The Friends Executive Committee

Back (left-right): Elizabeth Ellis, Bridget Hodgkinson, Koenraad Kuiper (President), Nicola Kirkup (Minute Secretary). Front (left-right): Tim Steel (Treasurer), Sharon Taylor-Offord, Jillian Wellings (Vice-President), Susanne Lang and Richard Norman. (Absent: Con Flinkenberg)

Koenraad Kuiper (President) is a linguist and poet who emigrated to New Zealand from the Netherlands in 1951, living first in Auckland, then Wellington, and then Christchurch. He is now Professor Emeritus at the University of Canterbury where, in addition to teaching and researching linguistics, he served on the University Council and as Dean of Arts and Head of School. Koenraad is the author or editor of fifteen books including four of poetry and over a hundred research papers and book chapters. He is a graduate of Victoria University of Wellington, with doctorates from Simon Fraser University in Vancouver and the University of Canterbury. He has held two Fulbright Fellowships in the USA, a NZ-China Fellowship in the People’s Republic of China and been a Fellow at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities and Social Sciences. After six years in Sydney, where he was an Adjunct Professor at the University of Sydney, on moving to Wellington, he has become a trustee of the Randall Cottage Writers’ Trust and The Dutch Connection Trust.

Jillian Wellings (Vice President) is a Charter Member of the Friends of Te Papa. She has a strong background in the voluntary and charity sectors with a focus on education and the arts. She has served as Chairman of the Board of Management, as well as President of the Parents’ Association, of Samuel Marsden Collegiate and as Chairman of the Dame Malvina Major Foundation, Wellington Committee, in addition to volunteering for numerous organisations, including Victim Support and the Cancer Society. After raising four children, Jillian and her husband now spend a lot of their time pursuing their keen interest in the arts, music, travel and walking.

Tim Steel (Treasurer) qualified as an accountant with a BCA from Victoria University. He was a taxation manager with a major accounting firm, a significant bank, insurance companies and fund managers. He is currently providing taxation and accounting services to a wide variety of clients and is also the treasurer and adviser to a number of non-profit and charitable organisations. He enjoys playing tennis, skiing, reading and an occasional bike ride when the weather permits.

Nicola Kirkup (Secretary) graduated from Pembroke College, Oxford with a Bachelor’s degree in Oriental Studies, solemnly vowed never to take another examination, and subsequently went on to obtain a Master’s in Business Administration from the Imperial College, London and diplomas in Astronomy and Physical Sciences from the Open University.  She emigrated to New Zealand after twenty years of this and that for the civil service in London and Brussels and retired in 2018 after nine years of this and that for the New Zealand Treasury.  She is a member of Wellington City Chorus, currently the world champion mid-size women’s barbershop group, and the Wellington Late Starters’ Orchestra who will never win any prizes but provide entertainment and achievement for beginner and rusty instrumentalists.  With partner Rory she forms the nucleus of an erratic pub quiz team.

Elizabeth Ellis graduated Bachelor of Arts, Victoria University and worked for the Department of Trade and Industry and Trade Development Board before accompanying her husband on what was to be 14 years in Japan. Volunteer roles with CWAJ (the College Women’s Association of Japan) included publicity and curating assistance for the large exhibition of contemporary prints it holds annually in Tokyo. As a recruitment consultant she was an active member of Foreign Executive Women and the ANZ Chamber of Commerce. Returning to New Zealand, work in the social services sector included assisting individuals with disability find and retain employment. Now retired, she is pursuing interests volunteering in the arts, and in conservation as a guide at Zealandia.

Con Flinkenberg is a retired soldier and public servant. He holds degrees from Massey and Auckland Universities and is a graduate of the Australian Army Staff College.  He has been Deputy Chair of the NZ Historic Places Trust and Chair of its Wellington Branch, President of the Wellington Returned & Services Association, Chair of the Katherine Mansfield Birthplace Society and a Trustee of the Wellington Civic Trust.  His special interests are military history, art and architecture, and foreign travel.  He will be known to some for the “Prose and Con” column he used to write for the Capital Times newspaper.

Bridget Hodgkinson’s first career was nursing. She trained at Wellington Hospital working there and at Kenepuru Hospital in various roles and areas. In the 1990s she studied at Victoria University of Wellington, graduating Bachelor of Arts in History and Art History and Diploma in Arts in English Literature. Subsequently she worked in research and report writing at the Waitangi Tribunal unit and was involved in ESOL teaching. Bridget is a vestry member of her local church and belongs to a number of Wellington organisations.  Her interests include travel of all kinds, music and the arts, Scrabble, and following tennis and cricket. With her husband and family she has greatly enjoyed exploring the waterways of England and Wales. 

Dr Richard Norman is Adjunct Research Fellow, School of Management, Victoria University of Wellington. Highly regarded in the academic world, Richard Norman teaches in human resources management, and training and development, with a particular focus on New Zealand public sector organisations. He also has a keen interest in the history of Wellington, particularly the city’s social history, and he is a committee member of Historic Places Wellington.

Sharon Taylor-Offord graduated in 2014 with a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Art History, from Victoria University of Wellington. She won the Chartwell Prize for art writing in 2011, and completed her degree with an internship at Te Papa. She has undertaken projects and supplied administrative support to a number of arts institutions within Wellington. In addition to her work for the Friends Committee in the Communications portfolio Sharon is a volunteer with Wellington Central Citizen’s Advice Bureau, and is a board member of Welcab. She writes reviews for the Friends of Te Papa and her blog, and is attempting to come to a mutually agreeable arrangement with paint.

Susanne Lang holds BCA and BA degrees from Victoria University of Wellington in Marketing and German. In 2015 she graduated with a Graduate Diploma in Arts majoring in Art History and studied Renaissance art in Florence at the British Institute. She is also a trained graphic designer and photographer and has worked a number of years in Vienna and Melbourne and speaks German fluently. Susanne has worked at City Gallery as Marketing Communications Manager and has also worked in the Private Sector and in the Public Service in marketing and communications roles. Susanne has written reviews for the Friends of Te Papa. She has travelled extensively, including a voyage on the HMB Endeavour replica as crew and as the ship’s artist. Her interests also include art history, languages, film, yoga along with tramping, hunting and flyfishing in New Zealand’s most scenic spots.