MA Conference

MA19 - Ko Aotearoa Tēnei - This is New Zealand

22-24 May 2019, Wellington

The 2019 Museums Aotearoa annual conference will be hosted in Wellington.

Wednesday 22 May will offer a range of visits, tours and workshops around the city, with the opening and awards event in the evening. Thursday 23 and Friday 24 May will be full conference days at Te Papa, and there will be social events both evenings.

Go to the MA19 Conference Website

Whakarongo ki te tangi a te Mātuhi, tūi, tūi, tui tuia!

Tuia ki runga, tuia ki raro, tuia ki roto, tuia ki waho, tuia ki te muka tangata i takea mai i
Te Hono ki Hawaiki e tū ake nei. Tuia ki a Ranginui, tuia ki a Papatūānuku, tuia ki a rāua tamariki, ki te taiao e.
Tuia ngā whare taonga, ngā toi ahurewa o te motu ki Te Ūpoko-o Te Ika a Māui.
Tuia te hunga mate ki te hunga ora, ko tātou ngā katiaki o ngā taonga i waihotia mai e rātou mā.
Ko Aotearoa Tēnei, tihei mauri ora!

The kaupapa for the 2019 Museums Aotearoa Conference draws on the landmark WAI262 Waitangi Tribunal report, Ko Aotearoa Tēnei (This is New Zealand). This whole-of-government review, issued in 2011, recommended wide-ranging reforms to legislation and policies that affected Crown-Māori relations across government departments and agencies, including significant statements on tino rangatiratanga, intellectual property and mātauranga Māori ā iwi, ā hapu. It was also the first Tribunal report to consider what the Treaty relationship between Māori and the Crown might become in the post-Treaty settlement era, and how that relationship might shape and change Aotearoa New Zealand over the next half century.

MA19 places the Treaty at the centre of discussions to ask how this new era of partnership might be brokered and what promises it holds for our future. Each day of the conference is themed after one of the three principles of the Treaty of Waitangi: Participation, Protection and Partnership.

These principles align with Museums Aotearoa’s strategic priorities around Advocacy, Growth & Development, and Manaakitanga. This year’s conference is proudly hosted by the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, the first museum in the world to be built upon a bicultural kaupapa, from leadership structure to collection care. Now entering its third decade, Te Papa is currently reviewing how it expresses its commitment to the Treaty, biculturalism, and partnerships with Māori in light of the changes in society since its establishment. This makes 2019 the ideal year for the national museum to act as a host and platform for the sector’s conversations on this topic.

In addition to two days of full conference presentations at Te Papa, MA19 will feature sector meet-ups, tours and masterclasses at other galleries and museums around the region, the Museums Aotearoa Awards evening and a special conference dinner at Parliament’s Banquet Hall.

Go to the MA19 conference Programme



MA18 - Outside Insights

20-23 May 2018

The 2018 Museums Aotearoa annual conference was held in Christchurch, jointly hosted by Christchurch Art Gallery, Canterbury Museum and the Air Force Museum.

Museum practice is enriched by connecting with people working outside the museum sector and applying their insights. In the post-quake Christchurch transformation we've pulled together and learnt from others. This conference presented inspirational speakers who offered perspectives on place-making, alternative ways of working, and the role of cultural institutions in a rapidly changing world.


  • Tā Mark Solomon: Former Kaiwhakahaere of Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu from 1998-2016 and board member of Te Papa 2001-2007. He now has various directorship roles including Chair of the Canterbury District Health Board.
  • Elizabeth Connor: Founder of The KinShip, dedicated to using storytelling and other creative tools to connect the potential of science with the real needs of the world, winner of the inaugural Prime Minister's Prize for Science Communication.
  • Kaila Colbin: Curator of TEDxChristchurch and TEDxScottBase, NZ Ambassador for Singularity University, co-founder and Chair of the non-profit Ministry of Awesome, Chair of the New York-based Natural Gourmet Institute, Deputy Chair of CORE Education, and a director of ChristchurchNZ, the Christchurch agency responsible for tourism, major events and economic development.

 Watch the keynote presentations on our YouTube channel here

MA17 Museums Aotearoa Conference
Palmerston North, 22-24 May 2017




keynote and session videos

How do we make our institutions more inclusive – accessible to everyone? Who is not included now? What would full inclusion look like? Come and be encouraged, challenged and inspired by industry experts, colleagues and invited participants at MA17.

As cultural and artistic hubs, museums and galleries strive to be places where all people feel welcomed and inspired.

We have a unique role caring for our peoples’ taonga and shared histories and experiences. This means we have a responsibility to remove barriers to participation and build stronger relationships with individuals and communities who have experienced limited access to our collections, sites and resources for physical, geographical, technological or social reasons.

Museums, galleries and heritage places internationally are making profound changes in their approaches to collections care and access, and the delivery of exhibitions and public programmes. These new practices will eventually see our museums and galleries firmly embedded in the public consciousness as spaces where anyone and everyone can readily find connection and belonging.

 To achieve this, we need to interrogate:

  • Who has a stake in what we do?
  • How do our communities want to access collections and how can we collaborate with them to provide this appropriately?
  • How can we fulfill our commitments of manaakitanga?
  • How do our audiences gain ‘ownership’ of stories and their place in a museum or gallery?
  • How do people of diverse backgrounds see themselves reflected in museum collections and stories, or linked to the culture and history of a region or place, if at all?
  • How do we amplify marginalised voices and promote inclusion?

Inclusive museums and galleries are committed to bringing high quality exhibitions and experiences to their diverse communities, while at the same time providing those same communities with platforms to develop their own connections inside and beyond the walls of our buildings.  Growing networks of artists, makers, communities, performers and organisations – including tertiary institutions, differently-abled artists and performers, activists and cultural groups – are more engaged than ever, contributing and revealing new meanings at the beating heart of all we represent.

This conference will provide us opportunities to advance towards our goal of museums and galleries being waka eke noa – vessels on which we can all travel together. We will examine the barriers, devise new ways of working together to dismantle them and learn from each other on this kaupapa.

The 2017 Museums Aotearoa conference committee looks forward to welcoming delegates to Palmerston North, one of New Zealand’s youngest, most diverse and connected cities, where we will explore these critical concepts further. We invite you to contribute to the programme with your ideas for sessions and presentations – see the call for expressions of interest.

MA17 will comprise three main conference days with additional pre- and post-conference events such as emerging museum professionals (EMP) hui, research symposium, awards celebration, kaitiaki hui and tours.

Our hosts at Te Manawa are presenting a range of public programmes to coincide with MA17, and the conference team have great ideas for inclusive programming and social activities – we hope you will join us.




MA16: Museums Australasia
Facing the Future: Local, Global and Pacific Possibilities

15-19 May 2016
Aotea Centre, Auckland, New Zealand

View the Keynote and Plenary Videos

Museums and galleries add public value. They are reliant on their visitors, communities, funders, stakeholders and each other for their continued existence. How do we ensure that museums and galleries are sustainable and maintain relevance to these stakeholders today and into the future?

Key Themes

  • Hāngaitanga – Relevance
  • Kaitiakitanga Custodianship
  • Tūranga Place
  • Mātauranga Knowledge
  • Tikanga Practice

The first joint conference of Museums Aotearoa and Museums Australia is taking place in New Zealand, where the spirit and partnership envisaged by the Treaty of Waitangi is observed and encouraged. Museums Aotearoa and Museums Australia are hosting MA16 with full participation of mana whenua (people of the land) – Ngati Whatua and Auckland Museum’s Taumata-ā-Iwi. The conference will generate conversations around relevance through the themes of custodianship, place, knowledge and practice. Ideas of partnership and collaboration will be woven throughout with a focus across Australasia and the Pacific.

Our provocation: Keynote speaker Robert R Janes recently challenged museums to address pressing societal issues and suggested that museums possess six qualities that can make a difference: collections; diversity; locality; the ability to bridge the ‘two cultures’ of science and humanities; the personal agency of professionals; and bearing witness in ways that expand knowledge and consciousness (‘Museums for all seasons’, Museum Management and Curatorship, 29(5), 2014)

As a platform for trans-Tasman dialogue, this conference is uniquely positioned to discuss the ways museums and galleries across Australia, New Zealand, the Pacific and Asia can offer social leadership while remaining relevant to their bicultural, indigenous and diverse communities and fulfilling their role as kaitiaki or custodians of collections.

Conference programme online

Download conference programme booklet (2MB pdf)


MA15: Communicating Culture

6-8 May 2015
Otago Museum, Dunedin, New Zealand

In an age when new communication technologies and methods appear almost daily, there are ever more ways to reach out to and engage the communities we serve with the stories hidden in our collections.  At the 2015 Museums Aotearoa Conference in Dunedin we aim to showcase the many innovative approaches museums and galleries in Aotearoa and beyond are using to share their collections  onsite, offsite and online.

  • story-telling
  • residencies
  • academic discourse
  • guerrilla exhibitions
  • artists' interventions
  • WW1 commemorations
  • advocacy
  • education programmes    
  • performance 
  • talk fests
  • co-curation
  • citizen science
  • news media
  • interactive media
  • social media

These are just some of the ways museums and galleries can be are communicating culture.

Click Here to see the programme



Museums Aotearoa Conference 2014 (MA14)


The Business of Culture

Wednesday 2 - Friday 4 April, 2014, Napier, New Zealand

We say we are in the ‘culture business’, but in truth the seemingly contradictory objectives of these two words, and worlds, cohabit uneasily at the heart of every debate.    As museums and galleries seek to build sustainable business models, our activities and cultural assets often still reside resolutely in the domain of the intangible. Maintaining both cultural and economic vitality takes creativity. As we grow our organisations for the twenty first century:

  • how do we harness the best of both the business and cultural worlds to ensure our place in New Zealand’s creative economy? 
  • in understanding our past we find our future. Museums have a history of success, so what do our survival instincts tell us?
  • if boom-times breed complacency, then today, in leaner economic times, how might we find common ground as we develop both our entrepreneurial orientation, and inventive expressions of our cultural value?

Our host institution this year is MTG Hawke’s Bay, a newly reopened destination at the cultural heart of Napier, New Zealand’s most stylish little city.  

Keynote speakers:

  • Laura Wright, CEO Tate Enterprises, UK VIDEO
  • Kate Clark, Museum Consultant, Australia VIDEO
  • Ganesh Nana, Economist, New Zealand VIDEO

Click here to see the programme.

Click here for the 2014 NZ Museum Awards


Museums Aotearoa Conference 2013 (MA13)

Leading Museums
10-12 April, Hamilton

Leadership – personal, professional and institutional

MA13 will explore aspects of leadership within and outside the museum:

  • museums as leaders in the community
  • leading and navigating through change
  • leading within the institution 
  • developing new leaders
  • museums leading economic recovery
  • museums engaging with social change

A team from Waikato Museum and the wider region has been meeting to plan an inspiring programme for colleagues to get together in Hamilton to share, learn and develop our leadership skills, knowledge and capacity.

There will be keynote speakers, workshops, panel discussion sessions, visits to local institutions, the 2013 NZ Museum Awards celebration, and the second annual Museums Aotearoa Lecture. And of course there will be lots of social occasions to catch up with old friends and meet new colleagues.

Click here to see the programme.

Contact the MA office for more information. 

Museums Aotearoa Conference 2012 (MA12)

MA12 - Collaboration in practice is now over. Click here for programme information.

We welcomed two international keynote speakers:

  • Umberto Crenca, founder and artistic director of AS220, a nonprofit centre for the arts in Providence, Rhode Island,
  • Jim Marchbank, former CEO of Science North, Sudbury, North Ontario,

The annual New Zealand Museum Awards Dinner was held on 19 April at the City Gallery, with some fine dining and a fantastic local band for entertainment. There was a record number of entries, visit our Awards page for the announcement of finalists and winners.

Further chances to catch up with colleagues were over welcome drinks at the Museum of Wellington City and Sea on Wednesday 18 April and Governors/Directors were invited to a dinner that evening hosted by the Hon Christopher Finlayson, Minister for Arts, Culture & Heritage.

The conference was preceded by the inaugural Museums Aotearoa Public Lecture on the evening of Tuesday 17 April in Soundings Theatre, Te Papa.

Museums Aotearoa Conference 2011 (MA11)

13 - 15 April 2011, Nelson

We had a great time at the MA11 conference in Nelson, hosted by The Suter and Nelson Provincial Museum.
Click here for programme information.

MA10 Museums - who needs them?

14 - 16 April 2010
New Plymouth

Demonstrating value and relevance in challenging and changing times.

Thank you to everyone that attended and contributed to the MA10 conference, jointly hosted by Puke Ariki and the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery.


MA09 Culture - Access - Innovation

15 - 17th April 2009

Making collections accessible to more people in new ways, MA09 explored the challenges of making our museum collections relevant and accessible to all our audiences.


MA08 Museum people - the human collection

8 - 11 April 2008

MA08 focussed on people - the staff and volunteers who keep our museums and art galleries functioning - and the challenges, training and development needs, and opportunities that we constantly juggle.


MA07 Museums – Building for the Future

14 - 17 March

Held just a few months after the opening of Auckland Museums' grand atrium redevelopment, MA07 looked at case studies, issues and contexts for museum architecture and development.


MA06 Museums as a central focus for community

12 - 14 April