Te Papa split costs $1.18m in job payouts

MATT STEWART
Last updated 05:00 15/06/2013

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Te Papa has paid out $1.18 million in redundancies to 31 staff in a restructure that has split the national museum into two sections and drawn criticism from scientists, artists and unions.

Redundancies averaged about $38,000 each, and a further $480,000 was spent on recruitment, consultancy, legal costs, communications and career planning - which included "counselling, dealing with change and CV writing", Te Papa chief executive Mike Houlihan said yesterday.

A total of 116 jobs had been disestablished and 125 new positions created. Of those, 91 had been filled, with 83 going to existing staff.

The restructure was completed in April but the museum was still recruiting for nine new jobs. Staff were well consulted throughout the process, Mr Houlihan said.

However, Service and Food Workers Union spokesman Neville Donaldson, whose union represented about 180 museum staff, said the restructure was a bid to streamline and cut costs, and "could have been handled better".

Staff had been confused, uncomfortable and "left in the dark", and he said some whose jobs were disestablished were still "questioning and challenging" the decision.

Houlihan said the museum's division into culture and future sections was a matter of "internal structure".

"Visitors will see the new direction reflected in what they see in the exhibits."

Extra space would be devoted to art and more of the national collection would be displayed, while long-term natural environment and history exhibitions would be refreshed.

Responding to criticism that the restructure had marginalised scientists, he said Te Papa was "actually strengthening its position as the premier science museum of New Zealand".

The revamp had freed senior curators from managerial duties, and increased research was anticipated, he said.

No curators or scientists undertaking research were made redundant in the restructuring.

Houlihan also said some of the museum's collection of scientific treasures could be housed outside Wellington because storage facilities in the capital have been deemed an earthquake risk.

The collections were either on display or in storage in Cable St and Tory St. Since the Christchurch earthquake, the museum had done "considerable work" racking and restraining the Tory St collection.

No decisions had yet been made to move any artefacts.

Last month science commentator Bob Brockie criticised the possible move in his Dominion Post column, writing that scientists worldwide were "astonished and incredulous to learn that hundreds of years of experience and heritage might be ripped out of Wellington and banished to Siberia".

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BY THE NUMBERS

Te Papa gets $32.5m in annual government funding and $2.25m from Wellington City Council and employs 394 fulltime staff

THE RESTRUCTURE

31 people were made redundant: 9 from collections and research – 4 from science, 5 from humanities; 5 from business, 3 from corporate services, 13 from exhibitions and 1 from the office of the chief executive.

$1.18m paid out, average redundancy $38,000

$480,000 spent on recruitment, consultancy, legal costs, communications and career planning

116 jobs disestablished

125 new positions created

Of the 125 new positions 91 have been filled – 83 of those by existing staff. 

- © Fairfax NZ News

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