Te Papa has a Collection Development Policy, which provides the overarching policy and guiding principles for collection development. This includes principles in relation to kaitiakitanga (guardianship) of taonga (treasures), repatriation, the management of kōiwi tangata (human remains), acquisition and deacessioning procedures, and protocols for resolution of conflict of interest for those involved in collection development for Te Papa.
This policy is supported by Te Papa’s Acquisitions Strategy, which establishes acquisition procedures and priorities for collection development over a three-year period. It is reviewed annually.
Te Papa collects significant cultural property and information related to its Mission, in order to document, illustrate, and explore the natural and cultural heritage of New Zealand and those parts of the world that have contributed to its identity. It does this to:
- capture the imagination of New Zealanders by exploring our natural and cultural heritage
- give physical and visual presence to the concepts, values, ideas, and information that Te Papa disseminates to users by all media
- form part of the record of scholarship, including mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge systems)
- provide a resource for research.
Another important component of Te Papa's collection development strategy is commissioning artists to produce major new works that represent a wide variety of art interests and communities.
Commissions are displayed throughout the Museum and position Te Papa as a contemporary leader in the field of new visual culture.
The collection is, and will continue to grow as, a resource of cultural items of great significance to the people of New Zealand - the Museum’s primary emphasis is on collecting items that have, or might grow to have, iconic value for New Zealand.
Te Papa receives funding from the government for the development of its collections, which enables the Museum to acquire major items of national significance.