For Valentine’s Day, I decided I’d have a look and see what romance I could find in Te Ara.
The obvious place to look is the entry on Love and romance, which was part of our Social Connections theme. It includes some traditional Māori love stories such as Hinemoa and Tūtānekai, and Māhinaarangi and Tūrongo, and looks at some more recent love and romance. It includes this newspaper column from 1876, which suggests that the tradition of sending Valentine’s Day cards was already up and running in 19th-century New Zealand.
Dances were a common place for people to try to find romance, and perhaps some of the women at the ball held by ‘the Spinsters of Burke’s Pass’ remained spinsters for not much longer after their ball in 1890. In the 2000s internet dating has become a major way of meeting a special someone, and it has been successful for this couple, who married in 2008.
Gay and lesbian romance was generally more secretive until the later 20th century, but this photograph from the late 1880s captures a tender moment between two men on a bush outing. This 1947 love letter from Molly Gore to Ada Magill celebrates their 33rd anniversary together.
Some romantic relationships lead to marriage or civil unions, such as this joyous civil union between John Jolliff and Des Smith. However, the road to happy matrimony doesn’t run smoothly for everyone. Eruera and Amiria Stirling’s 1918 marriage was arranged by their iwi. Both recalled having doubts – Eruera desperately wanted to stay at Te Aute College, while Amiria had tried to run away. But the marriage was a long and successful one.
New Zealand’s landscape has often been described as romantic, with beautiful bays, mountains and forests. For me, this is one of the most romantic and beautiful place in the country: Mataī Bay in Northland. The day we visited it was a bit drizzly – it looks even more stunning in the sunshine.
And finally, we should wish a happy birthday to Valentine Jackson Chapman, botanist, university professor and conservationist, who is included in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. He was born on Valentine’s Day 1910, hence, presumably, the name.