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Te Papa reinforces its commitment to science


Friday 27 June 2014

Te Papa reinforces its commitment to science

The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa is delighted by the Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage’s appointment of Professor Sir Peter Gluckman, Chief Science Advisor to the Prime Minister, to its Board.

“Sir Peter’s breadth and depth of understanding of New Zealand’s science activity, stemming from his illustrious career and role as Chief Science Advisor in the Office of the Prime Minister, will be of immense value to the Board, and also the current work programme to strengthen science at Te Papa,” says Evan Williams, Chair of the Board of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. “Te Papa has both world-class science collections and staff. Our challenge is to make our collections and research more accessible and meaningful to more audiences, and to increase public understanding of science, stimulate interest in science, and encourage people to explore and connect with science through engaging experiences and collaborative partnerships.”

Underpinning Te Papa’s vision Changing Hearts, Changing Minds, Changing Lives is a commitment to strengthening its position as the premiere science museum of Aotearoa New Zealand. As part of this commitment, the Museum has recently commenced work toward developing a Proposition for Science, an informed science strategy that will provide an intellectual, planning and operational framework for the future development and growth of science at Te Papa, and roadmap to achieve Te Papa’s vision for science.

An independent advisory panel of experienced science and technology specialists has been appointed to lead this work, to provide an external assessment of the current state of science at Te Papa, and to identify opportunities for building on the current strengths of science at Te Papa for future expansion.

The panel is chaired by Professor David Bibby (Chair), recently Pro-Vice-Chancellor Science and Dean of the Faculty of Science at Victoria University of Wellington, and also includes Professor Shaun Hendy, Professor of Physics at the University of Auckland and a Principal Investigator at the MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology; Professor Ewan Fordyce, Professor of Geology at the University of Otago; and Dr Charlotte Marewa Severne, Director of Severne and Associates Ltd and recognised expert in Māori environmental and marine research.

The panel has already been working closely with Te Papa’s science team to gain a comprehensive overview of existing collections, research and science-related activities. The panel will shortly commence a consultation programme, engaging with a range of science-related academic and research institutions, science leaders, and organisations in Wellington and throughout New Zealand. The outcome of the review will be a report of recommendations for the current and future management, use and growth of Te Papa’s science collections, research and relationships.

Arapata Hakiwai, Te Papa’s Acting Chief Executive and Kaihautū says, “We have an incredible breadth of collections and talented science curators, collections managers and researchers. We continue to ensure that our scientific research and collection development have a relevant and sustainable future, and that our collections are at the forefront of what this Museum is about.”

“This is an exciting time for Te Papa – we intend to raise the profile of science at Te Papa through revitalised outreach and exhibition programmes. At the heart of current activities is the redevelopment of our natural history exhibitions, Mountains to Sea and Awesome Forces on Level 2”, he says.

Te Papa’s science collections comprise of approximately 1.5 million collection lots, the largest, most comprehensive collection of New Zealand fauna and flora, with all major taxonomic groups of plants and animals in New Zealand represented. The collections are internationally recognised for particular strengths in molluscs, selected invertebrate groups, marine mammals, birds, fossil vertebrates, fishes and plants. Many of these collections date back to the establishment of the Colonial Museum in 1865. The Museum also leads and contributes to a number of national and international collaborative research projects. The main research areas are biosystematics and taxonomy, biogeography, evolutionary history, biology and ecology, collection management, science history and biodiversity.


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