Gallery Leadership Team

Kirsten joined the Gallery as Director in April, 2019. With Masters degrees in Art History and Curatorship, as well as Business Administration, Kirsten has an in-depth understanding of the discourse of art theory and museology and a track record in brand development, financial management and organisational performance.

She began her career as an artist, completing her studies at Victorian College of the Arts to set up an artist-run gallery in Melbourne and working in important contemporary organisations such as Heide MoMA and Australian Centre for Contemporary Art. This has brought a unique appreciation of the skills and attributes a wide range of artists bring to a gallery, along with an understanding of the art-making, materials, processes and preoccupations of artists past and present.

Kirsten went on to the world of commercial galleries, developing first-hand experience in what she terms “the machinations of the art market” and honing her eye for great art. She has curated for the Art Gallery of Ballarat and Shepparton Art Gallery, held the Director role with Shepparton Art Museum for eight years and Deputy Director role with the National Gallery of Australia for over three years.

Kirsten has also been Vice President and Committee Member for the Public Galleries Association of Victoria and has judged several art prizes throughout her career.

Executive Assistant to Kirsten: Kath Mead

Sarah joined the Gallery in December 2018 after eight years in the curatorial team at Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, with the last six years as Senior Curator Art. She has previously held curatorial positions at City Gallery Wellington and is a graduate of the prestigious De Appel Curatorial Programme in the Netherlands. She has recently submitted a PhD in Curatorial Practice at Monash University, Melbourne.

Sarah led major art projects at Te Papa, including the curatorial development of Ngā Toi | Arts Te Papa and she was the lead curator for Toi Art. Her other exhibitions have included Warhol: Immortal and Meridian Lines: Contemporary Art from New Zealand. In addition to curatorial work, Sarah has been a member of Creative New Zealand’s NZ at Venice project team and Wellington City Council’s Public Art Panel, and contributed essays and articles to peer-reviewed journals, international art magazines and museum publications.

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Susan joined the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki in June 2021, coming from the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra where she was Director of Development since 2019. She brings with her over 25 years of fundraising and arts management experience.  Susan’s career prior to moving to New Zealand includes senior positions at a number of arts organizations in the United States, including the Bard Graduate Center: Decorative Arts, Design History, Material Culture in New York City, the Montclair Art Museum in New Jersey, and the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.

Susan is a result oriented and mission driven non-profit executive leading the Gallery’s efforts to deepen and broaden its engagement with current and prospective donors locally, nationally, and internationally. This includes fundraising responsibility for membership, individuals, corporate partners, trusts and foundations in support of the Gallery’s exhibitions, publications, and education programmes for people of all ages.

She has an undergraduate degree from Vassar College and a master’s degree in Arts Administration from Columbia University in New York City.

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Before joining the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki in January 2020, Margaret gained extensive experience in museum administration and curation.  At the Denver Art Museum she served as Director of Collection Services during the planning phase for the Daniel Libeskind-designed Hamilton Building.  She was Chief Curator during the building’s installation and oversaw a dramatic expansion of the exhibition schedule.  As the Frederick and Jan Mayer Curator of Pre-Columbian Art at DAM, she led an active programme of research, publications, and exhibitions, including Tiwanaku: Ancestors of the Inca, and Marajó: Ancient Ceramics from the Mouth of the Amazon.  Her final Denver project was the major exhibition Brilliant: Cartier in the 20th Century.  In 2018 she curated Cartier: The Exhibition for the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra. 

Margaret earned BA and MA degrees in anthropology at Yale University and went on to take a PhD in art history and archaeology at Columbia University.  Her museum career began at the Cleveland Museum of Art, where she curated the Pre-Columbian, Native American, African and Oceanic collections.                                                                     

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Joe Pihema (Ngāti Whātua) joined the Gallery as Head of Kaupapa Māori at the end of 2023. He has a long-serving background as a tribal historian, Te Reo expert and senior tikanga advisor to Ngāti Whātua.  He has worked in Māori education for over 25 years and also in Māori Broadcasting and the Cultural and Heritage sector. Joe was Deputy Director and Curator of Collections of the Tairāwhiti Museum from 1998 to 2004, and also a member of Te Papa National Services Bicultural Committee.  Joe is a former member of the Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei Trust Board and Tupuna Maunga o Tāmaki Makaurau Authority and is a current member of the Auckland War Memorial Museum; Taumata-a-Iwi.

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Gallery Curatorial Team

Sophie has more than 20 years’ experience as a curator and educator in England and Australia and previously worked as a lecturer at the University of Leeds and the University of Manchester. Since 2007 Sophie has been Curator of International Art at the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne. As the Senior Curator International Art, Sophie will work to develop and manage the Gallery’s historical and modern international art collection, including the Mackelvie collection.

Sophie’s past curatorial projects include Modern Britain (2007), Salvador Dalí (2009), Monet’s Garden (2013), Degas: A New Vision (2016) and Van Gogh: The Seasons (2017).

Nathan Pōhio (Waitaha, Kāti Mamoe, Kāi Tahu, Ngāti Kahungunu, Kāti Pakeha) was raised into a family dedicated to the cultural memory of their whanau at Tūāhiwi and Rāpaki respectively. Nathan’s grandmother Elma Mary Pōhio (nee Paipeta, Couch) distilled art and art making into all her mokopuna, Nathan is the one that naturally stayed with it. He attended the University of Canterbury School of Fine arts, BFA Film 1997. MFA Film 2010. Nathan was a near twenty-year member of the board at The Physicsroom and served as Chair for his last two years. He is a founding member of Paemanu and Co-Vice President of Te Ūaka Lyttleton Museum.

An artist and a curator, Nathan worked at Te Puna o Waiwhetū Christchurch Art Gallery from 2002 – 2021. In that capacity he was Technician, Exhibition Designer, Assistant Curator. As an Exhibition Designer Nathan especially enjoyed working with artists, some from Tamaki include p mule, Michael Parekōwhai, Julian Dashper, John Reynolds Judy Darragh, Sean Kerr, Reuben Paterson and Lonnie Hutchinson.

With the support of his Ngai Tahu whānau Henare Rakiihia Tau, Riki Te Mairaki Pitama Pitama and most recently Rānui Ngārimu ONZM, Pōhio assumed a cultural role for the gallery arranging pōwhiri, mihi whakatau, karakia, waiata to uphold the presence of Kai Tahu and the cultural integrity of Te Puna o Waiwhetū. Between 2016 and 2021 Pohio curated significant exhibitions such as He Rau Maharataka Whenua: A Memory of Land with Ta Tipene O’Regan; Te Rua o Te Moko; Ship Songs; co-curated Te Wheke: Pathways Across Oceania and Ralph Hotere: Ātete, to Resist and curated Te Puna Waiora: The Distinguished Weavers of Te Kahui Whiritoi.

Nathan served his Kāi Tahu whānui in several capacities working within the arts sector, he was approached to represent his people on the selection panel of Oi Manawa: The Canterbury Earthquake National Memorial. Project Develop the Dressing of the site with Paemanu, Te Matatini 2015, North Hagley Park. With 2015 SCAPE Public Art Commission Raise the anchor, unfurl the sails, set course for the centre of an ever setting sun! Nathan was nominated for Walters Prize 2016 and Documenta14 Athens Greece and Kassel Germany, 2017. 

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Natasha has over nineteen years’ experience developing exhibitions of contemporary art.  She writes for a number of contemporary arts journals and catalogues in the Asia Pacific region and co-edits Reading Room, a peer-reviewed journal of contemporary art published annually by the E.H. McCormick Research Library, Auckland Art Gallery. She has diverse interests which have focused over this period on art in public space and the dissemination of the historic avant-garde.

Selected recent and notable exhibitions include the international group show Mystic Truths (2007), Last Ride in a Hot Air Balloon: the 4th Auckland Triennial (2010); Made Active: The Chartwell Show (2012); A Puppet A Pauper A Pirate A Poet A Pawn & A King: From the Naomi Milgrom Art Collection (2013); Necessary Distraction: A Painting Show (2016) Shout Whisper Wail (2017), Groundswell: Avant Garde Auckland: 1971-79 (2018).

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Cameron (Nofoali’i, Samoa; Guangdong, China; Pālagi) is a curator and art writer who has worked in gallery, tertiary and publishing organisations. From 2019–22 they were Curator of Te Wai Ngutu Kākā Gallery at AUT (formerly St Paul St Gallery). Since 2019 they have been working as a Professional Teaching Fellow at Te Waka Tuhura Elam School of Fine Arts. 

Cameron has also worked as an editor for Art News Aotearoa and their writing has been published in a number of New Zealand and international magazines, newspapers and journals.

Cameron has a Post-Graduate Diploma of Fine Arts with distinction from the University of Auckland (2019) and a Bachelor of Arts majoring in English and Art History (2013). 

In their own words, Cameron is committed to ‘research and communication of concerns and trends within contemporary and historical art from Aotearoa New Zealand, the broader Pacific, and globally. I have been able to utilise this skillset to whakamana (empower and uplift) the voices of young Pacific communities and their creative practitioners, particularly within the MVPFAFF+ and Takatāpui space.’ Cameron has recently joined the board of Auckland Pride.

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Julia’s research interests are focused on the development of modern art in New Zealand, global modernisms and documentary photography. She has a Masters in Art History from the University of Auckland (First Class Honours), a Masters of Museum and Heritage Studies from Victoria University, and a Bachelor of Arts (Honours: First Class) in Art History from the University of Otago.

In 2017, Julia co-curated Gordon Walters: New Vision and, in 2015, Freedom and Structure: Cubism and New Zealand Art 1930-1960, both touring exhibitions with associated publications.

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Kenneth has over fifteen years of experience working at major art museums in Canada, Aotearoa New Zealand, and the United States of America. In 2021–22, he was co-curator with Dr Susan Behrends Frank of The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC, of Picasso: Painting the Blue Period, which in 2022 was named a top-10 international exhibition by The Wall Street Journal and the third-best exhibition in the world by The Washington Post. His collaborative research in the emerging field of technical art history has been covered in major magazines and newspapers such as The New York Times, National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, and Science. A specialist of 19th- and 20th-century international art, he has mounted exhibitions on a range of modern artists, including Vilhelm Hammershøi, Joan Mitchell and Jean Paul Riopelle, Anthony Caro, and Andy Warhol. Kenneth holds a Masters in Art History from The University of Chicago.

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Passionate about New Zealand’s art of the long 19th-century, Jane wants to challenge the orthodox modernist view of it and to acknowledge the complex bicultural and transnational world colonial artists operated in, and the entangled histories that resulted.

Jane joined the Gallery in October 2023, having completed her PhD ‘The Master of “Maoriland”: Louis John Steele, 1842–1918’ earlier in the year. It focuses on the English-born artist’s career in New Zealand from his arrival in 1886 until his death in 1918. Highly influential in his lifetime, but long disparaged as overly academic, she argues that Steele’s engagement with local subjects was groundbreaking, creating paintings that reveal much about the colonial world.

Previously a curator at the Gallery from 2002–12, Jane’s key exhibitions include Toi Aotearoa (2011), Picturing History (2009), Masters of the Bitten Line (2006) and Fall of Water, Fall of Light (2005). She has written an article on Steele and Goldie’s painting The Arrival of the Maoris in New Zealand, 1899 for publication in a forthcoming issue of the Journal of New Zealand Studies. Other recent publications include an article on Steele’s six portraits of Sir John Logan Campbell in BackStory (2021); an exegesis of Steele’s painting Spoils to the Victor, 1908, co-authored with Caroline Blythe in Rape Culture, Gender Violence and Religion (2018); and two chapters in Gottfried Lindauer’s New Zealand: The Māori Portraits (2016). Prior to starting at the Gallery Jane undertook a master of arts in art history at the Courtauld Institute of Art, London, 2001–02.

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