Alan Gibb's Sculpture Farm Park Visit
We saved the best for last! Our final bus trip for the year saw 70 plus members and friends travelling in style on one of two Leabourns buses to Kaukapakapa, calling in to Alan Gibb’s amazing Sculpture Farm Park before lunching at Mataia Homestead.
At the farm park we spent a fascinating couple of hours tramping up hill and down dale visiting as many of the 25 sculptures as we could. The weather was just right –breezy and not too hot, although it must be admitted there were a few who found the walk a bit challenging and arrived back rather breathless and red in the face!
It was hard to pick a favourite sculpture, all of which are blended into the landscape. On the approach to the farm, even the car park appeared at first glance to be some giant undulating sculpture adorning the hillside.
This excerpt from Gibb’s Farm website explains the concept of the farm park better than I can:
“The farm is dominated by the Kaipara Harbour, the largest harbour in the Southern hemisphere. The harbour is so vast it occupies the whole western horizon; and it is very shallow, so when the tide goes out, the shallows are exposed for several kilometres and the light shimmies and bounces off it across the land. Equally, it is the forecourt to the prevailing westerly weather that sweeps, sometimes vehemently, across the land. Everything in the property flows towards and eventually into the sea; and every work contends in some way with the slide seaward.
The flow of the land, the immense body of water, the wide harbour flats and the assertive variety of the elements have all imposed themselves on the artists. Gibbs acknowledges that “the challenge for the artists is the scale of the landscape; it scares them initially” and demands something more from them. Walking the land visitors can appreciate how each artist has come to terms in their own way with the gravitational pull that is exerted on everything as the mountains roll into hills and slide into gullies and slope down towards the wide flat expanse of the Kaipara harbour. "
Having worked up an appetite, it was back on to the buses to make the short trip to the historic Mataia Homestead in Glorit. Here we were greeted by Gillian Adshead (nee Gardner) who gave a brief account of its’ history.
The Mataia Homestead and surrounding farmland has been in the Gardner family for over 150 years. Built in 1891 the homestead has been home to five generations of the Gardner family and is registered as a Category 2 Historic Building with the NZ Historic Places Trust. The unusual M-shaped red roof on the double-storey house has made the homestead the focus of a number of artists over the years. Iconic NZ potter Briar Gardner was also brought up and educated at Mataia in the late 1890s.
Over the generations the house slowly deteriorated and by the late 1980s was virtually uninhabitable when the family made the decision to restore her in time for the centenary celebrations in 1991. Today it serves as accommodation for the exclusive use of walkers on the Kaipara2Kaipara Walk.
The Gardner family members provided us with a delicious, and most welcome, lunch of prepared sandwiches, savouries, cake and slices of fruit. This we worked off with a stroll around the large gardens and for some, a quick nap on the way home!
Our thanks to Leabourns for the transport, to the Gardner family for their wonderful hospitality, and to the Gibbs Family for their generosity in sharing such a special place.
Note: The two hours we spent at the farm park just didn’t allow us to cover all of the sculptures. Many of us will be going back for a more leisurely stroll and a picnic lunch under the trees. Entry to the farm park is free, but you do need to book in for one of their open days (weekdays only). Full details are available on their website
Antarctic Film Evening
Around 200 people were thoroughly entertained and mesmerised recently by the NZ premiere of the film of Captain Scott’s ill-fated expedition to the South Pole in 1911-12.
Jean Nicholls, great-niece of the official photographer, Henry Ponting, gave a short introduction to the film, including a humorous reading of one of Henry’s poems about the particular intricacies of coping with the early model sub-zero sleeping bags which were made of leather.
Considering the film footage was shot a hundred years ago, and edited for the original film release in the 1930’s, the quality was surprising good. Henry himself narrated, with a dry sense of humour, throughout the film.
The film begins with coverage of the ship’s arrival in Lyttleton, NZ and subsequent stay in harbour while preparations were made for the voyage. Later there was amazing footage of Scott’s ship the Terra Nova breaking through the ice flows; of penguins, seals and life in general under such extreme weather conditions.
We followed the first few days of Scott’s actual journey to the Pole. It was a mission to lay supply depots, and then at the end of each arduous day unload the sleds, erect the tents, cook dinner and arrange sleeping for Scott and his team of four, only to repeat it day after day after day. Finally though Ponting had to return, so actual filming stopped, but Scott had one small camera and a few rolls of film with him which he used to good effect, and which Ponting has cleverly interwoven into the film.
Scott diligently wrote in his diary, giving a harrowing account of the difficulties they faced, with both the terrain and the weather. He and his men were chasing Roald Amundsen to be the first to the Pole. Unfortunately they arrived a month after Amundsen to find the Norwegian flag already flying proudly at 90° South.
Still, being British adventurers to the core, they stoically accepted their defeat, and erected their own flagpole from which they flew the British flag. After a trek across hundreds of miles, the men died from starvation only 11 miles from a supply depot, and a search party found their bodies six months later in November, along with Scott’s photos and diary.
There was a poignant ending to the film, with writings from his diary superimposed over a photo of the statute of Captain Robert F Scott, which stands today in Waterloo Place, London as a tribute to one of the greatest British adventurers.
The Historical Society would like to thank Jean Nicholls for giving us the opportunity to show this film. Also thanks to Fonterra for the generous donation of iceblocks and icecream, and to Bill and Christine Bygrave who drove to Auckland to collect them!
Footnote: A series of newly discovered letters, written by the youngest expedition member, Apsley Cherry-Garrard, giving his account of finding the bodies on the doomed South Pole expedition, and the harrowing effect it had on him, fetched £67,250 ($107,802) at Christie's in July this year.
Spring Song Festival Concert
If you happened to be driving past the museum recently you might have caught the soaring sounds of sopranos and soloists as the Mangawhai Singers took full advantage of the museum foyer’s superb acoustics.
A sell out both nights, the Spring Festival of Song and Entertainment covered music through the decades, each song being introduced by MC Joanna Roberts.
The first half featured popular songs from the Seekers and the Beatles with a little bit of country, some Brahms and a tribute to Dean Martin.
While the singers, an enthusiastic and very talented group of locals and some imports from Maungaturoto and Matakohe, took a well earned break, the audience mixed and mingled with wine and nibbles before resuming their seats for the second half.
This segment included songs from musicals such as Les Miserables, Cats, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, and My Fair Lady, interspersed with comedy skits that elicited much amusement.
Isabel McClean and Maggie Cameron sang two beautiful duets - The Children's Prayer" from Hansel and Gretel followed by "The Flower Duet" from Lakme. Moreen Mennie, soloist soprano, gave a particularly stunning rendition of “Bring Him Home” from Les Miserable. Her pitch, range and soaring voice held the audience spellbound.
On a completely different level, so too did the guest appearances during “I Could Have Danced All Night.” What two pillars of the community look rather fetching in pink tights and tutus?
The Mangawhai Singers, along with conductor Christine Bygrave, organist Reg Jacques, Des Chitty on guitar and guest pianist Helen Matheson, practised long and hard for many weeks, and the concerts were a testament to their dedication. The Finale - Lara’s Theme from Dr Zhivago - was haunting and beautifully delivered.
Both evenings were a huge success, thoroughly enjoyed by everyone and raising just over $2,500 which will go towards the completion of the museum. President of the Historical Society, Christine Bygrave, gave special acknowledgement of the $40,000 grant from Pub Charities which enabled the concert to go ahead by substantially paying for the lighting required for the foyer.
More such concerts are being planned for the coming months so be warned. Don’t miss out on an evening of great musical entertainment - get your tickets as soon as they are advertised!
ASB Charitable Trust Makes Generous Donation to Museum
The Mangawhai Historical Society is delighted to report that the ASB Charitable Trust has approved a very generous $150,000 grant towards the completion of the new museum.
“This is exciting news”, says President Christine Bygrave, “as funding is tight in current times, and it is gratifying that our application has been approved in its entirety. Members of the Trust were recently invited to Mangawhai for a tour of the museum to view progress. They were really impressed with it and very appreciative of our efforts. We now look forward to beginning to portray our stories! “
The museum designer, Chris Currie, is currently working on a model of the interior. Meanwhile work progresses inside, as the foyer is being lined with macrocarpa, but the lighting still needs to be installed, and the upstairs workshop constructed. Landscaping continues, while Joy Agar’s wonderful stingray is about to be mounted in the foyer above the entrance to the displays. Everyone is most welcome to pop in to view the (almost) completed foyer.
Says Christine, “We cannot thank enough all of our donors, whether it be through financial grants, reduced costings, provision of materials or the hours and hours of voluntary labour. Although the Kaipara District Council has been very supportive, we have not received any financial aid from them, other than through the Mangawhai Endowment Fund.
No firm completion date has yet been set for the grand opening, as there is still more fundraising to be done!
2012 Winter Seminar Series - Genealogy
Louise Turner, President of the Wellsford Genealogy Society recently addressed us on how to go about researching our family histories. This was very topical as we intend having our very own genealogy room at the new museum. Bev Ross regaled us with some more of her lovely history stories, with afternoon tea to follow.
Bus Trip to Leigh Marine Centre
Our last bus trip, thanks to John Bull and Helen Curreen, proved very interesting. It began with a visit to the Albertland Museum (recently updated for their Anniversary), followed by a delicious lunch at the Warkworth RSA before a somewhat challenging drive for our bus driver up the winding road to the Edith Winston Centre at Leigh. This is part of the University of Auckland and it has some great digital displays and sounds. More bus trips are planned for the future. Footnote: Has anyone lost their hat? A cheesecutter was left on the bus. To claim please ring John Bull 431 4662.
Annual Book Fairs
Another very successful Book Fair at Easter made $21500 and an extra $6000 was added at Queen’s Birthday Saturday, so thank you to all who donated books and also came and purchased your next set of reading!
Thank you to all our helpers who assisted with the sorting and setting up and helping on the day as well. Thousands of books take a lot of sorting! But the surplus have now been culled and packed and new books are already coming in as well.
Next year may see a different venue as we hope to see the displays taking shape in the museum very soon.
We were pleased that our local Fire Brigade joined us for the day and brought along a display and gave away safety information, as well as goodies for the children and the book buyers.
AGM - 21st March 2012
Jim and Lynda Wintle were both honoured with Life Memberships at the recent AGM of the Mangawhai Historical Society. Lynda, a long time member and hard working committee member in the fund raising for the new Museum project, also initiated the first of our Easter Book Fairs which have proved great and successful fund raising opportunities for our Society.
Jim, as Project manager for the new Museum, provides the impetus which has resulted in getting the new building to its current impressive stage. Under Jim’s supervision and with his enthusiasm and dedication, the project progresses steadily with the building itself nearing completion.
A presentation was also made to long time members and supporters, Jim and Rhoda Batten, who are retiring to Whangarei but assure us they will be back to join with us in our various activities.
A very entertaining talk was given by Joanna Roberts who regaled us with her experiences as a young newly married wife arriving at Mangawhai, and all agreed that we had all seen considerable changes to our very special community during the years since!
A Night at the Museum - one for the history books! - Saturday 3rd March 2012
What a night it was! Around 186 guests took advantage of a never to be repeated opportunity to wine, dine and dance in the huge empty space of the new museum.
From the moment guests walked the blue carpet into the creatively decorated foyer to be greeted by welcome drinks and nibbles from Fresh to the last dance they were thoroughly entertained.
The museum had been transformed with stunning marine-themed tables and dance floor, overlooked by a giant screen playing continuous images of the museum’s progress.
Under the spinning disco balls and to the great music of The Time Bandits, guests danced off the excellent buffet-style dinner provided by The Southern Spit Roast Co.
The auction, which included paintings by NZ artists Lance O’Gorman and Ross Pelham, was ably conducted by Dave Lincoln and raised a respectable $7,000 to add to what was a truly great fundraising venture.
In recognition of the night, President Christine Bygrave invited guests to sign a canvas, in the centre of which will be a photo of the completed museum.
Special thanks to Terry and Gail Leabourn of Leabourns Transport, whose offer of free transport was much appreciated by many of the attendees.
Production of Mangawhai Heritage Series of Postcards
The Mangawhai Historical Society commissioned a series of postcards produced by Kaiwaka company Contour Creative Studios.
We are delighted with the result. These were developed from historic photographs held by the museum.
The postcards are available for sale at the museum. You can purchase four for $10 or individually for $3.
Open BY AIR Classique link to view the cards. We have all four cards available.