Kia ora,

It is wonderful that Te Papa is open again after the long lockdown, and we can once again visit our favourite galleries, just as winter arrives.

This week we are delighted to bring you a special interview with Te Papa’s Kaihautū | Māori Co-leader, Arapata Hakiwai and Friends’ Manager, Demi Heath. We hope you enjoyed Demi’s interview last month with Te Papa CEO Courtney Johnson, which can still be accessed here. It was interesting how Courtney felt the isolation of the lockdown had brought many in the cultural sector closer together, with regular meetings by Zoom or phone. Te Papa was in fact well-prepared, with preparations and a pandemic plan in place as early as January, in case a shut-down became necessary. Fortunately, no Te Papa staff tested positive and most, including the Friends’ staff, were able to continue their work at home.

Demi and Aloema are now back in the office and busy planning exciting events for you to enjoy, as winter settles in. Up first will be tours of Toi Art with David Maskill and Rebecca Rice, to explore William Hodges’ paintings and prints of the Pacific.

With no access to the office for several weeks, we have had to move the Friends AGM to Tuesday 28 July. Notice of the meeting will be sent early in July and we are looking forward to seeing you there.

Friends were delighted to see strong recognition of the arts and conservation sectors in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List. Our congratulations to Sir Derek Lardelli, ONZM, on the award of Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for services to Maori Art. Sir Derek, Associate Professor at the Toihoukura School of Maori Visual Art and Design in Gisborne, has close connections with Te Papa. An internationally acclaimed carver and visual artist, he created the magnificent po at the entrance-way to Ko Rongowhakaata: The Story of Light and Shadow, and several of his tā moko artworks are in the collections. Sir Derek is also renowned as a composer, performer and leader of kapa haka, including the Poutangata haka for the New Zealand Olympic Committee and the new All Blacks’ haka Kapa O Pango.

Those who went on the Friends’ tour to Whanganui last year, will be delighted to know that the conservation work on historic Pūtiki church is now complete. Look out for the Winter 2020 issue 157 of Heritage magazine, and relive our visit with Margaret and Huia. They would love you to join them for Sunday service at 9 am, then morning tea in the Parish Hall. Pūtiki has a strong connection with Te Papa, as the late Dr Cliff Whiting, Te Papa’s inaugural Kaihautū and designer of the marae, also created the modern artwork in the church hall.

Nga mihi nui,

Elizabeth Kay