Chief Executive – Michael Houlihan
Mike Houlihan started his museum career as a Research Assistant in the Department of Exhibits at the Imperial War Museum, London, becoming Keeper of the Department of Permanent Exhibitions and Head of Exhibitions Research.
He joined the Horniman Museum in south London as Deputy Director in 1984, and was appointed Director in 1994. The Horniman holds internationally-recognized collections of musical instruments and world cultures, as well as natural history.
In 1998, Mike was appointed as the first Chief Executive of the newly-created National Museums and Galleries of Northern Ireland, steering through the merger of Northern Ireland’s three government-funded museums.
In 2003, he became Director General of Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales, a family of seven museums illustrating the history, industries, and natural environment of Wales as well as important international collections of art.
Mike is Chairman of ICOM UK and was previous Chair of the Collections Trust. He has published on military history and has particular interest in the experience of the British Soldiers on the Western Front, 1914–18.
Acting Kaihautū (Māori leader) – Rhonda Paku
Rhonda Paku is the Acting Kaihautū of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. She is of Ngāti Kahungunu, Tuhoe and Ngāti Ruapani descent in the east of the North Island, New Zealand.
As the Acting Kaihautū, Rhonda shares responsibility for the cultural leadership and strategic management of Te Papa alongside the Chief Executive. The Kaihautū also leads the bicultural development of the organisation and is responsible for overseeing the relationship with iwi and Māori stakeholders, the Karanga Aotearoa Repatriation Programme, care of Rongomaraeroa (Te Papa’s marae) and National Services Te Paerangi.
In addition to the Kaihautū role, Rhonda is also the Senior Curator of the Māori collection, managing a team of curators and collection managers who are responsible for the research, care, and management of the collection for a variety of purposes. In her role as Senior Curator, Rhonda is required to:
- Determine strategic and business plans for collection development, collection management and research
- Ensure collections are managed to national and international standards
- Advance scholarship, research, publications and curatorial expertise
- Provide leadership and advice on exhibition development, exhibition programming, best use of the collections and product development
Provide advice and guidance across the organisation on matters concerning Māori culture, customs and practices as they pertain to the Māori collection.
Prior to becoming the Senior Curator, Rhonda was the Manager of Iwi Development in the National Services Te Paerangi team, leading the development of capacity building programmes for Māori communities to care for their own treasures as well as advancing collaborative and mutually beneficial partnerships between iwi Māori (Māori tribes) and the Museum sector.
Rhonda has served on the Board of the Wellington Museums Trust, which is responsible for the largest grouping of cultural and heritage attractions in Wellington, New Zealand’s capital city, and is a member of the Cultural Sub commission of the New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO. The four key work programmes of the sub-commission resonate with aspects of her current responsibilities and include:
- Culture and Development
- Intercultural Dialogue.
Committed to Māori development, tikanga and te reo Māori (Māori customs and language), cultural sustainability and continuity, Rhonda is interested in all aspects of Māori material culture from traditional to contemporary art, including the performing arts.
Practice Leader Research – Dr Claudia Orange
Claudia began her current position at Te Papa in 2013. She previously held the positions of Director of History and Pacific Cultures, and Collections and Research Group Director at the Museum.
Before coming to Te Papa, Claudia was General Editor of the multi-volume Dictionary of New Zealand Biography (1990–2003). She oversaw the Dictionary’s move online in 2002. During this period, Claudia also served as Acting Chief Historian at the Department of Internal Affairs (1997–2000).
Claudia has received various honours. She was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1993. She received University of Auckland’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 1997. In 2009, she became a Distinguished Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (DCNZM).
Claudia has published widely on New Zealand history, particularly race relations and the Treaty of Waitangi. An Illustrated History of the Treaty of Waitangi (2004) is among her more recent publications.