Bezett calls for feedback on museum name

The Dunedin City Council should seek further community feedback before changing the Otago Settlers Museum's name, city councillor John Bezett says.

A reasonable case could be made for the present title and also for the proposed "Toitu: Otago Settlers Museum" name, which was backed by the council's community development committee at a meeting on Monday, Cr Bezett said.

But it was important to allow the public a chance to express their views given "Toitu" was not among the options put to them in a recent poll, Cr Bezett said.

The council is expected to vote on the issue on June 25.

The museum is due to reopen later this year after a $40 million redevelopment.

Submissions should be called for on which name the community supported, and particularly whether the current name or the proposed new name was preferred, Cr Bezett said.

"I think that the [consultation] process was flawed. To me it was unfortunate," Cr Bezett said.

Many people had been "very disappointed" after taking part in a recent online poll only to find that a name not listed among the eight-strong short list could now be adopted by the council.

In an informal ODT online poll which closed yesterday afternoon, 76% of votes (537) were cast against the proposed new name, with 24% (173) supporting it.

Cr Bezett, a member of the museum board, backed the present name at the development committee.

He had since received a lot of feedback supporting "Otago Settlers Museum."

Cr Lee Vandervis, a member of the museum's board and the community development committee, told this week's committee meeting Toitu had the potential to be "a really strong new brand" for the council-owned museum, but yesterday said nothing is "set in concrete".

The council was likely to want to take the wider community concerns into account on June 25 rather than making a controversial and unpopular decision, he said.

Settlers Museum director Linda Wigley, when asked about the debate, said she was "really pleased people are taking so much interest in the museum".

The museum had received some feedback against the proposed new name, but it had also been well supported, she said.

The museum opened in 1908 and was run by the Otago Settlers Association - formed in 1898 - until 1991, when it gifted most of the institution's contents to the city.

Until 1994, it was known as the Otago Early Settlers Museum.

Asked whether members of the association had the chance to suggest a name outside the public consultation process, Ms Wigley said the museum and association worked closely together, the association had three representatives on the board, and a workshop had been held to consider views from the association.

Asked about whether the museum's Maori advisory group Te Pae O Mahutonga could "gift" a name, she said she was pleased they had done so.

 

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