The Friends of the Turnbull Library


The Friends of the Turnbull Library (FoTL) is a national organisation, supporting the work and activities of the Alexander Turnbull Library since 1939.

Titiro ki muri kia whakatika ā mua.
Preserving the past to enlighten the future.

The Alexander Turnbull Library is a guardian of our heritage, a great research institution serving the general public and scholars in the fields of historical research, literary, cultural and genealogical studies.

The Friends of the Turnbull Library promotes public interest in the Library’s collections and supports research and use of its collections.



Over 2019-2021 the Friends joined the Turnbull staff, the Turnbull Endowment Trust and many others to celebrate the Library’s anniversary. An account of the celebrations can be found here: ATL100 celebrations

Looking to the future….
With the anniversary behind us, the Friends are looking forward to continuing to support the Turnbull through our programme of publications, public events and research.

“What’s next? One hundred years from now what will the Turnbull Library be like? Certainly, it won’t be like it is now. It can’t be. The only ‘must’ in the Turnbull’s future is the promise of care for the ever-growing collections, the promise to make the collections available, and – one hopes – ongoing acknowledgment of the many donors who make all of this possible. Thank you Alex H Turnbull et al.”  Chris Szekely Chief Librarian Off the Record 2021

Coming up…

Thursday 16 March at 5.30pm

David Grant, historian and biographer: Necessity or Folly? Jim Anderton’s dramatic exit from the Labour Government in 1989 and its consequences

David Grant will be speaking on his biography of Jim Anderton, Anderton: His Life and Times. He is the author of 14 books and this is his third major political biography.

Jim Anderton was a dynamic President of the Labour Party (1979-1984) before becoming a popular MP for Sydenham.

David Grant will focus on the events leading up to Anderon’s dramatic exit from Labour in 1989, and the consequences of his decision. He will discuss Anderton’s increasing despair about Rogernomics as factories closed or moved offshore, unemployment burgeoned and the State seemed to deny a duty of care to its poorer citizens. Anderton was particularly incensed with the ‘asset sale’ of state institutions leading to capital fleeing the country, the rich getting richer and the poor poorer.

Anderton fought to preserve the doctrinal bastions on which the Labour Party was founded, and would not vote for the sale of the Bank of New Zealand – defying his party’s 242 constitutional clause. Isolated and suspended, he won an appeal but soon afterwards resigned, stating he could no longer defend this ‘right-wing’ government. He then went on to form two new parties, first NewLabour and later the Alliance Party.

Join us to hear the full story on Thursday 16 March at 5.30pm.


Can’t make it in person? This event will also be delivered using Zoom. You do not need to install the software in order to attend, you can opt to run Zoom from your browser.

Register if you’d like to join this talk and we’ll send you the link to use on the day.


Our public programme will continue every month until November. Please visit our ‘WHAT’S ON’ page for more event details…

Wednesday 12 April at 5.30pm

Dr Michael Brown, Turnbull Library Curator Music: The Disasteradio Project

Thursday 11 May at 5.30pm

Paul Diamond, Turnbull Library Curator Māori: Researching Downfall: The Destruction of Charles Mackay

Wednesday 7 June at 5.30pm

Helen Beaglehole, historian, editor and writer:

Sources, Silences, Perspectives and Prejudices: the challenges of writing the first history of settlement in the Marlborough Sounds

Wednesday 28 June at 6.00pm


Witi Ihimaera DCNZM, DCM

Acclaimed writer, anthologist and librettist

 2022/23 Subscriptions….

…are now due.  Please see the Join Us  link above.



Tuesday 28 JuneFOUNDER LECTURE 2022
Tuesday 28 JuneFOUNDER LECTURE 2022
Tuesday 28 JuneFOUNDER LECTURE 2022
Tuesday 28 June