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April 23, 2012 | by  | in News | [ssba]

Museum Needs New Sugar Daddy

City council tires of demanding younger lover.

Wellington icon Te Papa may be forced to charge admission to certain areas under proposed cuts to funding from the Wellington City Council.

The Council signed off this month on a draft long-term plan, which included a proposal to slash funding for the museum from $2.25 million to $1 million, a decrease of 55 per cent.

Besides charging for admission to certain areas such as the child-focused Discovery Centre, it has been suggested that the museum may be forced to lay off staff and reduce exhibit changeovers.

An ad hoc submissions board has been erected in the museum under the familiar slogan of “Save our Services”, with visitors invited to

add their thoughts via yellow post-it notes and ballpoint pen. These messages will be collated and sent with the museum’s submission against the proposal, which closes on May 18.

Support for Te Papa in the face of the cuts has, somewhat unsurprisingly, been gathering on Facebook. A group entitled ‘Wellingtonians for Te Papa’. After a mention in a Dominion Post article, the group, spearheaded by Salient’s political columnist Hamish McConnochie, had amassed 469 ‘likes’ at the time of printing, and almost as many testimonials from Wellingtonians expressing their support.

McConnochie says that the decision to cut funding to Te Papa is counterintuitive to the Council’s.

“When Te Papa is our city’s second most popular tourist activity after “walking around the city streets”, attracting over 75,000 domestic and international visitors who list Te Papa as their primary reason for visiting, per year, every year, cutting the funding is bad for Wellington,” he says

“It’s bad for the retail and hospitality sector, at a time they’re already struggling due to the economic climate and state sector cuts. We need to be supporting assets which bring tourists to Wellington, an asset which generates $59 million worth of tourism related spending.”

One of the key fears of the group is that the proposed cuts may lead to the museum moving to Auckland – a paranoia with which fans of the Wellington Phoenix and the local film industry are all too familiar.


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