Managing Accountability at MTG


The question is often asked “What planet do politicians live on?” In the case of Hawke’s Bay’s local body politicians the answer must be “Planet Teflon” – as nothing ever seems to stick, especially accountability.

From storage space shortages, to wildly inaccurate consultants’ reports on projected visitor motions (pun intended); things did not get off to a good start for Napier’s revamped cultural and historical hub – “MTG”, or “Museum, Theatre, Gallery”.

Now, after another council-commissioned consultant’s report – The “McDermott Miller Report” has been released into just what went wrong, where, how badly and how it could be fixed.

I have read the report and it makes pretty good, common sense. Perhaps its only down-fall is that it cost Napier rate-payers the equivalent of New Zealand’s average annual wage to tell them what a Napier ratepayer on the average wage could have told them after a visit or two to MTG.

After a flurry of publicity and changes in the last couple weeks, I now understand that Napier City Council announced they will not be blaming, firing, or holding anyone accountable for MTG’s much-publicised failings.



In fact, the council appears to have taken a “move along – nothing to see here!” (Inferences like that will NOT help visitor numbers, by the way) approach. Napier City Council’s new CEO Wayne Jack even said he was “tiring of the barrage of criticism” being levelled at MTG.
My advice to Wayne in helping avoid such situations is simple:


Not to be outdone, former Napier mayor, Hawke’s Bay Museum Trust chairwoman, acting trust general manager and MTG project champion, Barbara Arnott has already identified who is to blame – saying she “believed the whole MTG issue had been blown out of proportion by some people who had expressed their feelings and opinions without “thinking it through”.” in the local newspaper.

Of course, how silly of us – it’s all the rate-paying public and fact-quoting media’s fault! What an absolute load of imperious rubbish!

I was saddened not to hear or see any rebuttal from Hawke’s Bay Today Editor, Andrew Austin, supporting his reporters or readers / online commenters on such a ludicrous statement to what is a very public issue.

In the real world, when things this big go this wrong, people lose their jobs. MTG is currently going through a round of staff redundancies as a result of their current review. If MTG’s marketing department had indeed ignored a large portion of the community as potential visitors because of their socio-economic status, as McDermott Miller claims then, yes, heads certainly need to roll – A region’s culture and history is made up from everyone’s input, so no-one should be exempted from being able to view and appreciate it. But you can’t help but feel that deeper problems, well out of the control of staff, have not been accurately accounted for.

How are Mrs Arnott and former NCC CEO and MTG project manager Neil Taylor, despite their deep involvement in MTG’s development, apparently completely free from criticism or accountability?

Current Mayor, Bill Dalton says he “did his apprenticeship” under Arnott and the majority of the current council is unchanged from the one led by Arnott for so many years, so there is doubtlessly still a sense (or burden) of loyalty there.

But there appears to be far less love between current council CEO Wayne Jack and his predecessor – Jack having to tidy up a number of messes left over from the previous regime in his first months in office. In fact the way in which Jack does a number of things is a complete reversal to Taylor’s modus operandi, so it would not have been too surprising to have seen Taylor being “Thrown under the Art Deco Bus (another of his projects)”, But no – no accountability there either

Come to think of it, any and all past and current Napier city councillors involved in committees for and voting on MTG’s errant planning and enactment have somehow escaped any and all responsibility or accountability for some very expensive mistakes that are very embarrassing to Napier.

How is that fair?

All this MTG publicity couldn’t come at a worse time for the “Friends of MTG” programme, as they are in the middle or their annual membership renewal programme.

My wife and I are “Friends of MTG” and have been for a number of years – so any “conflicts of interest” claims that those mentioned above have completely avoided will doubtlessly now be levelled at me…. 🙁

I and a number of my fellow “MTG Friends” think for all its faults MTG does indeed have a lot of unfulfilled potential – it’s still a bit of a “blank canvas” if you will. But we also want to see those responsible for some major errors held accountable for their actions.

What do other “MTG Friends” think?

I would expect this year’s membership numbers depend on it.

Napier, its history, present, and future, its art and culture deserves better.

1 thought on “Managing Accountability at MTG

  1. The McDermott Report has been removed from the NCC’s website. It appears twice in a search but both links are dead.

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