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A year of hard work and successes at MTG

Like most people, I think, I have found the past two or three years quite tough and I was hugely relieved when Covid mandates were finally lifted and we could all see each other’s faces again! I think the last few years have taught us all that we need to look after ourselves mentally, emotionally and physically and, to that end, I took a longer than usual break earlier in the year and spent time walking, reading, catching up with friends and family and giving myself space to recharge my batteries.

Despite all the challenges, and due to the amazing team at MTG Hawke’s Bay, we still managed to achieve quite a lot during 2022.

Around mid-year we said a sad farewell to the hugely popular A Bloody Business: the history of five Hawke’s Bay freezing works and replaced it with another hit exhibition – Silver Shadows: the story of Marineland. This show has bought out many a story from our visitors of their memories of Marineland and even bought a few people to tears – it’s clear that, like the freezing works, Marineland has left its mark on the community.

We’ve had a number of art shows over the year including; Nature/Culture which examined our relationship with nature, Te ahua,te wa, te atea by Russ Flat which reimagined, using digital tools, what the landscape looked like before colonisation occurred, and artist Atareta Black was inspired by the MTG collection, exploring traditional weaving techniques and using these to create contemporary artworks in Ki Uta, Ki Tai.

Other exhibitions over the year were Bizarre by Clarice Cliff, looking at the art deco style of this particular design, Operation Grapple which shares the harrowing and hard to believe story of our veterans exposure to nuclear testing in the Pacific, and Bruce Connew: A Vocabulary utilising headstones to expose the history of colonial wars in Aotearoa.

Of course we offer much more than exhibitions, and so were pleased to renew our contract with the Ministry of Education this year. The Ministry supports us to continue delivering programmes for school groups and, with the new curriculum placing an emphasis on Aotearoa’s history, we’re more relevant than ever helping schools understand the history of this place and support their education focus particular to Te Matau-a-Māui.

We created a feedback wall to allow our visitors to easily and freely share their thoughts and ideas, the return of Nuit Blanche was a welcome event and we loved participating in the newest public holiday celebrating Matariki. Having the New Zealand International Film Festival at the Century Theatre is always a highlight of the year and 2022 was no exception.

One of the exciting things this year has been the progress on the building project based in Hastings. Working with Richard Hooper from Hastings District Council and architects from RTA we’ve made great progress on planning and designing a wonderful facility and a total of $14.5 million in external funding has been raised so far, with a further $3.3 million committed by both Hastings and Napier Councils. Physical work will commence next year and we hope to have the collection in its new home in 2024.

I was honoured to go to the opening of the Toitoi Municipal Building – what a wonderful moment for Hawke’s Bay and how great to have this truly glamorous facility available to the community again. Museums Aotearoa hosted a Museums Leadership Summit which I attended, a great opportunity to focus on strategic matters, meet new leadership colleagues and reconnect with others, and provided a moment to take a breath and lift my sights out of the day-to-day business of running a museum. The most special moment for me personally however, was attending the dawn opening of Manahau wharenui at Wharerangi marae – a truly moving occasion and one I will long remember.

If all that wasn’t enough, we were also the recipients of the Colour Maestro award in the installation category of the Resene Total Colour Awards for Kuru Taonga: Voices of Kahungunu. The exhibition has a design based on the colours of the paua shell, a symbol for Kahungunu, and a design element from one of Whetu Tirikatene-Sullivan’s dresses. I continue to be in awe of the talent and dedication that the team brings to our exhibitions – they’re a real superstar team! All in all a year of hard work and great successes. Thank you all for your ongoing support – the work we do is for you and we’re pleased that you keep coming. Whether or not your family celebrates Christmas we hope you enjoy the holiday season and wish you all the best for the coming year.

Published in the Hawke’s Bay Today newspaper 31 December 2022 and written by Laura Vodanovich, Director at MTG Hawke’s Bay

Image caption: award winning Kuru Taonga: Voices of Kahungunu exhibition

4 January 2023

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