The seven board members with Richard Benge, Executive Director: From left, Paige Sullivan, Te Aturangi Nepia-Clamp, Richard, Lynley Hutton, Rebecca McDonald, Victoria Crockford, Jo Burrell and Frances Turner 

Words can be such an amazing tool to inspire positive change and I’m reminded of this when I read the words of Justice Joe Williams encapsulating the importance of the arts in shaping our future.

Speaking at the opening of Ngā Wāhi Auaha Creative Spaces Conference 2022, he said: “If we’re going to make a go of Aotearoa Inc in the bottom of the South Pacific, with all the problems that now confront us, all the friction of multiple cultures, of plural political perspectives, of a planet in deep trouble thanks to us, I believe the arts will be the torch that shines the way.”

This quote led the Chair and Executive Director’s report, entitled Investing in the arts for everyone in Aotearoa, in Arts Access Aotearoa’s annual report 2022. As the Chair of the Arts Access Aotearoa board, I spoke at the recent AGM of the highlights and achievements of 2022. You can read a summary of the highlights in the annual report, called He aha ngā tāke kōrero? What’s the story? 2022.

Being the Chair of our organisation is a voluntary role that goes way beyond delivering an annual summary of our activities. I’ve been reflecting on what makes the role important and rewarding for me.

I believe that access to the arts enriches and transforms lives – something I’ve seen happen within my own whānau and have experienced myself. And so my involvement with Arts Access Aotearoa is a way to honour my whānau and contribute to work that touches the lives of so many people. 

It’s all about people, people and people

For me, it’s all about people, people and people. There are the people that I work with on the board, my fellow trustees, and how we work together. It’s also about our kaumātua, patrons, staff and volunteers. And it’s about the people who Arts Access Aotearoa works with and supports.

These elements are all linked and underpinned by the values, policies, processes and practices that the board helps develop and maintain from a governance perspective. This includes having a strategic view of what is now and what can be in the future.

As Chair, I see a key part of my role is ensuring a board that functions well as a team, where trustees enjoy their involvement with the organisation. Communication and respect are essential. It’s also important to have the right skills at the table.

Another key ingredient is recognising, harnessing, and appreciating the strengths, knowledge and experience of the board members. Facilitating a board meeting means giving everyone the opportunity to speak and be heard – at the same time ensuring we keep on task in terms of the work we need to do at a board meeting. 

Ti Tiriti o Waitangi study programme

Currently, Arts Access Aotearoa is taking part in a Ti Tiriti o Waitangi study programme. This is bringing the board and staff closer together as we work towards our goal of being a  Ti Tiriti partner organisation.

It’s an evolving programme and we are all learning together, as well as individually. I love learning and exploring ideas, especially when they get to the heart of things that I think matter.

This programme does that on so many levels. At this stage, I’m not sure where it may ultimately lead us. Maybe it will strenthen our understanding and practices in relation to our organisational values. Maybe it will inform our work programmes, and help us develop better relationships with the people we work with and for. And maybe it will make us better people with a deeper understanding of the past, an appreciation of our culture, and a way to build a better future.

You can read Lynley Hutton’s Insights into good governance 



Chairing the Arts Access Aotearoa board


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