Toy, 'Buzzy Bee' circa 1943, H. E. Ramsey Limited, Schlesinger, Maurice (1907–1980), Auckland. Gift of Judith Clearwater on behalf of Robin Clearwater, 2012. Te Papa
Toy, 'Buzzy Bee' circa 1943, H. E. Ramsey Limited, Schlesinger, Maurice (1907–1980), Auckland. Gift of Judith Clearwater on behalf of Robin Clearwater, 2012. Te Papa
Adapted from a glossary in B. and G. D. Lord, The Manual of Museum Management, HMSO, Norwich, 1997, with specific additions for New Zealand museums.

A | B | C | DE | F | G | H | I | J |  K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z |


Accessioning – the formal process of registering an object as part of the museum’s permanent collection.

Accession register – a primary document, registering key information about a museum’s artefacts and specimens (see registration).

Acquisitions policy – formal statement outlining the types of material that a museum will acquire for its permanent collection.

Advisory board – a non-governing group appointed to represent the public interest and empowered only to recommend policy, usually to the governing authority of museums.

Annual plan – a plan of goals for the year ahead, noting actions, delegations, time lines, and financial and other resources.

Archives - A collection of Public records or historical documents, or the place where such records and documents are kept

Attendance, revenue and expense projections – a forecast of all sources of income and all categories of expenditure.


Biculturalism – the Treaty of Waitangi made New Zealand one country, but acknowledged that we were two people – Tangata Whenua and Tangata Tiriti. It established the regime for biculturalism.

Board (or Trust) – a fiduciary body to whom the public interest in the museum may be committed to be administered with the same diligence, honesty and discretion as prudent people would exercise in managing their own affairs.

Budget – a plan with money attached; funds allocated to attain the museum’s objectives.

Building code – standards for built space, as defined by the government authority in a particular jurisdiction.


Capital budget (or funds) – financial resources retained for planned development of the museum’s site or buildings, such as renovation, relocation, new construction or exhibition renewal.

Capital costs – the one-time costs of acquiring a site and building or major piece of equipment, or renovating a facility.

Cataloguing – curatorial recording of works of art, artefacts or specimens (more extensive than registration), aiming to record a full sense of each object’s significance in relation to other objects in the collection, in other collections and in the world at large.

CHIN – Canadian Heritage Information Network.

Code of ethics – a set of principles for trustees, paid staff and volunteers of museums in relation to the museum they serve, intended to avoid conflicts of interest, and to respect relevant international conventions and national or local laws pertinent to artefacts, specimens or works of art.

Collected archives – these are the historical documents, manuscripts, printed ephemera, typescripts and other written evidence, which have been acquired by the museum as collection items. They require the same levels of collection care, documentation and management as the taonga, objects, artefacts and specimens held by the museum.

Collection development strategy – projection of both qualitative and quantitative growth of the collection.

Collection policy (or collection management policy) – the museum’s fundamental document governing the scope and limitations of its intended collection, together with standards for its acquisition, documentation, preservation, security and management.

Condition report – a document prepared by a conservator to record the state of a work of art, artefact or specimen at the time of the report.

Conservation – maximising the endurance or minimising the deterioration of an object over time, with as little change to the object as possible.

Conservation policy – a document establishing the museum’s long-term qualitative standards for both preventive conservation and conservation treatment.

Conservation treatment plan – a detailed guide to how to treat a work of art, artefact or specimen aiming to enhance its preservation through reversible procedures.

Continuous improvement – a commitment to continually reviewing the museum’s activities against accepted standards of practice and the museum’s goals, in order to identify and implement improvement.

Contributed revenue – funds allocated, granted or donated to the museum by individuals, governments or agencies in support of its mission, including government subsidy, grant aid, endowments, sponsorship or donations.

Control – a function of management, monitoring budgets and schedules to ensure that resources of time and money are utilised in accordance with allocations.

Copyright – legislation governing the sole right to reproduce an original literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work.

Corporate plan (or business plan) – a document focusing all museum functions towards fulfilment of the museum’s mission and goals within a specific planning period and financial framework.


Deaccessioning – the formal procedure involved when a decision has been made to remove an item from the museum collection.

Directors’ and officers’ liability insurance (D&O) – protection from liability claims that museums can take out to protect trustees; most claims are for employment-related grievances.

Documentation – preparation and maintenance of a permanent record of the collections and all transactions related to them.

Documentation procedures manual – explicit instructions for registrars, cataloguers and data entry clerks on how to register and/or catalogue the collection.

Donation – a gift or bequest of artefacts, specimens or works of art and/or funds in support of the museum’s mission.

Donation in kind – provision of goods (other than collections) and/or services, rather than funds, in support of the museum’s mission.


Education plan – a document setting out the goals and objectives of the museum’s education services, together with the means of attaining them.

Effectiveness – a measure of the qualitative and quantitative extent to which the museum’s efforts achieve the intended results.

Emergency procedures manual – a staff handbook detailing actions to be taken in the event of threat, accident, illness, flood, fire, earthquake, hurricane, tornado or other disruptions of museum buildings or services.

Emergency team – a group of museum employees empowered to co-ordinate emergency procedures.

Endowment fund – donations or bequests that are invested, with all or only a portion of the interest earned being spent, either on operations (in the case of unrestricted funds) or for specific purposes, such as acquisitions, exhibitions or lecture series (in the case of restricted funds).

Environmental control – control of the temperature, humidity and air quality of the museum environment.

Evaluation – qualitative and quantitative measurement of museum programmes in relation to their objectives.

Exhibition plan – a statement of the theme, objectives and means of expression of a proposed exhibition, which may be accompanied by a projected layout and budget.

Exhibition policy – a statement of the objectives of the exhibition programme, the philosophy of presentation, and the number, frequency, size and scope of temporary as well as permanent collection exhibitions.

External assessment – as part of a strategic planning process, an effort to see the museum as others see it, and to learn from this external perspective through such means as visitor surveys, community surveys, workshops, focus groups and interviews with knowledgeable persons in the field, community leaders, donors, sponsors and funders as well as frequent museum-users and – notably – non-users.


First person interpretation – a method of interpretation in which costumed actors play their parts in period, and answer visitors’ questions from within the time and space parameters of the historic setting.

Focus groups – informal sessions, sometimes recorded or observed through two-way mirrors, in which representatively structured groups (usually of about six to ten people) are directed by a facilitator to evaluate actual or prospective products or services, such as a new exhibition, qualitatively.

Formative evaluation – measuring the effectiveness of an exhibition while the exhibition is taking shape (or form) to ensure that the exhibition communicates accurately and effectively with its visitors.

Foundation – a philanthropic organisation with educational, research or social service objectives that can be a source of contributed revenue for museums.

Friends of museums – separately organised membership organisations that support the museum in its activities.

Fumigation – a method for eliminating insect pests from museum objects.

Funding strategies – a plan that sets out ways to meet both the capital and operating fund requirements from public, private and self-generated sources.

Fundraising – programmes or activities designed to stimulate contributed revenue.


Goals – the long range qualitative standards or levels of programme fulfilment or achievement towards which the museum is striving, usually articulated in a master plan or corporate plan.

Governance – the ultimate legal and financial responsibility for the museum.

Governing board – the group of trustees appointed to assume responsibility for governance of the museum, reviewing and determining policy and long range plans, and usually engaging, evaluating and, if necessary, terminating the employment of the museum’s director.


Hapū – sub-tribe, extended family group linked through whakapapa to a common tupuna (ancestor). The hapū was the basic political unit within Māori society. The word hapū means ‘pregnant’.

Hui – meeting, assembly. See also wānanga.


ICOM – The International Council of Museums.

ICOMOS – International Council of Monuments and Sites.

Implementation – deployment of time, money and staff to accomplish the museum’s goals and objectives according to agreed priorities, assigning responsibility and re-allocating or acquiring new resources.

Indemnity – a provision in lieu of insurance of objects on loan for museum exhibitions, under which the government secures the museum or the lender against any loss.

Information policy – a commitment by museum management to standards of documentation of records about and interpretation of the collection, and public access to them, addressing issues of intellectual property and the museum’s participation in databases or other means of dissemination of museum records, including images.

Institutional archives – these are the documents and records relating to the governance, management, finances, personnel, premises, equipment and other resources of the museum.

Intellectual Property Rights – legislation governing copyright, patents and trademarks.

Interpretation – all the means used by museums to explain their collections to their public – eg. exhibitions, displays, publications, films, guided tours, audio-guides, website pages.

Iwi – tribe, a number of related hapū make up an iwi. The iwi were the largest politico-economic units in Māori society and would have defined territorial boundaries. Belonging to an iwi is defined generally through whakapapa from an important tipuna (ancestor). The basic responsibility of the iwi was to protect the interests of whānau, hapū and kin. Today, iwi are actively involved in the social, cultural and economic development of its people. The word iwi means ‘bone’. See also He Hinātore ki te Ao Māori: A Glimpse into the Māori World - Māori Perspectives on Justice published by the Ministry of Justice, Wellington, 2001.


Kaiārahi – leader, guide.

Kaitiaki Māori – iwi caretaker/guardian, Māori guardian/custodian. Māori museum staff are not automatically kaitiaki Māori – the authority and responsibility are negotiated through consultation.

Kaitiakitanga – the protection and preservation of the gifts of our ancestors for future generations, most commonly defined as guardianship, but is also regarded in a wider sense as care and management of all resources - an expression of the responsibility of iwi and hapū to protect and care for taonga for future generations. Many also see it as an expression of rangatiratanga – ‘rangatiratanga is the authority for kaitiakitanga to be exercised’ (Merata Kawharu, Kaitiakitanga: A Māori Anthropological Perspective of the Māori Socio-environmental Ethic of Resource Management, The Journal of the Polynesian Society, Vol. 110, No. 4, 2000). See also M. Marsden and T. A. Henare, Kaitiakitanga – A Definitive Introduction to the Holistic World View of the Māori, November 1992.

Karakia – prayer, incantation, spiritual acknowledgement.

Kaumātua – respected elder.

Kaupapa – purpose, theme, subject. ‘The term kaupapa Māori has been used to describe traditional Māori ways of doing, being, and thinking, encapsulated in the Māori world-view or cosmology.’ (Ella Henry, The Challenge of Preserving Indigenous Knowledge, LIANZA Conference 2001)

Kawa – protocol, the way of doing certain things, agreed procedures. Kawa differs from tribe to tribe and has been passed down from generation to generation.

Kōmiti Māori – a Māori advisory or liaison committee.

Kōiwi tangata – skeletal human remains. Such remains are not regarded as collection items in New Zealand.

Kura Kaupapa Māori – Māori school run within a Māori framework and using te rēo Māori as the primary form of communication.


Manaakitanga – support and care – the looking after of people, especially guests (a core value of Māori culture).

Management – the decision-making, delegation and monitoring required for putting into action the plans and policies agreed by the governing body. Management is concerned with the day to day operations of the museum.

Mana whenua – the local iwi and hapū who are recognised as holding authority in a particular region; status derived through ownership links with land.

Marketing strategy – a plan which sets out ways in which the museum may enhance its communication with and service to its target audiences with the objective of boosting attendance and visitor spending, thereby building a closer relationship with its audiences, leading to return visits, increased membership and donations.

Master plan – organisation of museum functions and resources towards the achievement of a desired level of effectiveness, often reviewing all aspects of the institution and projecting requirements for additional space, staffing or finances, as well as means of attaining them.

Matariki – In early June, the star cluster Matariki (the Seven Sisters) will appear in the dawn sky. The Māori New Year begins with the first new moon after Matariki's rising. Traditionally Matariki is a time to reflect on the past year's journey and plan for the journey into the future.

Mātauranga Māori – traditional and customary knowledge systems and Māori world view, ‘that bank of information built up by generations of tipuna Māori upon which their survival was based…a way of considering issues from a Māori cultural viewpoint’ (policy paper for Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa). See David Williams’ report for the Waitangi Tribunal, Mātauranga Māori and Taonga, WAI 262 1997.

Mihi – a formal greeting (noun and verb), a way for people to introduce themselves and where they come from.

Mission – an objective, brief and inspiring assertion of a museum’s long-term reason for existence, which serves as the foundation of all policy development.

Museum – the term museum includes museums, art galleries, whare taonga, tribal museums, cultural centres, marae, historic places, science centres, interpretive centres, exhibitions centres. Definitions of the term museum usually refer to a range of functions which include but are not confined to care of collections, public programmes including exhibitions, education, community relationships.

Museums Aotearoa – the industry organisation for the museum sector in Aotearoa New Zealand.


Noa - free from tapu or any other restriction.

Non-profit making (or charitable) organisation – an institution registers with the government under letters of patent or a charitable tax number, allowing it to provide tax-deductible receipts for donations and to receive other benefits allowed by government policy.


Objectives – short-term, quantified levels of achievement specified in plans and budgets as measures of fulfilment of longer term, qualitative goals.

Operating budget – a projection of allocations for the museum’s running costs, usually prepared annually.

Operating (or running) costs – ongoing expenses of a museum, including salaries and benefits, building occupancy costs, maintenance, security, curatorial and conservation expenses, administration, marketing and the cost of public programming.

Orientation – information provided to visitors regarding where they are, what services are available and where, in what languages services are provided, what there is to see and do, and how to find it.

Outreach – museum activities that are designed to appeal (or ‘reach out’) to new or non-traditional audiences, whether offered in the museum or at another location.


Performance indicators – statistics, ratios, costs or other ways of measuring the museum’s or museum workers’ progress in achieving the aims and objectives of the museum – for example, cost per visitor or revenue per visitor – to be used with caution, since they normally do not include reference to the quality of the visitor experience.

Performance review – evaluation of an employee’s effectiveness and efficiency in the accomplishment of museum functions in relation to the museum’s goals and objectives.

Personnel policy – a statement of the museum’s expectations, and a commitment, within the museum’s means, to its staff in relation to working conditions.

Policy – a statement of the museum’s commitment to its mission, mandate and purposes in relation to a particular museum function (such as a collection policy, conservation policy, security policy, exhibition policy, research policy, interpretation policy, etc), and to the achievement of specific levels of quality in fulfilling this commitment.

Preservation – covers both the preventive conservation practices and the remedial treatment which ensure that collections survive in the best possible conditions.

Preventive conservation – the practices for providing an environment that minimises the deterioration of works of art, artefacts or specimens, including handling, display, maintenance and storage techniques.

Procedures manual – a document codifying and communicating the systematic means of conducting museum functions and related tasks in order to realise the level of quality specified in the museum’s policies.

Public programmes – the range of exhibitions, activities, services and public events offered by the museum.


Repatriation – a return or restoration to one’s own country of cultural property, also including human remains. The term ‘domestic repatriation’ is being used to refer to the return of taonga or collection items from New Zealand museums to their place of origin in New Zealand.

Registration – the process of numbering artefacts, specimens or works of art in a museum collection, and recording a range of data about each of them – such as name and function of the object, the artist or maker, its source and provenance, place and date of origin, materials, and so on.

Remedial conservation – the processes involved in repairing damage or decay to collections, using techniques which are reversible.

Rohe – area, territory or boundary – usually related to the geographic reach of a tribe.

Rūnanga – Māori tribal organisation/authority.


Security – the entire range of activities concerned with the protection of the public, staff and others in the museum, and especially the protection of the collections, from all threats.

Security policy – a commitment by the museum to safeguard its assets, including a risk analysis, description and distribution of levels of security, health and safety precautions, security equipment (present and recommended), routine and emergency procedures, and insurance coverage and valuation.

Service recovery policy – a commitment to respond promptly to complaints and to make up for any shortcomings.

Sponsorship – contribution of funds or donations in kind by corporations or individuals towards a specific project, such as an exhibition or other programme.

Staffing plan – a projection of requirements for personnel in order to operate the desired level of public programmes with the collection resource identified.

Stakeholder – any individual or group with an interest in the museum and its activities and responsibilities. Museums have both internal and external stakeholders.

Statement of purpose – a concise identification of the functions of a museum in relation to the objectives defined in its mandate.

Strategic directions – in the strategic planning process, meaningful and memorable guidelines indicating the institution’s approach or philosophy in resolving the key issues affecting that museum.

Strategic planning – determining the optimal future for an organisation and the changes required to achieve it.


Tangata whenua – those who belong to the land by right of first discovery, indigenous people, the people of the land, locals.

Taonga – treasure, property – guaranteed by Article 2 of the Māori language version of the Treaty of Waitangi. Includes art objects and artefacts as well as te reo Māori and the treasures of the forests and fisheries. See Hirini Moko Mead, The Nature of Taonga and Sydney M Mead (ed), Te Māori: Māori Art from New Zealand Collections New York, Harry N Abrams Inc and the American Federation of Arts, 1984.

Tapu – sacred or forbidden, closely linked with mana. See Sidney Moko Mead (ed), Ngā Taonga Tuku Iho o te Māori: Customary Concepts of the Māori, 2ed, Dept of Māori Studies, Victoria University of Wellington, 1984. Also He Hīnātore ki te Ao Māori – A Glimpse Into the Māori World, Ministry of Justice, 2001.

Target markets – those segments of the museum’s actual or potential public that are identified as a priority on which the museum’s programmes should focus in order to increase and enhance levels of visitation.

Targeting – promoting the museum to a specific audience, group or groups, for example museum programmes for primary-age children, visitors from Japan, senior citizens, or student researchers.

Tikanga Māori – rules or customs handed down within a hapū or iwi. Tikanga changes or evolves to meet new circumstances and situations eg. in museums, galleries and schools. See also Cleave Barlow, Tikanga Whakaaro: Key Concepts in Māori Culture Oxford University Press, Auckland, 1991; Hirini Moko Mead, Ngā Ahuatanga o Te Tikanga Māori: The Principles of Tikanga (paper presented at Mai i te Ata Hapara Conference, Te Wananga o Raukawa, Otaki, 11-13 August 2000); Māori Custom and Values in New Zealand Law, New Zealand Law Commission Study Report 9, March 2002.

Tino Rangatiratanga – Sovereignty, the right for self-determination. See Ranginui Walker ‘Māori Sovereignty: The Māori Perspective‘ in Hineani Melbourne, Māori Sovereignty: The Māori Perspective, Hodder Moa Beckett Publishers Ltd, Auckland, 1995; Mason Durie, Te Mana, Kawanatanga: Politics of Māori Self Determination, Oxford University Press, Auckland, 1998.

Training and development strategy – a plan agreed between the museum and an individual employee, related both to the individual’s needs in learning how to do his or her job to the required level of quality, and his or her programme to upgrade skills and capabilities for future advancement.

Treaty of Waitangi – the Treaty is the country’s founding document. It is an acknowledgment of Māori existence, of their prior occupation of the land, and of an intent that Māori occupation would continue and be respected. The full Treaty is appended.

Trustees’ manual – a publication providing members of the museum’s governing or advisory board with all relevant mission, mandate and policy statements and the board constitution, as well as a history of the institution, current plans, staff organisation charts, budgets and financial reports, board roles and responsibilities, and an outline of the committee structure.


Virtual visitors – visitors who access the museum and its information through the Internet, for example via the museum’s website on the World Wide Web.

Visitor analysis – quantitative and qualitative analysis of the museum’s present visitors, usually undertaken to determine visitor need and perceptions of the museum.

Visitor responsiveness – giving due regard to the visitor experience in all aspects of the museum’s programmes.

Visitor services – activities directed at accommodating the visitor, including admissions, orientation, wayfinding, retail and food services, toilets, rest areas and customer care policies that affect the quality of the visitor experience and communicate the museum’s attitude to its public.

Volunteer – unpaid personnel, whose rewards are in the form of personal development and social recognition for work done.

Volunteer agreement (or contract) – a signed commitment by the volunteer to the museum, and by the museum to the volunteer, making reference to all working conditions and schedules.

Volunteer manual – a document that links the museum’s mission and mandate to the museum’s volunteer policy and to practical details pertaining to the daily work of volunteers, including all museum policies and procedures relevant to the volunteers’ area of work.

Volunteer policy – the museum’s commitment to the recruitment, training, deployment, evaluation and social rewards of unpaid museum workers.


Wānanga – a higher level meeting, building on prior knowledge and understanding and working to its own framework. Te Whare Wānanga is the term for Māori universities (formerly houses of learning). See also hui.

Whakapapa – the principal of kinship, genealogy, lineage. Whakapapa defines the individual and kin group(s) and the relationships between them; cultural identity. Generally, Māori recognised kin groups such as whānau (family), hapū (sub-tribe), iwi (tribe) and waka (canoes). The relationship that Māori have to the whenua (land) is also based on whakapapa. See also Michael Shirres, Te Tangata: The Human Person, Accent Publications, Auckland, 1997; Cleave Barlow, Tikanga Whakaaro: Key Concepts in Māori Culture, Oxford University Press, Auckland, 1991.

Whakataukī – proverb. See Neil Grove and Hirini Moko Mead, Ngā pēpeha a ngā tīpuna – The sayings of the ancestors, Victoria University Press, Wellington 2001.

Whānau - Family, the key building block and the basic unit of Māori society. The whānau could consist of up to three or four generations living together. The word whānau means ‘to give birth’. See also Joan Metge, New Growth From Old: The Whānau in the Modern World, Victoria University Press, Wellington, 1995.

Whanaungatanga - relationships, kinship, a close relationship engendered between members of the whānau as a result of working together.

Work plan – a statement of objectives and resources, together with a budget and a schedule for achieving particular tasks.