Archive for the 'In the news' Category

Te Ara pays tribute to Jack Body

Jack Body (left) with gamelan teacher Joko Sutrisno, about 1988 (pic: Victoria University of Wellington, Image Services)

Jack Body (left) with gamelan teacher Joko Sutrisno, about 1988 (pic: Victoria University of Wellington, Image Services)

Those of us who work behind the scenes at Te Ara are saddened to hear of Jack Body’s death. He was a warm supporter of our project, generously supplying images and allowing one of our staff to photograph his well-known gamelan orchestra, Padhang Moncar, at St Paul’s Anglican Cathedral in Wellington back in 2004.

As one of New Zealand’s foremost composers and university teachers he naturally features in a number of our entries. His major compositions, many drawing on Eastern influences, are described in our entry on Composers, which also notes his unwavering support of other writers of music. His involvement in musical theatre composition gets a mention in Opera and musical theatre, and his composing of music for voices is referred to in Choral music and choirs. And the Media art entry describes his organisation of Sonic Circus festivals in Wellington from 1974.

My favourite reference to him comes in the Classical musicians entry. There we have a video of pianist Stephen de Pledge playing Body’s composition ‘The street where I live’ – and the composer/narrator is listening with obvious delight in the audience. This quirky, poignant piece talks about Body’s deep affection for his long-time home in Aro Valley, Wellington. It is a fitting coda to the life of a great New Zealander, and a staunch Wellingtonian.

Kia maumahara tātau

The Anzac service at Rongomaraeroa marae (pic: Rongomaraeroa marae)

The Anzac service at Rongomaraeroa marae (pic: Rongomaraeroa marae)

When a whole community turns up to support an event you know it is a big deal. Pōrangahau’s population at the last census count was just 195 but approximately 300 people turned up to our Anzac Dawn Service.

The morning started with a brisk march from the Pōrangahau war memorial hall down to the church cemetery and our cenotaph. We were led by the Queen Alexandra’s Mounted Rifles, and as we got closer the sound of karanga echoed eerily of lives lost, of a new day, of a day commemorating those who served from our small community.

Remembering those who served (pic: Rongomaraeroa marae)

Remembering those who served (pic: Rongomaraeroa marae)

It was a time of beauty as well. I te ata hāpara (at dawn) Pōrangahau was shrouded in mist. Whānau marched on to our memorial hall and onwards to our urupā, Kaiwhitikitiki. With karakia we entered, laid our wreaths and moved about to mihi to all our tīpuna. A pōwhiri followed on our marae, Rongomaraeroa. A table stood proudly on the mahau filled with whānau photographs and taonga and our wharekai was beautifully decorated with poppies made by the kura. Waiata welcomed all our whānau and guests for parakuihi (breakfast) and we settled in to hear four local families share their First World War stories.

This is the first time I’ve known an Anzac service to come to the marae – and what a privilege it was to be there.

Kia maumahara tātau – lest we forget.

The Dawn Parade

Cyril Wilton, at his sister's place in Tawa during the Second World War, left; and in London, 1944, right (Images: Private collection, Caren Wilton)

Cyril Wilton, at his sister's place in Tawa during the Second World War, left; and in London, 1944, right (Images: Private collection, Caren Wilton)

The Anzac Day I remember as a child growing up in 1960s and ‘70s Masterton involved my father getting up very early, rustling through the house in the dark to head out to the Dawn Parade. He would come back later, in his suit and tie – unusual for him, a motor trimmer – wearing a red poppy on his lapel and smelling of what I thought was aftershave, but was probably alcohol.

He was a Second World War veteran, a bomber pilot over Germany in the last 18 months or so of the war, probably trained to fly after the huge losses among New Zealanders in the RAF depleted their ranks. He was old for a pilot, born in 1913, just before the First World War. Fifty by the time I was born, he was 20 years older than my mother.

I sometimes went with my father selling Anzac poppies – red cones then, not the flat, black-centred circles they later became – door to door. We lived near the railway station, in a street of tidy, modest 1920s houses surrounded by streets of down-at-heel wooden villas with unkempt gardens, some of them converted into businesses: hairdressers, mechanics’ workshops, welders. We would walk around these streets, my father knocking on the doors and handing over the poppies, me carrying the bag into which people dropped their coins.

I never went to the Dawn Parade. It was a thing for men, for the men who hung out at the Soldiers’ Club. There were men’s worlds and women’s worlds – my mother and her friends, who stayed home with children and did housework and went to each other’s houses for coffee and talking, seemed to have little to do with my father’s life, his workplace with its big roller doors and its enticing, intoxicating smells of glue and paint, its oddly blind-looking cars with their headlights and windows masked with newspaper, its men in overalls, its tearoom with its long wooden benches and – oh joy! – crate of bottles of WACO soft drinks. Work was a men’s world, as were many of the other worlds my father inhabited – Rotary, the Savage Club, the Soldiers’ Club (for many years, I assumed that this was a casual term for the RSA, but Masterton’s beautiful 1918 clubhouse really was called the Soldiers’ Club), the Anzac celebrations. Women and children were only occasionally permitted in these male enclaves.

More than 40 years later, I’ve still never been to a Dawn Parade, though I’ve thought about it, mainly as a way of connecting with my father (now long dead), trying in a small way to share some of what he experienced. Numbers of people at Anzac celebrations have boomed in recent years, as the number of actual veterans has dwindled, and no doubt this year’s celebrations, the 100-year anniversary of the Gallipoli landing, will be huge. New Zealanders have begun wanting to remember.

My father, I think, wanted to forget. I never heard him mention the war. But every year, he quietly got up in the dark and went to the Dawn Parade.

All you need is love

Living up to a romantic ideal: a 1944 cover of the Mirror

Ideals of love and romance: a 1944 cover of the Mirror (click for image credit)

You may have noticed that it was Valentine’s Day on Saturday. And no doubt on that happy occasion you were showered with bunches of red roses bought at an insanely inflated price, heart-shaped silver helium balloons bearing questionable messages, and teddy bears. Lots of teddy bears, possibly with pink or white fur, possibly clutching stuffed satin hearts embroidered with one of the aforesaid messages (‘I wuv you!’).

The custom of sending Valentines anonymously (oh god – was that card actually from Trevor in Policy?!) doesn’t seem to have caught on in New Zealand, but the rest of it has taken root and blossomed most fulsomely in recent years.

Romantic love is the kind of love that everyone goes on about, the kind of love extolled on Valentine’s Day, but actually, love comes in all kinds of varieties, some of them much underrated. You can – should! – love your friends, your family, your pets. Your neighbours, as famously suggested by Jesus. (I have great neighbours.) Your work, your creative life, the trees in your garden, the mountains you look out on from your front porch, the speeding view of fields on your train commute to work. You might love God, or food, or music, or – I don’t know – the brutalist architecture of the 1970s.

I looked for love on Te Ara, so to speak, and found the following:

Happy Valentine’s Day – or, if you’re really over it, you might want to try celebrating Singles’ Awareness Day instead.

Celebrating Waitangi 175

Waitangi 175 logo

Waitangi 175 logo

On 6 February 2015 New Zealand will commemorate the 175th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi.

A logo has been developed for the 175th, which depicts the kōtuku (white heron) in flight in a morning blue sky, representing the progress of the past 25 years while looking forward to the bicentenary in 2040.

Te Ara has an entry on the Treaty of Waitangi by acknowledged Treaty expert Claudia Orange.

It also has a large number of biographies of people involved in the signing of the treaty in 1840. A number of them can be seen in the biographies portrait gallery (scroll down the page to view), including Tāmati Wāka Nene, William Hobson, Te Ruki Kawiti, Rangi Topeora and James Busby.

NZHistory has the Treaty sheets and signing locations, and will be rolling out short biographies and biographical notes about signatories over the next few months, beginning on Waitangi Day.