Paul considers future as Collins not reappointed

Shimrath Paul
Shimrath Paul
Otago Museum director Shimrath Paul is contemplating his future as the winds of change blow through the boardroom of the Otago Museum.

One of Mr Paul's most loyal supporters, museum trust board chairwoman Margaret Collins, has not been reappointed as the Clutha District Council's representative on the board.

And her deputy, Malcolm Farry, has resigned.

That has left Mr Paul wondering who their replacements might be and whether he will be able to work with them.

"I think Margaret was worried, I think ... a number of the board members were worried when Margaret was not reappointed by Clutha, that I would probably pack it in as well.

"They asked me if I would and I said, 'Well, I don't know'.

"If I can't work with the new chairperson then I will have to give careful consideration to that ... it takes two hands to clap, doesn't it. You can't clap with one hand."

Both Mr Paul and Mrs Collins [an interview with Mrs Collins appears in today's Magazine section] told the Otago Daily Times this week of the close working relationship between the board and management.

Mrs Collins was on the selection panel that - appointed Mr Paul 20 years ago and Mr Paul said they had worked well together.

"Don't get me wrong. It wasn't a bed of roses. We had our differences of opinion and we had differing views."

Asked to be specific about those differences, Mr Paul said he could not remember the detail.

"The reason I can't remember was because the next day it was forgotten.

"The next day we would agree to disagree and move on ... because the issue wasn't very important.

"What was most important was that we made the best decision in the best interests of the Otago Museum and to us it comes back to what is our mission and what is our vision."

Mr Paul said he would miss Mrs Collins but, "as Margaret herself has said, she has been here for a long time".

"It will be a matter of the new chairman and myself, whoever that is, sitting down and saying, 'OK, where do we want to take the museum from here?'."

Mr Paul, who makes no secret of taking strong pain relief for a degenerative back problem, told the ODT he had always said 20 years and he would move on.

"But I said five years and I will move on, then it became 10 years, then it became 15 years."

Within the next few years he would be thinking about what to do with his own life, he said.

"There are a number of things I am interested in doing, like charitable work."

Mr Paul said he would like to see two new storeys added to the museum while he remained director.

"That would be my swan song. Three months after that is finished, if I can achieve that in the next few years, I will finish up."

Last year, former staff made allegations of intimidating behaviour at the museum.

A former staff member, who did not want to be named, said this week it was "hard to say" whether the airing of concerns about the museum had led to changes on the board.

"I think it's just time for some new blood down there."

Mrs Collins has taken over as chairwoman of the Association of Friends of the museum.

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