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.

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