Wednesday, December 9, 2009


Nobody can be in any doubt that governance at the Auckland Museum has collapsed.
In the latest episode the Director and the Board of Trustees are lawyering up for a stand off. They should not be allowed to go any further. If this was a DHB or a School there would be a suspension of both, the appointment of a commissioner and a totally transparent enquiry into to how matters have got to this point.
The Board can't blame the Director and the Director can't point her finger at the Board. In all of the major incidents in the past eighteen months the board must accept compliance with what Ms Vitali was doing. The latest scandal the resignation of the deputy-director Tim Walker after only six months on the job and his gagging with a confidentiality agreement was done and could only have been done with the full knowledge of the Board.
This is not the board or the director's museum.
It is ours.
We pay for it.
It is our treasures and our cultural memory in its care.
Perhaps their should be two commissioners appointed since the museum has important science collections as well as cultural and if there is any continuing fault preceding the current crisis it has been a failure to balance those competing functions.
The brief for the inquiry is simple:

The composition of the board and its competence.

What due diligence was done in appointing the current director.

Was the original restructuring justified in professional terms.

Was there any peer or professional review of the changes proposed and on what were they based.

The relationship between the Director and staff and in particular the resignation of the deputy-director after only six months.

Current and on-going financial management.

A review of the causes and management of the various breakdowns between the museum and its public during the term of the current director.

None of this is brain surgery. There is no need to import any foreign consultants. We have plenty of independent professional who know how to run museums.
I am one of them and I would be happy to put my hand up.
But whatever is done it must be done before the present ugly situation turns into an expensive and damaging legal war.
Expensive for us and damaging for the museum.
And a word for the mayors - do not pick sides and stay out of this.


  1. Hamish
    Do you run any other blogs? If you are interested in sharing your viewpoints on supercity issues and communicating with local government please let me know.
    You can visit
    and check our website, or I can send you a copy
    of our magazine.

  2. Mr Keith, I hope you haven't given up on blogging. "Native Wit" was the best NZ book ever, "The Big Picture" the best art doco. The tiny space on the Listener is hardly enough for our HK-fix.