Cultural snobbery?

June 22nd, 2016 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Danyl McL blogs on Te Papa’s purchase of Peter Snell’s singlet in an auction:

They shut down their award-winning publishing company so they could buy a fucking singlet.

Almost all his commentators of course agree with him. Putting aside the faulty logic (Te Tapa Press has not closed down), and comparing a one off purchase to ongoing costs, I do wonder if this is a sign of cultural snobbery – Peter Snell was just an athelete – that is not part of our culture and heritage and should not be funded by Te Papa.

For my 2c I reckon an exhibit that shows off Snell’s singlet and has a history of his running and gold medals would be hugely popular at Te Papa, and hundreds of thousands of kids would see it over time.

Te Papa Game Makers Exhibition

December 14th, 2012 at 8:18 pm by David Farrar

Sometimes being pseudo-media has its perks, and today was one of them. I got invited to a media preview of the Game Makers exhibition opening at Te Papa tomorrow.



I got the high score (to date) on Missile Command. The photo isn’t great quality but in person the old arcade games are in great condition, and playing them all again was like being back in the 1970s!

The Te Papa website will be showing high scores for the various games, so people can beat their mates.

But this isn’t just a large spacies parlour. They are full of info on the actual creators of the games. We may all know a game is Atari, or Nintendo – but what do we know of the individuals who created them. Their games are a form of art, which has impacted our culture a lot.



More memories.

IMG_0823This dance game will do doubt prove very popular.

But again it is more than just a collections of games. Don’t get me wrong, heaps will flock there for the ability to play old favourite ganmes for hours on end for just a $16 admittance fee. But there’s a lot of fascinating history on the games and their makers also.

Note if you are planning a long session, they have no toilets in the exhibition, or food and drink, so make sure you are well fed, and emptied, before you go in. The doors open at 10 am.

IMG_0828The exhibition space is pretty  large, so hopefully won’t get too cramped.

It brought back so many memories for me. The playing of spacies at the fish and chip shop while waiting for our orders. Then as we got older, the parlous in town.

And you know what, playing on the PC or an isomething isn’t the same as those old classic arcade games. The big screens. The simple icons. The graphics on their walls.

A great exhibition for young and those no longer so young!




Te Papa funding looks safe

June 11th, 2012 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Dom Post reports:

Funding for Te Papa and for shifting Wellington’s SPCA headquarters could be revived after a review of the city council’s assets.

In a series of recommendations to Wellington City Council’s strategy and policy committee, officers have approved funding for the SPCA’s move to the Chest Hospital on Mt Victoria, rejuvenation of Miramar town centre, expansions to Johnsonville shopping centre and a restoration of Te Papa’s funding.

The proposed funding will be debated by councillors at tomorrow’s committee meeting, before the final approval of Wellington’s long-term plan for 2012-22.

In March, councillors agreed to cut $1.25 million funding for Te Papa.

Council officers had found the necessary savings by stretching out the life of infrastructure around the city, mayor Celia Wade-Brown said yesterday.

This is a good outcome. I blogged a few weeks ago how 70% of the Te Papa funding came from CBD tourism businesses who were aghast at the funding cut – they view Te Papa as a major source of income for them. Maintaining the funding is a sensible economic decision.

WCC funding of Te Papa

May 9th, 2012 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Wellington City Council is consulting on its long-term plan, and one of the things they have proposed is cutting funding for Te Papa from $2.25m to $1.0m. This is a very stupid thing to do in my opinion.

Before I get to the substance, a note on process. The City Council only told Te Papa on the day of their Council meeting that they were proposing a funding cut of 56%. That borders on incompetence. You don’t pull surprises like that on institutions without warning. There should be regular communication on issues such as funding.

Now why is the Council trying to cut funding by 56%? It is because they are spending too much money elsewhere, and are trying to keep rates from increasing too much. I support keeping rates down, but the problem is not the long-standing funding to Te Papa, but all their new spending projects.

A key issues is that 70% of the Te Papa funding does not come from residential ratepayers but from the Downtown Levy. This is a levy on basically tourism businesses such as hotels, restaurants, bars and the like.  The tourism sector are perfectly happy paying this levy. In fact they are up in arms that the Council is proposing a reduction. What the Council in fact is trying to do is to spend the Downtown Levy on general Council spending rather than Te Papa which generates an economic return.

How big an economic return do Wellington businesses get from having Te Papa in Wellington?

An economic assessment by Market Economics calculates a contribution to Wellington GDP of $91m a year.  50% of all visitors to Wellington visit Te Papa. On average there are 560,000 international visitors a year. 14% of domestic tourists and 4.7% of international tourists cite Te Papa as the main reason they came to Wellington. This represents a tourism spend in Wellington of $58.9m.

You can see why tourism businesses are so happy to pay the levy, and are pissed off at the Council for cutting it.

At an absolute minimum the Council must keep the $1.575, funding from the downtown levy going.

Is there a case for the other $675,000, which comes from ratepayers? Well 450,000 of Te Papa’s visitors are from within Wellington Region. It is used extensively by locals. But further because Wellington is lucky enough to have Te Papa here, we probably spend less on other galleries and museums.

The WCC spends $8.4m on museums and galleries (excluding Te Papa) which is $18.72 per person in the region. If one includes the other Councils, it will be more, but not massively so as most of the institutions are in Wellington City. Auckland Council spends $56.2m which is $37.82 per person in their region. I think Wellington ratepayers do pretty well out of the $675,000 they are being asked to fund Te Papa.

So I hope Councillors do the right thing and reverse the spending cut. Not because I am against spending cuts. But because Te Papa brings in a huge amount of tourism revenue, and cutting tourism spending is a false economy.

What is interesting is that almost all the Councillors generally seen as on the right are against cutting Te Papa’s funding – because they understand that economically it is a silly thing to do. The Councillors who have been voting in favour of cutting the funding have generally been from the left – including the three Green Councillors (including the Mayor). Is it because the Greens want less tourists to come to Wellington as it is “bad” for the Environment?

A national art gallery

November 29th, 2010 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Kate Newton at the Dom Post reports:

Te Papa’s new chairman has thrown his weight behind building a $100 million art gallery to house the museum’s formidable – but rarely seen – collection.

Sir Wira Gardiner, appointed to the top job a fortnight ago, says a standalone gallery is high on his personal agenda as the museum does not do the collection justice.

Te Papa has been criticised by the art community, politicians and the public since it opened in 1998 for not displaying more of the 15,000 artworks in its collection.

Sir Wira said yesterday that he supported Te Papa board member Chris Parkin, who told The Dominion Post he “would really like to leave Wellington with a new national art gallery”.

Mr Parkin said he wanted to see the national collection housed in the proposed “transition building” next to Te Papa. The building was designed for Wellington City Council by Amsterdam-based UNStudios in 2005 but the council has said it is unlikely to go ahead until at least 2014.

Mr Parkin estimated the cost of a new building at $100 million, which he believed could partly be raised from private benefactors.

It is true the art works are almost hidden away at Te Papa, and not enough of them get displayed. It would be nice to have a dedicated gallery for them.

But this is the worst possible time to be proposing it. With a huge fiscal deficit, the Government can not even think about extra funding.

Once we are running a large enough surplus to be reducing debt, then maybe we can discuss it. But that is at least five, possible ten years away.

A thought

October 13th, 2010 at 9:32 pm by David Farrar

It would have been very amusing to see Paul Henry on Breakfast TV, discussing the Te Papa “ban” on pregnant and menstruating women. I suspect he would have exploded with indignation, and with Pippa being pregnant also, could have been superb viewing.

Superstitious bullshit

October 12th, 2010 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Amelia Wade at the Herald reports:

A clash of cultures over a rule forbidding pregnant or menstruating women to attend a Te Papa exhibit has been criticised by feminists.

An invitation for regional museums to go on a behind-the-scenes tour of some of Te Papa’s collections included the condition that “wahine who are either hapu [pregnant] or mate wahine [menstruating]” were unable to attend.

Jane Keig, Te Papa spokeswoman, said the policy was in place because of Maori beliefs surrounding the Taonga Maori collection included in the tour.

She said the rule was one of the terms Te Papa agreed to when they took the collection.

“If a woman is pregnant or menstruating, they are tapu. Some of these taonga have been used in battle and to kill people.

“Pregnant women are sacred and the policy is in place to protect women from these objects.”

What? Are Te Papa concerned that one of these ancient weapons is going to levitate itself over to any pregnant women, and bludgeon her to death unassisted?

And how does Te Papa intend to check if women are menstruating? Will there be compulsory checks? I mean you can’t rely on trust – the ghosts may get offended.

Deborah Russel, prominent feminist blogger on The Hand Mirror blog, does not think the policy should be enforced in modern society.

“I don’t understand why a secular institution, funded by public money in a secular state, is imposing religious and cultural values on people.

“It’s fair enough for people to engage in their own cultural practices where those practices don’t harm others, but the state shouldn’t be imposing those practices on other people.”

Absolutely. If they are the terms under which a collection will only be granted, then they should be refused.

Would one accept a collection with a condition that no blacks are d

lowed to view the collection?

Would Te Papa kowtow to the Roman Catholic Church if it insisted that a collection of church art work only be viewable by men?

However, Margaret Mutu, head of Maori Studies at Auckland University, said the policy was common in Maori culture.

Women cannot go into the garden, on to the beach or in the kitchen when they are menstruating.

“It’s a very serious violation of tapu for women to do those things while menstruating. Women cannot have anything to do with the preparation of food while they are menstruating.”

I would be very interested in any research that measures how prevalent this “policy” is amongst Maori women. It may have been common in the past, but how many modern Maori families ban women from going into the garden or the beach while they are menstruating?

Du Fresne on Te Papa

January 6th, 2010 at 9:32 am by David Farrar

Karl du Fresne writes:

Assuming the Government ever gets around to announcing an appointment, I have some advice for whoever succeeds the late Seddon Bennington as chief executive of Te Papa – blow it up and start again.


The problem with Te Papa is not simply that the architects missed an opportunity to make a dramatic statement – something to rival the Sydney Opera House – on its prime waterfront site. You could excuse that failure if the building worked internally, but it doesn’t.

It’s a haphazard, chaotic jumble, so poorly signposted and lacking in cohesion that every time I leave, I have an unsettling feeling that there must be things I have missed.

I am actually a fan of Te Papa overall, as it has got kids and families going to museums. But that is not to say there are not areas it can do better, and the design of the building is sub-standard.

As if to confirm this, I read last year that Te Papa had decided to close its library because only 5 per cent of visitors bothered going there. I’m hardly surprised. Despite having been to Te Papa many times, I didn’t realise there was a library.

I didn’t realise there was a library either!

As for the art gallery, I heard artist Grahame Sydney comment recently that you needed to be a bloodhound to find it.

So true!

Maori Seats debate at Te Papa

February 3rd, 2009 at 6:42 pm by David Farrar

Florence from Te Papa has commented on the constitutional issues thread:

Since the Maori seats are part of the listed constitutional issues, I thought you might be interested by this event we’re organising at Te Papa: on Thursday 5 February, 6.30-8pm, we’re having a debate between Professor Philip Joseph and Derek Fox about the future of Maori seats in Parliament.

This will be webcast live from Te Papa’s website, so anybody can watch it. We’ll also allow people to ask their questions through our blog, by email or via a live chat.

So join us on Thursday, we really want to hear from anybody who’s interested in this subject.

That’s great it is online, and allows online questions and feedback. Plus you can attend in person for free. I plan to listen online.