Friday, 29 March 2019

Book Reviews : History made readable

Books from our Rotorua and New Zealand collections. 

The Aro Street Girls (Lyndsay Campbell, 2018) - Rotorua Author

Read about the author here

The story begins with a look forward to the next generation, Uncle Walter and niece Rose. Rose found a jewellery case in her mother’s things when she was having a clean out, it turns out it holds a locket with photos in it of Aunty Kathleen and a soldier. Uncle Walter tells her the story about the soldier and his part in the life of Kathleen… we take up the story in the Spring of 1916.

Kathleen a young lady from a family of means living in Aro Street, Wellington is very smitten with a young man from a very different walk of life, a young man her mother disapproves of.  Freddie Watkins is a personable young man and very reluctant to sign up to the army, he has pacifist ideals and would rather not go, but when a woman in black confronts him with a white feather, a symbol of cowardice, he gives in and enlists. 

Neither of them knows just what lies ahead, but they promise to write to each other. The letters take a long time to arrive, he tries to write once at the battlefield, but it’s very difficult because at the front in Passchendaele, it is wet and muddy, and the noise of the guns and the screams of the injured, are his constant companion. When his letters do arrive, they have blacked out words and phrases due to censorship, and no-one really knows what the lads went through.

Meanwhile back in Wellington Kathy wants to go to university, her dream is to be a teacher. Then one day her father Oscar dies and turns her world upside down, her mother Violet cannot cope and both girls need to get a job.  

And the war continues on and on... and more families are losing their boys and injured soldiers are invalided out of the army, conscription begins. Life will never be the same again for either of the girls, nor for their family.

A well written fictional story based on fact, which illustrates life during WWI, for those left behind and those who lost their loved ones to the Spanish flu, that returned with the soldiers at the end of the war.  

CAM - Borrow from Adult Fiction, Ground Floor. Reference only copy in Rotorua Heritage, Heritage & Research Area, 2nd Floor.

Filming the Colonial Past: The New Zealand Wars on Screen (Annabel Cooper, 2018)

University of Otago Associate Professor Annabel Cooper's book explores the depiction of the New Zealand wars in New Zealand film and television over the past 90 years.

Cooper also discusses new forms of media and innovative platforms, such as digital and online media. She pays particular attention to the rise of Māori creative control in filmmaking and the importance of this in telling our stories.

From a local perspective there is a discussion of Rotorua's role in early filmmaking. Rotorua was a popular film location largely due to its scenery, but also because the Te Arawa people at that time were active in the tourism industry as experienced guides and performers, and these skills adapted well to film acting. There is also a very brief discussion of the film adaptations of the local love story - Hinemoa and Tutanekai.

The book draws on over 40 interviews that Cooper has conducted with those in the film industry. Also throughout there are many coloured photographs highlighting New Zealand's cinematic history.

Filming the colonial cast: the New Zealand wars on screen would appeal to those interested in New Zealand history, particularly the New Zealand wars, and those with an interest cinema and the local New Zealand filmmaking scene.

791.43 COO NZ - Reference only copy in New Zealand Heritage, Heritage and Research Area, 2nd Floor.

Historic houses: a visitor's guide to 65 early New Zealand homes (Linda Burgess, 2007)

Linda Burgess makes you feel like you can step into one of these houses and feel at home. From Northland to Otago, the reader is taken on a journey of seeing New Zealand's history through the lens of hearth and home. Cob houses, stone houses and houses made from native timber where innovative, hard-working and entrepreneurial people lived. This is also a history of strong, gracious and friendly hosts who raised large families while making a living from the land and business interests.
Dwellings like 'Sayers Slab Whare' and 'Rai Valley Pioneer Cottage' pretty
much stand as they were built. Some unusual features of two houses such as, a cave and a square concrete structure with 24 gun placement were especially intriguing. Apart from the differences in design, materials and location the gardens of these houses link them. The gardens feature a mix of local native and exotic plants and remain largely intact today. The reader will enjoy Burgess's style of writing.

728 BUR NZ - Borrow from New Zealand History/Travel, 1st Floor. Reference only copy in New Zealand Heritage, Heritage & Research Area, 2nd Floor.

Second Time Lucky: one man's journey the length of New Zealand (Erik Westra, 2018)

Erik Westra had been crazy about cycling from the time he was a child. After one cycling tour in the States, he was excited to read about the Tour Aotearoa cycle ride, a ride of 3,000 kilometres from Cape Reinga/Te Rerenga Wairia to Bluff, to be completed in 30 days!. Along with other cyclist, Erik made it as far as Marlborough Sounds before a spectacular fall from his bike resulted in a badly broken wrist and withdrawal from the tour.
Once recovered from surgery and therapy, Erik began to plan completing the Tour. Then he decides, this time he wants to start from the beginning again, but take a different approach. As Erik says in his book "I'd be more observant: sensitive to this country's people, history and spirit...I would stop more often and talk to people, listen to them, pay attention and pay my respects as I went."

This book is an interesting account of Erik's two attempts at riding the length of New Zealand, the second of which is successful. He tells of meeting different people along the way, and out-of-the-way places that he passes through. And often of memories that are triggered as he finds himself again in places he's visited as a child with his mum, Ans Westra, the photographer. Whether a cyclist or an armchair traveller, this is a fascinating look at Aotearoa, New Zealand.

993 WES NZ - Borrow from New Zealand History/Travel, 1st Floor. Reference only copies in New Zealand Heritage and Rotorua Heritage, Heritage & Research Area, 2nd Floor.

Friday, 22 March 2019

Rotorua Gardens

What is it about a garden that draws the eye? Personally, I prefer gardens that looks like they've been there for years. There's lichen on the concrete, herbs spilling over the back porch and secret nooks and crannies that are a pleasure to stumble upon. Then you have the garden that has been planned with an eye for detail, to showcase it's natural and historical features.

Government Gardens 

A garden that has been planned over time is one way of describing the Government Gardens in Rotorua. Once covered in native plants like manuka, kanuka and mingimingi, it now boasts a combination of native and exotic plants, buildings, man-made ponds, geothermal areas, a gardeners cottage, monuments and a sculpture trail. This huge garden covers approximately 48 hectares of land, has a strong link to local Maori and is a historical landmark. Originally known as Paepaehakumana, it was the site of several significant battles. Now visitors can admire the rose gardens and sit in the shelter of the pavilion or watch a game of bowls.

Government Gardens 2017.
Kete Rotorua. Photograph by
Alison Leigh

Kuirau Park 

Kuirau Park is another stunning area that features a large beautiful geothermal pool. It covers 50 acreas and was gifted by Ngati Whakaue. In 1930 it became a permanent recreational reserve and was developed from a swampy scrub covered area to what it is now. Today the park is made up of an Aquatic Center, sports fields, parkland and geothermal areas. 

Toot & Whistle Train at Kuirau Park,
Rotorua. Kete Rotorua.

Inner City Beauty

Throughout Rotorua's Central Business District there are stunning displays of colour and art that draw the eye. The city gardens are maintained by a dedicated team from Rotorua Lakes Council and are scheduled for regular change. These inner city gardens also feature in some events such as the Tulip festival which is run annually and organised by 'The Inner City of Rotorua' group. During the festival, the group showcases gardens and celebrates spring by showing over 40,000 tulips.

Tulip Festival 2014, Arawa Street.
Kete Rotorua. Photograph by Alison

Tulip Festival 2014, Lakefront Rotorua.
Kete Rotorua. Photograph by Alison Leigh

Garden Features

The orchid gardens (now part of the Tamaki Village Gardens) once boasted a spectacular 'Water Organ' which was installed in 1988. The parts for the organ or fountain were made in West Germany, and fully assembled stood at 12 metres by 2 metres. The organ played every hour for 20 minutes at a time. 

Water Organ at The Orchid Gardens.
Rotorua Daily Post 1988, Rotorua Library Newspaper Collection.

In 1995, the Annand family found a Kaka in their garden. It was only the second to have been seen in the area in 30 years. 

Do you have photos and memories of a garden? How about sharing them on Kete Rotorua. Please contact Alison Leigh at Rotorua Library on 351-7025. 

This post has been compiled with information sourced from the Rotorua Library's newspaper collection and Kete Rotorua, and written by Ani.

Friday, 15 March 2019

A touch of the Irish

Rotorua Library will be hosting an exhibition Judging Shaw, on the legacy of Irish writer, George Bernard Shaw.

This exhibition marks the 85th anniversary of the Shaw's visit to New Zealand.

Shaw and guide, Rangi, at a hot springs in Rotorua. Photograph: LSE. Collection of the National Trust.

New Zealand Herald, 22 March 1934. Courtesy of Papers Past

Shaw and his wife visited Rotorua in March 1934 during a month long visit to New Zealand. During their time they visited tourist sites, such as the Rotorua Māori Arts and Craft School, Ohinemutu, Whakarewarewa, Tikitere, Hamurana Springs, and the Six Lakes.

He also attended an evening concert a Guide Rangi's Whakarewarewa home. Shaw attended the private concert on the condition that the first item be entirely in Māori and that he could leave after the first item if he desired. Shaw and his wife stayed until the end and he discussed Māoris' aptitude for music with Rangi afterwards.

Shaw and his wife also made a Sunday afternoon visit to Mount Maunganui with Dr. and Mrs J. D. C. Duncan of Rotorua.

Shaw described Rotorua as "an uncommonly pleasant place, though it smells of brimstone like Hades." He admired the beauty of the region's lakes and scenic attractions, and was particularly impressed with the Church at Ohinemutu, with its interior of Māori carving and weaving.

Judging Shaw exhibition is on 23-29 March 2019.

Shaw is not the only significant visitor from Ireland. Over the years Rotorua has hosted political figures, religious leaders, performers, and sports figures.

Mary Robinson, President of Ireland

The seventh President of Ireland and the first woman to hold this office, Mary Robinson visited Rotorua in 1993.

Mrs Robinson are her husband made a brief visit to Whakarewarewa before travelling onto Wellington.

At Whakerewarewa Robinson greeted Eileen Murphy, who is the great niece of the first President of Ireland, Douglas Hyde (he was Murphy's grandmother's brother). Murphy's husband Detective Sergeant Dennis Murphy introduced them, he at the time was head of the city's crime control unit and was assisting with security during the President's visit.

Rotorua Mayor Grahame Hall greets Irish President Mary Robinson and husband Nicholas. Credit: The Daily Post, Thursday 16 September 1993, p. 3.

Detective Sergeant Dennis Murphy introduces his wife Eileen to the President of the Irish Republic, Mary Robinson. Credit: The Daily Post, Friday 17 September 1993, p. 2.

Irish Rugby Team

The Irish Rugby team visited Rotorua in 1997 as part of a tour. Ireland A played the Bay of Plenty Steamers at the Rotorua International Stadium on Thursday May 29th. The Steamers won 52-39.

An Irish team visited again in 2010 and played New Zealand Māori team on Friday June 18th at the Rotorua International Stadium as part of the New Zealand Māori rugby team's centenary celebrations. About 13,500 people attended the game that saw New Zealand Māori team win 31-28.

Ireland A halfback Andrew Machett. Credit: The Daily Post, Friday 30 May 1997, p. 5

Rotorua resident Eamon O'Donogue supporting his home country of Ireland. Credit: The Daily Post, Saturday 19 June 2010, p. 4.

NZ Maori versus Ireland, June 18 2010, programme. Available for viewing in the Don Stafford Room, Rotorua Library

Compiled with information sourced from The Daily Post and Papers Past.
This post was written by Graeme.

Friday, 8 March 2019

Crankworx Rotorua

Mountain Bikers converge on Rotorua

If you are not into mountain biking, the word Crankworx will probably mean nothing to you, or it’s when traffic is crazier than usual and the motels, camping grounds etc. in Rotorua are booked out, Eat Streat is full to the brim and business owners are lapping up the extra spenders in town.

Crankworx the competition, began in Whistler, Canada in 2004, and spread down under to Rotorua in 2015. 

The bikers in NZ last saw such hot competition when the UCI Mountain Bike Trials and World Championships were held at the ‘Taniwha’ in Whakarewarewa Forest in 2006.

The Rotorua Bike Festival inaugural MTB competition began with the ‘Skyline Sprint Warrior’ in 2013 and this drew bikers from all over NZ to compete (and enjoy the view?), it was also held there in 2014, 2016. 

Since then Skyline Skyrides added to their Gravity Park to build a world class MTB track in 2015,  it is there that the a number of the Crankworx and Kidsworx events are held. The event is annual and mountain bikers from around the world come here to compete. 

Regular competitor Sam Blekinsop (NZ) is the current King of Crankworx.

Rotorua has also signed up for the competition to be held here until 2027, so it seems we locals can expect the excitement (and drama) every March. 

The Bike Tree, where old bikes go when... this was built at the
Lakefront  to celebrate Crankworx in 2015.
In 2017 it was dismantled due to safety concerns.

Friday, 1 March 2019

Lakeside Concert

A Brief Overview of the Lakeside Concerts

As we draw near to the time of the Lakeside 2019 Concert, which this year is titled Waiata Mai: pastpresentfuture, I thought we could look back at some of the early concerts and find out some "extras" in those stories.

Lakeside 97

In December 1996, an invite only launch of the March 1 free open air opera and cultural extravaganza concert, Lakeside 97,was held. Among those celebrating and performing at the launch was Ngati Rangiwewehi.

The concert will combine classical, traditional and contemporary musical items, both Maori and Europen, and the theme will be the two Maori lovers,...Hinemoa and Tutanekai who are featured on the stage set.The concert will also feature the 65 piece Auckland Philarmonia and a star-studded lineup of world renowned singers, including Rotorua's own Sir Howard Morrison who will be Master of Ceremonies. (Daily Post, Saturday 1 March 1997, p 1)

Although numbers were less than hoped due to the weather, the rain didn't dampen the enthusiasm expressed by both concert-goers and the show's entertainers. The concert, which finished with fireworks accompanied by an orchestral piece, was hailed a great success, and organisers began talking about making it an annual event. Donations collected during the concert went to Life Education Trust.

Weekender, Daily Post 7 March 1997, p 4

Lakeside 98

Sponsorship for the Lakeside 98 concert, came from a variety of places. One of these was from the Thai Royal Family, who took one of seven $20,000 gold sponsorship spots. Locals attended auditions in January, some for the choirs spots, others to be part of the early part of the programme's entertainment.

The Sir Howard Morrison Quartet reunited for the concert, while MC for the main part of the evening was Max Cryer. An estimated 25,000 plus attended the 28 February concert which covered a wide range of musical tastes and once again finished with a finale of fireworks to the sounds of Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries. Donations collected during the concert raised $7,314 for Hospice.

Lakeside 98 also saw the reunion of a brother and sister, opera singer  Zane Te Wiremu Jarvis, and his half sister Kirsty Morgan. For the full story check out the Daily Post 2 March, 1998, page 3.

Daily Post 2 March 1998, p 3

Lakeside 99

Daily Post 1 March 1999, p 3

The advertisement in the Public Notices read Spirits will soar tomorrow and that seemed to be the case. Dame Malvina Major and Warwick Fyfe were the star attractions of the classical singers while compere Frankie Stevens kept the crowds entertained. There was even an aerial appearance from the crew of the Fletcher Challenge Forest Rescue Helicopter during the break between afternoon and evening programmes.
Reporter Andree Shelton wrote a funny piece in the Daily Post Monday 1 March 1999, p 9, of her experience (as a non-singer) being part of  the Lakeside 99 choir. Well worth a read!

Daily Post 1 March 1999, p 15

Lakeside 2000

In August of 1999, it was announced that Lakeside 2000 would feature Dame Kiri Te Kanawa in a double act with Sir Howard Morrison, "A Knight with a Dame". The January 22 concert was actually held at the Rotoura International Stadium.Tickets went on sale, but there was also an allocation of 20,000 free tickets available to anyone enrolled on the local electoral roll! In the newspaper, accolades abounded of a stunning, sensational, unbelievable evening, a Rotorua Millenium event that will not be bettered.

Daily Post 24 January 2000, p 1

Lakeside 2001

Daily Post Weekender 19 January 2001

A celebration of the music of Split ENZ was the theme at the 2001 concert. 14-year-old Hayley Westenra joined Margaret Ulrich in a duet which was heralded as one of the most superb renditions of the evening. The Rotary Club of  Rotorua Sunrise sold glow sticks at the concert. Was this the first time they featured? And of course the fireworks, which accompanied the classic "Six Months in a Leaky Boat", capped off a superb evening.

Daily Post 22 January 2001, p 1

Lakeside 2002

Weekender, Daily Post 1 February 2002, p 25

Although Dame Malvina Major and Sir Howard Morrison were the star billings, 14-year-old local, Ruakiri Fairhall, joined the stage with Dame Malvina singing Pie Jesu. He spoke afterwards of feeling really happy to have been on stage, and what a wonderful experience it was to sing with Dame Malvina.  Ruakiri had performed at Opera in the Pa two years before.

Daily Post 1 February 2002, p 3

Showcase Rotorua, the earlier programme beginning at 4.30, displayed Rotoru's talent, especially from the younger locals such as Danielle Duchesne who was the sole dancer

Weekender, Daily Post 1 February 2002, p 3
This blog compiled by Trish with thanks to Daily Post