Space cleared for Hobbit show that is years away yet

Plans to stage a Hobbit exhibition at Te Papa have been shelved, but the library space where it was to be held is being cleared anyway.

Almost 200 books are being given away either because they are duplicates or are not seen as suitable. Librarian positions are also under review.

The changes are going ahead despite Te Papa chief executive Michael Houlihan admitting there were no detailed plans for the library space.


A spokeswoman for Sir Peter Jackson said the films would not be completed for up to three years, so no props or other material would be available for use in the display until then.

The library changes have dismayed academics and researchers and the descendants of Sir James Hector, after whom the library was named until it was changed to Te Aka Matua in 2001.

Victoria University historian Professor Charlotte MacDonald said she was surprised at the changes, given Te Papa's long-term goal to be a research centre.

"In a research institution you need to create knowledge, which is different from organising information, and a library is a crucial part of creating knowledge."

Sir James founded the colonial museum, which became the precursor to the national museum, in 1865. His great-grandson Peter Hector said the family was "angry and upset" at the change of name. "All reference to the Hector Library has been removed from Te Papa's website and information too. It's very disappointing."

Houlihan said the library change was in response to a 2009 report by Solnet, an IT business solutions consultancy.

He did not have a copy of the 2009 report to hand, but he understood its recommendation to scale down the library was because foot traffic through it had dwindled since 1998 when Te Papa opened.

Sir James Hector was a geologist and scientist with an international reputation. The Hector Medal, awarded annually for outstanding work in chemical, physical or mathematical and information sciences, is one of New Zealand's most prestigious science prizes.

Peter Hector said the 150th anniversary of the founding of the colonial museum was coming up in 2015, and he would like to invite Te Papa to celebrate the occasion with the Hector Interest Group. But Houlihan said he was not aware of any planned celebrations for the 150th anniversary. "That's a matter for our events department."

Te Papa recently advertised four high-level management positions based around its fourth mission statement: changing hearts, changing minds, changing lives.

Kaihautu (Maori CEO) Michelle Hippolyte resigned this week to take up the top position at Te Puni Kokiri.