Sally's on-the-road diary - September 2013 

The Northland Museums Association meeting held on the 14 June 2013 went off with a blast! The Kaikohe Pioneer Village building was packed with passionate Northland museum staff – all ready and willing to engage in the important topic of governance. 

Through the Expert Knowledge Exchange programme, National Services Te Paerangi supported the Northland Museums Association to host governance expert Lesley Moffat from OnBoard.

In a two-part, three-hour session, Lesley ran the group through an introduction to governance. She also explained the roles and responsibilities of governance and management and provided some very handy, straightforward information about conflicts of interest and ways to mitigate risks.

Image: a full house at the last Northland Museums Association

Image: robust group discussion about governance issues with governance expert Lesley Moffat                      

If your museum, gallery or regional cluster group is interested in having an expert come and work with your team – perhaps to run a cluster group workshop on a museum-related topic – please feel free to contact one of the National Services Te Paerangi team or check out the Expert Knowledge Exchange programme on our website. 

The Expert Knowledge Exchange offers museums, galleries, iwi, or other cultural organisations the opportunity to host an expert.  The exchange involves placements for intensive one-on-one advice, or workshopping for the organisation and its members.

Find out more about the Expert Knowledge Exchange

We look forward to hearing from you and discussing how we might be able to support your museum, gallery, iwi, or cluster group in your training initiatives.

Image: the Northland Museums Association group sharing ideas about the roles and responsibilities of governance groups

Another guest speaker at the Northland Museums Association meeting was Roy Clare, Director of the Auckland War Memorial Museum.  Roy spoke about governance in relation to Auckland Museum’s development plans, specifically their master plan titled ‘FutureMuseum’. As it happened, Roy was able to reiterate many of the same points raised by Lesley Moffat, which was wonderful. Governance in action!

Read more about Auckland Museum’s master plan – ‘Future Museum’

On the road with Dr. Holly Cusack-McVeigh

Image: Holly Cusack-McVeigh & Gavin Reedy near the landing site of Captain Cook, Gisborne

Image: following Holly’s presentation at Tairawhiti Museum, Gisborne

Holly Cusack-McVeigh is a cultural anthropologist, and Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Museum Studies at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.  She is a former museum curator and professor of anthropology at the University of Alaska Anchorage - Kenai Peninsula College.

Holly’s areas of specialisation include Social, Medical and Cultural Anthropology, Folklore Studies and Oral History, Museum Studies, Native American, and Arctic studies. Holly has spent many years working as a research consultant for and with indigenous tribal communities in the United States and Canada. 

During Holly’s month in New Zealand, National Services Te Paerangi toured her around the NorthIsland, where she met and spoke with the staff from the Ministry of Culture and Heritage, museums, galleries, universities, cultural centres, and iwi. 

Image: Holly meeting with Wayne Ngata, Hera Ngata-Gibson (Te Aitanga-a-Hauiti), Gavin Reedy, Anaru Rondon and I in Uawa (Tolaga Bay)

Gavin Reedy (Iwi Development Officer, National Services Te Paerangi) and I had the great privilege of touring and introducing Holly to the many people we know and work with in the East Coast and Bay of Plenty areas.

I’d especially like to thank the many people who supported Holly during her time in New Zealand and who took the time to meet and hear Holly speak about her extensive work with museums and indigenous communities. A sincere thanks goes out to the wonderful staff and Trust Board at Tairawhiti Museum, Richard Wagner from the DOC Aniwaniwa Centre near Waikaremoana, Wayne Ngata and Hera Ngata-Gibson from Te Aitanga-a-Hauiti, Ngāi Tūhoe Master Carver Fred Singh-Largh, Dean Flavell and Fiona Kean at the Heritage Collection in Tauranga, Hera Ngata-Gibson and fellow staff and students at Te Puia NZ Māori Arts and Crafts Institute in Rotorua, and the staff, volunteers and Pukenga Rōpū (Committee of Te Arawa Elders) at Rotorua Museum. 

Image: Dean Flavell and Anaru Rondon introducing Holly to the Taonga Māori collections at the Heritage Collection in Tauranga

Holly spoke intensively and insightfully about the important role of community, and about how indigenous communities can help to inform and even lead museum developments and programmes. She talked about recognising and operating in partnership with communities and indigenous groups.

Holly shared many examples of what North American cultural centres are doing for and with communities and indigenous groups. This includes hands-on education and engagement, not inside museum or gallery walls but out on traditional lands, places where traditional knowledge and practices are living, where the science of testing your environment, the safety of your foods and your people’s health are all important to the sustainability and success of culture.  She talked about seeing indigenous community leaders and elders making decisions, seeing that perhaps no one way is right or wrong, and acknowledging that communities know what they need. Perhaps what communities don’t need most is others assuming or telling them what they need.

One aspect that resonated strongly with me was when Holly shared experiences about how ‘true partnership is when power is shared’. This led to many group discussions about how people in our communities are often the holders of great knowledge that isn’t written in any book and can’t be found on the internet. They are the tohunga (the experts). If we work in partnerships where power and control is shared, our sector and our communities could experience a profound difference. 

Image: Clive Fugill, Master Carver from Te Puia, NZ Māori Arts Crafts Institute Te Wānanga Whakairo Rākau, Rotorua

Image: Holly taking a tour of Te Puia

In many ways I think Holly, Gavin and I came away from this time together on the road in the East Coast and Bay of Plenty with more questions than answers. The people and places we visited opened many levels of dialogue, with more possibilities that I’m sure we’re all looking forward to exploring in future. I look forward to Holly’s return.

Dates to diary

22–23 October are the set dates for the 2013 Middle Earth Curators’ Hui. This year’s Hui theme, Collections and Collaborations, explores issues facing museums and galleries in their interactions with communities and stakeholders. The venue will be Te Manawa Museum of Art, Science and History in Palmerston North. (Middle Earth refers to the middle North Island: from Kāpiti to Taranaki, up and over to Tauranga, taking in Rotorua and Taupō, and down the east coast via Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay, into Wairarapa and Manawatū.)

Find out more about the Hui

For those interested in attending, keep in mind the National Services Te Paerangi Travel Subsidy Grant. 

This grant can help your organisation to subsidise travelling expenses associated with training opportunities or workshops within New Zealand.

  • National Services Te Paerangi welcome applications from non-profit organisations of all sizes and stages of development.
  • Applications are welcome for any amount up to a maximum of $300, including GST.
  • An organisation can make up to three applications per financial year.
  • The financial year runs from 1 July to 30 June.

The Travel Subsidy Grant could help you and some of your fellow colleagues attend this wonderful opportunity at Te Manawa or any other training opportunity or workshop held within New Zealand.

Find out more about the Travel Subsidy Grant

I’m looking forward to working with more of our museum and gallery colleagues at your place!

Ngā mihi nui, na

Sally August