New scholarships honour Te Papa founders Cheryll Sotheran and Cliff Whiting

Te Papa has honoured its founders Cheryll Sotheran and Cliff Whiting by creating two scholarships in partnership with the Museum and Heritage Studies at Victoria University of Wellington.

The inaugural Dame Cheryll Sotheran Memorial Scholarship was awarded to Laura Jamieson and the inaugural Cliff Whiting Memorial Scholarship was awarded to Ben Manukonga.

Ben Manukonga and Laura Jamieson, 2018. Photo courtesy of Victoria University

As the museum’s founding Chief Executive and Kaihautū (Māori co-leader), Cheryll Sotheran and Cliff Whiting were visionaries who broke new ground by creating the world’s first bicultural museum. Both sadly passed away in 2017, as the museum was preparing to mark its twentieth anniversary.

The scholarships will be awarded in their names each year, ensuring their legacy continues to inspire the next generation of museum leaders.

Te Papa Kaihautū Dr Hakiwai said that these scholarships will shape the careers of students who are passionate about museums.

“With these scholarships we honour the rangatira who went before us, and we look to the future,” Dr Hakiwai said.

“We were delighted to have the whānau of Cheryll and Cliff with us today as we celebrate the legacy of these visionary leaders,” said Dr Hakiwai.

The scholarships are each valued at $6,000 and will support the recipient students studying towards full-time Masters degrees.

Dr Conal McCarthy, who heads Victoria University’s Museum and Heritage Studies programmes, said the scholarships are vital to providing new research for the museum sector.

“The scholarships will provide a big boost to students embarking on careers as museum professionals and making the transition from study to work,” Dr McCarthy said.

Notes to Editors

About the scholarships

The Dame Cheryll Memorial Scholarship will support a student doing a full time MA by thesis in Museum & Heritage Studies.

The Cliff Whiting Memorial Scholarship will support one student in the internship component of the taught Master of Museum and Heritage Practice:

Each scholarship is valued at $6,000.

Laura Jamieson will complete her degree in 2020 and Ben Manukonga will finish in 2019.

Laura Jamieson, recipient of the Cheryll Sotheran Memorial Scholarship

Laura Jamieson said she is grateful to receive this scholarship, which will enable her to undertake her MA in Museum and Heritage Studies at Victoria University of Wellington.

“I hope to be able to draw on my previous experience and explore an area of collections management that is increasingly important for museums. Dame Cheryll Sotheran was a driving force for Te Papa Tongarewa, and for New Zealand, and I hope my research will celebrate this legacy by contributing to the development of effective professional practice grounded in theory,” she said.

Laura Jamieson has worked and studied across Libraries, Museums, Galleries and Heritage in a number of roles, now focusing on collection care and management. From Auckland, now based in Wellington, she is currently undertaking a Summer Research Scholarship project with Victoria University of Wellington and Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga on modernist buildings in Wellington.

Jamieson has recently completed a postgraduate diploma in Museum and Heritage Practice at Victoria University, expanding on her Bachelor of Arts in Art History and English from the University of Auckland.

Jamieson has previously worked at Auckland Libraries as the Heritage and Research Graduate which enabled her to undertake a number of projects and roles, and led her to working with collections. As part of this, she spent time as the Map Librarian in Special Collections where she gained collection management experience. She has also recently undertaken a placement at Museums Wellington working with their collections team.

Jamieson plans to undertake research on the relationship between digital and physical collections, an area of interest inspired by her time at the Sir George Grey Special Collections and explored further in her recent postgraduate study.

Ben Manukonga, recipient of the Cliff Whiting Memorial Scholarship

“This scholarship will provide me with a prime opportunity to identify the links between my academic understanding of museum practice and contrasting this to actual practice, preparing me well for a career in the sector,” said Ben Manukonga.

Manukonga (Ngāti Ruanui, Te Ātiawa) is from New Plymouth and moved to Wellington in 2007 to complete a Bachelor of Arts in Māori Studies at Victoria University of Wellington. During his final year, he was afforded the opportunity to work as a Tour Host at Te Papa Tongarewa, which served as a catalyst for his passion for the heritage sector.

Following his graduation, he began his Master of Museum and Heritage Practice with a dream to pursue a career in curatorial work.

The programme afforded him the opportunity to return to Te Papa to pursue placements in both collection management and curatorial work through a Mātauranga Māori lense. His involvement in the programme lead to being awarded a Summer Scholarship which involved a Creative Legacy Project at Victoria, where he was tasked with writing web content on Te Kawa a Māui’s (School of Māori Studies) contribution to the creative legacy of the university.

Now on the cusp of completing his degree and stepping out into the sector as a newly emerging museum professional, he hopes that this scholarship will help provide the kick start he needs for a rewarding career in the GLAM (Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums) sector.

About Cheryll Sotheran

In 1992, Cheryll Sotheran was appointed as the founding Chief Executive of the planned Te Papa. Te Papa was said to be the world’s biggest museum construction project of the 1990s and Sotheran was the visionary who drove the museum forward. Sotheran passed away on 30 December 2017. Sotheran was made a Dame in 1999 in recognition of her leadership of Te Papa.

About Cliff Whiting

Former Kaihautū (Māori co-leader) Cliff Whiting, who died 16 July 2017, made an immeasurable contribution to Te Papa and the arts in Aotearoa, including overseeing the creation of Te Papa’s marae Rongomaraeroa. He was awarded the Order of New Zealand, the country’s highest honour, in 1998.

Images (Dropbox)

Ben Manukonga

Laura Jamieson

Ben Manukonga and Laura Jamieson

Ben Manukonga with Kimi, Maria, Dean and Tama Whiting

Laura Jamieson with Miranda and Lucy Pritchard

Media contacts

Ellie Campbell, Senior Communications Adviser, Te Papa, 029 601 0120,

Jo Fisher, Communications and Marketing Manager for the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Victoria University of Wellington, 04 463 9498,