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Aratoi asks for shorter deal with MDC

By Emily Norman

[email protected]

Aratoi has confirmed it will reduce its opening hours and not fill the role of exhibition coordinator.

Aratoi Regional Trust had asked for the reduction of its service agreement and Memorandum of Understanding with Masterton District Council to be only one year, instead of a previously tabled three years.

The changes were confirmed at a full council meeting yesterday afternoon, meaning Aratoi would be funded to the tune of $265,000 by the council for 2016/17.

The proposed changes, which were actioned by Aratoi’s board, included clauses that the museum would close each Monday, the role of the exhibition coordinator would not be filled, and a proportion of staff costs would be recovered from project funds already received to proceed with the planned exhibition programme.

When the changes to the agreement were put to the council yesterday, councillor Graham McClymont moved to approve them, however no one seconded the motion to approve the changes at first.

Councillor Brent Goodwin recommended that the issue be left for decision by the new council or until council were provided “complete and accurate information on the organisation, which we don’t have currently”.

There were no seconders to his motion.

Mayor Lyn Patterson said approving the new documents and term of one year of funding would allow for a thorough “interim” conversation between MDC, Lands Trust, and Aratoi.

“The conversation needs to start now so that we are ready to sign an MOU of three years by the 30th of June next year,” she said.

Councillor David Holmes said he hoped the decision to support funding for one year instead of three would be seen as being “constructive, rather than destructive” by the community.

“Every city or town needs a museum of some sort… Masterton needs it,” he said.

Councillor Gary Caffell, a self-proclaimed “strong supporter of Aratoi”, said council needed to bring in the major stakeholders into the discussion – ie the public.

“I believe we’re now in a situation where we need to get a feeling from the public whether they’re in support of us continuing our current funding, or even whether they’re in favour of us increasing funding,” he said.

MDC Iwi representative Ra Smith said Aratoi was important as it was a place “where our stories can be told”.

Mrs Patterson moved to approve the Memorandum of Understanding and Service Agreement, which was then successfully seconded by Mr Goodwin.

“Aratoi as a board have decided that these are the best terms for them to be responsible as a board – that’s what they are wanting to do to make ends meet,” Mrs Patterson said.

“This is their suggestion to move forward.”

Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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