Museum Theatre Gallery Hawke's Bay is hunting a hat-trick at the New Zealand museum awards this year.

Museums Aotearoa has announced the finalists in the Service IQ 2016 New Zealand Museum Awards and MTG Hawke's Bay features as a finalist in three of the 10 categories.

Its Tenei Tonu exhibition is up for the regional taonga Maori award and John Vea's work Talanoa: Colloquies of the unrecognised worker is a finalist in the regional art category.

The museum's brightly coloured Pin Wall exterior display is vying for best museum project.


Museum director Laura Vodanovich said she was excited to learn that MTG was a finalist in multiple categories.

"I'm thrilled for our team that their work has been recognised by such a distinguished line-up of judges."

It was testament to the quality of exhibitions, she said, and programmes that were put together for different audiences.

Tourism Hawke's Bay general manager Annie Dundas said the MTG was hugely important in promoting the region. "The MTG tells our stories to those who visit and to our local community."

She said the more amazing exhibitions we had access to the better.

Museums Aotearoa executive director Phillipa Tocker said selecting the finalists in the annual awards was a challenge because of the high quality and the number of entries.

"What really stood out was the depth of the talent and originality in our museums and galleries."

The sector was in a very exciting place right now, she said.

"Whether you are visiting a gallery or museum in one of our major cities or you are in the regions, you will find exhibitions and programmes that challenge and entertain you and encourage you to think about the world around you in new ways."

This year's judging panel comprises the University of Auckland's Dr Michelle Dickinson, New Zealand Portrait Gallery acting director Helen Kedgley, Tauranga City Council cultural heritage manager Dean Flavell and Dr Bronwyn Labrum, the head of New Zealand and Pacific Cultures at Te Papa.

The winners will be announced on Wednesday, May 18 during the inaugural Museums Australasia conference in Auckland.