Code of ethics: For governing bodies and relevant local authority managers
Our Code describes the responsibilities of museums, galleries, governing bodies and staff, to each other and to the collections, as well as to the public who support, fund and visit a museum or gallery.
To the museum
Governing bodies and local authority managers with responsibility for museums and art galleries will:
- ensure the museum or art gallery building is safe for public use and that management and staff are aware of and trained in emergency procedures;
- ensure originals of key enabling documentation, such as statutes and trust deeds, are safely stored with copies available elsewhere;
- ensure the preparation of clear statements relating to the aims, objectives, policies and plans of the museum or art gallery, its roles, structure and sustainability, and ensure these are regularly reviewed;
- communicate these to those associated with the museum, the communities it serves and its key stakeholders;
- secure the support and financial resources necessary to achieve the museum’s aims and objectives;
- ensure the collections are viewed as a crucial foundation of the museum or art gallery and, whether or not it is valued as a financial asset, ensure that the museum never pledges, mortgages, nor otherwise uses its collections as security to raise loan funds or to finance operations;
- ensure that deaccessioning does not take place in the absence of a policy framework nor against the advice of the museum’s professional staff. Appropriate independent advice should be sought when the value of items proposed for de-accessioning warrants it;
- ensure that, in the event of collection items being repatriated and/or disposed of in line with staff advice, donors or their
- descendants (if any), and other museums, collecting institutions or relevant iwi are informed prior to items being sold by public auction, private treaty or other means;
- ensure that all funds raised in the process of an approved deaccessioning are applied solely and unequivocally to the benefit of the collection;
- ensure that, when items are approved for loan by museums and galleries supported by public funding (in full or in part), such loans are made available to other public museums and galleries in Aotearoa New Zealand using a fee structure based solely on cost recovery;
- have a genuine interest in the unique characteristics of Aotearoa New Zealand, and the Treaty of Waitangi and confirm this by:
- understanding and taking into account the tikanga and kawa of tangata whenua;
- discussing and supporting appropriate affirmative action by museums in their relationships with tangata whenua;
- valuing the significance of tangata whenua and all other peoples who have made Aotearoa New Zealand home; and
- recognising the principles of tino rangitiratanga and relationships between collections and peoples associated with those collections;
- have regard to New Zealand’s official languages, including te reo Māori and New Zealand sign language;
- ensure that any actual or potential conflicts of interest are reported to the governing body and that their individual actions do not bring the museum or art gallery into professional, legal or public disrepute;
- ensure that if, at the time they join the museum or art gallery governing body, they hold a personal collection or collections relevant to the museum’s or art gallery’s, they provide full details of that collection to the gallery director and, during their term on the governing body, adhere to the same guidelines as those outlined for staff in 3.2.d-g (p14-15).
Those responsible for appointing members of governing bodies should ensure that individuals appointed:
- confirm their interest in the museum, its aims and objectives, and are prepared to ensure that they are achieved;
- reflect a mix of skills and knowledge and are broadly representative of gender, age, Māori and other perspectives appropriate to the collection and operations of the museum or art gallery.
To the staff of the museum
Members of governing bodies or local authority managers will also:
- a act in all respects as a good and fair employer, to both paid and unpaid staff;
- ensure appropriate delegations are in place so that policies and plans are developed and implemented; and
- ensure that the responsibilities included in this Code are known, reinforced and met by the museum and its staff.