Te Papa has this week celebrated 25 years since its opening with a new Rautaki | Strategy to take it forward into the future.
The museum’s co-leaders, Kaihautū | Māori Co-leader Arapata Hakiwai and Tumu Whakarae | Chief Executive Courtney Johnston, and its Board led by Dame Fran Wilde have embraced the new vision for Te Papa.
The centre has welcomed more than 34 million visitors since opening. It cares for more than two million items, from ancient fossils to digital artworks, from tiny aphids to ocean-going waka and consistently rates as one of the world’s best museums.
Dame Fran Wilde says the museum’s new strategy builds on those strengths and looks beyond them.
“This is a new era for Aotearoa and a new era for Te Papa,” she said.
“So much has changed in New Zealand since Te Papa opened – our demographics, our understanding of Te Tiriti, our awareness of the existential threat of climate change. Te Papa explores those changes in a way that makes sense to all New Zealanders.”
Tumu Whakarae | Chief Executive, Courtney Johnston began her career at Te Papa as a visitor host shortly after the museum opened.
“In twenty-five years, Te Papa has evolved to be so much more than a storehouse of treasures and a must-see attraction,” Ms Johnston says.
“Through our work with communities, we are a source of healing, reconciliation and empowerment.
“We contribute to a thriving natural environment and we know there is so much more we can do to honour Papatūānuku.
“We confront the tough issues, yet the word that comes up when you mention Te Papa is ‘fun’ – that sense of joy and connection is the wairua that powers this place,” Ms Johnston says.
Kaihautū | Māori Co-leader, Arapata Hakiwai was part of the team that created Te Papa.
“Te Papa is different from other museums, and we celebrate that difference,” Dr Hakiwai says.
“Around the world museums are beginning to grapple with issues that have been at the core of Te Papa since our founding.
“We have always been reliant on our relationships with iwi, hapū and whānau, and we acknowledge that ongoing support: E ngā mana whenua, E ngā iwi o te motu tēnā koutou mo o koutou tautoko mai. No mātou te honore kia mahi ngātahi ai.”
As well as a visitor attraction and kaitiaki of the national collections, Te Papa is a major research centre with scientists discovering new species and curators carrying out ground-breaking research.