The Friends Executive Committee


Friends of Te Papa Executive Committee

L-R: Tim Steel (Treasurer), Elizabeth Ellis, Christine Turner, Jillian Wellings (Vice-President), Elizabeth Kay (President), Chloe Cairncross, Marion Crawshaw, Ana Coculescu, Con Flinkenberg, Michelle Janse and Ann Hodson. Absent: Kevin Isherwood and Koenraad Kuiper. Not pictured: Sahron Taylor Offord, Koenraad Kuiper.

Elizabeth Kay (President) holds a BA in Language and Literature, GDArts and BA Hons (First) in Art History from Victoria University and taught History of Architecture at Victoria for 15 years. As a partner in Crispin Kay Architects, she undertook project management, landscape and interior design. She is currently Manager Ancillary Services for The NZ Anglican Church Pension Board. In 2012 Elizabeth wrote A Wonderful Scheme to mark the Pension Board’s first 40 years, and in 2013 A suitable residence, the story of the house built for Bishop Hadfield in 1879. She served on the Arts Encompassing committee for ten years, six of them as Chair. She has a strong interest in conservation and leads a community project transforming an unofficial tip site back into a Town Belt native forest.

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.

Ana Coculescu is an environmental lawyer. Born and raised in Romania, where she completed her undergraduate law degrees in Bucharest, she moved to France to pursue postgraduate legal studies, and then to Australia where she worked as a solicitor in private practice. She has recently moved to New Zealand with her partner. In her travels she has always enjoyed visiting museums, participating in the various programs they offered, be it one off events or year-long courses, and is keen to continue to learn more about art.

Marion Crawshaw is a former New Zealand diplomat who has been posted to Italy, France, Fiji, Solomon Islands (twice) and Papua New Guinea, the latter two as High Commissioner.  Marion is a graduate of Auckland and Canterbury Universities where she completed Bachelor of Arts in Political Studies and Master of Arts in Political Science.  She began her career with the Department of Trade and Industry and joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade in 1989.  Early postings in Rome (as Assistant Trade Commissioner) and Paris (as Deputy Permanent Representative to the OECD) were economically focused, as were management appointments in Wellington to Trade Negotiations Division, Australia Division (Closer Economic Relations) and Economic Division.  Her career shifted to a security and development focus with the first posting in Honiara during the “Tensions” period, followed by 3 years in Pacific Division.  She was then seconded for two years to New Zealand Police to establish New Zealand Police’s Policy Group.  On return to the Ministry, she developed and implemented a Knowledge Management strategy before heading off as High Commissioner to Port Moresby and then to Honiara for the second time. Marion retired from the Ministry in 2017 and in 2018 completed a Master of Business Analysis in the School of Information Management at Victoria University of Wellington.  She is a Senior Fellow of the Centre for Strategic Studies of VUW and retains a strong interest in the Pacific, including collecting modern Pacific art. Her other great interest is couture sewing.

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.

Ann Hodson, a Victoria University Science Graduate, taught at Hutt Valley High School, Leulumoenga Fou High School, Samoa, and Scots College where she was Senior Dean and HOD Science until serving as VSA Field Representative, Bhutan, 1991-1995. Ann was Manager Volunteering, Cancer Society Wellington, 1996-2014. She spent 1982 as a volunteer with Ryder Cheshire Foundation, India. Other volunteer experiences include short term roles in East New Britain and Indonesia, selector for VSA and Gap, board member Volunteer Wellington, Volunteering NZ and NZVWO. She was voluntary sector representative on DIA Volunteer Support Committee and Cancer Society National Support Services Advisory Committee. Her interests include travel, theatre, films, and reading.

Kevin Isherwood has spent much of his professional life in London where he owned and was MD of Isherwood Communications Limited, a media relations business which specialised in crisis and issue management. Clients covered most industry sectors and included Pfizer, Rio Tinto, Cargill, Glaxo SmithKline, as well as leading financial and technology businesses such as Schroeder’s Bank and Google. Kevin’s keen interests in the arts also led to working at Styria Studio, which during the 70’s and early 80s was a leading Manhattan contemporary art gallery. Prior to his departure for London, Kevin held the role of presenter on the TVNZ arts show Kaleidoscope for two years. Since returning to New Zealand, he has been a trustee of the Adam Chamber Music Festival, and played a key role in two Nelson mayoral campaigns. Having recently moved to Wellington, Kevin is looking forward to combining his experience in both the arts and communications to help enhance the profile and activities of the Friends of Te Papa.

Michelle Janse has been a member of the Friends of Te Papa since 2003 and has also been actively involved with NZAFA including serving for several years on its Committee.  She recently retired from a position at Parliament with administrative and curatorial responsibility for the Parliamentary Collection and the development of Art Exhibitions hosted at Parliament; as well as providing Art focus tours and rotating themed displays of Collection material.  She held this role for over 20 years, having formalised the Parliamentary Collection in the 1990s with its varied content of historical memorabilia, decorative gifted items from different countries and artworks.  Prior to this role her career has been in other parts of the Public Service including in an advisory capacity working for Ministers with a focus on Social Welfare and the disability sector.  Michelle has travelled extensively and her interests also include opera, music, cooking and the visual and decorative arts.

Koenraad Kuiper 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.

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.

Christine Turner  Prior to coming to New Zealand in 1970,  worked as a bilingual secretary in Geneva, Switzerland, initially at the Fiduciaire Suisse and then at the New Zealand Permanent Mission to the United Nations and Consulate-General. Settling in Wellington, she worked at the NZ Institute of International Affairs before joining the administrative staff of the Vice-Chancellor’s Office at Victoria University of Wellington, where she held positions as Secretary to the Registrar, Secretary to the Vice-Chancellor, Assistant Registrar and Secretary to the University Council.  She has extensive experience of committee work at senior management and governance levels, and of events management. Christine is a Justice of the Peace for New Zealand and holds a BA in Languages and Literature from Victoria University of Wellington.  Her interests include the arts, music and travel.

Photo credit: Jo Moore