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This is the last update from me, in my final week before I leave Tāmaki Paenga Hira to start in a new role as Director of the South Australian Museum, Adelaide. It has been an immense pleasure and privilege to lead Auckland Museum over the past six years, particularly through some of the most challenging times in its history. Despite the the disruptions of the recent years, the Museum is seeing increased visitation following the COVID-impacted closures. Each of the last four school holiday periods have seen visitor numbers amongst the highest in nine years.
The Museum has also secured a significant uplift in its global online reach, external investment in research and educational programming, and target-breaking revenue streams. These outcomes have built a strong platform for future sustainable growth and development.
When nature moves to uproot us, as we’ve seen with the recent extreme weather events, many of us seek to better understand our place in the world. I’m certain the Museum will continue to be an anchor for Tāmaki Makaurau and the wider community for many years to come.
The Museum Trust Board is undertaking recruitment to appoint a new CEO, and Director of Collections and Research, David Reeves, will take up the position of Interim CEO and will work closely with the Trust Board and the Executive Team to ensure a smooth transition during that time.
I am pleased to leave on a high note, with the opening of a very special exhibition Eqypt: In the Time of Pharoahs, which is off to a flying start. The exhibition has attracted more than 11,000 people in less than two weeks.
Former Director of Tāmaki Paenga Hira Auckland War Memorial Museum Sir Gilbert Archey (1890-1974) has been recognised posthumously for his work as the only World War II Monuments Man operating in the Asia-Pacific region.
To acknowledge the part Archey played in protecting artworks and cultural sites in Southeast Asia, the Monuments Men and Women Foundation has donated a replica of the Congressional Gold Medal – the United States' highest civilian award – to Auckland Museum. The Congressional Gold Medal was awarded in 2015 to surviving Monuments Men and Women for their work protecting and preserving monuments, works of art, and culturally important artefacts during and following World War II. The replica medal was presented to the Museum by Archey’s family at a special ceremony on Saturday 13 May.
With over 70 members of the extended Archey whānau in attendance, it was a deeply heartening and important occasion, made possible by the hardwork and caring of our Museum staff and the Archey family.
To learn more about Sir Gilbert Archey's fascinating life, and role as Monuments Man, click through to read the blog.
A couple of weeks ago Auckland Council approved a 3% increase in our annual levy funding for the 2023/24 financial year. This is a positive outcome, especially as the Museum received no increase in three previous annual funding cycles. In light of Council’s budget pressures, we are very grateful for this uplift, which will help us to rebuild our financial sustainability following the losses of COVID-19.
The settlement will enable us to deliver an exciting year of international touring exhibitions, starting with Egypt: In the Time of Pharaohs. We will also advance our work on Toitū te Taiao, our new galleries dedicated to human impact on the natural environment, and we will showcase Te Rā, the only historic woven Māori sail in existence, on loan from the British Museum.
This is just a snapshot of what we hope to achieve in 2023/24, but you can read more about what the year has in store for your Museum here.
New technology suggests epic journey part of Stonehenge’s origins.
It must have been one of the most amazing human migrations of all time – hundreds of people, oxen and 20-tonne rocks making a 200km journey to the Salisbury Plains and building one of the most enduring mysteries in the world: Stonehenge.
This astonishing journey is part of the construction of Stonehenge, completed over hundreds of years, and comes to life in the Auckland War Memorial Museum’s “Secrets Of Stonehenge” exhibition. It is currently wowing audiences after new technology shed more light on Stonehenge’s origins and two of the key questions surrounding the ancient structure built about 2500 BC – how and why?
Read the full article on the Council of Australasian Museum Director's website.
It is with great sadness that we mourn the loss of Jeremy Salmond, a New Zealand architect whose commitment to excellence in the field of built heritage conservation has left an indelible mark on not only the Auckland War Memorial Museum, but indeed on many of Aotearoa’s great buildings and beloved landmarks.
Jeremy Salmond was a dedicated professional and admired leader in his field, with whom the Museum enjoyed over 30 years of partnership and collaboration. Salmond Reed Architects recently acted as heritage consultants alongside design architects FJMT and Jasmax on the award-winning Te Ao Mārama South Atrium precinct, which opened in December 2020.
Jeremy Salmond was made a Fellow of the Auckland War Memorial Museum, receiving a Museum Medal in 2002 for his contribution to the conservation management of the Auckland War Memorial Museum. Heritage buildings such as ours are a taonga for all New Zealanders, and Jeremy’s work to conserve the historic integrity and understanding of these structures has allowed them to remain admired and celebrated from generation to generation.
Our thoughts and condolences go out to Jeremy’s family, friends, and colleagues during this difficult time.
I am thrilled to share that we have received funding from the Ministry for Culture and Heritage for Te Aho Mutunga Kore, a Textile and Fibre Centre for Māori and Pacific, to be located at the Museum. The centre will nurture creativity, knowledge sharing and knowledge creation by decentring the Museum and handing agency back to these communities. Te Aho Mutunga Kore: the everlasting threads of knowledge, will ensure sustained engagement with textile and fibre collections to strengthen the ties (aho) between community and their material culture heritage, creating a safe pathway for knowledge transmission (taonga tuku iho).
This funding allows us to build on the two projects we carried out between 2016 and 2019, the Pacific Collection Access Project (PCAP) and Te Awe Phase II. Both were ground-breaking in their approach to working with cultural knowledge holders and engaging source communities. However, the PCAP evaluation confirmed that the museum needs to transform its pūkenga (skills and ethos) to ensure genuine long-term partnerships that are consistent across all Māori and Pacific communities.
The next two years will see a step-change in museum practice and, at the end of this project, we will be in a position to share this methodology and learning with our GLAM colleagues, here and abroad. This project will embed meaningful change in the way museums and communities work together to safeguard taonga and measina. Ngā mihi nui to Kahutoi Te Kanawa, Fuli Pereira, Chantal Knowles and everyone who has been working on this important initiative.
On Monday 14 November, a pōwhiri was held to welcome representatives of the Warumungu community and officials from the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) Return of Cultural Heritage team. The team came to the Museum to collect four Warumungu objects that are being repatriated to them from our collection. The items include two hooked boomerangs (wartilykirri), an adze (palya/kupija) and an axe (ngurrulumuru). These items hold significant cultural interest to the Warumungu community, the traditional custodians of land in and around the township of Tennant Creek in Northern Territory Australia. The repatriation of these items is a clear demonstration of our values and desire to reconnect living descendants with their taonga. Ngā mihi to Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei and everyone who has supported this important repatriation. More information about this important event can be found here.
Monday's pōwhiri also welcomed the Council of Australasian Museum Directors who were here for its biannual meeting.
Like so many millions around the world, I was saddened to hear of the passing of Her Majesty the Queen, after seven decades on the throne.
As Auckland's War Memorial Museum, it is only right that we at Tāmaki Paenga Hira mark the passing of Queen Elizabeth II, and the support she has given our nation over so many years. Our flags are flying at half-mast for the duration of the official ten day mourning period, together with other significant public monuments and institutions nationally. I understand that members of the public have started to leave bouquets of flowers outside the Museum, as a way of paying their own respects.
Over the coming days, we will share some interesting collection items relating to Queen Elizabeth II. This photograph was taken outside Auckland Town Hall during the 1953 royal visit by Olaf Petersen, the same photographer whose work features in the Nature Boy exhibition currently on display in our Sainsbury Horrocks Gallery.
Our thoughts are with the Royal Family, the people of the United Kingdom and our fellow members of the Commonwealth.
Queen Elizabeth II at Auckland Town Hall during the Royal Tour, 1953. PH-1988-9-ex2-13_1 © Olaf Petersen Estate
On Wednesday 24th August we marked the opening of Ukraine: The Cost of Freedom. The occasion especially pertinent as the date coincides with Ukrainian Independence Day. It’s been an honour and a privilege to support this important and urgent undertaking.
The exhibition showcases a selection of contemporary photojournalism taken from the frontline in Ukraine. Together, these images show the devastating impact the Russian invasion is having on the Ukrainian people, who have been bravely protecting their communities for many months.
As with so much international conflict, and as the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine has publicly acknowledged, this is categorically a war on civilians and thereby a violation of international humanitarian and human rights law. In presenting these images, we are enabling our visitors to form their own conclusions about these events that are happening in real time.
Versions of this exhibition have been shown internationally in Berlin, Singapore and Dublin and generated widespread public interest.
In Te Taunga Community Hub, the Tāmaki Paenga Hira Auckland Museum celebrates the diverse communities of Tāmaki Makaurau by inviting them into the Museum to create their own exhibit. Our visitors experience a community's story not through the Museum’s interpretation, but through the eyes of the community itself. Everything you will find in the gallery has been carefully chosen by the community to tell its story, from the photographs on display, to the labels, the signage, and the lighting and soundscape. Working closely with members of the community, the Auckland Museum provides exhibition space and technical support.
Auckland War Memorial Museum was conceived and designed 100 years ago this year to commemorate New Zealanders who gave their lives in the name of freedom and self-determination. Since then, this institution has been a pace for reflection and questioning. Museums are often thought of as places to interrogate the past, but they are also places to address contemporary events. This has always been the mission of Auckland Museum, to enable our audiences to engage the past, the present and with the future.
So, to our Ukraine colleagues and friends, working with us through all the challenges, you have honoured us with your story and with your trust. On behalf of all our visitors, thank you for partnering with us.
Congratulations to Fuli Pereira, who was awarded the prestigious Rusiate Nayacakalou Medal from the Polynesian Society for 'significant contributions to scholarly studies in Oceania’. As Curator Pacific, Fuli has worked tirelessly over the last 26 years at the Museum to advance and innovate Pacific-centred museum methodologies.
In 2019 Fuli led our ground-breaking PCAP project, which increased accessibility to our collections for descendent communities across Auckland and enriched our own understanding of the taonga we have in our care.
Well done Fuli, this is a well-deserved award. You can read more about Fuli’s work here.
Auckland Museum values scholarship, academic achievement, research and service to the community.
This often ‘behind-the-scenes’ aspect of the Museum plays a crucial role in enriching and providing alternative ways of looking at collections, generating new knowledge and enhancing the experience for our increasingly diverse audiences.
That is why each year the Trust Board recognises individuals who have given exceptional service to the Museum or added value to its interests. This includes outstanding contributions to the generation of new knowledge drawing on the Museum’s collections and research resources.
Due to Covid-19 restrictions, the 2021 medals were awarded in June 2022.
Congratulations to the 2021 Medal Recipients:
Chanel Victoire Clarke
Associate Emerita of Auckland War Memorial Museum
Associate Emerita of Auckland War Memorial Museum
Sue, Rod & Zoe Neureuter & whanau
Companion of Auckland War Memorial Museum
Leali’ifano Dr Albert L Refiti
Fellow of Auckland War Memorial Museum
As part of our sustainability strategy, we are committed to raising awareness about the importance of preserving our climate through our public experience, exhibitions, education and activities.
Our three-year Sustainability Action Plan focuses our attention on the areas we can influence and have the most significant positive impact. The plan sets the foundation for our long-term net-zero target by 2050 and reinforces our organisation-wide commitment to reduce our impact on the environment and inspire others to do the same.
Read on to discover the breadth of our commitment to sustainability within our mahi, and to view the full plan.
Tāmaki Paenga Hira Auckland War Memorial Museum was shortlisted for ten Best Awards at the virtual Best Awards 2021 event, winning a total of three in the Public & Institutional Spaces, Exhibition & Temporary Structures and Environment graphics categories.
In 2021 Tāmaki Paenga Hira Auckland War Memorial Museum completed a series of major transformations to its visitor experience. After being closed for approximately 18 months, Auckland Museum’s South Atrium entry precinct Te Ao Mārama re-opened to the public with new experiences, amenities, artworks, food and retail offerings.
This revitalised space revealed the most significant changes to the Museum in more than a decade, and the vision was realised by Jasmax with FJMT, designTRIBE, and Salmond Reed Architects. The new spaces and the artworks housed within them were recognized in many different categories:
·The redevelopment of Te Ao Mārama was a finalist in the Public & Institutional Spaces;
·Hokohoko, the Museum’s retail cultural destination designed by Ignite Architects, was a finalist for Spatial Retail Environments;
·Under the tanoa in Te Ao Mārama was a finalist in Exhibition & Temporary Structures; and
·Te Tatau Kaitiaki was shortlisted in three categories Environment graphics, Spatial Exhibition & Temporary Structures and Toitanga.
In 2021, the Museum completed a series of major transformations to its visitor experience. After being closed for approximately 18 months, Auckland Museums’ South Atrium entry precinct Te Ao Mārama re-opened to its public, with new experiences, amenities, artworks, food and retail offers.
We are now thrilled to announce that Te Ao Mārama has been recognised by the New Zealand Institute of Architects at their annual New Zealand Architecture Awards. The space won acclaim in three categories: Public Architecture, Heritage and Hospitality.
Te Ao Mārama impressed the judges who described it as an exemplary project that threads a series of bold new architectural elements and integrated artworks through the accumulated layers of the existing Museum, transforming it into a cohesive entity fit for its multicultural future.
Head of Natural Sciences, Dr Tom Trnski and his team have been working with kaumātua from Ngātiwai and the California Academy of Sciences to name a new species of pygmy pipehorse - Cylix tupareomanaia.
This is the first time that an indigenous group has been formally listed as the naming authority of a new species of animal, and I know it has taken a lot of work and persistence to achieve this outcome.
Incorporating mātauranga Māori into the naming of this ocean taonga is a wonderful example of He Korahi Māori in action and of the impact our Research Strategy is having in the wider scientific community.
The theme for this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week (27 September – 3 October) is 'Take Time to Kōrero' - a little chat can go a long way. In this lockdown environment, it is more important than ever that we have regular contact and opportunities to chat to friends, family and colleagues - even if it is via phone or Zoom. I encourage everyone to make time to kōrero and focus on their wellbeing.
As part of the week, the Museum hosted a series of Zooms for all staff. We were honoured to have Jerome Kavanagh run a Puoro Māori Sound Healing session for all staff. We also held a session with Sian Jaquet, an experienced wellbeing coach, who shared some tips and techniques to help us get through the rest of lockdown and prepare ourselves for a post-lockdown environment.
2020 really was a remarkable year and this report highlights the amazing mahi Museum staff achieved together through the challenges of COVID-19. To me, this Review speaks to the resilience, creativity and passion of our whānau. He tangata, he tangata, he tangata.
It is a privilege and an honour to work with those at the Museum and lead such a wonderful organisation, that is making such a huge difference in Aotearoa and the world. Ngā mihi nui kia koutou katoa.
Read the review
The Museum's Development team has been hard at work and a number of grants have been received recently.
The Online Cenotaph team have received $10,000 from the C&L Gregory Charitable Trust, which will fund two part-time staff to work on the Archives NZ transcription project. The project will see around 9,500 service records digitised and transcribed to honour New Zealand service personnel and to make their service histories easily accessible to family, friends and researchers into the future.
The EQC has agreed to continue to fund the Volcanoes Education Programme for a further three years. With this funding we can continue to offer this programme free of change to Auckland Schools and Early Childhood Centres. Held onsite and offsite, the programme teaches students about natural disaster preparedness and recovery.
Help us do more
It was wonderful to celebrate all the great mahi that went into creating our latest exhibition, Love & Loss, when the exhibition opened at the end of July.
Love & Loss is the first in a series of special exhibitions which will feature our significant Documentary Heritage collections, and is the first-ever exhibition to feature our extensive manuscript collection. Developed during lockdown, the project team has done an amazing job delivering an intimate exhibition that brings the emotional power of the written word to the fore.
Our Collections Information Access and Documentary Heritage teams have worked together to create a tailored homepage on our website to host the newly catalogued Hillary Pictorial Archive. The collection features more than 7000 photographs from Sir Edmund Hillary’s personal collection, providing a first-hand record of his world-famous international expeditions and of his family life.
In 2008, Sir Edmund Hillary’s extensive personal archive was bequeathed to Auckland Museum and we received funding to support the digitisation of the pictorial items in the collection. Recognised internationally for its importance, this collection has been placed on the UNESCO International Memory of the World Register and you can check out the new homepage here.
Explore the archive
June marked the opening of Te Whiwhinga The Imaginarium, the Museum's newest suite of learning galleries. The kaupapa for this new development is that learning through play, exploration and discovery helps build knowledge in young people in a more effective and sustained way.
Te Whiwhinga The Imaginarium is a significant shift in the way Auckland Museum engages with school students. It has been made possible by support from our generous donors, in particular the Douglas Goodfellow Charitable Trust, the Joyce Fisher Charitable Trust, the Becroft Foundation and the Maurice Paykel Charitable Trust.
Auckland Museum is immensely grateful to have received generous support from these funders who shared our vision to provide an outstanding learning experience for thousands of our Auckland tamariki.
The Museum's redeveloped South Atrium, Te Ao Mārama, has been recognised by Architecture NZ magazine at the annual Interior Awards. Auckland Museum and its architects, Jasmax (in partnership with FJMT and designTRIBE) and Salmond Reed as Heritage Architects won the Civic Award.
This acknowledgement reflects the collaborative effort between Auckland Museum and our multi-disciplinary design team to deliver new infrastructure designed to enhance the Museum’s functionality, combining mana whenua welcome, cultural orientation and generous manaakitanga. Te Ao Mārama resolves the tensions between the Museum’s monumental heritage architecture and its contemporary responsibility to social inclusion and diverse communities of interest, the Museum building has been described in Architecture NZ as ‘transformed into a space for decolonisation to begin’.
We are delighted and honoured to have received these prestigious awards which recognises the two year journey we have undertaken to transform this part of our heritage building for current and future visitors. Te Ao Mārama marks a milestone for Auckland Museum in creating a precinct dedicated to cultural welcome, orientation and tikanga. It is a uniquely Auckland design and enables us to extend the manaakitanga this Museum is known for.
We accept this award on behalf of everyone who has taken the design vision and turned it into a reality. This includes members of mana whenua and Pacific community leaders, who have advised on everything, from fundamental design principles at the project’s inception through to the final delivery of artworks.
Together they have delivered a transformation programme of multiple projects, despite the disruption and the inevitable delays caused by COVID. This is a great achievement for any organisation and a huge success for Auckland ratepayers who enable our work.
Gail Hoddinott, long time Parnell resident and Museum volunteer, interviewed Dr David Gaimster for The Hobson about living in Parnell, his role at the Museum, and what the best advice he ever received was.
In 2020, New Zealanders rose at dawn to commemorate Anzac Day in our bubbles, at our front doors and at the ends of our driveways in response to the global pandemic. In 2021, we welcomed communities back to Auckland’s war memorial, a space where people could come together to remember and reflect on the courage, commitment and sacrifice of our servicemen and women. The contemporary resonance of Anzac Day is an intrinsic part of who we are as a nation.
This year we highlight the contributions made by servicewomen in World War II and after. Thousands of New Zealand women enlisted during the war, and by 1942, 75,000 had registered with the Women’s War Service Auxiliary, representing a significant mobilisation of the country’s human resources.
2021 marks two significant anniversaries involving servicewomen: the establishment of the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (formed 16 January 1941) and the landing in Japan of the main body of Jayforce (March 1946). The latter included members of the New Zealand Army Nursing Service, who played a vital role in the hospital service.
The legacy left by these women paved the way for the thousands of women serving today. Lest we forget.
March marked the opening of our new suite of galleries dedicated to the living history of Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland. Endeavouring to represent a city of the scale and richness of Auckland was a monumental task, and this suite of permanent galleries chronicles Auckland's past, captures its present, and looks to the future of this city.
Auckland Museum’s collection of tens of thousands of photographs by Kiwi photographer and photojournalist, Olaf Petersen, is one of five new additions to the UNESCO Memory of the World Register. This year the Museum's Pictorial Curator, Shaun Higgins, will publish a book with Auckland University Press that profiles Olaf’s career as Aotearoa New Zealand's pre-eminent 20th-century nature photographer. This will accompany the first major exhibition of this significant body of work, from the Documentary Heritage collection, in our Sainsbury Horrocks gallery in late 2021.
In February we launched a digital version of Director's Choice, which explores Auckland Museum's extraordinary collection, each item with its own compelling backstory. The original 2019 publication formed part of Scala's international Director's Choice series, and the new photography produced for that volume has now been joined by interactive elements to allow viewers to dive even deeper into the exquisite detail of some of my favourite collection objects.
READ IT ONLINE
December was a momentous month, marking the opening of our new South Atrium precinct. What you will experience in this space is the result of our deliberate intention to connect the past, present and future of this much-loved cultural destination.