Gallery Leadership Team
Kirsten Lacy – Director
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
Tom Irvine – Deputy Director
Tom worked for Auckland-based hapū Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei, as the Chief Operating Officer. In this role, Tom was responsible for the tribal development arm to support wide ranging social, cultural and environmental development projects, as well as promoting community and stakeholder relationships. In July 2021, Tom joined the Gallery as the Deputy Director and will be responsible for ensuring the operational needs of Auckland Art Gallery are met in respect to finance, HR, security, capital projects, maintenance and systems improvement.
Tom has also worked as an executive in a number of commercial enterprises, leading international sales teams, overseeing process improvement and providing stewardship to client relationships. His work has seen him travel the globe extensively, while maintaining his roots here in Tāmaki.
As a respected Māori leader with strong Iwi and civic engagement experience, Tom has a deep love for Tāmaki Makaurau and its people. Ko te oranga o te taiao, he oranga ngā tāngata!
Dr Sarah Farrar – Head of Curatorial and Learning
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.
Susan Wall – Head of Advancement and Sponsorship
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.
Margaret Young-Sánchez – Head of Exhibitions and Collection Services
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.
Te Arepa Morehu – Head of Kaupapa Māori
Te Arepa Morehu (Ngāti Whātua, Ngāpuhi) joined the Gallery in October 2021 in a new senior leadership position as Head of Kaupapa Māori. Te Arepa has worked at Westpac where he was a Service Design Chapter Lead. Among his first priorities at the Gallery will be the recruitment of a new Curator, Māori Art who will contribute to exciting new exhibitions, research and acquisitions. ‘I’m looking forward to joining Toi o Tāmaki and creating opportunities to celebrate and support the indigenous art sector. As a proud descendant of Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei I continually strive to uphold and whakamana our cultural responsibility to tiaki i ngā tāngata e noho nei i te whatutoto o Te Kawau, to care for people that reside in the Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei heartlands.’ says Te Arepa.
An active leader in the community, and having led Te Ao Māori initiatives at senior leadership level for organisations including Westpac, MinterEllisonRuddWatts and Spark, Te Arepa is a passionate advocate in the areas of Te Ao Māori, tikanga Māori and te reo Māori.
Gallery Curatorial Team
Ron Brownson – Senior Curator, New Zealand Art
Ron has worked at the Gallery for over 40 years.
Among Ron's many exhibition and publication projects are: John Kinder’s New Zealand, Local Revolutionaries: Art & Change 1965–1986 (with Mary Kisler), Partner Dance: Gifts from the Patrons of the Gallery (with Natasha Conland), Choi Jeong Hwa Flower Chandelier, Te Wā Tōiri: Fluid Horizons, Home AKL – artists of Pacific Heritage at Auckland (with Kolokesa Mahina Tuai, Nina Tonga and Ema Tavola), Kinder’s Presence: John Kinder, Mark Adams, Chis Corson Scott, Haruhiko Sameshima, Robert Ellis – Turangawaewae: A Place to Stand, Ralph Hotere’s Godwit Kuaka, The Extra Ordinary Everyday in New Zealand Art, Len Casbolt – From Soft Focus to Sharp Vision, Seeing Moana Oceania, Fa’ani and RoBro present DiscoVERY and A Place to Paint: Colin McCahon in Auckland, 2019. He also edited Art Toi – New Zealand art in the collection of Auckland Art Gallery, a comprehensive overview of New Zealand artworks.
Dr Sophie Matthiesson – Senior Curator International Art
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 – Senior Curator, Māori Art
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. Pōhio’s grandmother Elma Mary Pōhio (nee Paipeta, Couch) distilled art and art making into all her mokopuna, Pōhio is the one that naturally stayed with it. He attended the University of Canterbury School of Fine arts, BFA Film 1997. MFA Film 2010. Pōhio 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, Pōhio 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 Pohio 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.
Pōhio 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! Pōhio was nominated for Walters Prize 2016 and Documenta14 Athens Greece and Kassel Germany, 2017.
Natasha Conland – Curator, Contemporary Art
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).
Ane Tonga – Curator, Pacific Art
In 2020, Ane Tonga became the inaugural Curator, Pacific Art at Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki. Her research interests are focused on contemporary Pacific art and curatorial practice, lens-based practices and Indigenous feminisms. Ane writes for several art publications and catalogues across the Pacific region. Recent publications include Edith Amituanai: Double Take and Te Ringa Rehe – The Legacy of Emily Schuster.
Recent curatorial projects include: Declaration: A Pacific Feminist Agenda 2022 at Auckland Art Gallery; Kereama Taepa: Transmission 2020 at Objectspace, Edith Amituanai: Double Take 2019 at Adam Art Gallery Te Pātaka Toi, Ani O’Neill: Promise me/Trust me 2019 at Objectspace and Janet Lilo: Hit me with your best shot (the remix) 2013 at City Gallery Wellington.
Ane is the former Deputy Chair of Contemporary HUM Trust Board (2019-2021) and a member of the Whitecliffe Fine Arts Advisory Group. In 2021, she became a member of the Arts Council of New Zealand Toi Aotearoa.
Julia Waite – Curator, New Zealand Art
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.