On 5 June 170 Friends of Te Papa had a most enjoyable evening catching up with old friends and remembering highlights from our first 20 years as we gathered to farewell long-serving Friends’ Manager, Elizabeth Ridder.

As images showing moments from 20 years of the Friends played on a large screen, guests listened to warm tributes to Elizabeth. Te Papa’s Kaihautu, Arapata Hakiwai, welcomed everyone and acknowledged Elizabeth and the Friends as Te Papa’s most passionate supporters. Judy Salmond, speaking on behalf of Past Presidents, recalled the visionary days of those earliest years. It was wonderful to have seven of the Friends’ eight Presidents present, and also so many former and current committee members.

Dale Bailey, Director of Collections, Research and Learning, thanked Elizabeth for her unfailing support and nurture of the staff, especially the curatorial and collections teams. Dame Claudia Orange, Te Papa Research Fellow, noted that although Elizabeth was not actually a Te Papa employee, she might as well have been, for she knew more about the place and the staff than anyone else. Hamish Campbell, Geologist at Te Papa and Senior Scientist, GNS Science, was unable to be present, but wrote to thank Elizabeth for her passion, patience and hard work and her keen support of the annual Chatham Island excursions. To Hamish, Te Papa and Elizabeth seemed inseparable.

Many of you sent in your own lovely tributes, reinforcing the high regard in which Elizabeth is held and her outstanding contribution to the Friends and Te Papa.

The evening ended with a special tour of the Toi Art galleries, Charlotte Davy and art curators Athol, Chelsea, Mark, Nina, Rebecca and Sarah treating Friends to fascinating floor-talks on some of Elizabeth’s favourite art works.

The Friends have been well served by Elizabeth, and we wish her and William all the very best in their new adventures. As Arapata concluded:

Kia hora te marino, Kia whakapapa pounamu te moana, Kia tere te kārohirohi i mua i tōu huarahi.
May the calm be widespread, May the ocean glisten as greenstone, May the shimmer of light ever dance across your pathway.

Feature image: Former Presidents Gordon Shroff, Sally Munro, Pat McCay, Elizabeth Ridder (Manager), Judy Salmond, Elizabeth Kay (present President), Berys Walter and Catherine Keating.