Ngā mihi o te tau hou! Happy New Year!

As we emerge from a long autumn hibernation during the Covid 19 lockdown, it is fitting that this year we will celebrate Matariki on Monday 13 July. Matariki, when the Seven Sisters, or Pleiades star cluster, begins to rise in our southern skies, marks the turning point of winter in Aotearoa New Zealand.

In the Māori New Year, it is a not only a season for celebration and renewal, but also to come together as a whānau to remember and reflect on those who have passed away in the past year. This is especially relevant this year, as it brings an opportunity to mourn those who died during the Covid-19 lockdown, when we were unable to grieve together as normal. In response, on Monday 13 July at 7am, Te Papa invites you and your whānau to join in from home for a virtual karakia.

It is wonderful to be able to gather together again at Te Papa for events, to catch up with Friends, and just enjoy being able to immerse ourselves in the museum again. We have loved seeing so many of you at our welcome back events.

It was a joy to explore the Toi Art exhibition Tamatea: Legacies of Encounter with Rebecca Rice, Curator Historical New Zealand Art, and Art Historian, David Maskill. If you have yet to see this exquisitely beautiful exhibition, make sure to visit soon, as it is to close on 26 July.

Last week we spent an enthralling morning in Toi Art with Nina Tonga, Curator Contemporary Art, discovering Lemi Ponifasio’s MAU: House of Night and Day. Mau is an amazing digital space, an immersive and challenging live stage that acknowledges Lemi’s work and career over 30 years. We then went up to Level Five, with Rachel Yates, Curator Pacific Cultures, and Athol McCredie, Curator Photography, to discover Faka-Tokelau: Living with Change, a small exhibition of photographic images of Tokelau’s unique way of life – a way of life very much under threat because of climate and environmental change.

Coming up are more not-to-be-missed Friends events. I am especially looking forward to hearing Marilyn Garson talk on her life behind the Gaza blockade, Still Lives – A Memoir of Gaza, on Thursday 16 July.

As you know, the Friends’ AGM had to be postponed to Tuesday 28 July. The Executive Committee and I are looking forward to welcoming you to our AGM, which will also be an opportunity for us to welcome Courtney Johnson, Te Papa CEO. We are still looking for one or two new committee members. It you would like to be involved more closely with the Friends and Te Papa, we would love to hear from you. This will be my last President’s column, as I retire from the Committee at the AGM.

Ngā mihi

Elizabeth Kay