The Friends Executive Committee


Friends of Te Papa Executive Committee

L-R: Tim Steel (Treasurer), Elizabeth Ellis, Christine Turner (retired AGM), Jillian Wellings (Vice-President), Elizabeth Kay (Immediate Past President), Chloe Cairncross, Marion Crawshaw (retired), Ana Coculescu (retired), Con Flinkenberg, Michelle Janse (retired) and Ann Hodson (retired). Absent: Koenraad Kuiper and Sharon Taylor-Offord

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. He is a graduate of VUW, with doctorates from Simon Fraser University and the University of Canterbury, who 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 member of the Thorndon Residents’ Association.

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.

Chloe Cairncross holds a BA in English and Art History from University of Canterbury, and a BA Hons in Art History from Victoria University of Wellington. From 2015 to 2017, Chloe was a Sales and Service Manager in retail before transitioning into the government sector. Chloe worked as an Analyst in Charities Services’s Registration team which helped to expose her to the machinations of the charitable sector. She now substantively holds a position as Capability Coordinator, a role which aims to educate trusts and societies at a ground roots level. She is also currently completing a secondment in the Department of Internal Affair’s Life Events team, participating in projects that further improve the capabilities of SmartStart and Te Hokinga ā Wairua for the New Zealand public. Chloe has a keen interest in travel, reading, and culture.

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.

Sharon Taylor-Offord graduated in 2014 with a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Art History, from Victoria University of Wellington. While studying she undertook projects such as one for the Adam Art Gallery that focussed upon the Wellington College of Education ceramic collection, won the Chartwell Prize for art writing in 2011, and completed her degree with an internship at Te Papa. Since then she has supplied administrative support at a number of arts institutions within Wellington, and was published in The Dendromaniac, An Enjoy Occasional Journal, March 2011. Sharon currently contracts her interviewing services to a Wellington consultancy, whilst undertaking volunteer roles interviewing at Wellington Central Citizen’s Advice Bureau; styling clients for interviews and work at Dress for Success; and as Vice-President of the Karori Arts and Crafts Committee. She writes reviews for the Friends of Te Papa and her blog, and is attempting to come to a mutually agreeable arrangement with watercolour paint.

Photo credit: Jo Moore