SunLive – New Year honors for art, culture and language

Local art historian Penelope Jackson and Italian enthusiast Pat Tondi are among four Bay of Plenty residents who have been named as recipients in New Zealand’s New Year’s Honors List 2023

Penelope has become a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in this year’s New Year’s Honors list for services to art crime research and visual arts.

Receiving this acknowledgment has come as a pleasant surprise to her.

“I feel very humbled and honored to be among the list of recipients…its wonderful and very exciting,” says Penelope.

art crime

In 2015, Penelope was one of the founding Trustee’s of the New Zealand Art Crime Research Trust which was set up to map art crime’s history, extent, range of activity and develop knowledge about this form of crime.

Art historian Penelope Jackson. Photo: Supplied.

“I realized there was a catalog of art crimes in New Zealand but no one had really looked at them or presented them in a book.”

She says there are three main forms of art crime: theft, vandalism and forgery.

“As a lot of art crimes go unreported for the fear of a copycat crime so it’s impossible to get a true measure of the actual numbers in New Zealand.”

Penelope has published three books contributing to the research of art crime in New Zealand including, ‘Art Thieves, Fakers and Fraudsters: The New Zealand Story’ (2016) a first in its field in New Zealand, ‘Female in the Frame: Women, Art, and Crime’ (2019) and ‘The Art of Copying Art’ (2022). Each are first of their kind.

Curating art

Throughout her impressive career, Penelope has worked as an educator, curator and director in public art galleries.

“I curated Corrugations: The Art of Jeff Thomson which was very popular throughout New Zealand.”

Penelope has also curated three exhibitions of Dame Lynley Dodd’s work’s which toured 23 venues across New Zealand and Australia.

When she isn’t researching art crime or curating exhibitions, Penelope enjoys writing fictional short stories inspired by real life events. In 2020, Penelope received the University of Auckland’s Michael King Writers Center Residency and her short stories from her have been published in anthologies.

Launching into the New Year for 2023, Penelope says she will be doing much more art crime research and writing. “There’s still a lot to research and write about in the art crime world.”

Pat Tondi

Mount Maunganui resident Pat Tondi’s love for Italian culture and language has landed her a spot on the New Year’s Honors List for 2023.

Pat has received the Queen’s Service Medal for her services to the Italian community and language education. She is humbled by the recognition of her efforts.

She is humbled by the recognition of her effort but says “I’m still just plain old Pat”.

Pat Tondi. Photo: Supplied.

“Everything I’ve done has been for my love of all things Italian,” says the 80-year-old.

During the 1960s and 1970s, Pat lived in the small village of Marigliano in the Campania region for 13 years, after marrying an Italian.

“No one spoke English,” says Pat. “Take it from me it’s the best way to learn a language and to learn first-hand about their culture. To be able to share all of this knowledge today is a treasured gift.”

Pat Tondi. Photo: Supplied.

After returning to New Zealand in 1980, Pat began teaching Italian night classes at Tamatea High School in Napier. When government funding was cut, Pat kept providing Italian lessons privately for people from Beginners to Conversational level right up to today.

Friends of Italy

In 2004 Pat founded the Amici D’Italia –Friends of Italy- Club in Hawkes Bay for people interested in learning and sharing Italian language and culture.

“It’s got about 60 members and when I was down in Wellington they told me it probably wouldn’t work in the Hawkes Bay but it’s still going 18 years later. That’s pretty cool isn’t it?”

Amici D’Italia members enjoying a meet up together, sharing Italian culture with one another over food. Photo: Supplied.

Pat has a deep appreciation for Italy’s heritage from the country’s art, architecture, cuisine, fashion, cinema, to its music, religion and more.

“The family is the most important aspect of Italian life with the mother as the head. Italians love any reason to get together and celebrate birthdays, saint’s name days, holidays and festivals.

“When you think of Italy you usually think of Rome, Florence and Venice– but Italy is made up of 20 different regions and up till 1861 – they all had their own government, their own language – all their cultures we’re different.”

Pat has also supported Italian individuals and families with translation, legal and immigration issues while visiting New Zealand. Additionally, she has hosted numerous Italian exchange students and supported Italians settle in New Zealand while helping them with accommodation and job applications.

When asked what’s in store for her for 2023, Pat says: “I will still continue doing all things Italian just as I have done in the past. Hopefully now that people are traveling again, I’m hoping more up and coming students will seek me out at my new address in Mount Maunganui.”

If you would like to learn Italian, Pat will be taking classes from February 2023 for all skill levels. To get in touch email: [email protected]

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