Brown takes Museum post

Andrew Brown

3 April Update – Andrew Brown was today appointed Te Ara Wai Governance Committee chair. An earlier version of the story in print below jumped the gun and suggested he had already been appointed.

The News understands Cr Marcus Gower is no longer a trustee.

Andrew Brown has been appointed one of two Waipā District Council representatives to the Te Awamutu and District Museum Trust Board following the resignation of Māori ward councillor Takena Stirling.

Brown joins Lou Brown while a third councillor, Marcus Gower, sits on the trust in a personal capacity although he queried that during the council meeting this week.

“I’m confused why I sit on that. Was I an elected member?”

Mayor Susan O’Regan told Gower he was not representing council on the trust.

Andrew Brown’s appointment comes as it has been revealed the relationship between the council and the trust has been chequered since 2017 when lawyers were brought in to sort out ongoing issues, many of which The News understands still remain.

Lou Brown

The trust has not publicly filed an annual financial return nor published its trustees and, according to sources, has not formally met for several years.

Companies Office Business Registries national manager Bolen Ng said the trust was not a registered charity on the Department of Internal Affairs Charities Services register. If it was, there would be annual filing requirements.

Instead the trust is registered under the Charitable Trusts Act which does not require the information.

It owns a multimillion-dollar collection on behalf of the community. The council plans to establish Te Ara Wai, a $27 million facility, to house the collection.

Marcus Gower

Andrew Brown is also a member of the Te Ara Wai Governance committee which aims to deliver a new museum facility in Arawata Street, in what was the former Bunnings building.

At the council meeting, councillor Roger Gordon asked whether the trust board was required to report to council and when was the last time a report had been received from it.

O’Regan said the trust board was independent of the council while Governance manager Jo Gread said council made appointments to a number of groups.

“It doesn’t necessarily mean there is any reporting back,” she said.

Roger Gordon

“Why do we need two representatives then?” asked Gordon to which O’Regan said she was unsure what the trust’s constitution required.

“Last term there were three representatives, now it has dropped down to two,” she said.

Gread said she was unaware of any request from the trust to reduce its councillor membership further.

The News asked the council through a Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act (LGOIMA) request about the ongoing relationship between the council and the trust and whether the collection was in safe hands.

In her response Customer and Community Services group manager Sally Sheedy said the collection was a valuable community asset with “enormous community value”.

Sally Sheedy

“Only museum staff, not board members, have day-to-day access to the collection. Any deaccession of any pieces within the collection, through sale or otherwise, must be undertaken in strict accordance with a procedure jointly agreed by council and the trust board.”

Professional museum staff with capability, professional skills and experience look after the collection according to recognised museum standards, she said.

The News asked trust chair Dean Taylor for its financial accounts, the chair’s report to the annual meeting and a list of its trustees in February this year and between November 2019 and October 2022.

“I’m talking to trustees and taking legal advice about what questions even need to be answered,” he said.


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