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Te Papa appoints new Chief Executive

10 Nov 2014

The Board and Chairman of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa are pleased to announce the appointment of Rick Ellis as the new Chief Executive for the museum.

Rick Ellis 1
New Te Papa CEO Rick Ellis

New Zealander Rick Ellis has an exceptional track record in senior executive roles, providing outstanding leadership in New Zealand and Australia; as Chief Executive for 10 years at TVNZ, Chief Executive Officer of Ansett New Zealand, Managing Director of EDS New Zealand and most recently, as Group Executive Telstra Media based in Sydney.

Mr Ellis is renowned for helping organisations take dramatic steps forward. At state broadcaster TVNZ, he led the introduction of digital channels and the push into on-demand online and digital content services. At Telstra he led the transformation of their internet protocol television (IPTV) and digital content services. His career in IT spans over 25 years in New Zealand, Australia and the UK with Burroughs Corporation, Wang Laboratories and EDS Corporation.

Te Papa Chairman Evan Williams says, “we are excited by the depth of leadership experience that Mr Ellis is bringing to Te Papa. When we began our search for a new Chief Executive, we decided that we needed someone who could provide inspirational leadership and move Te Papa's capabilities to a different level in all respects — including capital and asset management, intellectual capacity, curatorial and audience engagement and financial and operating capability. This will require a shift in the culture of the organisation. We believe Mr Ellis has the right skills and experience to lead this.

“His extensive background in digital media offers so much to Te Papa as we extend beyond the walls of our buildings. He has a passion for making Te Papa available for everyone in New Zealand and he has also accepted our brief to build a succession plan based on fostering New Zealand-based talent.

“While Mr Ellis has not worked in the museums sector, we believe his time at TVNZ is particularly relevant, leading a public sector organisation responsible for delivering content that is enjoyed and valued by New Zealanders and working with creative teams and cultural issues in a very public space. With the strength of our excellent curatorial team alongside him, we are confident he will build on Te Papa’s existing strengths and take Te Papa to a new level of performance and excellence.

“On behalf of the Board I would like to thank acting Chief Executive Arapata Hakiwai, who will remain in his role as Kaihautū, and David Robinson, who stepped up to the role of Chief Operating Officer, for their hard work and professionalism during the transition period.”

Mr Ellis said, “I am delighted to be joining an iconic organisation with such an important role to play as New Zealand’s national museum. Te Papa has a strong vision for the future to change hearts, change minds and change lives, as well as exciting events in the near future with the WWI Gallipoli exhibition and the development of Te Papa’s national collections and storage facility in Manukau. I’m looking forward to working with the Te Papa team to help strengthen a national treasure that Kiwis can be proud of.”

Mr Ellis will begin his role at Te Papa on 24 November.  

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