Row over museum collection

DAVID NICOLL
Last updated 09:32 28/06/2014
Te Awamutu Museum
Fairfax NZ

OWNERSHIP QUESTIONS: A valuable collection is uninsured as the Te Awamutu Museum Trust Board believed it was too expensive.

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A valuable Waikato museum collection has been left uninsured as the council and trust board squabble over ownership.

The Te Awamutu Museum collection includes the Tainui taonga Uenuku, as well as a New Zealand Wars and colonial period collection.

While the Waipa District Council operates the museum, the collection is owned by the Te Awamutu Museum Trust Board.

The council's Heritage Committee met last month to discuss the collection after questions had been raised about ownership.

Community facilities manager Tony Roxburgh said there was a breakdown in the relationship between the board and the council: "We are spending a large sum of money, as a museum, but we don't have ownership of the collection."

One of the main issues was that the museum collection was uninsured so if anything was to happen, ratepayers would foot the bill.

Board chairman, Dean Taylor, said it was a decision that the board made because the insurance would cost a fortune.

The last time the board and council met to discuss museum business was in October 2012, leading the council to question their relationship.

In 2013 the council wrote to Taylor suggesting that if the board was no longer functional, steps should be taken to transfer the collection to council.

Anne Blyth, director of museums and heritage, said the trust board "doesn't seem to serving a purpose at the moment".

"There's no animosity, it's just I'm not sure what their role is.

"From my point of view, if we're spending ratepayers' money, we should be spending ratepayers' money on a community collection."

The committee agreed to defer a decision until they had consulted with the Te Awamutu Museum Trust Board and the Cambridge Historical Society.

"Rather than leave the ownership of the collection unresolved and potentially at risk should the Trust ever fold, council was keen to tidy up the issue of ownership," said Roxburgh.

"It may be that council may only insure part of the collection but again, that decision would not be made until council had done some investigation."

David Nicoll is a Wintec journalism student.

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- Waikato

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