News Update 4 June 2013

Kia ora,

The new MA Board met for the first time in Wellington on 13 May. We reviewed feedback from the MA13 conference and Kahui Kaitiaki, and planned priority activities for the coming months. We are excited to be working on a series of regional forums for members and museum staff to get together to discuss key issues. The first of these will be in Napier on 11 July.

MA13 conference material is now online, including videos of keynote presentations on YouTube.

We are delighted to see that Auckland Museum, finalist in the 2013 NZ Museum Awards for its energy saving project, is now a finalist in the Green Ribbon Awards to be announced at Parliament tomorrow (World Environment Day).

Dr Ian Griffin, new Director of Otago Museum has told Kathryn Ryan on Radio NZ’s Nine to Noon that ‘museums are absolutely critical to any civilised society’. Listen to the interview to hear more of his background and ideas about museums in general and Otago Museum in particular.

The Museums Australia conference in Canberra was a good opportunity to see how colleagues across the Tasman are dealing with very similar challenges and issues as we are. In some areas they seem to be doing well – while funding is always an issue, the general feeling was positive, and some exciting projects were showcased. In engagement with indigenous and diverse communities there was recognition that there is much that Australia can learn from Aotearoa. Canberra was in celebratory mood, with a year-long programme of festivals and events marking its centenary. While I wasn’t in the right place at the right time to see it floating above the city, Patricia Piccinini’s Skywhale hot-air balloon sculpture occasioned much discussion alongside the more serious conference topics.

Phillipa with The Lady Denman

Phillipa with The Lady Denman

On the way back from Canberra I stopped in at the Lady Denman Maritime Museum in Jervis Bay. I had not planned the visit – it was raining, the museum happened to be well-signposted, and I was looking for a break from driving. While I didn’t wander the extensive grounds and outbuildings because of the rain, there was plenty to see inside besides the centrepiece Sydney Harbour ferry ‘Lady Denman’ (1911-1979) which was built nearby. The museum has the eclectic collection of miscellany you expect in a community museum, including local history, shipwreck stories, and an extensive personal collection of surveyors’ instruments and maritime memorabilia. As a hub for its community, I experienced the strains of the local men’s choir rehearsing, a delightful volunteer who wanted to share her enthusiasm for every aspect of the museum, and could have purchased local art and craft. In addition, I found that the museum manager (and only paid staff member) was MA member Melinda Loe, formerly of Te Papa and more recently the Rocks Discovery Museum in Sydney. Mel has been there a few months now, and would love more visits from fellow New Zealanders.

He tangata, He tangata, He tangata! the theme for National Volunteer week, 16-22 June. This is a special time to recognise and celebrate the wonderful work of volunteers, without whom many museums simply could not operate. See Volunteering NZ for resources and ideas. Also coming up is Maori Language Week, 1-7 July, with the theme Ngā Ingoa Māori – Māori names. Coming alongside Matariki, there are ideas, activities and resources on the Korero Māori website and MLW Facebook page.

Ngā mihi,
Phillipa and Talei

STOP PRESS – MA14 conference, Napier, 2-4 April 2014

Reserve the dates now, and send us your ideas any time. We’ll put out a preliminary call for contributions very soon.

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