Bronwyn Dalley

Matariki first met Bronwyn through the museums studies course at Victoria University though of course, being Bronwyn Dalley, her reputation preceded her. Bronwyn's course was a student favourite as she aptly bestowed upon us skills that would prove useful in our coming careers. As a teacher she is a natural: supportive and quietly unassuming. And engaging, she is one inspiring and engaging wahine. As part of her class we also devised the cultural sector theory of "cake therapy" though it may have been a thinly-veiled attempt to get her to keep baking for us. Thank you so much Bronwyn, he wahine toa, wahine humarie, wahine tino kaha. Arohanui.

Creative history work: medieval combatants in Harcourt Park, Upper Hutt.

Creative history work: medieval combatants in Harcourt Park, Upper Hutt.

In five words, describe your role in the sector. 

Mentor, sounding-board, people developer.

What is it about the sector that you love?

I love the excitement that comes with creating things, but most of all, seeing people achieve their goals, and helping along the way. New Zealand history is my thing. I love to see people explore that in all sorts of quirky and unexpected ways, and not just New Zealand history, but any aspect of the past where people make history work for them.

What have been some challenges in your career?

Moving from ‘doing’ to facilitating others ‘doing’ the things I used to – it’s always a bit hard to let go of things when you move up the career ladder. I chose to give up a senior leadership career in the sector – best decision I ever made, quite frankly – but it can be a challenge being footloose and fancy-free.  Folks tend to like slotting people into institutional boxes – ‘where do you work?’ type of thing. And I’ve recently moved away from Wellington, my home of 20+ years, to Whangarei where I don’t really know anyone. So introducing myself into the sector here is a current challenge, but a fun one as I come fresh.

What challenges can you see moving forward?

For me, it’s about establishing a new niche to see where I can make a difference, and organising myself to get some research and writing done as that has languished for too long. For the sector, I think it’s a number of things. A key one is for us to learn how to influence the economic and political landscape, while holding true to what we value in the sector; unless we can do that, we’ll always struggle for funding, a voice or recognition.

What do you think people in the early stages of their careers can offer the sector?

Where do I start? I always told my students as they went to placement to take every opportunity to learn and to experience. That desire to learn, and the ability to have an open (or beginner’s mind) are both precious, and so valuable for the sector. People can easily let themselves become grey and wizened under the weight of the everyday in the workplace, but those in the early stage of their career are still asking questions, still wanting to learn, still thinking that things can be done differently. Wow – huge things on offer for the sector.

What is your spirit animal? 

It would have to be a cat, no question about it.