Canterbury Museum

New Zealand’s major metropolitan museums announce long-term agreement on valuable Oldman Collection

Posted: 3 March 2010

An agreement has been signed by Canterbury Museum, Auckland War Memorial Museum, Te Papa Tongarewa, and Otago Museum setting in place permanent and responsible guardianship for the important William O Oldman Collection, a major compilation of Maori taonga and Polynesian objects held by all four museums.

The Oldman Collection of some 3,500 objects was purchased by the New Zealand Government in 1948 from William Ockelford Oldman of London. Portions of it have been held in a number of museums around New Zealand since that time, with the major part housed in the Auckland, Canterbury, and Otago Museums and Te Papa.

Since the 1992 passage of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa Act, the major museums have sought a way to assure long-term custodianship of the treasures, whilst honouring the intention of the acquisition to make the collection available to as many New Zealanders as possible.

Discussions at the Museum Directors and Chairs meeting held at Auckland Museum in May, 2009, paved the way for this agreement. Through further negotiations and meetings all four major museums resolved outstanding issues and created the current agreement.

“This agreement between the country’s major museums signals a collaborative approach to a collection of national importance,” says Canterbury Museum Director Anthony Wright. “The commitment to sharing knowledge about the collection through a collective database will be immensely useful for future research.”