Jerusalem, Whanganui and maps

 I have just returned from a brief trip to Jerusalem (not the one in Israel! This one is a very small village next to the Whanganui River in New Zealand). I have written about it before (see this post). So here I will just add some photos.

I also stayed a night in Whanganui and bought the book called ‘Maps’ (UK Five Leaves Publications, 2011) at the local Saturday market. This is mainly a book of short essays about places. I haven’t finished it all yet, but it made me think of my trip in terms of maps. I have also written a post about maps before (see this post).

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Bulls (the town in NZ)

A few weeks ago I went on a Friends of Te Papa bus trip to Bulls in the North Island (about 150 kilometres north of Wellington). Recent marketing makes puns with the name, for example “Bulls: a town like no udder”; Bulls: unforget-a-bull;  or the sign for the local police station “Const-a-bull”. As some of us were walking the short distance from a morning tea welcome at the local RSA club to the Bulls Museum, we passed a sign for the local physiotherapist. I thought of “bend-a-bull”; a better suggestion was “flex-a-bull”. But as they hadn’t invented any pun, they probably thought the whole idea regret-a-bull.

At Bulls Museum we were divided into two groups – one looked at the displays in the main building, while the other was given an informative talk in the ‘stables’ – a building housing various horse-drawn forms of transport and accessories (like a ladies side-saddle).

 

One of the interesting displays was about the four horses that were transported back to New Zealand at the end of World War One. Yes, of the thousands that went, probably only four made it back home – including ‘Bess’ who has her own monument near Bulls, which we saw from the road – a Category 1 listed historic monument: “Of the 3817 New Zealand horses that served during the war, Bess was one of a very small number of horses to return home. On her death in 1934, Powles erected the small stone memorial over her grave. A unique and important memorial, the structure is the only one in the country to commemorate the horses that served New Zealand during the First World War. It is also one of the very few to commemorate the role of horses in war in the world.” [From the Heritage NZ listing.]

 

From the museum we continued in our two groups to visit two historic houses – Lethenty and Beccles. Lethenty is a Category 2 listed building, built in 1915 following a fire in the earlier house.  (Its water tower is also a listed historic feature).

 

Beccles appears not to be listed with Heritage NZ, but the remains of a redoubt (from the 1860s wars) at the back of the property are.  At each house we had an informative talk from the owner or family member. Beccles was begun in the 1880s and later a large room was added by the then owner as a church meeting room. It has been altered over time by various owners. (You can see some more photos and information at this link.)

Beccles (1880s)

 

 

After lunch we drove along Parewanui Road to the coast. The first stop was the 1862-built Te Wheriko Church. It was moved in 1897 to its current location due to flood risk from the Rangitikei river.

 

On the way back to Wellington we stopped at Sanson to see the 1877-built church, designed by Wellington architect Charles Tringham, St Thomas Church, a Category 2 listed historic building.

 

It was a well organised and enjoy-a-bull trip!

Morrell family in Wellington – 2

20170612_120300 I am reading David Johnson’s book Wellington Harbour (Wellington Maritime Museum, 1996) for my evening course on Wellington’s architectural history. In a post of – almost exactly – two years ago I wrote about my great-grandparents in Wellington – this was some research I also did for my evening class so it’s not surprising it is the same time of the year.  Johnson includes a painting and some information on the ship they arrived in Wellington on – the St Leonards, and some background information on 1880, the year they arrived.  Continue reading

Otorohanga: Kiwiana town

kiwiana town Otorohanga

Recently we stayed a couple of nights in Otorohanga (in the Waikato district, sort of middle-north in the North Island). As we travel about in various places (New Zealand, Australia, America come to mind) we like to see what towns and cities call themselves. I don’t mean their actual names, I mean the little epithets they give themselves (is epithet the right word?: “an adjective or phrase expressing a quality or attribute regarded as characteristic of the person or thing mentioned”). Perhaps they are just slogans thought up by someone on the local council or tourism board!

Wellington, where I live, is sometimes called Wellywood, a pastiche of Hollywood in homage to the Sir Peter Jackson-led film industry we have here. More often it’s called Windy Wellington, but that isn’t a positive image for tourism so the label “absolutely positively Wellington” was invented. You want positive? Absolutely! Actually, I see it wasn’t meant to be anything big, but caught the imagination and stuck. (click the link to see its origins.)

The silliest one I think I ever saw was “Foxton, the Fox Town”. Continue reading

Riding the rails to Whangamomona

20170227_141113Last week we did a day trip with Forgotten World Adventures using golf carts converted to run on the disused rail line from Okahukura (near Taumaranui in the North Island of New Zealand) to Whangamomona.

This rail line was closed in 2010; which seems a shame as it took more than 30 years to build in the early 20th century and includes 24 tunnels and 91 bridges. However, Ian Balme saw an opportunity and negotiated a lease with KiwiRail and started the business in 2012. There are high maintenance costs – especially clearing the line after each winter, which helps explain why the rides aren’t particularly cheap. But with lunch and morning and afternoon teas provided and a return ride, we thought it was worth it. Continue reading

Centrepoint shopping arcade, Masterton

This was a paper I gave at an architecture symposium at Victoria University today (2 Dec 2016). The theme was New Zealand architecture in the 1970s. I also gave a paper a few years ago when the theme was NZ architecture in the 1840s.

The talk was a shorter version of this paper. The full title was:

Centrepoint to Centrepointless: Roger Walker’s Masterton shopping arcade (1972 to 1997).

Abstract: Centrepoint was the name of a shopping arcade that opened in Masterton in December 1972. It was designed by Roger Walker (b. 1942) and commissioned by Ron Brierley and Robert Jones Investments as one of several shopping arcade developments they were making in various places in New Zealand at the time. Centrepoint featured 21 small shops opening from a brick-paved courtyard, with a prominent viewing tower on the corner. It had signature Roger Walker elements such as round pipe windows, steep roofs, and bright colours. Despite being described just before its opening as “Masterton’s biggest ‘happening’”, in 1997 it was demolished. After looking at the opening of Centrepoint, this paper will consider some possible reasons for Centrepoint’s failure.

Alongside this record of architectural loss, I consider how something that is still within the memories of many people (but no longer there to check) is remembered and sometimes misremembered. These are two of many comments that appeared on a popular Facebook page in 2015 in response to a photograph of Centrepoint:

“Loved that building. …. many a good memory. Should still be there; a brilliant example of 70’s design.”

“It was pretty hideous as was much of the 70’s. Food at the cafe was always good though.”

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The former Erskine College, Island Bay

Where I live in Island Bay, Wellington, I look across the valley to what used to be a Catholic girls’ secondary school known as Erskine College. After the school closed in 1985, the buildings had various uses including as an art school venue. I am not an ‘alumna’ or ‘old girl’ of the school, but I did visit it several times when the art school had exhibitions and I took part in one of their weekend courses once. But it has been listed as earthquake prone and is no longer usable. It has been empty for some years and, as such, the target of vandalism.

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