Opinion: The Day The Museum Died

Jul 07, 2019

Opinion: It was the 13th of April 2018. The museum, an iconic location for Invercargill was closed to the public. Some staff was allowed to continue to work there, even though they had to close it due to a report received 5 years earlier.

The report stated that some parts of the building was less than 34% of the earthquake building standards, and other areas of the building were a higher percentage, and that the building needed attention.

The Museum was closed by the Council’s CEO, citing the safety of the public and staff, referring to her authority under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015. The Council owns the building or land and maintenances it so she has some delegated authority.

We fast forward one year and 3 months and the community still knows nothing.

The Museum is still closed, however you can see the Tuatara through the window, and show visitors when you take them through Queens Park.

I don’t want to judge people for bad management, but this entire thing is an example of that. How did we even get into a position where we had to close the Museum. This is a list of bad executions in terms of leadership.

What we know so far is that a Consultant was hired and presented a report with details of the options for the rebuild/redevelopment, including a preferred option, and costings. Council also committed $9.5m to the museum project in the next five years – $2.5m in 2021-22 and the balance of $7m in 2022-23, and potential funders were identified.

Now I think we must ask for clarity, on the plan moving forward, and maybe some recognition of this being a complete screw up.

Why does no one apologise when they have made a major mistake, and change direction?

Why are we no further ahead, presenting any progress to the community to re-open this beloved city asset?

We have never stopped paying for the running of our Museum with rates, so tell us what are we paying for?

The Council said they would establish a temporary and limited museum presence within the City, where is it?

If the plan is something the majority of the community isn’t going to be happy with, then say it!

Just tell us what is happening.

Give us the pill, and we might have to swallow it.

I have come to love Southlanders because if they are presented with a great idea they will make the most of it and support it, i.e. Splash Palace, Our Parks, Surf to City, ILT Stadium, Matariki Festival.

There was talk at one time of putting in a Tuatarium and Kakaporium and turning the space into an Exploratorium.

What happened to these ideas?

Why haven’t we applied for Lotteries Environment and Heritage funding or the Significant Project Fund?

None of this information has been made public despite the fact that the community was consulted on what they wanted, approved the money and asked hard questions when the Museum closed.

I am running for Invercargill City Council and “Kari for Council” authorises this statement.

Kari Graber.

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