Farewell to the Turnbull (and welcome back again)

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Friday the 28th was my last day at the Turnbull. Just a few weeks short of 25 years. It had been a hard last few months as I slogged through some very long days. I wanted to leave it all without too many untidy bits for my successor. Thankfully I got it all done in time to start winding down on Friday. It has been a wonderful job to have, but I certainly am looking forward to my new life.

After work on that last day we had a big farewell party. (See more photographs on my Facebook page). I was very pleased that so many non-Turnbull people I have worked with came along - donors, researchers, and professional colleagues. I wish I could have said hullo to more of you at the time. There were over 100 there, and the Turnbull staff lived up to their usual reputation with a grand spread of food and alcohol.  After a good burst of talking, eating and drinking we all sat down for some short speeches. I certainly enjoyed the nice things said about me.

Chris Szekely (Chief Librarian) was the MC and started things off by announcing my appointment as a Turnbull Adjunct Scholar. This was something only confirmed a few days before. There is no money in it but it does give me an office at the Library, computer support, and some research privileges, in return for some ongoing mentoring work. It is going to be a very useful base for my research work, and is much appreciated. So, it was only partly a farewell. In a way it was a welcome back as well. 

On the Sunday Lynn Freeman broadcast an interview with me on Standing Room Only, all about my quarter century at the Library. You can hear it here (audio for 30 March). I was quite pleased with it, although, as often with these things, you remember too late what you really wanted to say. There was one big blooper. It comes almost at the end when I was talking about some of my forthcoming research projects.  I had a brain fade and got a biographical fact very wrong. Have a listen. The first two people who email me (via the website) saying what that mistake was will get free copy of my Wellingtonians book in the mail.

UPDATE:  Congratulations to Michael Wray and Michael Pringle - the first to point out that error mentioned above - the Prince of Wales who turned New Zealand brains to mush in 1920 was the future Edward VIII, of course, not VII.  They have each won a copy of the Wellingtonians book.

Happy audience

After food and drink we all sat down for some short speeches. As you can see I enjoyed them. That is my partner Joanna Newman next to me, and next to her is Rachel Underwood, President of the Friends of the Turnbull Library. Photographer: Llewellyn Jones.


  • On 16 May 2014 Michael Wray says:
    You meant Edward VIII, not VII - who died in 1910 so couldn't have written letters in 1920.

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