Tēnā koutou,

Ngā mihi

September was a very busy month for the Friends, with a wealth of fascinating floor talks and visits, many with a female history theme. On 19 September we marked 125 years since women gained the vote in this country, so far ahead of the rest of the world. After a brutal and bloody campaign, British women finally won the right to vote in 1918, American women in 1919, but in France women had to wait until 1945.

Curator Katie Cooper guided a large group of Friends through the exhibition Doing It for Themselves: Women Fight for Equality and explained how the objects symbolised women’s ongoing quest for equality. Earlier that day, Te Papa Press launched Bronwyn Labrum’s excellent Women Now: The Legacy of Female Suffrage. This little book’s 12 essays, written in response to items in Te Papa’s collections, is an inspiring read that explores the ongoing challenges faced by women. Next month the Friends will visit the home of Sir John Hall, who worked with Kate Sheppard for female suffrage and led the parliamentary fight to pass the legislation.

Earlier in September art curators Rebecca Rice and Matariki Williams introduced us to some of the women whose portraits feature in Nga tai whakarongorua | Encounters; and we spent a fascinating morning with Pou Tikanga Taharakau Stewart and April Nepia-Su’a exploring Ko Rongowhakaata. Women are central in their iwi’s stories, the three central pou representing three sisters who all in turn became wives of Rongowhakaata.

Coming up we have an exciting variety of art tours, but November will bring a strong focus on science and natural history. I am especially looking forward to the Friends preview on the design of the new Natural History exhibition on Tuesday 6 November, watch this space for more details.

And if you are fascinated by natural history, I thoroughly recommend you join Te Papa geologist Hamish Campbell on his annual tours to the Chatham Islands.

Nāku noa, na
Elizabeth Kay