News & Notices, 24 July 2012

Kia ora,This week is Maori Language Week – Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori. The theme this year is ‘Arohatia te Reo’ – ‘to cherish the language’. While a few National Radio listeners may still complain about being greeted in te reo, it is great to hear at least a few words becoming part of our everyday lives. There is much that museums and galleries can do to encourage and reinforce the use of Māori language, and many museums around the country putting in a special effort. Some examples that have attracted our attention are City Gallery in Wellington which is having an evening of te reo Māori debates; Puke Ariki, in collaboration with Te Reo O Taranaki, have put together a great programme of events to celebrate Taranaki’s unique reo and Te Papa has produced some YouTube videos where staff and Kaumātua (elders) talk about their favourite Māori word and what makes these words special to them.

Local news is still simmering with council planning decisions. Budgets are tight everywhere. Whanganui District Council has postponed making decisions on redevelopment and/or strengthening of the Sarjeant Gallery, and in Whangarei, opponents and supporters of the proposed Hundertwasser Art Centre have taken to Facebook to air their views. On one hand, public debate has a vital role in council decision-making. On the other, councils need to take a more strategic approach than individuals, and make informed decisions on behalf of their communities, not just respond to whoever’s voice is loudest. Central government wants to make local councils more effective, efficient and transparent, as outlined in Better Local Government (March 2012), and in various other local government reform activities.

A Bill to amend the Local Government Act 2002 is currently going through parliament, with submissions due this week. Among other things, this Bill will change the purpose of local councils, removing the ‘four well-beings’. It also makes provision for council amalgamations, government intervention and specific ‘fiscal responsibility’ requirements. It has been argued that the new purpose clause is unclear and is likely to make council decisions more open to challenge through the legal process rather than the democratic process. It has also been argued that the aim of reining in council spending is based on an erroneous assumption that increased council expenditure is the result of expanding activities, when it has already been shown that the primary causes are increased compliance and infrastructure costs – the core activities on which central government requires councils to focus.

The UKMuseums Journal reports that the Heritage Lotteries Fund – which distributes 375 million pounds in grants annually – has made access to digital content a precondition of funding for all of its projects. This is being applied across the board to all projects, and access must be free for non-commercial use. See this and other UK stories on the Museums Association website.

Te Hono ki Aotearoa in Leiden

We are intrigued by Jan Bieringa’s film Te Hono ki Aotearoa, which follows the commissioning, making and handover of a waka on permanent loan to the Museum Volkenkunde in Leiden. This film is ideal for museums and their audiences, exploring new ways of thinking about collections and partnerships. It has been shown at Pataka, and Jan will make it available to museums around the country.

And we hope to see many MA members and colleagues at the museum and galleries session which is being held during the Diversity Forum in Auckland on 20 August.

Nga mihi o te Wiki o te Reo Māori ,
Phillipa & Talei

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