A wonderful portrait of Dame Ngaio Marsh was unveiled for the 20th anniversary of the Ngaio Marsh Retirement Village to the surprise and delight of residents and guests.
The portrait painted in 1956 was gifted to Ngaio Marsh residents this week to celebrate the anniversary of the 1999 opening of the village in Papanui.
The retirement village was named in honour of Dame Ngaio, the Christchurch detective fiction author, regarded as one of the ‘Queens of Crime’ alongside Agatha Christie in the 1930s.
Guest and curator Bruce Harding spoke to a packed village centre about Ngaio’s upbringing, travels and how she was also a leading theatrical influence in Christchurch and New Zealand.
Dame Ngaio published 32 detective novels between 1934 and 1982 and also built a career as a theatre director.
Bruce also spoke about the composition of the painting. In 1956 Leonard Mitchell, a distinguished young portrait painter, painted Dame Ngaio in the sitting room of her Cashmere home.
Ryman Chief Executive Gordon MacLeod said it was a great opportunity to celebrate Ngaio Marsh and keep the portrait in Christchurch.
“It’s a significant piece of New Zealand art and we were delighted to be able to secure it for the future at Ngaio Marsh village,’’ Gordon said.
Gordon and Village Manager Anna Thomson said the event was also a chance to celebrate the residents of the village, including three ‘99ers’ or early residents – Helen Grofski, Margaret Swaney and Jeanette Learmakers. Helen spoke to the audience of meeting then sales advisor Debbie McClure (now Chief Sales and Marketing Officer), and of how she watched the village grow with the gradual addition of buildings and facilities like the bowling green.