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.



The FoTL Founder Lecture: Dame Claudia Orange on The Treaty of Waitangi

We announce with great pleasure that the noted historian Dame Claudia Orange DNZM OBE CRSNZ has agreed to give this year’s Founder Lecture. Encouraging discussion on the Treaty of Waitangi is a vital part of continuing efforts to fulfil the promise of the 1840 agreement. Dame Claudia argues that a broad public understanding of the changes that have occurred in the Māori-Crown relationship is essential in order for those relationships to grow. She says that an understanding of history is vital, and informed vigilance is necessary.

Dame Claudia completed her PhD in 1984 at the University of Auckland, and her doctoral thesis, The Treaty of Waitangi: a study of its making, interpretation and role in New Zealand history, was published in 1987, becoming both a popular success and definitive reference book for interpreting the relevance of Te Tiriti.

After several years as General Editor of the Dictionary of NZ Biography and Acting Chief Historian of the Historical Branch, Dept of Internal Affairs, Dame Claudia became Director of History and Pacific Cultures at Te Papa Tongarewa in 2003 and then, in 2009-2016, Head of Research. She is now an Honorary Research Fellow of Te Papa.

2024 Speaker Programme

Go to the WHAT’S ON page to see details of what is coming up in our monthly programme of public talks.

Held in Taiwhanga Kauhau — the National Library Wellington Auditorium, (lower ground) -entrance from Aitken Street, Thorndon.

Coming up…

wednesday 15 mAY 2024, 5.30PM

Norman Meehan: Jenny McLeod, Tracing Threads

New Zealand composer Jenny McLeod’s music is wildly eclectic, ranging from electro-pop soundtracks for children’s television shows, to austere chamber music; from challenging art song cycles in te reo Māori, to simple hymns for congregational singing; from solo piano pieces for beginners, to elaborate works for multiple choirs and bespoke orchestras. Her personal life was equally varied and complex. Outwardly, McLeod’s biography can appear to be a string of contradictions and non sequiturs. However, by tracing the numerous threads that comprise her work and thought – many of which are documented in the Alexander Turnbull Library’s holdings – a more coherent story becomes evident.

In this talk, McLeod’s biographer Norman Meehan discusses some of the challenges of piecing that story together, a narrative that mixes his extensive interviews and correspondence with McLeod, with a wide range of other sources, including many found in the Turnbull Library.

Norman is a Wellington-based musician and writer. His publications have primarily considered jazz and art music in Aotearoa. His most recent book Jenny McLeod: A Life in Music is published by Te Herenga Waka University Press. Norman also enjoys active collaborations with singer Hannah Griffin, and saxophonist Hayden Chisholm. Their music is published by Rattle Records.

Photo of Norman Meehan by Nicholas Charles Photography (Tauranga).


Can’t make it in person?

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


2024/25 Subscriptions….

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

NOTE: If you have joined the Friends of Turnbull Library online in the past few months, and have paid your membership subscription via internet banking, PLEASE NOTE that we need your contact details. Copies of the 2023 Turnbull Library Record have been mailed to members, and so we need your postal address. Please contact us at to supply your contact details.

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