At this time of year the Friends’ office starts to send out membership renewal requests and so it seems to be a good time to share with you what we spend your memberships on.

In short, your membership subscriptions are devoted to ensuring that all the Friends’ members are kept up to date with what is happening and that the Friends have the stimulating programme which we can all enjoy. You will be aware that we could not serve you, our members, without the great work of Aloema Ioani and Sharon Taylor-Offord  and the assistance of many volunteers. All of you get the regular newsletter which Sharon puts together. Aloema and Sharon help to plan and organize much of our events’ programme. They talk to Te Papa curators, book rooms, arrange for refreshments and wine when those are served, arrange for speakers to be introduced and thanked, and many other back-room tasks which members don’t see.

The Friends events programme is our second main source of income. When you come to events, some of what you pay covers the costs of the event itself: for room hire, audio-visual assistance, speaker’s thank-you presents and fees, and all the associated costs of putting on the event. Paying Te Papa for some of these costs is one of the ways in which you then support Te Papa. The Friends fill a room which might otherwise be empty and the people who attend are therefore supporting Te Papa quite directly. Some revenue also goes into the piggy bank to do what the Friends’ constitution requires us to do, which is to support Te Papa itself in various other ways. For this to be possible, all events are now costed to at least break even, more difficult with limited numbers due to social distancing requirements.

As a result of working in this way, this year the Friends are able to offer research support for two curators who have research projects that would benefit from extra financial assistance. The two annual Friends of Te Papa Research Grants are not large, but they will make a difference. Two years ago you supported a dog and its handler as they assisted Colin Miskelly with finding seabirds in Fiordland. This year’s grant application process is a little more formal and is being done with the full support and assistance of Dr Dean Peterson who has responsibility for Te Papa’s research and who spoke at last year’s AGM. We will let you know what projects you are supporting once they have been confirmed.

So the success of the Friends depends on you, our members. It also depends on our positive relationship with the staff at Te Papa. They give the talks and guided tours you come to. Over the last two years, as you are aware, the Friends have been subject to the constraints on Te Papa itself for mounting the in-house events programme. We have also been limited in what we can offer by way of local and multi-day tours. Your memberships have kept the Friends vital and alive. Notwithstanding these problems, the programme has continued with the odd interruption.

The Executive Committee would like the Friends to have more members to increase the ways we can support our members and Te Papa. If you happen to think of anyone who would be interested in the Friends, they can go onto our mailing lists without being members. You might like to suggest that. They can also join. They can be given a guest membership. We would like that and we think they might too.

Koenraad Kuiper.