Kia ora katoa

In my March column I promised members a rich smorgasbord of activities in the months ahead and that has certainly been delivered. We have had groups visit two local dealer galleries as well as the Adam Art Gallery at Victoria University and a special Friends’ preview of the latest refreshment of works on display in Ngā Toi | Arts Te Papa.

The highlight for April was undoubtedly the opening of the long-awaited exhibition Gallipoli: The scale of our war. Developed by Te Papa staff in collaboration with Weta Workshop and external experts, Gallipoli is a truly unique exhibition. The skills, effort and creativity applied to tell the New Zealand stories involved in that ill-fated campaign are remarkable and this is reflected in the record numbers of visitors attending. Its impact was apparent, too, in the extraordinary turn-out of over 500 members to the Friends’ exclusive viewing on 27 April.

Flowing from Gallipoli, which will run for four years, there will be opportunities for Friends to learn more about different aspects of the campaign from experts who have contributed to the making of the exhibition. On 11 June, for instance, well-known historian Chris Pugsley, will screen and discuss some of the best combat images of the First World War showing the British, Australian and New Zealand experience on Gallipoli and how the footage was later used.

An ANZAC event of a more light-hearted character was held early in May at the Australian High Commission in Thorndon. Thanks to the generosity of High Commissioner Michael Potts and his wife Lynda (who are themselves members) a good number of Friends and guests were able to enjoy Aussie-themed canapés (lamingtons anyone?) and drinks and raffles. The funds raised have gone to the purchase by Te Papa of a stylish jug with a bull-fighting motif thrown by Pablo Picasso in the 1950s.

 This will be my last column before I step down as President at our AGM in June, so I want to record my thanks for support received over three years and more from Elizabeth Ridder and Aloema Ioane in our Friends’ office, from fellow committee members and volunteers, from the rich parade of Te Papa staff with whom we interact and, above all, from fee-paying members of the Friends who maintain their ongoing support for the institution and trust us to do the right things. It has been a privilege to be an office-holder in such an organisation.

Ngā mihi

Gordon Shroff