The stars aligned this month for a meeting at Wellington's Government House between Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae and representatives of the Sarjeant Gallery Trust.

The meeting was part of the Sarjeant Gallery's nationwide fundraising campaign and involved senior curator Greg Anderson, trust chairwoman Nicola Williams, and Whanganui mayor Annette Main, who is also a gallery trustee. They met Sir Jerry in his role of patron of the Sarjeant Gallery - a role shared by his wife Lady Janine.

The scope of the project to redevelop the gallery was discussed, together with progress on the fundraising and the strength of community support around the country for the project.

Mr Anderson said the gallery had a long-lasting connection with governors-general - in more recent years, Dame Catherine Tizard, who is a strong supporter of the redevelopment, Sir Michael Hardie Boys, who opened Legacy, the royal portrait exhibition when it came to the Sarjeant, and latterly Sir Jerry. Mr Anderson said it was important to meet the gallery's influential patron in person and that there was a sense of continuity.


"The foundation stone of the Sarjeant Gallery was laid by Lord Liverpool in 1917.

"It would be great to continue the connection with the governor-general's office so that, when the centennial year in 2019 comes around, they would be present," Mr Anderson said.

Ms Main said: "Given Sir Jerry and Lady Janine's connection with Whanganui, we would be delighted if they would consider continuing their joint patronage following the completion of their time at Government House."

Both Sir Jerry and Lady Janine were born and raised in Whanganui. Their position and connection with the city and the Sarjeant Gallery would continue to be important even after Sir Jerry left office, Mr Anderson said.

"We also spoke about some key things in the past and our ability to continue with our exhibitions while the Sarjeant is temporarily housed in Taupo Quay.

"One of these was the exhibition we held last year of photographs of war memorials by Laurence Aberhart. At the same time, we had the statue of World War I soldier Herewini Whakarua at the Sarjeant on the Quay while the base he stands on was being reconstructed and earthquake strengthened.

"The statue was included in the exhibition along with a photo of it taken by Aberhart at Pakaitore. We were demonstrating to the governor-general the breadth of our exhibitions and, given his background as a soldier, this was a relevant connection."

Mr Anderson said Sir Jerry appreciated the wider importance of the redevelopment of the Sarjeant for New Zealand given the significance of the collection held there on behalf of our country.