Museum governance group members appointed

The members of a governance group that will make recommendations to the Invercargill City Council on the best outcomes to deliver a future museum in the city have been appointed.

As part of deliberations on the LTP, Council agreed to establish the governance group. The purpose of the group is to create a unique and compelling vision for the museum that will define the nature of the service for the community of Invercargill and solidify its role in the Southland region.

Experienced South Island director Rex Williams was appointed Independent Chairman of the group last month.

The appointed members of the group are: Rūnaka appointee Evelyn Cook, Gavin Bishop, Trish Lindsay, Lou Sanson, Roger Beattie and Simon Owen.

Mr Williams said he was excited to bring the group together and get the work underway – with the first meeting scheduled for Friday, August 6.

“We believe we have put together an extremely strong group of high calibre individuals who are focused on delivering a museum the city can be proud of,” he said.

Council Group Manager Leisure and Recreation Steve Gibling said an expression of interest process was run from July 7-21, and nine applications were received.

The appointments panel was Chaired by Mr Williams and included ICC Chief Executive Clare Hadley and ILT Chief Executive Chris Ramsay as the representative of the funders.

Mr Gibling said the applications were assessed against a criteria that covered skills and experience, and the panel also considered the composition of the group.

The group will make its recommendations to Council in time for inclusion in the draft Annual Plan 2022/23, with a preliminary report provided prior to Christmas 2021.

The Council seeks advice on the optimum outcome for the museum, its partners, and the Invercargill community. At this stage, the advice will be focused on the development of guiding principles leading to clear and measurable critical success factors for the facility. It will also consider the preferred location and test whether there are any alternative sites, leading to the development of various museum design options to be considered.

Council has confirmed the preferred option to invest $39.4M of $52.5M total budget – including $12.9M of third party funding. Its preferred location remains Queens Park at this stage and the delivery will be no more than one year later in 2026/2027.


Full details of Museum Governance Group:

Independent Chair: Rex Williams


  1. Evelyn Cook – (Rūnaka appointee confirmed by Waihopai and Awarua Rūnaka) has a background in Te Reo, Kāi Tahu cultural narrative and represents local rūnaka in a number of different community and governance positions. Born and raised in Waihopai/Invercargill and has a deep love for the place and its people.
  2. Gavin Bishop, ONZM – a children’s author of national and international reputation – has published 70 books that have been translated into twelve languages and won numerous awards. He has also written two children’s ballets for the Royal New Zealand Ballet. Gavin was born and raised in Invercargill and is of Ngāti Awa and Tainui descent.
  3. Trish Lindsay – voluntary work on local boards and committees including Community Trust South, ILT Stadium Southland Board Founding Director and Southland Art Foundation Trustee as well as various roles with Southern Institute of Technology (SIT).
  4. Lou Sanson – Director-General of the Department of Conservation. In an earlier role, Lou was the Conservator for the former Southland Conservancy where he led the establishment of Rakiura National Park, listing of the New Zealand Sub Antarctic Islands as a World Heritage Area. Before becoming Director-General, Lou was Chief Executive of Antarctica New Zealand for 11 years.
  5. Roger Beattie – managing director of Beattie McDowell Architects with 35 years’ experience in the field of Architecture. He has been a member of the NZ Institute of Architects Southern Branch Committee and is formerly a Director of the national NZIA Council. He is an invited member of the Registered Master Builders Southland Executive Committee and the Southern Institute of Technology Architectural Advisory Committee.
  6. Simon Owen – A born-and-bred Southlander, Simon Owen operates as an Independent Marketing Consultant under his brand ‘The Orange Sheep’. At 23 and recently elected as the youngest ever board member on the Southland Chamber of Commerce, Simon offers a unique view point to challenge status quo thinking. “The success of the Museum project will be in a vision that understands its customers at heart” says Simon.