Friday, 3 December 2021

Rotorua Boy Scouts

Rotorua Boy Scouts, photographer Mack, Rotorua Museum Te Whare Taonga o Te Arawa (OP-1059)

Early beginnings

The earliest known recorded reference to Scouting in Rotorua was published in the Taranaki Herald in 1911. It was reported that at the time there were two troops in Rotorua. One composed of fourteen Māori youth at Ohinemutu, and the other a pakeha troop of thirty six Scouts. The troops were formed by Scoutmaster Hawley. It was noted that Hawley had the honour of forming the first Māori troop ("The Boy Scouts", 1911). The reason that little is known from the early days of Scouting in Rotorua is possibly due to local newspaper records of the day no longer being in existence.

Don Stafford (1988) notes that a Scout troop was formed in Rotorua by Captain Prictor, who had been involved in Scouting in South Africa and India, some time before November 1913. In November 1913, a new Rotorua Scout District was formed, which covered a radius of thirty six miles of the township. In December 1913 the first district committee was elected and on the 15th of December the first scout camp was held at Ngapuna. There are many reports in the early years of scout camps at Maketu and Mamaku, for example.

Boy Scouts Fancy Dress Ball, 1914, photographer unknown, Rotorua Museum Te Whare Taonga o Te Arawa (OP-1046)

The colours of the Rotorua troop were consecrated on 19 July 1914 by Rev. F. A Bennett at a ceremony at Arawa Park attended by some 600 people. The blue flag, which was emblazoned with 'Rotorua Troop' and the motto 'Be Prepared', was donated by Mrs. Ellen Malfroy.

Later in the year the Rotorua Girl Peace Scouts Troop was established by Captain Prictor with Scoutmistress Young. In August 1914 a Scout troop was formed at Whakarewarewa by Scoutmaster Banks, who would later become the headmaster of Whakarewarewa School, and the following year a Scout troop was formed at Mamaku (Stafford, 1988).

Captain Prictor was supported by Scoutmaster T.C. Hawkins, who was heavily involved in Scouting for much of his life. Prictor left Rotorua for military service in September 1915 leaving Hawkins as being responsible for the Rotorua troop. Hawkins retired from Scouting in February 1934.    

A highlight for Scouts was a visit to Rotorua by Founder and Chief Scout Lord Baden-Powell in February 1935. The troops of Boy Scouts and Girl Guides assembled at the train station station to meet him. When it was learned that he had arrived by car the Scouts marched to the Grand Hotel where they performed a haka ('The Chief Scout', 1935). Rotorua also received a visit in 1949 from the then Empire Chief Scout Lord Rowallan ('Chief Scout at Rotorua', 1949).

Boy scouts greet their leader. (1935, February 13). Auckland Weekly News, 38. Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections. AWNS-19350213-38-2

Another highlight for Scouts was the World Jamboree. The 6th World Scout Jamboree was held in Moisson, France in 1947. This was the first jamboree to be held after Baden-Powell's death in 1941. It was originally to take place in 1941. Following the devastation of World War II, the event was named the Jamboree of Peace. 24,152 Scouts participated from 38 countries. Approximately 240 boys from New Zealand attended. Rotorua Library Archives holds a collection of ephemera from the 1947 6th World Scout Jamboree that was collected by V. J. Karl.

Rotorua contingent at 1947 6th World Scout Jamboree, France
Sherlock, J.G. (1999). The Ngongotaha Scout Hall: formerly Te Purei. Rotorua: JG Sherlock

To view V.J. Karl's scouting ephemera collection please see staff at the 2nd floor desk.

Post written by Graeme with thanks to Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections, Don Stafford collection, Rotorua Museum Te Whare Taonga o Te Arawa, Rotorua Library Archives.


Chief scout at Rotorua. (1949, January 19). Bay of Plenty Times, 3.

The boy scouts. (1911, January 7). Taranaki Herald, 6.

The chief scout. (1935, February 9). New Zealand Herald, 14.

Stafford, D. (1988). The new century in Rotorua. Ray Richards Publisher; Rotorua District Council.

Friday, 1 October 2021

Ruia Mereana Morrison, Dame Companion, New Zealand Order of Merit

Queens Birthday Weekend, June 2021, Ruia Morrison was made a Dame in the Queen's Birthday honours.

So who is Ruia Morrison, and what was in her past that led to her having an honour such as Dame Companion bestowed on her.

Our Wahine project ( @ourwahine),
 image by Kate Hurston

Ruia Mearean Morrison was born in May 1936, the third of nine children, to Hingawaka (Waki) Morrison and Tanira Kingi. She attended Rotokawa and Rotorua Primary Schools. It was at about age eight that Ruia became hooked on hitting a tennis ball. At age ten her father gave her a tennis racket but unfortunately she broke it. After that she played using an old racket of her Dad's. During those years, inter-marae exchanges were common and it was those that began her competition tennis. (Aotearoa Maori Tennis Association, 2006). 

In 1949 she was included as a Junior to represent the Te Arawa Lawn Tennis sub-association competing against other iwi at the New Zealand Māori Lawn Tennis Association Tournament in Gisborne. She and another young tennis player, Joe Paul, were presented with a special silver cup by Sir Apirana Ngata for "most improved juniors". (Romanos, 2012)

During the 1950's she was a top junior in the tennis scene. 1953 saw her enrolled at Queen Victoria School for Māori Girls before heading on to Teacher's College. During her Teacher's College years she played Caro Bowl Interclub for the Eden-Epsom Tennis Club. She was teamed up with Heather Robson who became her doubles guide and was a great tactician. In 1955 she attended her first National Seniors Championships where she was beaten by Sonia Cox. In 1956 she played again, this time winning over Sonia Cox.

Ruia Morrison and Sonia Cox, tennis players. Evening post (Newspaper. 1865-2002) :
Photographic negatives and prints of the Evening Post newspaper.
 Ref: EP/1958/0085-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. 

By now, it was felt that Ruia would benefit from some overseas exposure, and people began talking about her playing at Wimbledon. In 1956 John Waititi had the idea of forming the Ruia Morrison Wimbledon Committee to raise money to send Ruia to Wimbledon and Britain. Māori throughout New Zealand were wonderfully supportive. Her cousin Howard Morrison was a big drawcard at a variety concert at the Auckland Town Hall. All in all, enough money was raised to enable Ruia to travel back and forth to Britain, and play tennis at home for four years. In 1958 she donated some of those funds to help establish a Māori golfer, Walter Godfrey, overseas. 

In 1957 Ruia Morrison headed overseas with her doubles partner, Heather Robson. She was to be the first Māori to play on the grass courts of Wimbledon, making a great impression on the tennis critics, one of whom dubbed her "Tiger". (Romanos, 1986)

In 1958 she was invited to the Carribean by Betty Pratt for a tournament. 1959 saw her off to Britain again, where she had several successes. She reached the third round of Wimbledon Doubles, and the fourth round of Mixed Doubles. During her tennis career she played at Wimbledon four times.

Back in New Zealand she won the New Zealand National Singles title in 1956, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1962 and 1964. (Aotearoa Maori Tennis Association, 2006).

In 1960 she was awarded the MBE for Services to Māori people and New Zealand tennis.

(Morrison, 1983, p 23)

In 1962 Ruia married Kenneth Alan Davy although the marriage did not survive. (Te Ao Hou, 1962). 

In 1965 Ruia became actively involved in aspects of coaching tennis. Rothman's Coaching Clinics proved to be a perfect format for her to participate in. She became the "first official women's professional tennis coach" (Romanos, 1986). Ruia went on to continue teaching, raising her family and providing coaching clinics for local children especially in Rotorua. 

In 2013 Ruia was invited back to Wimbledon as a special guest of the All England Lawn Tennis Club.

Each year Ruia would attend the ASB Classic tennis matches in Auckland. In 2020 she presented Serena Williams with a korowai after she won the ASB Women's Classic. Going forward, future winners of the Womens' Classic will be presented with the korowai named after Ruia Morrison.(Long, D, 2021). 

For many years Ruia has been referred to as the lost tennis legend of New Zealand but the presentation at Queen's Birthday has definitely brought her into public awareness again.

Check out this video on YouTube for further details on Ruia Morrison:


Aotearoa Maori Tennis Association. (2006). A history of Maori tennis = He hitori o te tenehi Maori.  

Duff, A. (2000). Alan Duff's Maori heroes. Random House Book.

Long, D. (2021, June 7). Groundbreaking tennis star Ruia Morrison appointed Dame. Stuff

Morrison, A. (1983). The Clan Morrison reunion, Rotorua, 1983 souvenir programme. 

Romanos, J. (2012). 100 Maori sports heroes. Trio Books Limited.

Romanos, M. (1986, July1). Ruia Morrison. Tu Tangata, 30,46.

Te Ao Hou: The Maori magazine. (1962, March). 38, 9.

You want to come back. (1995, February-April). Mana, 8, 64-67.

Friday, 2 July 2021

Rotorua Airport a brief history

 Rotorua Aerodrome 1920s to 1970s

Rotorua’s first airport was known variously as the Rotorua Aero Club Aerodrome, the Municipal Aerodrome, Whakarewarewa Aerodrome and the Rotorua Airfield.

Whites Aviation Limited. 1933. Rotorua Airfield, 14-6633. Walsh Memorial Library, The Museum of Transport and Technology (MOTAT).  No known copyright restrictions.

Planes landing in Rotorua however started c1919 and used the Arawa Park Racetrack and Vaughans Farm on Te Ngae Road.  Two young Rotorua lads trained at the Walsh Flying School, Kohimarama near Auckland c1918, Mr. Eric Roe and Mr. P. A. Kusabs.  (Stafford, 1983)

In 1922 an aeroplane piloted by Captain Brake was taking passengers on short flights from the racecourse, on one such flight Captain Brake had to make an emergency landing on the narrow beach at the back of the Postmaster Bath. No further damage to the aeroplane occurred and his two passengers were not injured.  (New Zealand Herald, 1922)

In 1929 the Auckland Star reported that:

A De Haviland Moth aeroplane piloted by Captain T. W. White, with Mr G.W. Stead as passenger arrived at Arawa Park at 9.00am from Hastings, after a flight of 1 hour and 40 minutes. (Auckland Star, 1929).

During the 1920s planes were also conducting short passenger rides from Vaughans Farm, Te Ngae Road.  Hamilton Airways Ltd. operated 3 Gypsy Moths c.1929-1930. (Stafford, 1983)

When the first Rotorua Aero Club formed in c1930, members were responsible for constructing a landing strip on land that was part of the State Forestry block.   Rotorua Aero club later initiated an amalgamation with others in the Bay of Plenty. Rotorua and Bay of Plenty Aero Club was duly formed in 1938 with Mayor T. Jackson as its president, at this time Mr. S.J. Blackmore, of Hamilton, had agreed to act as an instructor, he also owned the aircraft, a Sports Avian, which was used until the club were able to purchase one.  They then set about planning an Air Pageant for Easter even though the club did not own any aeroplanes as yet.  

About the same time Rotorua Airways Ltd. was formed with mostly Aero Club members, some 20 men were listed as the owners. It was however a short lived venture and they amalgamated with the Waikato Airways company in September of 1930, but had ceased business by March 1934. (Stafford, 1983)

Pilot training began and it was acknowledged that Blackmore had trained ‘a record number’. (Rotorua Morning Post, 1941).  Their first fully qualified pilot was Mr Basil Smith (New Zealand Herald, 1939)

In 1931 a plane crash was recorded in the newspapers. The plane owned and piloted by Captain Money hit an air pocket on take-off from the Rotorua Aerodrome and crashed into the garden of a house opposite.  His passengers, Mr J Fortune and Mr W.G. Setchell, were unharmed. (Horowhenua Chronicle, 1931).  This was however not the first plane to crash at or near the aerodrome, others were recorded by the news media of the day prior to this one and quite a lot more in the next decade.

Stafford tells of the first ever airmail delivery arrived which in Rotorua on the 10th December 1931:

Two sizeable bags of mail were handed off for Rotorua and the Postmaster, Mr G. Nelson, handed a bag of over 300 letters as Rotorua’s contribution to the venture.

Some facilities were provided by the Borough Council in the form of a hangar. Also around this time a new east-west runway of 680 yards was completed, under the supervision of the Borough engineer. (Stafford, 1983)

Famous aviators visited Rotorua, flying in and landing either at Vaughans Farm or Copeland Smith’s farm. The most notable was Sir Charles Kingsford Smith who flew his “Southern Cross” in January 1933.  While in Rotorua he took intrepid adventurers up in the plane for joyrides. (Stafford, 1983)

In 1935 Stan Blackmore, (Previously of Hamilton Airways Ltd c1929 and Waikato Aviation c.1930) applied for permission to conduct his business from the Municipal Aerodrome. He was granted one year’s full use for free because he was a licenced instructor. Stan Blackmore, known locally as ‘Blackie’, was also the first to make a mercy flight picking up a seriously ill person and flying the person to the Rotorua Hospital. Waikato Aviation was changed to Blackmores Air Services Ltd. in 1947 and operated in Rotorua until 1977. Blackmore's was sold to James Aviation in 1951 after Stan Blackmore retired.  (Daily Post, 1983)

Rotorua Post. (1948, September 29). Advertisement. Rotorua Post.

Work is almost completed on the new hangar at the Borough Aerodrome for which £600 was included in the last estimates of the Rotorua Borough Council. Comprehensive plans were provided by the Public Works Dept. to provide for future needs and extensions at the aerodrome.  (New Zealand Herald, 1941).

In 1941 Prime Minister Fraser opens the new hangar and a new Aero Club rooms:

The new hangar is described as “of modern design, is capable of housing four planes…while the club-house adjacent is equipped with all facilities”. (Rotorua Morning Post, 1941)

Also in 1941 a Moth bi-plane belonging to the Aero club had to make a forced landing on a vacant plot across the road from the Aerodrome as the engine cut out. The pilot Mr. H. Boucher was unharmed and passenger Mr. E. Shaw received minor injuries, however the “plane’s undercarriage was wrenched off, and would be out of commission for some time” (Rotorua Morning Post, 1941)

Rotorua Aerodrome was taken over by the RNZAF from 1 Aug 1942 and young recruits were stationed in Rotorua for their initial training.  Stan Blackmore was allowed to store his aircraft in the existing hangar because he had just paid for a 3 year lease.  (Stafford, 1983)

After the war in 1947, the Rotorua Aero Club, reformed and resumed flying instruction for budding aviators and a nurse, Marie Watt, was one of their first pupils, and the first of her class to make a solo flight.  

Commercial use of the aerodrome resumed and NAC announced their first regular service was to begin on 27 Sept 1948, with a ‘Lockheed Electra’ named the ‘Kuaka’ which could accommodate up to 10 passengers and 2 crew.  (Rotorua Post, 1948). 


Building of Blackmore's Air Services, Rotorua. Whites Aviation Ltd: Photographs. Ref: WA-19820-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22837762 

By 1950 the era of agricultural top-dressers begins and by 1954 James Aviation is offering a regular daily passenger flight ‘Rotorua – Kawerau – Kinleith – Mangere’ (Rotorua Post, 1954).  Helicopters made their debut at the aerodrome on 12th April 1955, about 6000 people went to see it and paid for a short ride. The first passenger was the Mayoress Mrs A. M. Linton. (Rotorua Post, 1955)

In 1951, James Aviation bought Blackmores’s Air Services when Stan Blackmore retired and by 1959 James Aviation Rotorua Ltd. is formed, and becomes a fixture at the Rotorua Aerodrome. (Stafford, 1983)

James Aviation Fleet - Fenton Street Aerodrome, photograph by John Scott (b.1934, d.2000) Rotorua Museum Te Whare Taonga o Te Arawa (CP-2213)

In December of 1956 NAC were forced to cease flights into the Fenton Street airport after retiring their smaller Domonie aircraft. A new Heron aircraft had crashed while attempting to take off in September of 1955, apparently the nose wheel ploughed an 11ft furrow in the field slid along the runway for another 36ft and then digging in again and coming to a stop. (Rotorua Post, 1955)

Our most notable visitor at this time was the newly crowned Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh.  They were flown from the Rotorua Aerodrome to Gisborne in one of the new NAC Heron aircraft.  (Stafford, 1983).

Rotorua services to Auckland did not resume until Bay of Plenty Airways commenced a service to Auckland with a seven seater Aero Commander Airliner on 2 September 1959 and in the same year service to Wellington which was used extensively by Rotorua MP Harry Lapwood from 1960.  The service came to a tragic end when the plane crashed on Mt Ruapehu with all lives lost, 21 November 1961.  NAC arranged James Aviation to provide a feeder service from Rotorua to Tauranga and Hamilton which continued until a new aerodrome could be built in Rotorua. (Davis, 2003)

A new era in the life of air services to and from Rotorua begins:

New Rotokawa airport negotiations had begun in 1957 and by September that year Mayor Linton announces that “quite definitely that the site will be Rotokawa” although Civil Aviation said the ‘soil tests were not as good as they might be’.  (Rotorua Post, 1957)

On the 11th of  November 1963 the following article was published on the first day of business at the airport:

Rotorua, the centre of New Zealand’s tourist industry, rejoined the national airways network this morning – just a year after work began on the £350,000 airport at Rotokawa. The seven year break ended when a South Pacific Airways of New Zealand Viewmaster touched down… 

A special N.A.C. inaugural flight carrying 26 mayors and deputy mayors from around the north island along with Guide Rangi were flown to Wellington where they were greeted by the Mayor of Wellington and Managers of N.A.C.  (Daily Post, 1963)

The official opening of the airport took place on the 3rd October 1964 at 2.00pm., by Sir Keith Holyoake, Prime Minister of New Zealand.  An air pageant took place from 10. 35am., with 5 RNZA Vampire Jets arriving in formation from Ohakea. The first NAC Friendship aircraft to touch down in Rotorua arrived at 11.30am with the Prime Minister on board.  (Daily Post, 1964)

Rotorua Printers (1964). Rotorua Airport official opening: Saturday, 3rd October, 1964. Rotorua Printers.

New sections were laid out on the old aerodrome land and Fenton Park became Rotorua's newest suburb.  

Mayor Linton on opening the Parade of Homes at Fenton Park, remarked that:

Up until today, confirmed sales have amounted to £289,000, just £1000 short of the half-way mark… when sales were complete, Rotorua would have achieved a new airport at virtually no cost to the district, something few, if any other centres could boast. (Daily Post, 1967)

Rotorua Photo News. (1967, April 7). [Roving camera]. Rotorua Photo News.

 Rotorua Heritage Collection. Rotorua Library.

In the years that follow:  

First for the Rotorua area in 1967 a tourist flight company began operating from the Rotorua Airport ‘Helicopter Service & Safaris’ financed by Don Wishart and managed by Hank Whitfield with an additional pilot George Johnson. (Stafford, 1983)

1971 Rotorua Aero Club purchase a seven seater Cessna in order to launch their new tourist flights service which was named  Volcanic ‘Wunderflites’ and begins officially on 2 May 1971 with Capt. Fred Ladd as its pilot. (Stafford, 1983)

Civil Aviation announce that a permanent control tower has becomes necessary on 4th June 1971. Opens 14 November 1974. (Stafford, 1983)

23 March 1975, NAC opens its new building in Amohau Street, after outgrowing the Eruera Street office which had opened c.1963.  The new purpose built, modern with a touch of luxury and thermal heating.  The exterior was designed by Rotorua architect Mr. C. Deacon and the interior by NAC staff of Wellington. (Daily Post, 1975)


Stafford, D.M. (1983). Flying the thermal skies. Thermalart Productions.

Gavin, B. (2003). To and from the Bay: by Speedy Aero Commander. In R. Waugh, Taking off: pioneering small airlines of New Zealand 1945-1970. (pp.142-157). Kynaston Charitable Trust.

Rotorua Printers (1964). Rotorua Airport official opening: Saturday, 3rd October, 1964. Rotorua Printers.


New Zealand Herald. (1922, March 27). Aeroplane at Rotorua: a forced landing. New Zealand Herald.

Auckland Star. (1929, 20 May). Hastings-Rotorua flight: journey in 100 minutes. Auckland Star.

Horowhenua Chronicle. (1931, September 15). Three seater plane crashes at Rotorua. Horowhenua Chronicle.

 New Zealand Herald. (1939, June 21). Rotorua Aero Club. New Zealand Herald.

New Zealand Herald. (1941, March 26). Rotorua Aerodrome. New Zealand Herald. 

Rotorua Morning Post. (1938, November 17). Aero Club: formed in Rotorua. Rotorua Morning Post

Rotorua Morning Post. (1941, April 23). New hangar and clubroom: Rotorua’s aviation facilities. Rotorua Morning Post.

Rotorua Morning Post. (1941, October 20). Plane’s forced landing: Rotorua Aerodrome. Rotorua Morning Post.

Rotorua Morning Post. (1947, September 23). Solo aero flight. Rotorua Morning Post.

Rotorua Morning Post. (1948, December 16). Air traffic: Auckland direct: Rotorua service to begin Monday. Rotorua Morning Post.

Rotorua Post. (1954, December 16). Daily air service starts Monday: Rotorua-Kawerau-Kinleith link with Mangere. Rotorua Post.

Rotorua Post. (1957, September 20). Rotorua’s Aerodrome will be sited at Rotokawa, says Mayor. Rotorua Post.

Daily Post. (1963, November 11). Isolation ends – tourists welcome air travel. Daily Post.

Daily Post. (1964, October 3). Jets ‘christen’ new city airport. Daily Post.

Daily Post. (1964, October 5). Govt. to pay for airport facilities. Daily Post.

Daily Post. (1967, March 18). Fenton Park sales near halfway. Daily Post.

Daily Post. (1975, March 22). Opening of new aircentre. Daily Post

Friday, 7 May 2021

Remembering Maureen Waaka (nee Kingi)

Maureen Te Rangi Rere I Waho Waaka née Kingi NZOM
Ngāti Whakaue | Tūhourangi | Ngāti Tūwharetoa/Ngāti Tūrumakina

Maureen was born on 5 October 1942. The fourth child of Rhona Needham and Irikau Kingi (Waaka, 2013).

She attended Rotorua Primary and Rotorua Girls’ High School where she was a prefect. She gained School Certificate in 1958, University Entrance in 1959 and Higher Leaving in 1960 (“Miss N.Z. title”, 1962).

Rotorua Girls' High School. (1960). 1960 prefects, The Magazine of the Rotorua Girls' High School, 1959-60, 8

After leaving school Maureen went to Auckland to study radiography. While there she entered a Miss South Seas beauty contest. In June 1962 Maureen was crowned Miss New Zealand, becoming the second Māori woman to win the title after Moana Manley won in 1954.

Maureen Waaka (nee Kingi) 3rd from left, Miss NZ contest Dunedin, 1962, photographer Evening Star, Rotorua Museum Te Whare Taonga o Te Arawa (Op-4384)

In August Maureen travelled to California for the Miss International contest. Although the title went to Miss Australia Tania Verstak, Maureen was seen by 40 million American viewers when she was interviewed on a C.B.S coast-to-coast television network in San Francisco ("Miss New Zealand", 1962).

Following her Miss International contest Maureen did a six week modelling tour of New Zealand ("Maureen worn out", 1962) before traveling to London in November for the Miss World contest. She was eliminated in the first round ("Miss Holland chosen", 1962).

In 1963 Maureen married John Waaka. Together they have five children - John Te Kohika, Karen Te O Kahurangi, Tono Maureen Hinematioro, Teri Puarangi and Trudi Rangimawhiti (Waaka, 2013).

Married. (1963, September 21). Rotorua Photo News, 1, p. 30.

For many years Maureen and John managed the concert party at the International Hotel in Froude Street. She was the inaugural president of the Māori Tourism Association and the president of the International Organisation of Folk Art (Waaka, 2013).

In 1990 Maureen was honoured with the New Zealand Commemoration Medal and in 2001 was made a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to tourism and community. In 2005 she won a Zonta Community Award and became a Justice of the Peace (Waaka, 2013).

Maureen was first elected to Rotorua District Council in 1989 for a three year term. She was re-elected to Council in 1998, and served as a Councillor for eighteen years until her death in 2013. She also served three terms on the Lakes District Health Board as an elected member (Martin, 2013).

Councillor Maureen Waaka, Rotorua Lakes Council

During her time in Council Maureen was a member of its Iwi Protocols subcommittee, Kauae Cemetery Trust and executive committee. She was a Resource Management Act Commissioner, the chairwoman of the council's Statutory Hearings Committee, was on the Te Arawa Standing Committee, and chairwoman of the District Licensing Committee.

Maureen was a strong anti-gambling advocate and was deputy chairwoman of the Problem Gambling Foundation of Rotorua. In 2002 she led a successful campaign against plans to build a casino in Rotorua, and was often invited to speak on the issue of gambling.

She suffered a stroke on the 16 June 2013 while in Auckland. She passed away in Rotorua of complications two weeks later on 1 July (Martin, 2013).

Maureen will be remembered for her services to community.

Firth, C. (1962). Maureen Kingi [photograph]. Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections 34-K2841-1.

This post was written by Graeme with thanks to John Waaka, Rotorua Museum Te Whare Taonga O Te Arawa, and Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections.


Martin, M. (2013, July 2). 'True champion' of Rotorua farewelled. Rotorua Daily Post, 3.

Maureen worn out. (1962, August 31). Daily Post, 1.

Miss Holland chosen Miss World. (1962, June 5). Daily Post, 1.

Miss N.Z. title to Maureen. (1962, August 25). Daily Post, 1.

Waaka, K. (2013, August-September). Maimai aroha: Maureen Kingi. Mana, 113, 8-9. 

Thursday, 1 April 2021

Anzac Day Commemorations in Rotorua over the years

In Papers Past it is revealed that about a thousand people gathered in the Government Garden in Rotorua on 25 April 1916, for a united commemoration service. Many returned soldiers, cadets and Boy and Girl Scouts were present. The article does not mention a parade at this point, but it was a half-day holiday ("Observances in other centres," 1916). At this point the war was still on, and it was one year since the landing of the Anzacs at Gallipoli. 

   Anzac Cove. (1915). Hamilton City Libraries: HCL_08494.

As the next few years unfolded, what was the mood? The First World War finished in November 1918, with many men not returning home for many months to come. New Zealand had a population of 1.5 million in 1918, and had just lost 18,000 men (and women) in the conflict. 41,000 were wounded, 501 were prisoners of war (New Zealand History, 2020). Every family in New Zealand had been touched by this global conflict and the nation needed a way to remember those who had paid the ultimate sacrifice in this "war to end all wars".

According to the New Zealand Herald, Returned Soldiers with at least 20 Anzacs among them were on parade for the 1918 Anzac Service, attended by nearly 2000 people ("Anzac Day celebrated," 1918).

A newspaper article for 10 April, 1920 reported a meeting that was held with commemoration proposals outlined. These included only 1 or 2 speakers, preferably chaplains who had been at the front, with church choirs leading the singing accompanied by the orchestra, and the town band leading the military-like procession. A bier was to be erected for the placement of flowers and wreaths.

Celebration of Anzac day. (1920, April 10). Rotorua Chronicle 

The Anzac Day parade on the afternoon of the 25 April, 1920 was headed by a car driven by Mr Roger Delamere Dansey who had been the Postmaster at the time of the Tarawera Eruption. His 3 sons, Harry, Roger and George all served with the Pioneer Maori Battalion. Major Roger Dansey served at Gallipoli and the Western Front. (Lyall, 2015).

Anzac Day Parade, 1920, photographer unknown,
Rotorua Museum Te Whare Taonga o Te Arawa (CP-3136)

The parade included soldiers who had fought in South Africa in the Boer War. The parade proceeded down Arawa Street (at that time the main street of Rotorua) to the Government Gardens where nearly 3000 people gathered for the memorial service. After the wreaths and flowers were placed on the bier, soldiers fired 3 volleys, and the Last Post was sounded by the buglers. Later the wreaths and flowers were placed on soldiers' graves in the cemetery.

Earlier that morning a memorial service, presided over by Rev. F. A. Bennett, had been held in the Maori settlement, with nearly 4000 attending ("Observance in province," 1920).

Anzac Day Parade, 1920. Photographer unknown,
Rotorua Museum Te Whare Taonga o Te Arawa (OP-769)

In August of 1920 the Anzac Day Bill had its second reading, promoting a day to commemorate the memory of our soldiers, one day dedicated to them, with the Prime Minister hoping it would be observed as a holy day, rather than a holiday (" Anzac Day," 1920). July 1924 saw the unveiling of the WW1 memorial in the Government Gardens. In 1929, the Arawa Returned Soldiers established the Soldiers Cemetery for Arawa soldiers of the Pioneer Maori Battalion at Muruika Point. Dawn Services have been held there from that time ("Local and general news," 1928)

The Rotorua papers of the 1930s record the national and international Anzac memorial services. In 1932 there were accounts of telegrams from the King, messages to our fellow Anzacs in Australia and the account of the opening of the Roll of Honour and Hall of Memories in the Auckland War Memorial Museum ("Message from the King," 1932). However, by 1933, concern was being expressed of some becoming indifferent to Anzac day. In 1934, the memorial service was held in the Majestic Theatre owing to bad weather, and this became the pattern for the civic services ("Anzac Day tribute," 1934).  After the service the parade would then continue down to the Government Gardens for the laying of wreaths and Last Post. 1936 was the 21st anniversary of the Gallipoli landings, and the parade was led by Major Roger Dansey ("Anzac Day Rotorua ceremony," 1936). The paper of 1938 gave no account of the Anzac day services but the letters to the editor reveal disgust by former soldiers at the political input by local MP, Mr Moncur! ("Anzac Day service," 1938).

At the 1939 dawn service at Ohinemutu, the epitaph that was to be inscribed on the gravestone for Major Dansey, who had died in August 1938, was read out. The service in the Majestic Theatre had the biggest attendance since services began, with many not able to be admitted to the building, as the world once again was faced with a world war ("A dawn parade," 1939).

In 1942 there was" an impressive parade of ex-servicemen of the 1914-18 and present wars, territorial forces, Air Force personnel, school children and many other organisations on Saturday morning providing the largest parade yet seen in Rotorua for the solemn observations of Anzac Day." ("Anzac Day Parade," 1942). About 2000 took part in the outside event. In 1944 American Army and Navy personnel who were in Rotorua on leave took part in the parade ("Anzac day services at Rotorua," 1944). The first peacetime service to take place in many years, in 1946, was attended by about 3000 people ("Anzac day services at Rotorua," 1946).

Anzac Day Parade in Rotorua, 1942, photographer Panora Studio (Moore & Thompson),
 R.S.A. Collection, Rotorua Museum Te Whare o Te Arawa. (2016.17.235)

1955 marked the 40th anniversary of the Gallipoli landings. For the first time there was mention of the Korean War, and in 1956 Korean veterans marched for the first time as three aeroplanes did a fly-over ("Short ceremony at Cenotaph," 1956).

The Photo News contained photos of the Anzac commemorations each year. A tradition of Anzac day was for RSA members to visit any comrades who were in hospital, for breakfast ("Anzac," 1965). In 1968 one woman marched. Her name was  Sister M. Crooks, and she had been a nurse at Gallipoli ("Remembering the fallen," 1968).

Remembering the Fallen. (1986, May 11, No. 56)
Rotorua Photo News, p.6

During the 1970s, the soldiers from the Korean, Malaysia and Vietnam conflicts joined those from the first and second world wars. By 1974 there were no longer any Boer War veterans alive. In 1978, 5 WW1 veterans headed the parade. As the final parade came to a halt, parade commander Lieutenant-Colonel McLeod called the men forward, which resulted in applause from the gathered crowd. The day before, 24 April at the RSA section of the lawn cemetery, a third generation seedling from the Lone Pine of Gallipoli was planted ("Applause showers veterans heading parade," 1978).

Lone Pine at Sala Street Cemetery

Attendance numbers began rising in the 1990s, with the Rotorua civic service in 1994 attended by about 700 ("Johnson," 1994). By the end of the decade around a thousand would be attending the services. 1993 was the year that the RSA memorial wall by Queen Elizabeth Hospital was rebuild and remodelled (Team effort to rebuild memorial, 1993). Doug Dibley, the last surviving Gallipoli veteran was interviewed in 1997, saying he hoped that people would always remember Gallipoli and the Anzacs ("Never forget us, says last Anzac," 1997). That was to be the final year he attended. Below is an account of the next Anzac day service (1998) when the Anzacs were no more:

Parker, S. (1998, April 25). Rotorua Daily Post, p.1 

The new millennium's Anzac Day began with a dawn service at Ohinemutu, followed by a parade to the cenotaph in the Government Gardens for wreath laying and then the civic service at the Convention Centre. The dawn service at Whakarewarewa, which for 50 years had been held at 4.30 am, was changed to 8am ("Gearing up for Anzac Day," 2000).

2005 marked 90 years from that first landing at Gallipoli. There were big write-ups in the local paper: accounts of pilgrimages to Gallipoli in honour of great-great uncles and grandfathers, revelations of diaries that survived WW1 and WW2 and poetry grieving those who died.

In 2014, WW100 was established as a nationwide venture to create events and programmes to commemorate 100 years since World War 1. This programme continued through till 2018. In Rotorua the Field of Remembrance was created in the Government Gardens with the first service being held on the 23 April 2015 to commemorate and mark Rotorua soldiers who died as a result of World War 1.

Consecration ceremony of the Rotorua District Field of Remembrance programme.
( 2015, April 23).  Rotorua Lakes Council

In those years following the marking of 100 years since the Anzacs first landed at Gallipoli, the numbers attending dawn services, parades and civic services have grown steadily. The pilgrimages to Gallipoli by descendants of the Anzacs, the knowledge gained through books and digital mediums which have poured into people's hands have all helped to keep alive the promise "To honour the dead and inspire the living".

Lewis, J. (2018). Untitled. [Painting]. Education Team,
 Rotorua Museum  Te Whare Taonga o Te Arawa

ANZAC references

1.      Observances in other centres. (1916, April 25). Dominion, p.6

2.      New Zealand History. (2020). First World War by the numbers. New Zealand History.

3.      Anzac Day Celebrated. (1918, April 27) New Zealand Herald, p. 6

4.      Lyall, K. (2015). The Empress’s plume: Rotorua’s First High School. Advocateprint

5.      Observance in province.  (1920, April 26). New Zealand Herald, p.9

6.      Anzac day: Mr Mitchell’s Bill. (1920, August 12). New Zealand Herald, p.6

7.      Local and general news. (1928, September 18). New Zealand Herald, p.8

8.      Message from the King. Imperishable bond. Their claim on us. (1932, 26 April) Rotorua Morning Post, p.?

9.      Anzac Day Tribute. (1934, 26 April). Rotorua Morning Post,  p.6

10.  Anzac Day Rotorua ceremony. (1936, April 27). Rotorua Morning Post, p.4

11.  Anzac Day service. (1938, April 26). Rotorua Morning Post, p.4

12.  A dawn parade: Maori tribute to comrades. (1939, April 26). Rotorua Morning Post, p.6

13.  Short ceremony at Cenotaph. (1956, April 26). Rotorua Post, p.7

14.  Anzac. (1965, May 8, No 20). Rotorua Photo News, p.4

15.  Remembering the fallen. (1968, May 11, No. 56) Rotorua Photo News, p.6

16.  Applause showers veterans heading parade. (1978, 26 April). Rotorua Daily Post, p.1

17.  Johnson, Ann-Marie. (1994, April 26) Rotorua Daily Post, p.2

18.  Team effort to rebuild memorial. (1993, April 26). Rotorua Daily Post, p.1

19.   Never forget us, says last Anzac. (1997, October 6). Rotorua Daily Post, p.1

20.  Parker, S. (1998, April 25). Rotorua Daily Post, p.1

21.  Gearing up for Anzac Day. (2000, April 20). Rotorua Daily Post, p.1

22.  Anzac day Parade. (1942, April 27). Rotorua Morning Post, p.4

23.  Anzac Day services at Rotorua. (1944, April 26). Rotorua Morning Post, p. 2

24.  Anzac Day Services at Rotorua. (1946, April 26). Rotorua Morning Post, p. 5

Friday, 5 March 2021

Kuirau Reserve / Kuirau Park

 Kuirau Reserve : a brief history

Kuirau Reserve is also known as Kuirau Park to locals and tourists alike as a popular place to soak one’s tired feet, relax with a picnic and entertain their children in the playground.  I have researched some background history to create for the reader a picture of this well known locale.

Kuirau Reserve was gifted to the Crown as a recreation reserve by Ngati Whakaue, at the same time as:

Sanatorium Reserve, Pukeroa Reserve, Whakarewarewa Thermal Springs Reserve c1881 (Ohinemuri Gazette, 1908).

Stafford (1986) mentions in his narrative that:

In 1893 a syndicate with £5000 planned to establish a bathing pavilion, and in 1896 C.A.C Clarke proposed to aerate the waters from the Kuirau Spring & other springs as a heath drink, and by this time paths had been cut through the scrub and Ohinemutu residents had cleared an area of scrub and built baths.

Stafford says that by the early 1900s, tourists flocked to the reserve to swim in the Lobster Pool, so called due to the colour of their skin after spending some time bathing there.  Sadly some people stayed too long and it is suspected were overcome by the heat and drowned.  Other visitors to the reserve were also scalded when not watching where they put their feet, strayed into either a pool or one of the streams flowing away from the pool (Stafford, 1986).

Eruptions were known to occur in the reserve, the first recorded in 1902, then 1906, 1930s, 1960s- 1980s and the one I remember most vividly was in 2001!

The park was given its first architect’s design by Mr F Tschopp in c1931 who presented it to the then Borough Council. His design included sports grounds (Auckland Star, 1931).

In 1938 an article appeared in the Bay of Plenty Times which talks about the council workers finding stumps and logs which at some stage long ago, had been buried beneath the surface. These stacks of wood were kept and the reporters (unnamed) suggest that it will make good firewood: 

The species of timber were “rimu, white pine and tanekaha” (Bay of Plenty Times, 1938).

A newspaper article stated that:

The sports grounds were not officially started until c1944 when a cricket pitch composed of a hard claylike substance known as Tarawera Ash, but the cricket grounds were still to be completed in 1945, and a working bee was called for asking the Athletic Club and cricket teams to participate (Daily Post, 1994).

Little more is reported regarding the grounds or park until 1959 when the Jaycees put in 300 man hours clearing scrub and blackberry.

‘The piece that borders Ranolf Street stretching from the northern extent of the park proper to the old Lobster swimming pool (Daily Post, 1959).

In this aerial photograph from 1959 you can see the sports grounds set in a triangle to the south of the Kuirau Spring.

Rotorua, Bay of Plenty Region. Whites Aviation Ltd: Photographs. Ref: WA-50072. Alexander Turnbull Library

In 1961 John Smale opened his Toot – n – Whistle model railway in the north western area of the park.  John built the locomotive and track himself and created the landscaping from existing features of the park grounds.  To read his story click this link to Kete Rotorua.

John Smale “engineer, owner, driver” 

Smale J. (1961) Toot-n-Whistle.  Kete Rotorua.

A newspaper article in a local Rotorua newspaper reported that:

In 1963 the Rotorua Lions Club gifted a Traction Engine for the children’s playground, this magnificent relic of days gone by was enjoyed by thousands of Rotorua children and visitors to the park. It was removed from the park in June 1988, and moved to MOTAT in Auckland. (Daily Post, 1988)

Also at the park at this time was the tank as shown below and an aeroplane, which I remember playing on as a child.

AAQT 6539 W3537 59 / A77131

In 1967 an artificial geyser was engineered by the Asst. Hospital Engineer, Louis Vause. He diverted waste heat from the hospital’s heat exchange bore. The new ‘geyser’ was officially opened by the Mayor, Murray Linton. (Rotorua Photo News, 1967) 

 Rotorua Photo News, 15 Dec 1967, page 83

Rotorua Library, Rotorua Heritage Collection.

In 1970 some thermal activity in the park gave two Auckland boys a fright, when a mud pool erupted nearly 60ft in the air.

Tons of mud lay around the pool and hung from a 30ft wattle tree nearby. It is reported to be about 50 yards from a “giant thermal eruption four years ago” (Daily Post, 1970)

Eruption of 1966 in Rotorua Photo News, 24 Sept 1966, pg's 4-5
Rotorua Library, Rotorua Heritage Collection.

Post written by Alison Leigh, with thanks to Alexander Turnbull Library, Archives NZ, Papers Past 

References (available from the Heritage Collections, Rotorua Library)

Stafford, D. M. (1986). The founding years in Rotorua: a history of events to 1900. Ray Richards.

Stafford, D.M. (1988). The new century in Rotorua: a history of events from 1900. Ray Richards.

Rotorua Photo News. (1967) Round Rotorua. Rotorua Photo News.

Daily Post. (1959, April 8). Jaycees cleared park: Council lets it revert to scrub. Daily Post.

Daily Post. (1970, August 26). Kuirau Park eruption. Daily Post.

Daily Post. (1988, June 10). Old timer needs TLC. Daily Post.

Smale J. (2012). Biography. Toot-n-Whistle. Kete Rotorua.

Papers Past:

Auckland Star. (1931, Nov 28). Beautifying Rotorua. Auckland Star.

Bay of Plenty Times. (1938, February 6). Items of interest: Buried forest unearthed. Bay of Plenty Times.