MTG Says Sad Farewell to Museum Supporter

Yesterday was a very sad day as I, along with other MTG Hawke’s Bay staff, attended the funeral for Don Millar. Don had an ongoing association with the museum, starting from his time as the Honorary Curator of Taonga Maori between 1990 – 2011. For almost 20 years he committed several days a week coming to the museum to research and catalogue the taonga collection, sharing with visitors and school groups his in-depth knowledge. Through his role at the museum, Don also built strong relationships with local iwi. An active archaeologist, he was awarded in 2011 the New Zealand Archaeological Association Inc public archaeology award in recognition of the outstanding work and dedication he showed to public archaeology. Don worked closely with Maori and had a great love and respect for Maori culture. A karakia was held for Don at a local Maori archaeological site today for people who could not attend the service.

While I only knew Don for a short period he had a great impact on me. I first met him in 2015 when I was giving a public presentation about the museum and where we are heading. Don was a stalwart supporter of what the museum was doing and of me personally – often turning up to many of my talks and reminding me if I’d forgotten anything. In his last few weeks Don was still ensuring he did things to support the museum, Maori and the wider community – bringing in the last of his toki collection from Tukituki Valley, Pakarae River and elsewhere, to ensure these are kept safe for future generations. I’m incredibly grateful for the short time I had with Don and along with museum staff truly treasure the memories we have of him.

On Thursday night this week the Foundation, also huge supporters of the museum, came together for a function and a more in-depth look at the ‘Out of the Box’ exhibition before it closes on Monday. We were delighted and very lucky to have Peter Shaw, Curator of the Fletcher Trust collection, walk us through the gallery and talk to specific artworks. Peter has a depth and breadth of knowledge about New Zealand art and the personal stories and anecdotes he was able to share really brought the artists and their work to life.

At the same event the Chairs of the Hawke’s Bay Museum Foundation and the Hawke’s Bay Museums Trust, acknowledged another example of support for the museum. This was the very tangible, regional and joint support of five different entities coming together to purchase a significant body of work for the collection. Napier City Council, Hastings District Council, Napier Port, the Foundation and the Trust all jointly purchased four Jono Rotman works from a series titled Omaranui. The artist, Jono Rotman, together with his dealer gallery, Gow Langsford, contributed the final two works in the series so that we have a complete set in the collection. These works will go on display in early September.

It takes many hands, and lots of different kinds of support, to make institutions such as ours work and we’re grateful to those who give so generously – of time, funds, knowledge and active support – we couldn’t do it without you.

Don Millar (second from left) participating in karakia at the museum

Don Millar (second from left) participating in karakia at the museum

Laura Vodanovich – Director, MTG Hawke’s Bay

Published in Hawke’s Bay Today Saturday 3 June 2017

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