Kia ora

Hasn’t it been a wonderful summer! Te Papa and Wellington city have been simply buzzing, and the queues continue for Gallipoli: The scale of our war. The museum is now the most visited institution in the Southern Pacific. During the holiday period Te Papa averaged 2,000 visitors a day, and the January total of 221,377, was the largest number ever in one month.  In 2015 there were 850,000 visitors, up 200,000 from the previous year. But while many are from the cruise ships, last year New Zealand visitors from outside Wellington were up 130%.

Admiration for Te Papa’s outstanding Gallipoli exhibition has spread throughout Australasia, with many coming from overseas specially to see the exhibition. Did you know Te Papa is offering an earlybird entry to Gallipoli: The scale of our war at 9.30am.  The cost is $10.00 and you can book on-line.

Now we are into the vibrant weeks of the New Zealand Festival. The city is already full of people enjoying this year’s exciting programme, and of course visiting Te Papa.

The Friends are just back from Hamilton after our Great Gardens and Galleries Tour. Timed to coincide with the Hamilton Gardens Arts Festival, we spent three days enjoying a taste of surprising Hamilton. The Hamilton Gardens are stunning, well worth a weekend visit on their own. Did you know of Barry Cox’s enchanted tree world outside Hamilton, at Ohaupo, which includes an exquisite Tree Church formed from delicately arching trees over a steel reinforcing rod structure? Or do you know the story of the magnificent 200-year-old waka tuau, Te Winika, at the heart of Waikato Museum?  Both were highlights and well worth visiting.

In early October the Friends are planning another very special tour to Dunedin and Oamaru. If you have yet to experience a Friends tour, they are a wonderful way to make friends and at the same time discover hidden treasures throughout country.  And our committee sleuths are talented at searching out comfortable hotels and places to eat delicious food!

Meanwhile, we have some exciting visits to local galleries coming up. I am particularly looking forward to the evening at Page Blackie on Thursday 17 March where Jill Trevelyan and Tony Mackle will discuss the work of Rita Angus, in conjunction with a special exhibition of her works that have never been shown before.

Ngā mihi o te tau hou

Elizabeth Kay