News Update August 13, 2013

Kia ora ,
Today Te Papa and Auckland Museum are collaborating in examining a sharp-tailed sunfish which was found on Omaha Beach north of Auckland earlier this year.

Taking the top off a sunfish

Taking the top off a sunfish

Too big for Auckland Museum’s facilities, the rare 2.1m specimen has been on ice in Te Papa’s labs, and now Auckland Museum’s Tom Trnski and Te Papa’s Andrew Stewart are leading its dissection. You can watch the action live via Te Papa’s blog and they’re posting images on Te Papa’s Facebook and Auckland Museum’s Facebook pages.

In Christchurch, post-earthquake repairs are at last underway, beginning with levelling the ‘wonky’ Art Gallery. They hope to reopen in 2015. Jenny Harper is quoted as saying, “I don’t think I have ever been so excited about seeing people in hi-vis jackets at the gallery”!

We enjoyed meeting John Orna-Ornstein, then of the British Museum, when he toured NZ and spoke at MA13 in April. As of 1 July, John has been appointed Museums Director in a big restructure at Arts Council England – watch his presentation to the UK Museums Association here.

Local council election nominations close this Friday, voting begins on 20 September, and closes on 12 October. We are now seeing more declarations by candidates and commentary in the media. I have written a ‘Policy Matters!’ piece in the next issue of MAQuarterly – which is at the printers now – with some thoughts on advocacy in this context. Experience shows that, in general, it is better to keep museum matters out of local politics, and wait until after the elections to lobby councillors and council officials in the context of annual and long term planning. But that doesn’t mean we should ignore the elections. It is vital that museums and galleries understand and are engaged in local issues with their communities, and are prepared for any adverse fallout after the elections.

Looking around the election information appearing, some organisations have put out guidelines and manifestos. The Wellington Employers Chamber of Commerce has come out in favour of transport infrastructure projects, and against any increase in council spending, saying that ‘councils must cease those activities that fall outside of core business.’ While the WECC stops short of defining ‘core business’, and museums are included in the wording of the latest version of the Local Government Act, our institutions are still vulnerable if our value isn’t appreciated locally.

Here in the office we hope you’ve been exploring the new features of our improved online systems. We are now looking at other new communications, and will be introducing guest blogs over the coming weeks. The first one will be this week by Andrew Matheson from WW100 about his recent trip to the ‘western front’ and some requests he has had from institutions there who would like to work in collaboration with New Zealand Museums.

Ngā mihi
Phillipa and Talei

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