Te Papa confirms future of world-class fish collection

Te Papa has assured fish researchers that its world-class fish collection is well positioned for the future.

A number of ichthyologists (fish scientists) wrote to Te Papa yesterday to share their views on the staffing of the fish collections. Te Papa responded today with details of how the museum is set to increase its research strength in this important collection area.

Te Papa is implementing changes to staffing that will see a change in the mix of roles in natural history overall, and in its fishes area. Overall, natural history staffing numbers in the museum are set to be unchanged at 15 staff. In the fishes area, the allocation of staff increases from 5 full time equivalents, to 5.5 full time equivalents.

Te Papa Chief Executive Geraint Martin said Te Papa’s fish collection is hugely important.

“The Board and management of Te Papa are absolutely committed to the preservation and development of the fish collection,” Mr Martin said.

“We are making changes explicitly to ensure that this world-leading collection can be cared for, accessed and researched in a way appropriate to a twenty-first-century museum.”

Mr Martin said the changes will create a workforce that is highly skilled and highly versatile, in line with international best practice.

The changes disestablish three collection manager roles, with new assistant curator, lead curator, and technician roles created.

Mr Martin said that, while the letter focussed on an individual whose role has been disestablished, the museum could not and would not comment on individual employees.

“Organisations must take a holistic approach to the structure of their operations, and cannot shape their teams around the needs of any individual,” said Mr Martin.

“Te Papa has the utmost regard for the expertise of its staff. The changes we are making to modernise our approach reflect the needs of the museum – they are not personal.”

Mr Martin said that in developing its new structure in natural history, Te Papa analysed its 11 nationally critical collections, of which the fish collection is one. It designed its natural history team structure to ensure all collections receive the right level of research and collection care expertise, and to maximise connections with international networks of researchers.

In line with the recommendations of the Royal Society of New Zealand in its 2015 report on National Taxonomic Collections in New Zealand, the museum structured its team with assistant curators, curators, and lead curators to enable succession. This follows the Society’s recommendation that entry-level positions be created so that high-quality researchers can be attracted into the taxonomic field.


Media contact:

Kate Camp
029 601 0180