Items filtered by date: March 2023

Adrienne Stewart

Society Hostess

“Never Met a Stranger”

Adrienne Stewart

The death at 75 of Adrienne Stewart brings to an end the era of society hostesses when Wellington was a notable cultural focus of the South Pacific. Her determination to foster a keener appreciation of this sphere was made manifest in two organisations. One was the National Press Club and the other was the Newcomers Club.

She was a stalwart of the National Press Cub during the high noon of conventional journalism in the final decades of the last millennium insisting that the club’s guest speakers were confronted by the quantity and quality of audience that she believes that they deserved.

Simultaneously she was a prime mover in the capital’s Newcomers Club. This had its origins in the discovery that movers and shakers in the diplomatic and commercial world seconded to Wellington were existing in a parallel universe and needed to mingle with locals.

This coincided with the heyday of the dinner party era before the advent of electronic media interrupted traditional social transactions.

Adrienne was a patron of the visual arts encouraging practitioners to stage their own showings at the numerous art galleries of the Wellington’s fin de siecle era.

Seeing an opportunity for some applied social interaction she would from time to time venture out with an exhibition of her own works.

As a social mixer she liked to see people that she considered had ability take advantage of Wellington’s role as a merchant capital. In her role as a hostess she sought to bring together those she believed had shared commercial purposes.

Adrienne was a redoubtable collector of all sorts of artistic objects of the three dimensional variety and curiosity shops benefited greatly from her patronage.

Beguiled by journalism she tried her hand at it herself with a selection of columns cataloguing the comings and goings of the cosmopolitan and the colourful in the once-thriving suburban print weeklies.

She was recalled at her memorial service as someone who “never met a stranger.”

She is survived by her husband Ian and their two children.

Published in RH Module