Since December 1954 the Friends of the Auckland Art Gallery (Incorporated) have remained a loyal, influential and positive force offering direct support to Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki. Specifically, the Friends were created – at the initiative of Eric Westbrook, Peter Webb, Colin McCahon and others – to ‘support and promote the interests of the Auckland Art Gallery’ and to ‘support and encourage the acquisition by purchase or otherwise of works of art and craft of any and every kind for the Auckland Art Gallery.’

Support for the Gallery has occurred in a number of ways and ranged from general promotion, advocacy and engagement, to the presentation of the Pat Hanly Awards for Secondary Art Students, to acquisition support through the Friends’ Acquisitions Trust. 

Over the period from 1954 to 2015, the Friends have contributed extraordinarily to the Auckland Art Gallery’s Collection, and have acquired exactly 100 works (this includes the restoration of Collection works). The most recent acquisition being the impressive painting Turangawaewae Maehe 1983 by the Auckland-based artist Robert Ellis in 2014 to commemorate the Friends’ 60th anniversary. In total, these 100 artworks represent a most generous and important contribution to the Gallery’s Collection, helping to maintain the Collection’s standing as the foremost collection in New Zealand.