By John Subritzky
There was a full house with over 140 of our respected seniors gathered for a High Tea. The crowd started getting rowdy as the agenda slowly unrolled beginning with a welcome from a kaumatua and then through speeches by politicians and dignitaries. It was a classic case of “let them eat cake”, and as tea was served the mood lifted noticeably.
For Raewyn Robertson, timing and content were everything. She is the Senior Librarian, Local History, Auckland West Library. Her slot was just after the masses had been fed and watered. She had great, relevant content, starting with a couple of icebreakers. “Who is the oldest person in the room?” kicked it off, with an auction type response of elderly clamouring to be recognised as the oldest person there. Ironically, the oldest were the ones who struggled most to lift their hands up enough to be seen, but with the help of some friendly staff, we got there in the end with the honours going to a lady aged 98 years.
Next up Raewyn asked who had lived longest in the Whau. The winner was Murray Taylor with 86 years living locally. His parents had built a house on Great North Road in 1921 near the Crum Brick factory. He says that it was the first house with electricity in the area. Chatting to him, I discovered that back in the day, Murray had been employed by my father as a construction supervisor. It is a small world!
Raewyn then went to the main event of some historic photos from the Whau. These were on each table and the good folk were invited to share memories about local landmarks of a bygone era like the Tram Terminus at Rosebank Rd and local brickworks.
The entertainment kept coming with a dance group of Chinese ladies, rumoured to be all over the age of 85. I’m glad the MC mentioned their age bracket because they were moving with poise and grace expected of much younger people.
The Kapa Haka group from Kelston Intermediate actually looked like most of the school was present. Their performance was polished, intense – and the large group was loud! No hearing aids were needed to appreciate their items.
After the thankyous to Communicare, Whau Local Board (sponsor) and the participants, it was time to gather up the leftovers and head home.
Raewyn Robertson, Senior Librarian, Local History at Auckland West Library, brought along these fabulous images from yesteryear.