Thursday, 30 April 2009

Otautau Poem

Well, this is the last day of poetry month and by chance I found this poem posted on the wall at the Otautau Museum. I'm still trying to ascertain the author.

Otautau looks so trim and neat
Beneath the slopes so tidy.
It's here the western folk all meet
Their market day is Friday.

On Labour Day they have their sport
Whether it's wet or dry is their decision.
The Pipers march with good deport
It's all done with precision.

Holt Park far famed for beauty rare
Is dressed up for the people.
The Grand Stand hill and Rhodies there
Are blooming bright and purple.

Private gardens catch the eyes
Of all the folk admiring
And one and all they give the prize
To Mrs. Billy Irwin.

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

The War on Bugs

Influenza. It comes into our lives this time every year. Lately, our North Island counterparts have had a freakish scare with the Swine flu. But before we get too excited, just consider that, given the right strain and conditions, any flu is potentially life-threatening.

In 1918, the world was in the grip of the Spanish flu epidemic. It killed 50 million people worldwide. Here in Western Southland, our numbers were small but no less significant. In Nightcaps and Wairio 33 died. While in Otautau, the flu claimed 21 lives; and in Riverton 16*.

How can you protect yourself against the flu? Wash your hands frequently with soap and water. Stay away from sick people. Try not to touch your nose, eyes and mouth. If you do feel sick, stay home. Sneeze or cough into a handkerchief or sleeve. Contact the Otautau Medical Centre for further advice.

*Source: NZHistory website's South Island's Influenza death rates

Monday, 20 April 2009

Books for Sale

If you like to browse shelves, looking for a good read, there is something new in Otautau for you. The Otautau Museum Trust and the Otautau Heritage Trust are now holding an ongoing booksale at The Courthouse. There is a variety of books and magazines on offer including biography, novels, and children's books. This won't replace their annual booksale which always seems to be successful but is in addition to it. Proceeds are split between the two organisations. The Museum is open Wednesdays and Sundays, 2pm-4pm. No dealers, please.

Friday, 10 April 2009

Poetry Month

This month is Poetry Month, so I thought I'd reprint (with Anna Davin's permission) a poem by her mother, Winifred Davin (nee Gonley), who was born in Otautau in 1909, the daughter of Irish immigrants. After her university education, Winifred went to live in Oxford, England and married Dan Davin, the son of Irish immigrants in Invercargill. But on a trip back to New Zealand in 1949, she wrote this poem. Clearly her roots were still in Otautau -- or at least the Southern Hemisphere!
Homing Charm

The Milky Way
The Coal Sack
The Southern Cross.

In my mother's room the fire glows,
In the dark we prime the pump,
My father sings a sailor's song.

The Milky Way
The Coal Sack
The Southern Cross

Enclose the world.
The sky becomes itself again
In love and fear and faith again.

The Milky Way
The Coal Sack
The Southern Cross

Roof my lost world.

The Plough to which I set my hand
Is far away and long ago.

Venus and Pleiades guide me,
Guide me from my lost world,
Homing to the stern pole star.

--- W. K. Davin
Source: Flight to the Centre by Anna Davin.

Winifred, herself, became an immigrant to Great Britain. Her poem reflects that where we are born imprints itself on us in very deep ways. Being an immigrant myself, I love the line 'the plough to which I set my hand is far away and long ago.'

Thanks to Anna Davin for permission to reprint this treasure of a poem.

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Otautau on Google Maps

Here is a Quick Guide to Otautau via Google Maps. Use the Zoom-in tool by clicking on the 'plus' (+) symbol on the left to see the map more clearly. There are placemarks denoting picnic and recreational areas as well as some historic landmarks and businesses. I was surprised to find out that Otautau is on 'Streetview' which means that someone, somehow has taken photos of houses and businesses all along Main Street and put them on Google Maps. Unfortunately many of these photos don't match the actual buildings, for example, when I type in an address, I get a picture of a building on the other side of the street. I don't know how to delete these streetview pictures. If anyone knows, drop me a line.

Election 2017

Election season has swung into gear with the next General Election on Saturday, September 23rd - 7 1/2 weeks away. Not much has changed with...