Kua hinga te tōtara i te wao tapu nui a Tāne.
E te Rangatira, e te tohunga o te manaaki toi, e kara, e Ron. Peke tū ki ngā maunga whakahī tae atu ki te rerenga wairua, ki reira koe kauhoe atu rā ki ō Tūpuna, ki ō tini karanga maha. E kore koe e wareware i a mātou.
A tōtara has fallen in the great sacred forest of Tāne.
To the revered, to the expert in caring for art, to our friend, to Ron. Bound across the mountains all the way to Cape Reinga, from their swim forth to your ancestors, to your many genealogical connections that have passed before you. You will never be forgotten by us.
Ron joined the Auckland Art Gallery whānau 45 years ago, when he became Research Librarian at the EH McCormick Library in 1978. He had just finished his master’s thesis on Rita Angus, and he brought this passion for research and New Zealand art to his role as a librarian. Those who worked with Ron during this time paint a picture of a passionate librarian and archivist, who recognised the importance of recording what was happening in the visual arts in Tāmaki Makaurau and wider Aotearoa for present and future generations. He amassed a collection of images and papers documenting the work of contemporary artists and their exhibitions, which today remain an invaluable source of information for researchers. And in his tenure as curator, he continued to gather archival material for the Research Library, spearheading the acquisition of artist archives including the Marti Friedlander Archive (on loan, recognised as a UNESCO Memory of the World), Tony Fomison Studio Papers, Grant Lingard Archive, Michael Dunn Archive, PhotoForum Archive, and donating his research notes for his master’s thesis and curatorial projects.
In many ways, Ron’s approach to his work as a librarian set the course for his curatorial practice. And, in fact, while working as a librarian he delivered one of his first public floor talks, about Rita Angus for the exhibition Two Centuries of New Zealand Landscape Art in 1990, and edited several Gallery publications including Molly Macalister: A Memorial Exhibition (1982), John Kinder Photographs (1985) and International Photography 1920–1980 (1985). He loved bringing artworks, ideas, and people under his stewardship – and, by proxy, that of the institution.