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Te Papa’s Chair Hon. Dame Fran Wilde has disappointedly failed to apologise for the museum’s misleading water display, National’s Agriculture spokesperson Todd Muller says.

“Farmers have been rightfully upset about the museum’s decision to use a bottle of dyed brown water to represent rural waterways, which farmers have put an enormous amount of work and money into cleaning up over recent years.

“Today in Select Committee the Chair admitted that the exhibit was illustrative only and that information had been added and labels changed in reaction to the fiery farmer response.

“While these changes are welcomed the display does not frame up the complex connections between farming and water in a science-based way. Putting brown dye in water to represent farm streams is wrong, and no amount of label changing will fix that. 

“I am concerned that Te Papa exhibit designs are moving away from science and embracing a simplistic customer experience.

“I hope that the planned next step in the New Zealand natural environment exhibit will ensure that the farmers’ voice is heard and included. Farmers have posted hundreds of videos online of their streams so Te Papa has plenty of material to work with.

“Dame Fran signalled a commitment to work constructively with primary sector leaders in strengthening the farmer perspective within the museum and invited me to attend her meeting with them in the new year. 

“I welcome this initiative and will take her up on this offer. The public debate must start tilting back towards the value our farmers bring to their communities and wider environment.”

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