Friday, 18 January 2019

Float plane - 50 years in Rotorua

This month marks fifty years since the first commercial float plane service begun in Rotorua.

Float plane. Credit: Rotorua Photo News, No. 66, 15 March 1969.

In 1968, the Rotorua Aero Club made an application to the Rotorua City Council to introduce a float plane service. The Council declined the application in June stating that the service would be 'to the detriment of the public's right of enjoyment of lake and the lakefront reserve.'

In November 1968, The Daily Post run with the headline 'Floatplane on lakefront by Christmas'. The Council was considering approving the application provided consent from other affected parties was obtained. In December the application was granted.

A Cessna 180A, ZK-BVG was chosen as the aircraft for the the initial service. The Cessna has been used as a charter plane in Rotorua since 1959.


Cessna 180A, ZK-BVG, before conversion to float plane. Credit: Flying the Thermal Skies (Stafford, Don, 1983).

Captain Freddie P. Ladd piloted the first service. Ladd with 30 years flying experience had come to Rotorua from Auckland in October 1968 to organise the service.

The four-seater plane was consecrated by Reverend N. Te Hau before its first demonstration passenger flight on Friday January 10 1969. The passengers on the first flight were Mayor of Rotorua Murray Linton and his wife, and the chairman of the Rotorua County Council J.B. Thomas.

Commercial flights began the following day.

Mayor Murray Lindon, watched by Captain Ladd, cuts the ribbon to set the float plane service in action. Credit: The Daily Post, Friday 10 January, 1969, p. 1.

This article was written with information from The Daily Post, Rotorua Photo News, and Don Stafford's book Flying the Thermal Skies. Lending and reference copies of Flying the Thermal Skies are available from the library.

This post was written by Graeme.

Friday, 11 January 2019

Rotorua Sculpture Symposium c2014-

New Sculpture Trail in Government Gardens 

The inaugural Sculpture Symposium was held 29th November to 12th December 2014. Organised by Rotorua District Council Community Arts advisor, Marc Spijkerbosch.  Seventeen local and national sculptors worked in stone, wood or stainless steel, including guest artist Glebos Tkachenko who traveled from Russia to take part. Daily Post 24 November 2014.

The theme chosen was 'The Returning Soldier' as part of Rotorua's commemoration of WW100

Winner : Judges selected nationally recognised sculptor Anna Korver's piece 'The White Mouse'  depicting New Zealand war hero Nancy Wake, as the winning artwork which was installed on the new Sculpture Trail in the Government Gardens, she also received $10,000 as part of her prize.   Daily Post 24 November 2014.

The Rotorua Electricity Charitable Trust purchased two more sculptures for the city by local artists, these being 'Forever Remembered' by Paul Bottomley and 'Tank Trap' by Jamie Pickernell to add to the new sculpture trail. Daily Post 28 January 2015. 

Anna Korver's piece The White Mouse
Photo courtesy of Kete Rotorua

Tank Trap by Jamie Pickernell. Photo Courtesy of Kete Rotorua

Forever Remembered by Paul Bottomley
Photo courtesy of Kete Rotorua

In 2016 the next symposium was entitled 'Sulphur Lakes Sculpture Symposium' and took place 19th to 27th November 2016. 14 artists worked in an open space and locals were encouraged to go down and watch and see the artworks take shape.

The theme this time was 'The Energy Within' capturing Rotorua's geothermal and cultural environment. As with the first symposium, the winner's creation became a permanent part of the Rotorua public art collection. 

Another 3 pieces were purchased to enhance the new boulevard in Kuirau Park, they are : Takutaimoana Harawira - Kuirau : Nigel Scanlon - Ore Ore : Peter Edwards - Te Korokoro o te Parata (Throat of the Parata). All remaining work was installed on the Sculpture Trail until the next symposium in 2018.

Winner of the 2016 Symposium was local artist Trevor Nathan with his piece 'Synergy' it "reflects the interaction between rural and urban environment and how we come together as a city to create the energy in our town"
Daily Post 23 November 2016 and 3 March 2017.

Trevor Nathan 'Synergy'
Photograph by Alison L.


In 2018 the latest Sculpture Symposium was again referred to as the 'Rotorua Sculpture Symposium' and featured 18 sculptors from New Zealand, Switzerland and Iran. 

The theme was 'Nga Wai o Rotorua - The Waters of Rotorua and was run from 16th November to 26th November.

This year's winner is Rory McDougall of Hokitika with his piece 'Waters of Rotorua' made from Taranaki Andesite Stone it represents the thirteen main bodies of water alongside the rivers and hills of the Rotorua area.

A further three pieces are being considered for purchase for the public art trail.

This year there is a People's Choice option for the first time, so get on down to the gardens and vote for your favourite, you have until 17th February 2019 to get your vote on the Creative Rotorua Facebook page
Daily Post 26th November 2018.

Photographs of a few of 2018 entries, Get your vote in now






Visit the Creative Rotorua Website to download the current Sulphur Lake Sculpture Trail Brochure
and don't forget the Rotorua Public Art Trail also has some fantastic pieces of sculpture.

This post is by Alison. All photographs of the latest entries taken by Alison.

Friday, 4 January 2019

New Year Babies

Everyone love babies, don't they? One of the regular items that appear in the Daily Post is the New Year baby photos. So I thought this year why don't we have a look back in the Daily Post and see what delightful photos we can find. Maybe there will be someone you know...


2017 Maui Hunt and Nicole Maney with baby daughter Amaia




2015 Joseph Te Naera, the sixth child of Sarita Graham and Michael Te Naera



2015 also featured a catch-up with 2 Millenium babies born in the year 2000

Caitlyn Gibson



Bevan Tucker


2010 Nathan Matthew Stuart James and family



2005 Tonina Ngatai with her baby girl, Matariki Ngatai-Callaghan



2000 Nathan Wilson Walters, son of Rachel Wilson and Nathan Walters



1995 Russell and Angela Forlong welcomed twins,

 Paris Nicole and Nicholas Charles



1980 Toni Harvey with her new daughter



1975 Mrs B Ria with baby Barry



1970 Gaye Franklin with her baby daughter



This blog was compiled by Trish. With thanks to Daily Post for use of photographs










Friday, 28 December 2018

Rerewhakaaitu Rodeo: the early years

When Rodeo was...

"The Rerewhakaaitu Rodeo Association was formed in 1964 and the inaugural rodeo was held in  April 1964. 

The First ever Rodeo at Rerewhakaaitu :

"This was fitted in at the end of the regular circuit and attracted many top-riders who were anxious to pile on some points for the National Championship. Over 2,000 people attended which is pretty good for a country show" Rotorua Photo News, 9 May 1964, page 53.


9 May 1964 Photo News p.53
From the above photograph it looks like all the cowboys were in the ring together, including the one riding!  Just a little risk to life and limb!


Just one of the other Hazards! in Rotorua Photo News 9 May 1964 pg 53.

Photo of Susan O’Neill.  Caption says, 'her father, is the president of the Rerewhakaaitu Rodeo Assn.'


Rotorua Photo News, 9 May 1964 pg.57
Three years on and the sport was becoming more and more popular... 

Daily Post, 6 January 1967 and then...
... they lost. Daily Post 7 January 1967 




Phew, that was close!  in Rotorua Photo News 10 Feb 1967 pg.2

"Rerewhakaaitu is just another stop on the rodeo trail that over summer sees maybe 300 riders, both men and women, compete in 35 rodeos, scattered all over the country"  from "Dances with horses" by Mark Scott in NZ Geographic, Issue 21, Jan-Mar 1994.  Read the full story here

In 2002, Life Membership was awarded to Sue & Merv Church, Pat Dale and Alby Schuster.  Mr Mervyn T. Church was award an O.N.Z.M for services to the sport of Rodeo in the 2003 New Year Honours List" from 'Pupils, pastures & pine trees' by Rerewhakaaitu District Reunion Committee, c2003.


Rerewhakaaitu was also 10 years young in 1964.
Daily Post, 23rd April 1964, pg.8


The Rerewhakaaitu Rodeo has been held every year since this first one and despite country wide disapproval of rodeos in general, the Rodeo will be held again on 26 December 2018 at the Lake Rerewhakaaitu Domain.

This Post is by Alison.

Friday, 21 December 2018

Christmas Lights Spectacular

Christmas lights are twinkling across Rotorua as part of the 20th annual Christmas Lights Spectacular.


The Christmas Lights Spectacular is run by Professionals McDowell Real Estate, which started in 1911 when Thomas McDowell and his son moved to Rotorua and opened a general store and McDowell and Co ltd, Land Agents, on the corner of Tutuanekai and Eruera Streets,

The first competition, which was held in 1998, attracted 22 entries in the houses section, 12 businesses, and four streets. The Riley family won first prize in the houses sections with a display featuring about 700 bulbs. Not Just Books won the business section, and Larch Street won the streets section.

Last year there were 23 registered houses. Pat Ashton (known as Nana Pat) won for the second year in a row.

She offered Christmas cake and shortbread to visitors last year. She estimated that she made at least 12 Christmas cakes and more than 90 batches of a dozen shortbread biscuits. The then 78-year-old told the Rotorua Daily Post that she tries to hang most of the decorations herself.


Pat Ashton's Christmas Lights display 2017. Credit: Rotorua Daily Post

Pat Aston with 2018 Christmas Display. Credit Rotorua Daily Post

This year voting was open to public from the 4th to 14th of December via the number of likes on the Facebook or Instagram photo. 

32 Stafford Rise received first place winning $1,0000, 2nd place winner 51 A Holland Street received $700, and 77 Homedale Street won $300 for third place.

1st Place - 32 Stafford Rise. Photo credit: Professionals McDowell Real Estate
2nd Place - 51A Holland Street. Photo credit: Professionals McDowell Real Estate
3rd Place - 77 Homedale Street. Photo credit: Professionals McDowell Real Estate


This post was written by Graeme. With thanks to information from Rotorua Daily Post and McDowell Professionals Real Estate.

Friday, 14 December 2018

Rotorua at Christmas Time, 30 Years Ago

Christmas 1988

As Christmas nears once more I thought it would be fun to look back 😊 
Daily Post, 23rd December 1988.

Can you remember when :






Your holiday movies were at the Odeon Theatre and the Majestic Theatre.



Your Christmas dinner of Roast Lamb leg, didn't actually cost you and arm and leg.



You could take your Christmas visitors to see the new Water Organ in the Orchid Gardens.

Daily Post - December 20th, 1988 pg.1


Or in the wet weather you could rent a video or two from DIC.



Your holiday snaps could be developed in 1 Hour!.



A photo of your little one on Santa's knee was worthy of a space on the front page of the Daily Post.

Daily Post December 24th, 1988 pg.1


Geyser Court had many interesting shops and a cafe.

You could buy a house and be a landlord for under $100,000. 

At the Stock Cars the entry fee was $8 per adult and children for free if with an adult. BUT Unescorted Children had to pay $3 entry fee.  -- Huh, Unescorted Children, really!  

Your Holiday weather forecast was for a big storm and gale force winds. Known as Cyclone Eseta, We copped the tail end of the cyclone but it still caused 60 mm of rain to fall here in the 24 hours to 9.am on the 29th of December. Campers flocked to the shops because there was nothing else to do!

What else happened in 1988? 

  • Sophia Street residents were evacuated from their homes as steam vents appeared in their lawns.
  • Father Takuira Mariu, of Rotorua, was appointed as the country's first Maori Catholic bishop.
  • Alpine horns were heard playing in Tutanekai Mall
  • Susan Devoy won her fifth successive British Open title at Wembly
  • Rotorua Round Table donated a Cot Death Monitor to the Rotorua Hospital
  • The National Speedboat Championships at the Blue Lake 
  • New Zealand's longest serving police woman, Senior Constable June Berry of Rotorua retired.
  • An ancient .22 calibre pistol was stolen from the Rotorua Museum.
  • The  NZ Maori Arts & Crafts Institute (Te Puia) staff went on strike over work-related conditions.
  • Rotorua Maori Affairs staff were 'stunned' by the proposed abolition of their department.

You can reminisce along with us here at the Library any day! The Heritage & Research Area on the 2nd Floor has all the issues of the Daily Post on microfiche and film continuously from 1931-2018.  

See our list of available titles and dates for the Rotorua Newspapers here

Front cover of the Christmas Menu for the Denbies Guest House.
Courtesy of Mrs B. Reid

This post written by Alison

Friday, 7 December 2018

Christmas Music Celebrations in Rotorua


When I think of Christmas, I always think of the carols especially that have been part of my Christmas experience. I remember going carolling, usually on the back of a truck with a Salvation Army band accompanying. So this year, I've chosen 2 events that have been around a while in Rotorua, and are still going strong. This is only a short summary. I hope you are able to take the opportunity of hearing and being involved in one or both of these events this Christmas season.

Rotorua District Choir

Beginning as The Rotorua Chorale Society in 1960, the first Christmas concert was the “Prom Concert” - Carols in the Bath House. In 1962 the name changed to Carter Chorale which continued till 1989 at which time the name changed to The Rotorua District Choir. Every Christmas, covering a range of venues such as Tudor Towers, Soundshell, various churches, the Civic Theatre, the Council Chambers and Galleria and several of the Resthomes, the Choir has consistently offered to the community an occasion to hear and participate in the music of Christmas. The music has always been a mixture of classical, traditional, folk and contemporary.

Rotorua District Choir, previous years posters

This year’s Christmas Carol Concert will be held at St Luke’s Church on 7th December, 7pm and Saturday 8th December, 2pm.


To find out more about the Rotorua District Choir, see Our spirit sang all day: the 50 year history Rotorua District Choir by Dianne Estcourt 993.423 EST, held in both the New Zealand History & Travel lending collection or in the Don Stafford Room. Applications to join the choir can be found here

Carols by Candlelight

In 1992 The Geyserland Lions Club introduced the first Carols by Candlelight. By 1994, 3000 people were attending. Beginning in 1995 were several years of Midnight Magic, which began with Carols by Candlelight at Kuirau Park, followed by fun activities and shopping in town. A decorated Christmas trail guided folks from the park into town, or they could catch a double-decker bus. Numbers attending Carols by Candlelight rose to approximately 6,500 by 1999. A couple of years ago the Geyserland Lions Club combined with Rotorua East Lions and they jointly decided to continue with the free family event.

Candles by Candlelight in Kuirau Park 1997 and 3 year old Benjamin Cocker at Midnight Magic

Evelyn Falconer with  2 year old Matthew Ennor at Candles by Candlelight 1997


4 year old Laura Evans-Kemp with her aunt Carrol Whyte at the 1999 Carols by Candlelight

This celebration of Christmas will commence at 7 pm on Friday 14 December at Kuirau Park and will finish around 9:30 pm. The programme will feature the Rotorua Symphonic Band and local choirs and entertainers led by soloist and choir conductor, Evelyn Falconer. Paul Hickey from Classic Hits will MC the evening. Candles will be lit around 8:50 pm. Candles will be available for sale, with the proceeds going to the Hospital Chaplaincy. Vendors will be selling hot food, and Hospice will have a Tree of Remembrance.



Thanks to Margaret Callaghan from the Rotorua District Choir, and Rotorua East Lions for information and pictures. Other photographs from Daily Post fiche held in the library. This blog written by Trish