues is in need of major reform.  Introducing the review, Law Commissioner Professor Geoff McLay says preliminary consultation and research suggested there were a number of problems with the old Act including the lack of adequate processes for dealing with conflicts of interests and resolving internal disputes.  “Getting basic governance structures right, understanding what is appropriate conduct for those who govern societies, and providing for suitable mechanisms for resolving disputes is critical for all organisations, especially those which seek government or other sponsorship. The 1908 Act, in our view, does not require societies to ask the appropriate questions when they are being set up. Nor does it provide incentives for already existing societies to improve.”

The Law Commission has released an Issues Paper exploring the shortcomings of the 1908 Act, the implications of possible changes, and seeking public input into the review/reform process.  The paper acknowledges the valuable contribution of non-profit organisations, especially incorporated societies, to society as a whole.  It seeks to create an ‘enabling environment’, with a balance between greater accountability and governance controls, and unnecessary compliance costs.

The range of issues and options for reform raised in the paper includes:

  • minimum governance rules as a condition of incorporation
  • a code that makes the obligations of committee members clearer
  • how to provide for the resolution of disputes between members and their societies
  • what rules ought to be required to societies’ constitutions
  • whether a new Incorporated Societies Act should also replace the ability to incorporate under the Charitable Trusts Act

There are 23,052 incorporated societies and 20,106 charitable trusts in New Zealand.  A quick search of the register brings up 99 societies and 113 charitable trusts with museum or gallery in their name.  These include not only museums and galleries themselves, but also friends and supporters organisations, and some institutions have two or more societies and trusts associated with them.  I encourage all museums and galleries to look into the implications and opportunities raised by this review, to seek input from your governance bodies and legal advisors, and to respond to the Law Commission by 30 September 2011.

Te Papa  is also in consultation mode.  They have already done a great deal of work with their staff, and are now seeking wider stakeholder input into developing Te Papa’s proposed vision and ten year strategic plan.  There is an online discussion, ‘Envisioning the Future’, where you can provide direct feedback.  The Te Papa Statement of Intent 2011-2014 has also been released, and can be downloaded here.

On the national stage, we’re gearing up for two major festivals – the Rugby World Cup 2011 and November’s general election.  Your views on the election issues and policies as they affect our sector are invited, and MA will be bringing you some commentary as we get closer to the election.  However, we’ll leave the rugby commentary up to others!

And on a final note, we’ve just been sent this picture by the folk at the Far North Regional Museum, which we shall share with you. They’re going full steam ahead with preparations for moving into the Te Ahu complex, Kaitaia’s new multi-purpose community facility.  Te Ahu will be a focus for both visitors and local communities, bringing together the functions of museum, i-Site, Library and exhibition space, alongside a cinema, council service centre and other community activities.  More images, plans and information is on the Te Ahu website here

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