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  • Digging up stories: Pam Bain

    Posted on March 7, 2018

    Pam Bain, Director Regional Services, Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga

    “Understanding the history of New Zealand and how it has shaped our identity as a people and as a country is essential to going forward without repeating the issues of the past”

    What is your job?

    My current role (2 weeks into it!) is Director Regional Services, managing the legal and outreach activities for Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga. I come from a background of working in heritage management with the Department of Conservation and more recently as Manager Archaeology with Heritage New Zealand.

    My passion for telling heritage stories, and why this is important, is the basis of my current role including the amazing stories that come out of the regulated archaeological authority process which are not often available to the public.

    How long have you been working for your organisation?

    I have been working for Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga for over 5 years.

    What inspires you most about what you do? 

    I am passionate about the heritage of New Zealand and our amazing stories. As a country we are very privileged to work in partnership with tangata whenua and provide support to them to assist in achieving their heritage goals.

    I was recently involved in a partnership project between Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga, Te Runanga o Ngati Porou and the Department of Conservation where we worked together to map an archaeological site which is very significant. Working in partnership to achieve these heritage goals is something we can contribute as an organisation.

    The outcomes of the archaeological authority process tell very detailed and interesting stories about the early settlement of New Zealand and the opportunity to be involved in sharing these amazing archaeological stories with the communities they relate to is very exciting.

    Why do you think your work is so important? 

    Understanding the history of New Zealand and how it has shaped our identity as a people and as a country I believe is essential to going forward without repeating the issues of the past. And the best way to do that is to reveal the stories associated with that past.

    Heritage New Zealand owns and manages a property portfolio of over 40 places for the public of New Zealand. These places reflect significant stories associated with the history of New Zealand and include places where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed.

    So on Waitangi Day, 6th February, (the first day the Treaty of Waitangi was signed with tangata whenua in 1840) Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga opens our properties to the public for free. We include as part of that day a copy of the Treaty that was signed at our property in Northland and fly, and have information available about, all of New Zealand’s flags through time and their significance.

    Telling a range of important heritage stories, and undertaking heritage activities in partnership with other agencies is an opportunity to encourage the public to better understand our country.

    What’s it like working as a woman in your organisation? 

    I came from an organisation where there were very few of us working in the field, to an organisation which has a strong representation of women across all aspects of the organisation. This provides a strong and supportive working environment.

    Do you think the industry you work in has changed over the last 100 years for women?

    Absolutely. Over the last 35 years I have seen an enormous change in the role of women in the public service which has been driven by the education system and women themselves.  As an honours student at university I was told that the sought after holiday job would be going to my male counterpart as he would have a career in archaeology and I would go off and have children.

    Women are now employed for our skills and better represented across the public sector. However there is a range of research which indicates there is still a disparity of pay in some places between men and women doing the same job.

    What question would you like to ask another inspirational woman from one of our international organisations? 

    Why do you think the heritage profession attracts more women than other professional organisations?

    What is Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga? 

    Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga is an autonomous Crown Entity that advocates for the protection of ancestral sites and heritage buildings in New Zealand. It was set up through the Historic Places Act 1954 with a mission to “…promote the identification, protection, preservation and conservation of the historical and cultural heritage of New Zealand” and is an autonomous Crown entity. Its current enabling legislation is the Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Act 2014.

    Most protective mechanisms for land-based historic heritage are administered by local authorities through their District Plan policies and heritage listings under the Resource Management Act 1991, although Heritage New Zealand retains regulatory responsibilities regarding archaeological sites.

    It is currently governed by a Board of Trustees, assisted by a Māori Heritage Council. The national office is in Wellington, with regional and area offices in Kerikeri, Auckland, Tauranga, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin, and a portfolio of 43 historic properties we care for around the country.

    Over 227,000 people visited properties cared for by Heritage New Zealand in 2017. A high level of satisfaction was reported by 97% of visitors surveyed, maintaining the level reached in the previous year.



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