I wrote and illustrated ‘The Good Old Kiwi Pub’. It was published in 1995 and was a snapshot of some New Zealand pubs as they were at the end of the 20th century. I have decided to share some of the entries from the book from time to time on this blog.One of the proprietors practically begged me to leave the telegraph pole out of this illustration. She hated the knotty monstrosity leaning at a drunken angle outside her front door.
She didn’t know that I have a passion for power poles. To me, they are a bizarre blending of that ‘No. 8 Fence Wire’ ingenuity for which we’re renowned, and the high-tech digital efficiency of modern communications. Not only that, they are practical, everyday sculptures - especially the wooden ones with their splits and bulges, cross trees and junction boxes. I dread the day when all cables are underground
Despite its historic look, the ‘Rosi’, erected in 1890, is the second pub on its site, the first having been built in 1875. A report from 1902 mentions that the hotel was heated and lit by natural gas from artesian wells. The gas was considered ‘one of the marvels of the district…much more than can be used in the hotel, and [it] blows to waste all day long’. The same report mentions stabling for thirty horses which confirms that, even then, it was on an important junction of roads to and from nearby Gisborne.
Westward are two roads to Wairoa; the main highway that turns south and then parallels both Poverty Bay and Hawkes Bay, or the inland road over ‘Gentle Annie’. The tavern looks out along another highway that runs through the market gardens of Ormond and ultimately winds through the Waioeka Gorge to Opotiki on the distant Bay of Plenty.
© DON DONOVAN