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

This week:

Friends of the Turnbull Library AGM

The Friends of the Turnbull Library will hold its AGM
for the year ended 31 March 2022
at 6:00 pm on Wednesday 6 July 2022
Ground Floor, National Library of New Zealand
Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa
cnr Molesworth & Aitken streets
Light refreshments will be served during the meeting, and the AGM will be followed by a presentation from the Turnbull Library staff

Please join us beforehand from 5:30 pm

Between skin & shirt: The photographic portraits of William Harding

The photographic portraits William Harding took in his Whanganui studio from the 1850s to the 1880s come to us with such startling immediacy that we find ourselves looking, it seems, at someone we might know.

National Library Ground Floor Gallery

Coming up…

Thursday 28 July at 5.30 pm
Carol Markwell: Enough Horizon: the life and work of Blanche Baughan

Foxton writer Carol Markwell (pictured left) will discuss her new book, the first ever biography of Blanche Baughan (1870-1958), one of New Zealand’s first poets and travel writers. Blanche settled in Sumner and Banks Peninsula, becoming a botanist, conservationist, and a prison reformer. Carol’s thorough biography illuminates the life of this extraordinary New Zealand poet and humanitarian. Come and hear about Blanche Baughan’s life

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

About the speaker

Carol Markwell reads and writes poetry, plays and short stories but has come to find biography the most compelling of all. Her research for the book Alice, what have you done! about waitress Alice May Parkinson, who shot her lover in 1915, introduced Carol to Blanche Baughan, the poet and prison reformer who had visited Parkinson in prison. And interest led to Carol to research and write a biography of Blanche herself.

Carol was born in Wellington but grew up in the Manawatū. She now lives beside the estuary of the Manawatū River at Foxton Beach and spends a lot of time reading, writing, walking on the beach and watching the sea birds, especially the godwits as they come and go on their long trips to Alaska.


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.



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