Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Queen Carnivals : the War Years in Rotorua.

Fund Raising for the Soldiers

The first of these to take place in Rotorua was in November of 1915 and all local schools took part. £1318 18s was raised for the Patriotic Fund. Winner Miss Ruth Winiata (Queen of Peace) was crowned after raising £403 18s 10 d.  This was a popular way to raise money for the patriotic fund and most towns held their own carnival. 

NZ Times 22 November 1915, Courtesy of Papers Past.

Another was advertised for June of 1922 to continue to raising funds for the War Memorial Campaign, the carnival ended with a coronation ceremony on June 8th 1922 at the Majestic Theatre and the following school girls were crowned:  Overall Queen Carnival: Miss Doria Griffiths ; Ngongotaha Queen: Miss Sarah Marcroft ; Band Queen : Miss Margaret Bowes ; Sports Queen : Miss Eunice Tapper.
All Queens were accompanied by Pages and Maids of Honour.  The Archbishop, for the ceremony was Master Ken Dods, who placed the crown on the queen’s head and handed her the orb and sceptre. 


In 1929 Ana Hato was crowned Queen Carnival (NZ Herald 5.12.1929)

The Queen Carnival was also held in 1940 and 1941 to raise money for the ‘Sick, wounded and distress fund”
Ultimately it was a patriotic effort to remember Rotorua’s fallen soldiers.

In 1937 a Caledonian Queen Carnival was held to raise funds for uniforms and other necessary equipment for the Rotorua Municipal & newly formed Pipe Bands.

In 1939/40 the new Rotorua Primary School was built and it was decided to construct a swimming pool as soon as possible. A Queen Carnival was organised and £1,000 was raised. Along with a government subsidy of £300 there was enough to start straight away. However the war intervened and the new pool was eventually opened in 1951.


At the Regent Theatre on August 20th 1945 a Coronation Ceremony of the King & Queen of the Rotorua Inter-Zone Patriotic Coronation Carnival. “So successful was the carnival that the ‘King’ Mr J. Whiti and ‘Queen’ Miss Winnie Mitchell (Arawa Maori Tribes) were able to hand the chairman of the Rotorua Inter-Zone Patriotic Carnival (Mr C.J. Casey)  , the sum of £8,217 15s 4d to be spent for the benefit of returning servicemen” Rotorua Morning Post 22 August 1945.

In the programme for the Coronation Ceremony the other contestants are pictured with their entourage named and the amount they raised. : King & Queen Elect Mr J. Whiti and Miss W Mitchell raised £2751/14/10; King & Queen of the Public Services – Mr G. Day & Mrs M. Goldsmith raised £2267/4/7; King & Queen of the Combined Forces – Mr I. Stuart & Sister M. Peake raised £2001/19/1 and King & Queen of the Sports Bodies – Mr F.H. Lord & Miss Betty Ewert raised £1196/16/10. 

Another Queen Carnival was also held to raise funds for the War Memorial & Park in January 1953. The sum of £15,397/11/8 1/2 d. This money along with the Government £ for £ subsidy on the contract amount £12,500 was spent on improving the lake front. The winner of the carnival was the White Queen, Mrs Ilene McGill, runners up were the Blue Queen, Mrs Carol Ryan and Red Queen, Mrs Anne Trask.

A Queen Carnival was also held to raise funds for the War Memorial & Park in January 1953. The sum of £15,397/11/8 1/2 d. This money along with the Government £ for £ subsidy on the contract amount £12,500 was spent on improving the lake front. The winner of the carnival was the White Queen, Mrs Ilene McGill, runners up were the Blue Queen, Mrs Carol Ryan and Red Queen, Mrs Anne Trask.

This memorial stands at the entrance to the lake front on Memorial Drive which continues on from Fenton Street. The park area was also to be a part of the memorial thus making the whole block from Whakaue Street to the lake a fitting memorial to the fallen.  See also Rotorua Morning Post 4.7.1946; 20.9.46; 8.2.1955; 4.8.1955; 26.4.1958.

Photograph courtesy of Kete Rotorua.

In 1960 the Queen Carnival committee chaired by Mr Joidah Thomas raised funds for the new indoor stadium or Rotorua Health & Recreation Centre. (Later to be called the Sportsdrome) see DP 21.7.1960

In 1961 the carnival began on the 9th Oct with a parade of decorated vehicles and floats. And the carnival culminated with a function at the Soundshell to announce the winning Queen. To win the queen had to have raised the most money for the cause. On this occasion Yonine Waaka (Maori Queen) raising $12,442 won, runner up was Roma Steele (Commerce Queen) raising $12,066.
The overall total raised was $58,000, unfortunately this was not enough to build the stadium and in 1963 Council proposed raising a loan of $50,000.

The P.R.O also proposed several more fund raising efforts including selling seats (there were 200 seats to sell) and further efforts were made. See Daily Post 8.5.64, 12.5.64, 25.5.64 and 13.6.64 

With thanks to the 'Don Stafford Collection' and Papers Past for the above information.