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…

Wednesday 17 August at 5.30pm:

Dr Claire Macindoe speaking on Dr H B Turbott, “the Radio Doctor”

Dunedin researcher Dr Claire Macindoe has researched the story of Dr H B Turbott who became our first health communicator and disease-prevention expert in 1943. For 40 years he was a well-known, respected and loved broadcaster on health matters of concern to New Zealanders. Claire will explore the health messages promoted across his forty-year radio career, together with the fascinating role of radio within New Zealand households in that era.

Claire is the recipient of one of our Research Grants this year, to work on her proposed book.


You may join us in person or on-line for this event.
If attending in person an RSVP is requested. Please email

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.

If you’d like to join this talk on-line please register by clicking below and we’ll send you the link to use on the day.


Thursday 1 September at 5.30 pm:

Sarah Gaitanos: “Please Don’t Mention the War”

Sarah Gaitanos will be discussing her current project, the intriguing story of Brigadier Reginald Miles (who served in two world wars). She will give specific attention to his 1940s incarceration with WWII British generals in Castello di Vincigliata, Mussolini’s Colditz for British generals outside Florence, and his daring escape to Switzerland. Reginald Miles was a significant international figure at an important time in our history, yet this distinguished New Zealand commander has been largely overlooked in military history.

About the speaker

Sarah Gaitanos is a writer, researcher and social historian. Her biographies have received critical and popular acclaim. She is the author of The Violinist: Clare Galambos Winter, Holocaust Survivor; and Nola Millar: A Theatrical Life; and her third biography, Shirley Smith: An Examined Life, presented a detailed account of the distinguished lawyer and tireless human rights campaigner. Sarah is a recipient of a 2022 Friends of Turnbull Library research grant.

Venue: Taiwhanga Kauhau Auditorium, Lower Ground Floor, National Library of New Zealand, Thorndon Wellington


Smart Alex 2022

The Friends are delighted to announce the fourth year of our creative writing competition Smart Alex. The competition was created to inspire and encourage students to enter the world of the Alexander Turnbull Library and discover its many treasures.

This year Smart Alex coincides with the release of Te Kupenga, and students are encouraged to use this taonga to become familiar with the work and collections of the Library. Click HERE for more details…

 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