Te Papa offers Wellington a deal

19:49, May 23 2012
Te Papa
TE PAPA: The museum has received $2m a year from the council since it opened.

Te Papa is offering Wellington City Council greater input into exhibitions in return for the restoration of a proposed $1.25 million funding cut.

But that doesn't mean mayor Celia Wade-Brown or councillors will be able to dictate what goes into the national museum.

The council's draft long-term plan includes a proposal to cut its grant to Te Papa from $2.25m a year to $1m.

Te Papa Maori leader (kaihautu) Michelle Hippolite and chief executive Michael Houlihan yesterday made a submission to rethink the cuts.

Mr Houlihan acknowledged communication between the council and museum had been below par and pledged to improve that.

"You need to know what you are getting from your money."

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He broke down where the council's money went each year - information at least some councillors did not have until yesterday. The spending included $750,000 on education and events and $390,000 on marketing and communications.

Their plea for continued funding got a boost from Sir Richard Taylor of Weta Workshop.

"I appreciate that it is very tough economic times for all divisions of council and, regardless of this, as a community we can take pride in the fact that our council does focus on celebrating our cultural and creative arts," Sir Richard said in a written submission.

Speaking after the submission, Mr Houlihan said that, while he was not offering the council control over what went into Te Papa, he was offering more "creative input".

For example, if Wellington wanted to market itself as a science and technology hub, councillors or the mayor could not order a corresponding exhibition. However, Te Papa could arrange science days.

The fact Te Papa was planning to bring an exhibition from Wellington's sister city, Beijing, was proof it already considered council priorities.

A Te Papa spokeswoman said the planned exhibition of 5000 years of Chinese civilisation marked the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and New Zealand. The exhibition came about because of Te Papa's strategic partnership with the National Museum of China in Beijing.

As a reciprocal arrangement, Te Papa's Brian Brake: Lens on China and New Zealand and Kura Pounamu: Treasured stone of Aotearoa New Zealand would travel to China.

The exhibition would be preceded by an Aztec exhibition from Mexico, beginning in September next year.

"It will be the first comprehensive exhibition of the Aztec culture to have been displayed in Australia or New Zealand and will explore the rise and fall of the Aztec empire," she said.

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Contact Tom Hunt
Email: tom.hunt@dompost.co.nz
Twitter: @tomdom76

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