Museum boss departure replayed in Sydney

LEIGHTON KEITH
Last updated 05:00 13/02/2014

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The shock resignation of New Plymouth's former Puke Ariki boss appears to have its sequel across the ditch.

The Daily News has learnt Fiona Emberton, who suddenly quit as manager of Puke Ariki museum and library in November 2012, has left a high-level library job in Sydney after only seven months.

Repeated calls and an email to Sydney City's senior media adviser Keeley Irvin by the Daily News yesterday went unanswered.

Ms Emberton's Sydney exit had similar overtones to her time in New Plymouth.

She quit the Puke Ariki job after 13 months after spending the last six weeks on sick leave.

She never explained why she left the job and council management cited privacy obligations for preventing them from talking about the issue.

In August 2013 Ms Emberton took up a new role with the City of Sydney council as manager of libraries and learning which had a remuneration package starting at NZ$170,000.

New Plymouth district councillor and Daily News columnist Gordon Brown said he had learnt from an employee of Sydney libraries that Ms Emberton left the job last Friday.

"Then on Monday the staff memo came out which cited exactly the same words that were used when she left here - which was she's left to explore other opportunities," Mr Brown said.

"Basically she said that after six months in that job it was an action replay of what happened here."

The employee came across the New Plymouth connection after googling Ms Emberton's name and discovering Mr Brown's Daily News column he had written about her in 2012.

The employee also told Mr Brown there had been a lot of controversy in Sydney over the dumbing down of books in the library.

Mr Brown said there was a lesson for all councils in the fiasco.

"I think that this confirms the follies of councils, the world over, spending a lot of money importing people from overseas at great expense when there's actually the people here that can do it and they should save themselves some money when you are never sure what you are going to get," he said.

Mr Brown believed New Plymouth ratepayers who footed the bill for Ms Emberton's extended sick leave would feel the same.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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