Gavin's on-the-road diary - September 2014 

I’d like to welcome back my manager, Kylie Ngaropo, who has been away on parental leave. A big mihi aroha to her and husband Moka, and belated congratulations on the birth of baby Te Wairereata. It’s good to have Kylie back with the team. He mihi matakuikui tēnei ki a koutou ko pēpi! E huakina ana te ara ki mua i tā kōrua tamāhine, mā kōrua hei ārahi, hei tiaki pai i Te Wairereata ā ngā rā e heke mai nei.

I also bid farewell to Mark Ormsby who stepped into the hot seat for Kylie. Mark had a busy time in his role with National Services Te Paerangi and held his own in a position where the work is demanding. Ngā mihi mahana ki a koe, Mark, me to whānau hoki. Kia pai te haere i tō mahi hou.

I have a good geographical spread of workshops around the country coming up in the next few months, from the Manawatū area through to the Far North. These have been in the planning stage for over a year now, and in all cases the workshops requested result from existing iwi projects being worked on. There has been a lot of behind-the-scenes discussions, brainstorming, thinking ahead, and searching for funding to make things happen. It is becoming clear that more iwi are identifying upcoming taonga or cultural developments through their strategic planning. Some iwi we are working with have projected 50 years plus into the future! For me, it is an exciting time and I’m pleased to be involved in assisting where we can. In my next on-the-road report I'll tell you some more about one or two upcoming workshops. We have been busy with our Digital Photography workshops for iwi, and I’ll give a bit of background on how we are progressing with post-workshop developments, as there are some exciting projects that have spun out of the work we are currently doing around the country.

I’ve also been studying towards the ServiceIQ National Certificate in Museum Practice (Level 4) qualification. The study programme recognises the essential skills and knowledge required to work within all sectors in a museum. It’s intended for people training for a career, or currently employed or volunteering at an introductory to intermediate level in a museum in New Zealand. I’m not museum trained but a lot of what I come across in my job crosses over into my iwi work so this is a good qualification to have in my kete. It also gives great insight into how a museum works and showcases for me the hardworking, passionate staff and volunteers that keep the doors of museums and art galleries open right around the country.

This course requires you to work in partnership with the staff of a local museum who have the experience and skills to guide you through the different modules. I’ve just completed the Museum Collection Management module, which I studied at Te Manawa Museum in Palmerston North with Cindy Lillburn, the Collections Manager, who has over 30 years’ experience. It is a hands-on module that required me to get my head around what museums collect and why, the time periods and types of materials collected, and how the collection will be handled within the museum. This also includes conditions for access, collection care, accessioning collections, and, just as important, the deaccessioning or removal of items from the collection and why this happens. I’ve got to say that this module has given me a new appreciation for collection management staff and the many aspects of the collections they oversee.

Gavin with Cindy Lillburn

I have great admiration for Cindy Lillburn and the vast knowledge of the Te Manawa collection she has gathered over her career. I learnt from her that when researching a taonga that may have been repatriated from, say, England (as was one object that I had to research), it’s the smallest of details that may give you a lead in tracking down the history and story of where and how that item/taonga ended up overseas. I found the course very interesting and quite exciting at times – for example, when I found a fact from the 1970s that needed to be followed up 40 years later to add to the files.

I would like to sincerely thank Director Andy Lowe and the staff at Te Manawa Museum, Manu Kawana for his understated mana and guidance, Donna Takitimu and Susanna Shadbolt for making me feel at home, and my cousin Manaaki Tibble who is currently looking after the tikanga and kawa aspects of the day-to-day running of Te Manawa Science Centre and Museum. I felt welcome there and part of the whānau of Te Manawa. I’d like to give a big mihi to my supervisor Cindy Lillburn for her unselfish assistance and insights into collections management. It’s not only her in-depth knowledge that I was I was impressed with, but also her ‘know how’ – the correct techniques for moving objects/taonga from storage to workspace and back again, following handing and moving guidelines, and respecting the objects in her care. Thank you Cindy.

I’ll update you as I progress through my modules, but if you are already working in a museum setting then this course may be for you. Do the job you enjoy and work towards a national qualification. If you are interested, please contact or go online and check out their services.

We have been working in partnership with iwi on a number of projects in recent months. Some of these have come about as a direct result of our programmes and projects, and others  because of people having a project in mind and then going on our website,, and getting to know what we have on offer, how we work, and our services. Our mission is to provide practical and strategic advice and sometimes all it takes is a phone call or a visit to our website. I have often said to iwi, don’t reinvent the wheel, we may have the information that you need. You can see what we have on offer for the museum sector and for iwi, and there is lots of information on workshops, projects, funding, resources, and more. If we don’t have an answer for you, we make sure that we find the answer or put you in contact with someone who can assist. I sometimes refer to it as 'joining the dots' – making that vital connection for you and your organisation.