Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Rotorua Library: Book Review 'My life' by Jean Batten.

Jean Batten in her own words.


The Weekly News 21 October 1936, p.10
‘My Life’ by Jean Batten
Foreword by Marquess of Londonderry …”Jean Batten stands for more than a skilled and intrepid pilot. She has outstanding courage, prudence, and resource, and she blazon’s forth to the world the potentialities for good the discovery aviation provides…”

Jean’s own words from her book: “At an early age I took great delight in the wonders of nature amid which we lived… It was not surprising that even at the early age of 2, I had developed a great desire to roam. One afternoon the town was thrown into upheaval at my disappearance… eventually I was discovered contentedly playing on the floor of the stable, among the horses, which had fortunately stood quiet” 

She goes on to describe life in Rotorua and at the age of 4 yrs moving to Auckland.  Shortly after that WWI broke out and her father was shipped out when she was just 5 yrs. He and 2 of her mother’s brothers returned from Gallipoli. She says “The war had been a big blow to everyone,  and among others my father had to start in business all over again. His dentistry practice had been closed while he was away… 

At the age 10 yrs, in 1919, an air race was organized from England to Australia. This flight impressed tremendously.  At school her favourite subject was geography followed by art and music.
Books on travel and adventure increased her enthusiasm and longing to travel abroad. She informed her father that she had decided she was going to become a pilot, and as you might think, he was against the idea saying “It’s very dangerous” and “very expensive”.  

This did not deter her for long and in 1929 when her mother went to England, Jean accompanied her. During her time in England at barely 19 yrs she declared to her astonished father that “I was old enough to make my own decisions and had decided to make a career in aviation” 

Her book goes on to describe her early flying experiences and mentors who believed in her.  As we here in Rotorua know she went on to become a famous aviatrix who we call our own since she was born here. 

Though Miss Batten did not fly into Rotorua, she visited in 1934 and 1936, and was adopted by the Arawa tribe, with the name ‘Hine-o-te-Rangi’ Daughter of the Skies, bestowed on her. She was welcomed to Rotorua by renowned Chief, Mita Taupopoki, a photograph of this event can be viewed here  Link to other digitized photo

Monday, 19 February 2018

Rotorua's Lakeside Concert

Lakeside Concerts since 1997

Thanks to Rotorua's Ian Edward, Monty Morrison and others, residents and visitors alike look forward every summer to the free open-air concert and extravaganza of entertainment. Monty Morrison did an epic job as the event director from it's inception in 1997 to 2014. 

Top New Zealand performers and local celebrities have kept us entertained, such as Dame Malvina Major, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Sir Howard Morrison, Auckland Philharmonic Orchestra, Howard Morrison Quartet, Frankie Stevens, John Rowles, Eddie Low, Tina Cross, Annie Crummer, Midge Marsden, Jackie Clarke, The Lady Killers, Tim Beveridge, Che Fu, Stan Walker, Candy Lane Dancers, Sol3 Mio, Jason Kerrison and the list goes on...

We have such a talented and generous group of people every year that make Lakeside an event one not to miss. 

To welcome the many performers each year is local kapa haka groups who do Rotorua proud.

Each year a different charity benefits from the generosity of the crowd. The crowd averages 30,000 so getting there early is essential and bringing your family, a picnic or money to purchase food from the food caravans, bug repellent, a comfortable seat and a blanket and you are all set to enjoy the evening to it's fullest, and to top the evening off, awesome and spectacular fireworks!.

Part of the concert each year is devoted to young and upcoming singers, musicians and performers. Here is just a few, Lizzie Marvelly, Elisha Fulton, Michael Murphy, Alayna Powley, Ainslee Allen, Turanga Merito, Ben Lummis, Rosita Vai, Nik Carlson, Hayley Westenra, Ben Hakaraia and more.

Just a few of the theme's are : Spirit's will soar, Heart & Soul, Encore great moments in music, A Touch of Class, Best of the Best, Hollywood goes to Vegas, The Bold, the Blind & the Beautiful, When Love comes to Town, You ain't seen nothing yet, Made in NZ and this year "Whenua #it's abouthome. 

See the official website for awesome photographs and memories of past concerts. 

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Jean Batten in Rotorua

Rotorua's Famous People 

This plaque indicates the approximate spot of the house on Amohia Street.
Photograph courtesy of Kete Rotorua.

Jean Batten was born in Rotorua 15th September 1909, only daughter of  Frederick Harold & Ellen (Nellie) Batten, sister to Frederick (Jnr.) & John, one other brother, Stanley, born in 1904 died in infancy. Click here to read her biography on Te Ara : Encyclopedia of NZ.

Jean was named after her paternal grandmother, Jane Gardner Batten, although always known as Jean.


The family moved to Rotorua in c.1904 they lived on Amohia Street in the block between Hinemoa and Pukuatua Streets, her father Frederick Harold Batten was one of the 1st Dentist's in the town.  The family moved to Auckland in c.1913.


Frederick Snr served in WWI with the rank of Captain in the NZ Dental Corps and worked also on the troop ship 'Ionic' as dentist to the soldiers en route to England. He received the British War Medal and on return to New Zealand after the war he continued to serve in the Territorial Army, 3rd (Auck.) Regiment (Countess of Ranfurly's Own) to c.1920. Prior to the war he served for 1 year in the Taranaki Rifles and in 1911-1914 he was Captain of the 4th Coy. Senior Cadets based in Rotorua. 


Her brother Frederick went on to become a farmer at Ruakaka and John became a radio actor and announcer, he moved to England c.1960's where he resided until his death in 1993.



Dame Fiona Kidman in Rotorua, author of  'The Infinite air' about Jean Batten.
This memorial was situated in Jean Batten Park on Arawa Street.
Photograph courtesy of Kete Rotorua

The bronze in the above photograph was crafted by Hamilton artist Marshall Watt and gifted to the Rotorua Museum in 1994, it was later agreed that the memorial would be displayed behind Tourism Rotorua. Jean Batten Park was developed between the Tourism Isite and the Rotorua Library where her bronze resided until redevelopment of the park 2017/2018.

Books about Jean Batten.
Come see our newly refurbished Library and Children's Health Hub at 1127 Haupapa Street. 

"The infinite air" by Dame Fiona Kidman. Fiction on the ground floor.
"Jean Batten, Garbo of the skies" by Ian Mackersey. 629.13z BAT in New Zealand Heritage on the 1st Floor. 
"Alone in the sky" by Jean Batten. 629.13z BAT in New Zealand Heritage on the 1st Floor. 

Reference Only in the Don Stafford Room : Rotorua Collection. "Jean Batten, pioneer of the sky" by Bronwyn Tainui - 926.2913z BAT 
"My life" by Jean Batten - 926.2913z BAT
"Solo flight' by Jean Batten - 629.13z BAT 

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Geothermal benefits for residents 1930-1980s


Rotorua Thermal attractions.

The Pavilion & Rachel Baths upgraded and becomes Ward Baths c.1930-1972.

New Blue Baths facility opened in 1931, the Children's pool supplied by thermal water.

Photograph of the Children's pool at the new Blue Baths, 1961 by L.R. Leigh

1930 - Kuirau Park, a new layout designed by Landscape Architect Mr F. Tschopp.  He included rugby, cricket, soccer, hockey, tennis, netball, croquet, running and cycling tracks, open air swimming pool, a children's playground, dressing pavilions, rest rooms and a tea kiosk as well as all the natural thermal ngawha.


Photograph taken 1961 by L.R. Leigh.

1938 - Mr P. A. Kusabs had a water diviner locate a source of water, then a bore drilled on his property he was developing. He wanted to use the thermal resource for heating and water supply.

1940 - Borough Motor Camp utilised the diviner to locate a source of  hot water for baths and the laundry.

1940 - Cosy Cottage Motor Camp bore drilled to supply hot water to the camp.

1940 - Rotorua Primary School bore drilled to supply hot water for baths.

1946 - Amohau Street Transit Camp bore drilled to supply hot water to the camp ablution block. Cooking boxes were planned for the following year.


National Publicity Studio. Archives NZ

1948 - DSIR Scientist Mr R.W. Foster received approval to install a thermal reticulation system to the block bounded by Pukaki, Fenton, Whakaue & Tutanekai Streets.

1953 - Government passed the 'Geothermal Energy Act' this stipulated that all bores deeper than 200 ft. required a licence.

1958 -  Mr Gilltrap donated an old traction engine to the Borough Council for the children's playground in Kuirau Park.

1962 - New Zealand Insurance Co. Ltd. donated a fountain and funds for surrounding gardens for Kuirau Park as part of the company anniversary celebration.

1966 - Approx. 60 bores existed in town and in the area closest to the centre of town.

1967- Mr Lewis Vause engineer, built an artificial geyser.

1967/68 - Mr N. T. Ussher opened Thermal Nurseries in Sala Street.

1970 - Waikite Hot Pool complex opens.

1972 -  Ward Baths becomes Polynesian Pools.

With Thanks to Don Stafford, Archives NZ and Kete Rotorua for the above information and photographs.