Tragic loss of Seddon Bennington and Marcella Jackson
As I write it is now just over 24 hours since the news came through that Dr. Seddon Bennington, CEO, Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand , and his companion, Marcella Jackson, perished in the freezing Tararua Ranges, having succumbed to what as been described as atrocious weather conditions while tramping over the weekend of Saturday, 11th July, 2009
His loss is mourned by his family, friends and colleagues, including the entire cultural and heritage sector here in New Zealand, as well as in wider international museum world, where he was held in high esteem.
I share this sentiment, and would like to add my own personal condolences.
Although I have worked with, talked to, and networked with Seddon on any number of occasions, my main recent connection was as a fellow Board member of the National Digital Forum, the NDF.
NDF Chair John Garraway
John Garraway , the Chair of the NDF has already spoken publicly of Seddon's involvement, including this fulsome tribute:
“Seddon Bennington’s passing comes as a great shock to the NDF. As Te Papa Chief Executive he has been a member of the NDF Board for the last three years and has shown an ongoing commitment to the activities of galleries, libraries, archives, and museums in surfacing New Zealand’s rich culture and heritage in the digital public space.
The Board valued Seddon’s opinions and perspective greatly and I personally will miss his support. It is very hard to come to terms with the fact he is gone and will no longer sit amongst us.
On behalf of the NDF Board and the 142 institutions which are members of the Forum I offer our condolences to Seddon’s family and to his colleagues at Te Papa.”
I can concur with all of this - for a CEO at the top of his game, both locally, and internationally, he was incredibly accessible to, and within, forums like the NDF.
Moreover, as well as bringing strategic focus to an issue, he was totally alert to the many nuances to real collaboration, and a real master at bringing clarity and consensus to contentious issues, especially those which involved balancing the needs of the many NDF members with a fraction of the power and influence of his beloved Te Papa. And always, he did it with his trademark style!
Te Papa, I know will find their own way of mourning his passing. As will I. It truly is a tragic waste of a talent cut down in his prime.
He was a man whose smile and handshake was always as warm and inclusive as our common purpose.
Te Papa Memorial Area/ Condolence Book
Finally, Te Papa are putting together a memorial area and a condolence book for those who wish to leave their messages of sympathy and condolence.
You can also add your condolences online at Te Papa, here