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Southland Museum report must be released, board member says

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Southland Museum and Art Gallery Trust Board member Roger Eagles wants a report suggesting future museum options for Invercargill released to the public.

Robyn Edie

Southland Museum and Art Gallery Trust Board member Roger Eagles wants a report suggesting future museum options for Invercargill released to the public.

A report discussing future options for a museum in Invercargill has been “gathering dust” for eight months and must be released to the public, a frustrated  Southland Museum and Art Gallery board member says.

Roger Eagles spoke out on the issue at a board meeting this week and put two Southland councils on notice. 

With the pyramid museum near Queens Park being closed due to earthquake safety concerns nearly two years ago, the museum board asked strategic planner Tim Walker to compile a report looking at future museum options for Invercargill.  

Darren Ludlow, Southland Museum and Art Gallery trust board member and Invercargill city councillor.

John Hawkins

Darren Ludlow, Southland Museum and Art Gallery trust board member and Invercargill city councillor.

Eagles said the report was comprehensive and included the type of museum Walker thought would suit Southland, with cost estimates.

Since then there had been a “constant drip of criticism” towards the museum board for failing to do anything active, but Eagles suggested the Invercargill City Council and Southland District Council – stakeholders in the museum – had held up progress. 

READ MORE:
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* GDC backs Southland Museum and Art Gallery governance change
* Hadley: Museum closure compelled by info “we couldn’t un-know”.

Southland District Mayor Gary Tong.

John Hawkins

Southland District Mayor Gary Tong.

When the final report was released to the museum board eight months ago its members agreed it should be released to the public.

However, the councils had asked the board not to release it as they wanted time to read it in order to react if media asked them about it, Eagles said.

The board agreed, and several months later, in October, the councils again asked the museum board not to release the report which the board again agreed to, he said.

“Now we have a report that’s eight months old.

“It’s contents may be controversial … it doesn’t matter, what matters is getting the report out to the public and let them debate it.”

He suggested further museum progress would be stymied until the report was released and the public had debated it.

“You can’t just order up reports at great expense and let them gather dust, it’s just not responsible.”

Some board members around the table agreed with Eagles, but not all did. 

Darren Ludlow, a museum board member and also an Invercargill city councillor, suggested Eagles comments were “rather unfair” as the councils had been preoccupied with other things such as the October local body elections, new councils getting to terms with issues, annual plans and Christmas.

“You can look at the period of time and say it’s substantial but actually the people supposed to be making the decisions have been distracted and preoccupied.”

The councils had paid for the report and had asked the museum board to hold onto it until the councils had discussed it at a combined workshop, Ludlow said.

This has not yet happened.

If the museum board released the report now it would not endear them to people expected to advance the project, he said.

Southland District Mayor Gary Tong said he endorsed Ludlow’s comments.

At the end of the discussion, Eagles withdrew his motion on the table which asked board members to agree to releasing the report to the public.

However, on Eagles suggestion, the board members agreed to revisit his motion at its April meeting – which gives the councils about two months to have a workshop to discuss the contents of the Tim Walker museum report.

 

 

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