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

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