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11.30  Toward Participatory Development of Museum Performance Indicators: A Means of Embedding "Shared Authority"? Experiences from Aotearoa, New Zealand

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In Aotearoa, New Zealand, museums and Maori increasingly work together to elaborate practices for managing material culture and Indigenous knowledge held within institutions. These initiatives accelerated after legislation in 1975 and 1985 to progress settlement of tribal claims for redress against the Crown (the Government) following land confiscations and other breaches of the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi. “Te Maori,” a landmark international exhibition in 1984-1985, further recognized the wealth of tribally significant treasures, many having been alienated from their source communities, and provided much reflection for the dominant Pakeha (non-Maori) museum sector on relationships with Maori. Since then, emerging forms of bicultural museum practices have generated models of co-management and co-governance. However, discourse around “shared authority” has not yet penetrated museums’ accountability practice to reflect what matters to Maori stakeholders in the ways that museums operate and report their achievements. 

Accountability requirements for publicly-funded museums in New Zealand cover standard financial reporting and “service performance” reporting, but approaches to the latter are unspecified, usually quantitative, and rarely address community stakeholders’ interests. Given the economic and political power now accruing to Maori through their treaty settlements, how might cultural heritage institutions design and report on meaningful performance to meet the needs of their Maori constituents? This paper will present Maori perspectives from participatory research investigating how stakeholders assess their museum’s performance and argues for the incorporation of Maori-designed performance indicators and reporting mechanisms to increase indigenous confidence in museum policies and operations and more fully embed culturally-sanctioned practice in the institutional management and interpretation of Maori heritage. 

Drawing on Freeman’s stakeholder theory (1984), and using a novel empirical research design involving community stakeholders in focus groups and concept mapping exercises, both Maori and Pakeha informants generated “possible performance statements” for a case museum. Bicultural analysis of sorted and rated statements revealed both convergences and divergences; differing paradigms of perceived value in the museum enterprise. Findings have been used to develop a performance reporting framework and a conceptual model which incorporates what matters to Maori stakeholders. 

The paper will argue that, with Maori now active contributors to governance, management, and implementation of museum activities involving their own heritage, they might reasonably expect to identify both culturally determined factors against which museum performance is reported, and accountability reporting processes familiar to them, beyond the formal Annual Report. Inclusive approaches to developing meaningful performance assessment can build mutual confidence and strengthen relationships between museums and the Maori whose cultural material is in their care. By recognizing the critical interests of Maori stakeholders through a responsive accountability program, the concept of shared authority in heritage management gains more substance, empowering proactive engagement with their museum-held taonga (treasures) and upholding the mana (authority) of their ancestors.

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