News Update 12 February 2014

Kia ora

Waitangi Day was celebrated nationally last Friday, and I was lucky to be at Waitangi for the occasion, for my first time. There was a happy balance of reflection, commemoration, celebration, peaceful protest, pomp and ceremony.

The estimated 30,000 people there were a wonderful mix of politicians, Maori, Pakeha, new New Zealanders and international tourists, all mingling in a friendly family atmosphere. The new museum at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds is under construction. CE Greg McManus says it is on track to open for Waitangi Day 2016 – i hope to be there again.

Valentines’ Day this Saturday has inspired some innovative museum programming. Carter Observatory is offering ‘Romance under the Stars‘ with bubbles and a live love-themed astronomy show; and the NZ Maritime Museum in Auckland has ‘love on the sea‘ combining wine, cheese and sailing. These sound like fun – please send us photos of your events and activities to share, or post on our Facebook page.

Also this Saturday, the new Ashburton Art Gallery and Heritage Centre will be opened by the Hon Christopher Finlayson. Although no longer Minister for Arts, Culture & Heritage, FInlayson held that portfolio during the construction and fundraising for the centre, and approved $1.08m towards the centre. This came under criterion 6 of the Regional Museums Policy, on the grounds of regional impact and to partially offset the increased costs due to changes in design and building standards post-earthquakes. The project has been very controversial locally, and difficult in terms of timing, budget and completion. The cost blowout triggered a council-commissioned review which we noted earlier this year (Morrison Low report). With the opening imminent, the museum has moved in, but the plant has still not been successfully commissioned and the gallery will not be installing any art. Warren Feeney explored the issues in a recent opinion piece in the Christchurch Press, offering some much-needed perspective to the ongoing issues. The saga continued with Ashburton Mayor Angus McKay issuing a press release and being interviewed by Lyn Freeman on Standing Room Only. He and several others on various sides of the debate are in print again this week (no link as the Ashburton Guardian is not freely available online). We hope that after the building is open, and all the snags sorted out, the community will be well-served by a fully functioning art gallery, museum and archive centre.

Another chapter in the story about criticism of the sale of moa bones of dubious origin, TradeMe has pulled the online auction “while Heritage New Zealand works out where the fossils were collected”, reports the Taranaki Daily News.

Looking ahead for MA, we’re working with our hosts in Dunedin on getting everything ready for the MA15 conference, 6-8 May. Registrations are rolling in, taking advantage of the earlybird rate, open until 6 March. Please book your travel and accommodation asap as it is a graduation weekend in Dunedin and hotels get booked out. We’ve also received our first entry for the ServiceIQ 2015 NZ Museum Awards – entries are due on 19 March.

And watch out for news today from Otago Museum. I received an invitation to “attend an announcement regarding the proposed Planetarium and Discovery World Redevelopment” … watch this space!

Nā Phillipa māua ko Talei

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