Posted on Wednesday August 5, 2020
Kia ora koutou
This being my first President’s Column, I want to pay tribute to Elizabeth Kay, my predecessor, for her many years of service to the Friends and her work as President. All of you will know how much Elizabeth was the face of the Friends but those who worked with her on the executive committee of the Friends will also be aware how much time, effort and enthusiasm she put into the Friends. Thank you, Elizabeth, on behalf of all of the members, past and present, for your work for the Friends.
Second, I want to assure you that there is no notice up at the Friends’ office saying Under new Management, meaning radical change. The new committee are dedicated to maintaining as high a quality programme for the members of the Friends as previously, so we will present the same kind of programme you are accustomed to for the rest of this year and succeeding years. The Friends’ website gives a full account of these activities.
For members, one of the great privileges to is see behind the scenes. A recent set of back-of-house tours took small groups of Friends into the botany collection where we are able to see the great stacks of cardboard boxes containing botanical specimens. Maybe this is the ultimate in pressed plant collections, certainly in New Zealand. These specimens are taonga of a particular kind in that they represent a significant part of the natural world of New Zealand. We saw a number of these pressed taonga collected by Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander on their visit to Aotearoa with Captain Cook through to those collected by our guides, Leon Perrie and Carlos Lehnebach, and one could not have wished for better people to tell us what it was we were seeing and how and why these plants were collected.
Museums have two main activities: collecting and displaying. In the back-of-house tours, Friends’ members have the privilege of seeing something of the depth of Te Papa’s collections, whereas those who merely visit Te Papa see only the very small selection that is on public display.