Andy Lowe

CEO, Te Manawa Museum

Andy Lowe joined a Collective Intelligence Team in 2021. He reflects here on the influence that his team has had on his story in this short time. Listen to more of Andy’s life story in Episode 52 of our ‘Stuff that Matters Now’ podcast

This is a love letter to Collective Intelligence!

But before I dip into that, Ko wai au? Who am I?

For some time, Te Whanganui-ā-Tara / Wellington has been calling me back. I was born and grew up there and spent most of my life in and around the sea on the South Coast. My childhood with the wind blowing sand up through the floorboards, scrim moving in and out and the TV never loud enough in a good Southerly… but out for kaimoana almost every day in the 8 foot dinghy. That was just how it was. My parents and grandparents are buried there and my partner, Aroha, is Te Atiawa – Taranaki whānui. Our son, Niwa, now 14 needs his whānau right now and he feels that pull.

I worked at Te Papa for 14 years and now that I have been on their Board for the past 2 years, I have been back hanging out there more often soaking up the spark and the scale. So, after nearly a decade as CEO of Te Manawa (museum of art, science and heritage) here in the Manawatū, Aroha and the boys and I are heading back to Wellington. There I will take up a new role as Manager: City Arts with Wellington City Council. A role that that will breathe life into Te Aho Tini 2030 – the new Arts Strategy for Wellington.

And yes we have found a place again on the South Coast if it works out. It is on The Esplanade in Island Bay. A bit flasher that the warehouse across from it with the roller door and the old red curtains that I lived in when I met Aroha in 1996. At that time, I was already a bit in love with Venus who owned The Bach Cafe across the driveway, next to the dive shop, but that’s another story and it’s all been done up around there now.

Te Manawa was the first and is still the one-and-only museum / arts organisation in Aotearoa, with a Trans CEO. We have a bit of a reputation for inclusion, fearlessness and for ‘doing the wild thing’ – however you interpret that. It’s not a museum. It’s a movement. Oh, but it could yet be so much more!

A Shift

When you’re out diving, sometimes an underwater current will shift you 5 metres without knowing how you got there. There have been a few things that have converged for me lately and one of them is joining Collective Intelligence. I want to thank you (the Collective Intelligence ecosystem) and my team for shifting my dial. To Ian and Jude who introduced me to Landmark (much as I have railed against big multi-national organisations like this). I did the course and it taught me 2 big things:

  • To separate the things that happened from the story I tell myself about them; and
  • I am not my past but ‘I am what I am’ (as a famous Drag queen once sung!) right now – and every new second means a new me.

It taught me to focus on stepping out of the patterns I am in and to think about what I am good at, how I can make the world a better place in the biggest way possible.

I am not leaving my Collective Intelligence team, but I will be a bit dormant for a while as we focus on moving, and schools, and new job.

So Te Whanganui-a-Tara with its messy big winds and big seas and possibility of a protest at any time – watch out! This is the year of the water tiger and that is me!

Arohanui to you all. Ven bailar aldredor el fuego (come dance by the fire) sometime with us on the South Coast. The door will always be open and paua paella on the stove.

25 January 2022 – Andy Lowe (he/him)

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