Te Papa has responded to scientists’ concerns, and will undertake both an internal review of the way it manages its collections, as well as an international external review of its natural history collections.
Last week on Our Changing World, renowned fossil expert Associate Professor Trevor Worthy, from Flinders University in Australia, shared a number of concerns he has about the care and future of national biological collections held at New Zealand’s National Museum, Te Papa Tongarewa.
His concerns, and those of many other scientists, were in response to a proposed restructure at Te Papa that included job cuts that included collection managers. Collection managers are tasked with looking after the museum’s important collections, that include art, Māori and Pacific as well as natural history collections that span fishes, birds, fossils and invertebrates.
Te Papa announced in a press statement today that although it will go ahead with much of its restructure plans, it “will take additional time to consider the best way to deliver its collections care function, including undertaking an independent review into the care of its natural history collections.
“This follows feedback that further consideration is needed before decisions can be made on how best to deliver the vital function of caring for New Zealand’s national collections.”
Director of Strategy and Performance at Te Papa, Dr Dean Peterson, told Our Changing World that there are two parts to the review. He said that Te Papa will conduct an internal review “looking at collection managers and conservators … and their roles, accountabilities and how they’re connected. The standards of collection care that we do now and maybe how we should move into the future. We’re also going to look at benchmarking Te Papa against other museums around the world.”
He says that the Te Papa Board is also commissioning an international external review panel that “will look at how we go about working with our natural history collections.”
The terms of reference and make-up of that external review panel have not been set yet, but Te Papa says in its press statement that they expect it to be concluded in October.
Dr Peterson says Te Papa is still considering a potential plan to move some of its collections to an off-site facility in South Auckland, but has no time-frame in mind.
He says that Te Papa is also in discussion with NIWA about a potential shared facility that would house the New Zealand fishes collection, currently held at Te Papa, and the marine invertebrate collection currently housed at NIWA.