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Te Papa to close due to COVID-19

From 6pm today, Te Papa be closing its doors to the public.

The museum will review the situation after two weeks and advise the public on Friday, April 3, of its status.

Te Papa’s offices will remain open with staff continuing to work, and following the guidance of health authorities.

The decision was made by Te Papa’s Board, chaired by Dame Fran Wilde, in conjunction with the museum’s co-leaders, Tumu Whakarae|Chief Executive Courtney Johnston and  Kaihaut≈´ Arapata Hakiwai.

"We’ve made this decision after careful consideration. We are not able to enforce social distancing within the museum, and we want to protect our community and support the efforts of all of New Zealand to reduce the risk of COVID-19," says Te Papa board chair Dame Fran Wilde.

"The health of our visitors, our staff and our community is of paramount importance.

"Our staff are continuing to work in our offices, and we have plans in place to care for the collections, and provide online access to the taonga, expertise and storytelling for which Te Papa is famous.

"We will be creating some fantastic opportunities for people to visit Te Papa from their own living room," says Dame Fran.

Tumu Whakarae chief executive Courtney Johnston said the decision had taken account of Te Papa’s unique situation.

"Te Papa is a large public building where people move freely in and out, and share a social, hands-on experience," says Courtney.

"Thousands of people come through Te Papa every day, and while numbers have been reduced in recent days, it is still a significant gathering place, where tracing of contacts is not possible.

"We have made this call to reduce the risk to our staff and visitors, and to play our part in the national response to COVID-19.

"We are fortunate to have a huge amount of amazing content we can share with audiences online and we will be creating some special experiences for people to enjoy from home."

"This will not affect the employment status of any of our staff," says Courtney.

Kaihautu Arapata Hakiwai thanked representatives of mana whenua, and the Pou Tikanga of Te Papa’s iwi in residence, Rongowhakaata, who will join a small group of Te Papa staff for a karakia when the museum is closed to the public.

"Te Papa is a place where all people can feel welcome, and closing our doors is not something we do lightly," says Dr Hakiwai.

"The wellbeing of our community must be the number one focus, and closing our doors temporarily is the best way we can tautoko the efforts across Aotearoa, and across the world."

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