The late Percy Thomson by his will left a significant bequest to be used and applied towards the establishment and maintenance of an arboretum and herbarium of the native flora of New Zealand and an art gallery.
The Stratford District Council established the Percy Thomson Trust to manage these facilities and to create, acquire, promote, exhibit and manage art collections for the benefit of the inhabitants of the Stratford District and the public generally.
Current Trustees are Bruce Ellis (Chair), Gloria Webby (Deputy Chair), Christine Craig, Jim Clarkson, Viv Milner and Keryn Walsh.

Art Gallery Director is Rhonda Bunyan.
Art Gallery Assistant is Monique Dodunski.

Mr Thomson would be well pleased with the strongly-forged connections that continue to be built on between his home town, art, culture and heritage. Stratford District residents have benefited immensely from his generous legacy and delight in calling this gallery their own.
Percy Thomson
MBE (1884 — 1962)
Percy Thomson MBE (1884–1962) was Mayor of Stratford, New Zealand 1929–1933 and again 1938–1947. He was born in Dunedin in 1884 and educated in New Zealand and Sydney. He first visited Taranaki in 1900 to work with Herbert Halliwell, a Hawera lawyer, then returned to Dunedin in 1905.

He returned to Stratford, New Zealand in 1910 and started a legal practice. He married Hilda (née Spence) in 1912.Together they had two daughters and five sons, one of whom David Spence Thomson was a New Zealand politician of the National Party.
Percy Thomson

Percy Thomson

He owned a dairy farm from 1920 and was director of Ngaere Dairy Company for 25 years. Thomson also served on the Stratford Hospital Board and was Chairman of the Taranaki Patriotic Council for a period following World War II.

He was a long-serving chairman and member of the Stratford Domain Board.

Upon the death of King George V in 1935, Mr Thomson was the driving force behind planting beech trees in Broadway South and renaming it the King George V Memorial Avenue. He was largely responsible for many of the attractive plantings in the town's streets and domains.

Other local committee involvement included vice president of the Taranaki District Law Society, executive of the Municipal Association, President of the Stratford Aero Club, an elder of St Andrews Church, and a member of several horticultural associations. In 1928, a portion of his Stratford land was developed and thus named Percy Avenue in his honour.

He was awarded an MBE in 1946 and died in 1962. Source: Wikipedia
The gallery

The gallery
Percy Thomson Gallery is Stratford's public art gallery and was opened in June 2002 following a bequest to the District by former mayor and businessman Percy Thomson. The Gallery is operated by a trust.

The gallery has developed and grown over the years, now receiving national recognition as a thriving and diverse exhibition space catering for all age groups and interests and involving the community at large.

The gallery provides an extensive programme of exhibitions and events both internally generated and toured from other art collections. New exhibitions open every three to four weeks. Exhibitions vary between national, local and regional artists - established and emerging

Over the years Percy Thomson Gallery has presented some prestigious exhibitions such as: 'Drawn from Italy: Mantegna to Kauffmann', featuring some works that are over 500 years old, one of only three venues to host The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa's touring exhibition; 'Dutch Etchers In a Golden Age - Rembrandt and His Peers'; 'A Micronaut in the Wide World. The Imaginative Life and Times of Graham Percy'; and every two years the Gallery hosts the premier portrait competition, the national Adam Portraiture Awards.
The gallery encourages young artists with the annual Youth Show, where youth and schoolchildren are given an opportunity to showcase their skills in various formats. The popular event is a joint venture between the Stratford District Youth Council, Stratford Art Society and Percy Thomson Gallery

The local Stratford Art Society exhibits work from its members twice-yearly.


Thomson Arboretum & Herbarium

Thomson Arboretum & Herbarium
Developed in 2001, the Thomson Arboretum was made possible by a bequest to the community from the late Percy Thomson, a former mayor of Stratford.

The arboretum represents the native flora of New Zealand. This brief has been expanded to illustrate New Zealand's ancient connection to the Gondwana land mass, through links to Australia and Chile. A number of plants in the arboretum are the living descendents of those on the former Gondwana continent, which formed present day Antarctica, Africa, South America, Australia and New Zealand.
The arboretum adjoins Windsor Park and the Carrington Walkway, and covers around 4000 metres, and a looped path provides an easy walk. The arboretum was planned only a few years ago so it is still very young in terms of plant growth. Plantings of rimu, miro and native conifers will eventually become a patch of rainforest as the trees mature.
The bequest also funded a virtual herbarium which can be found at www.taranakiplants.net.nz. This plant collection includes some of the more common or important plants found in the Taranaki region. The list of plants is designed as an educational resource to introduce users to the types of native and introduced plants found in Taranaki.