Ngā mihi o te tau hou! Happy New Year! Matariki, the Māori New Year when the seven sisters of the Matariki star cluster appear in our southern skies, marks the turning point of mid-winter in Aotearoa. This year it will be celebrated from Friday 15 to Sunday 24 June. Check out Te Papa’s website for more information on the exciting events coming up at the museum.

Matariki is traditionally a time for celebration and renewal, so it was very apt that this June we marked a milestone in the life of the Friends. It was wonderful to have so many of you with us as we celebrated the first 20 successful years and farewelled our founding manager, Elizabeth Ridder. You can see images from the night here.

Elizabeth was appointed manager in August 1997, before the museum opened. Since then she has ensured the smooth running of some 670 events: lectures and talks on an incredibly diverse range of topics, Te Reo classes, gallery previews and floor talks, local art tours and gallery visits, book launches, away tours all over New Zealand, shopping nights, special fundraising events in support of acquisitions, memorable degustation dinners and high teas. The Friends have enjoyed an extraordinary full and busy 20 years and I know you all have wonderful memories. Although Elizabeth was not Papa staff, her long tenure has been a constant in the changing environment of the museum and her institutional knowledge and diplomatic skill greatly valued by all. She has been a great friend and supporter of Te Papa’s talented staff, nurturing and supporting their careers. Elizabeth has left the Friends well prepared for the future.

Looking forward, we are delighted to welcome our new Manager, Demi Heath, who comes to us from within Te Papa, brings a fresh energy and enthusiasm for the Friends. We look forward to introducing her to you at the Friends AGM on Wednesday 27 June. This will be a night not to be missed, as following the AGM we are looking forward to a fascinating lecture on Egypt of the Pharaohs, by Cairo based expert in Ancient Egypt Elhamy Elzayat MNZM.

Coming up, join us on Sunday 1 July to hear about the extraordinary relationship between Gauguin and Van Gogh, our next WeDFAS lecture and keep an eye on our website for more exciting Friends talks and visits.

I look forward to seeing you at a Friends event very soon.

Nga mihi nui,

Elizabeth Kay