Ramblings of a much published New Zealand author

31 March 2011

New Zealand Odyssey: Industry and Idleness

'New Zealand Odyssey', published in 1989 by Heinemann, was authored by me, Don Donovan (who did the text and illustrations) and Euan Sarginson, who did the photography and design. In this series of blog posts, I will publish some of my drawings.


These two scenes engaged me. I called them 'Industry and Idleness' after William Hogarth's social commentary. The beehives were at Taumarunui, recklessly scattered on a paddock dedicated to honey output on an impressive scale.

'Idleness', below, was at Piriaka. A used vehicle dump showing appalling disregard for the pretty surrounding countryside and an eyesore whichever way one looked at it. Unfortunately it was not an uncommon sight.



© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz

26 March 2011

New Zealand Odyssey: Raurimu and The Spiral

'New Zealand Odyssey', published in 1989 by Heinemann, was authored by me, Don Donovan (who did the text and illustrations) and Euan Sarginson, who did the photography and design. In this series of blog posts, I will publish some of my drawings.



I illustrated this simple little railway shed in 1987 because it's one of thousands across the country, all the same, all designed to the formula: 'keep it simple, keep it cheap'. In doing so, it's not only a nicely proportioned piece of work with a fine  example of good signwriting, it is also modest. 

In this case it's very, very modest because it marks one of the most notable railway engineering achievements in the world. The famous Raurimu Spiral, at a gradient of 1:52, through a series of loops, spirals, tunnels and bridges overcomes a height difference of 132 metres from bottom to top. What's more, it was built in 1898 and still works.

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz

24 March 2011

'New Zealand Odyssey', published in 1989 by Heinemann, was authored by me, Don Donovan (who did the text and illustrations) and Euan Sarginson, who did the photography and design. In this series of blog posts, I will publish some of my drawings.



Before the ski-fields of Mt. Ruapehu were developed and commercialized, Ohakune was a slumbering hamlet famous for growing carrots and other market gardening. Then came ski-ing, then came aprés ski and the need for entertainment at the end of the day. When,in 1987, I saw this so-called night club housed in an obviously pre-ski era clapboard building I couldn't help being amused at what looked like an attempt to create 'sin city' by some local entrepreneur; and I wondered what could possibly go on inside its ancient rooms!

Is it still there? I doubt it. The Ruapehu ski-ing industry has become as sophisticated as any in the world and if you want excitement in Ohakune these days you'll probably not find it at the Hot Lava Night Club.

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz

21 March 2011

New Zealand Odyssey: 'Ongarue', A Whanganui River Steamer, Pipiriki

'New Zealand Odyssey', published in 1989 by Heinemann, was authored by me, Don Donovan (who did the text and illustrations) and Euan Sarginson, who did the photography and design. In this series of blog posts, I will publish some of my drawings.



This is the river steamer Ongarue that, with many others, used to carry passengers, tourists, livestock and freight from Wanganui to Pipiriki - a small town in the heart of the bush - up the serpentine Whanganui River. I found it on the bank at Pipiriki, chocked up as a memorial to the great days of river travel.

In 1987, when I did this drawing, the long road between the two towns, roughly following the course of the river, was narrow with a thousand bends and a surface like the moon. No wonder they used to travel by boat up this river whose history, both Maori and European has been as turbulent as some of its rapids above Pipiriki.

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz


20 March 2011

New Zealand Odyssey: The Ratana Church at Raetihi.

'New Zealand Odyssey', published in 1989 by Heinemann, was authored by me, Don Donovan (who did the text and illustrations) and Euan Sarginson, who did the photography and design. In this series of blog posts, I will publish some of my drawings.



By rights this should be a photograph because the church was lassoed by sunlight against a stormy sky and while it's easy to dramatize art, photography, despite Photoshop, is closer to reality and therefore more believable.

The unique Ratana churches all have the twin tower feature. Their existence started in the late 1920s with Tahupotiki Wiremu Ratana, a Maori Methodist minister who had a vision that led him to proselytize to such effect that the Ratana faith is now so strong, politically, that New Zealand's politicians take it seriously enough to compete with each other to gain Ratana support.

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz

19 March 2011

New Zealand Odyssey: Greytown Borough Council building 1878. Wairarapa

'New Zealand Odyssey', published in 1989 by Heinemann, was authored by me, Don Donovan (who did the text and illustrations) and Euan Sarginson, who did the photography and design. In this series of blog posts, I will publish some of my drawings.



This handsome building of 1878 stands in the main street of Greytown and houses the borough council offices. It's another of those New Zealand wooden buildings that really ought to be of masonry. But it works very well, is finely proportioned and shows great dignity. In the pediment over the door is carved a cameo of a woman's head; I wonder who she was?

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz


18 March 2011

New Zealand Odyssey: Centennial Ladies' Rest Room, Greytown, Wairarapa

'New Zealand Odyssey', published in 1989 by Heinemann, was authored by me, Don Donovan (who did the text and illustrations) and Euan Sarginson, who did the photography and design. In this series of blog posts, I will publish some of my drawings.


There was a war going on in 1940 so the installation of a war memorial from public funds would have been premature. But it was one hundred years after the foundation of the town so they decided to build a commemorative loo for ladies. ('Rest Room' is a New Zealand euphemism for lavatory, a word the locals find hard to say). What the local men were supposed to do escapes me; I guess go in the bushes like most Greytown farmers had for the last 100 years?

The thing that fascinated me about this strange little edifice was not so much its raison d'être as its ambiguity: one could be forgiven for thinking that it was for the use of 100 year-old ladies only, in which case it's just like new today!

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz

17 March 2011

New Zealand Odyssey: Dental Chambers 1934, Pahiatua, Wairarapa

'New Zealand Odyssey', published in 1989 by Heinemann, was authored by me, Don Donovan (who did the text and illustrations) and Euan Sarginson, who did the photography and design. In this series of blog posts, I will publish some of my drawings.



Pahiatua is a pleasant, unassuming village on the highway through the northern end of the Wairarapa district. It came as something of a surprise, then, to spot this superb piece of art deco architecture. There's absolutely no doubt that it was built in 1934, sometime after the Napier earthquake that was the spur for an art deco renaissance of major proportions. Perhaps the proud owner of the dental chambers took his cue from Napier?

Whoever he (or she) was; this classic was an inspiration, and Pahiatua is richer for it. I only hope they know what a gem they've got in that main street.

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz

16 March 2011

New Zealand Odyssey: Transport Wairarapa, Masterton

'New Zealand Odyssey', published in 1989 by Heinemann, was authored by me, Don Donovan (who did the text and illustrations) and Euan Sarginson, who did the photography and design. In this series of blog posts, I will publish some of my drawings.



It's 1987 and this is the Masterton depôt of a carter that used to operate up and down the Wairarapa plain to all points of land east of the Tararua mountain range and beyond. This building clearly dated back to horse-drawn transport days and the groaning old bricks could tell a few stories of everyday life in this farming province; they even offered a mail service to Wellington and Auckland.

I just loved the old bricks - the texture. The company is no more; it was taken over by Farmers Transport in 1993.

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz

15 March 2011

New Zealand Odyssey: Old Flour Mill, Carterton, Wairarapa

'New Zealand Odyssey', published in 1989 by Heinemann, was authored by me, Don Donovan (who did the text and illustrations) and Euan Sarginson, who did the photography and design. In this series of blog posts, I will publish some of my drawings.


New Zealand used to be full of buildings like this old flour mill that stood in the main street of Carterton in Wairarapa province. It's been patched so many times that determining what piece is original is almost impossible. There's even a door to nowhere half way up the near wall! The attempt to give it some dignity and expression of self-importance in a farming town is evidenced by the modillions artfully arranged under the eave at its very top, that might be the oldest part.

It was there in 1987; it's still there in 2011 and that door has been painted green but it still leads to nowhere!

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz



14 March 2011

New Zealand Odyssey: Sacred Heart, Hastings

'New Zealand Odyssey', published in 1989 by Heinemann, was authored by me, Don Donovan (who did the text and illustrations) and Euan Sarginson, who did the photography and design. In this series of blog posts, I will publish some of my drawings.



The growing historical value of our book, New Zealand Odyssey is exemplified by this illustration of the Sacred Heart Catholic church in Hastings. I painted it in 1987; it burned down in the 1990s. It was built in 1895 entirely of wood, in the Victorian gothic architectural style that more suits stone than timber.

It was typical of many such churches round New Zealand and many other old buildings whose greatest threat is not the more dramatic earthquake but fire plain and simple.

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz


05 March 2011

New Zealand Odyssey: Napier Post-Earthquake Art Deco

'New Zealand Odyssey', published in 1989 by Heinemann, was authored by me, Don Donovan (who did the text and illustrations) and Euan Sarginson, who did the photography and design. In this series of blog posts, I will publish some of my drawings.



Napier suffered a monumental earthquake in 1931 which killed something like 250 people and laid the town to waste. With brilliant perspicacity the powers-that-be decided that the city should be rebuilt and that its architectural style should be art deco, a fashion that was worldwide at the time and has since become as classical as Bauhaus, art nouveau or Palladian.

I could have illustrated many Napier buildings for our book but chose just two typically art deco designs: the doorway of the Masonic Hotel with its leaded glass pelmet and the first storey balcony of the Central Hotel whose almost Egyptian themes might readily be seen on cinemas all over the world.

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz



04 March 2011

New Zealand Odyssey: Houses on Marine Parade, Napier

'New Zealand Odyssey', published in 1989 by Heinemann, was authored by me, Don Donovan (who did the text and illustrations) and Euan Sarginson, who did the photography and design. In this series of blog posts, I will publish some of my drawings.


The basic front elevation of these houses is exactly the same except that the fourth and fifth from the left have been flipped over horizontally. But because of their colour and enhancements they manage to look different, each from its neighbours. They lie in a row at Marine Parade, Napier and face out to sea - next stop Chile! I drew them in 1987 and suspect that they look much the same today.

Without doing much research, I estimated that they were older than Napier's renaissance after the earthquake that devastated the city in 1931, they have a late nineteenth century look about them. About 250 people died in that earthquake (a similar number to that of 2011 in Christchurch). So badly damaged were its buildings that Napier was substantially rebuilt in the art deco style; one wonders what 'style' might be applied to Christchurch's reconstruction.

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz

03 March 2011

New Zealand Odyssey: Kaitaratahi Hall, Poverty Bay

'New Zealand Odyssey', published in 1989 by Heinemann, was authored by me, Don Donovan (who did the text and illustrations) and Euan Sarginson, who did the photography and design. In this series of blog posts, I will publish some of my drawings.


A subject in the middle of nowhere, this local hall, probably a war memorial, on that wonderful stretch of highway that runs from Gisborne to Opotiki via the Waioeka Gorge, appealed to me by virtue of its colour, simplicity and no-nonsense application of corrugated iron for the public good. 

It also appealed as a perfect example of New Zealanders' propensity to spell incorrectly. I wonder whose fault that was? The signwriter? Or the person who handed the signwriter a piece of paper with the name of the hall on it? We'll never know.

Kaitaratahi is listed in Dollimore's 'New Zealand Guide' but was overlooked or ignored by both A.W.Reed's 'A Dictionary of Maori Place Names' and by Reed's later 'A Dictionary of New Zealand Place Names'. Perhaps Reeds couldn't handle the spelling?

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz








02 March 2011

New Zealand Odyssey: Holy Trinity, Derby Street, Gisborne

'New Zealand Odyssey', published in 1989 by Heinemann, was authored by me, Don Donovan (who did the text and illustrations) and Euan Sarginson, who did the photography and design. In this series of blog posts, I will publish some of my drawings.


When I illustrated this fine church in 1987 it was described as the second church to have been built on its site. It stood next to the third church and was now used as the parish hall. It was infinitely more pleasing to the eye than its successor, being well preserved and colourful. I liked the red door. 

The fashion for bright door colours is common these days but this one reminded me of when my wife and I, newly wed, took a flat in Bayswater, England, in 1955 the front door of which we painted bright yellow and attached a polished brass knocker. We really broke new ground in those days and felt quite nervous about what the neighbours might say!

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz


01 March 2011

New Zealand Odyssey: Wyllie Cottage, Gisborne, Poverty Bay


This colonial cottage was built in 1872 by James Ralston Wyllie and his wife Kate. As their family grew to eight children they extended the house but, interestingly, it never had a kitchen venting chimney and it’s thought that Kate, of Maori background, did her cooking outdoors. There’s nothing outstanding about the cottage but, restored, it is a good example of kauri-shingled vertical board and batten: pleasingly simple.

It took a long time for New Zealanders to understand the idea of 'heritage', they generally wanted to kick out the old and bring in the new until the mood changed after about 100 years of European settlement. Thus with Wyllie cottage: it almost disappeared because the then owners, Gisborne Council, didn't want it but in 1970 it was rescued by local citizens and restored.

© DONDONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz

Paypal

Blog Archive

Hits Counter

Blogdash

Loaded Web

Blog Directory for Albany, New Zealand

BlogThisHere.com

Blog This Here

Blog Flux

Commentary blogs

Comments

  • <$BlogCommentAuthor$> // <$BlogCommentDateTime$>

Blurb

RANDOM SAMPLINGS F...
By Don Donovan

About Me

My photo

Don Donovan: Biography

I was born on 20 January 1933, nine days before Hitler came to power in Germany, I grew up in south London. Although evacuated during the phoney war and the quieter times I lived in and out of air raid shelters during the blitz and experienced both V1 and V2 attacks on London. Left grammar school in 1948 aged 15 substantially undereducated. I wanted to go to art school but because of family ‘poverty’ joined a commercial art studio in the West End. I was, thereafter, variously a messenger boy, commercial artist and typographer. I was in the Royal Air Force from 1951 to 1953 when the only useful thing I did was to take part in King George VI’s funeral parade.

In 1955 I married Patricia O’Donnell, a RADA graduate, at that time playing opposite Derek Nimmo, they were juvenile leads in a touring repertory company. He went on to great success because he had a funny voice.

We came to New Zealand in 1960 where I worked in advertising. At length I became managing director of one of the companies of whose holding company (the largest domestic advertising complex in New Zealand) I was also a proprietor and shareholder. I left the industry in 1990 when my company was bought out by American interests. My timing was brilliant, at that point my first book had been published and the next was on its way.

We have two daughters and four grand-children.

Now, apart from writing, I function as a self-educated grumpy old man.

Books & Writings

‘New Zealand Odyssey’, with Euan Sarginson, Heinemann-Reed, 1989.

‘One Man’s Heart Attack’, New House, 1990. (A special edition of this book was purchased by CIBA-Geigy for distribution to NZ doctors).

‘Open 7 Days’, Random Century, October 1991.

‘The Good Old Kiwi Pub’ by Saint Publishing in 1995 followed by:
‘New Zealand House & Cottage’ in 1997. (Saint Publishing have also published calendars for the years 1994 to 2004 using my watercolour illustrations).

‘The Wastings’, my first novel was published in July 1999 by Hazard Press. Although an international subject it had very limited distribution, only in New Zealand, and the rights have reverted to me. (Colin Dexter read 'The Wastings' and wrote to me: 'I enjoyed and admired "The Wastings"... a beautifully written work... a splendid debut in crime fiction... More please!'.)

Also the texts of photographic books:
‘Auckland’
‘Colourful New Zealand’
‘New Zealand in Colour’
‘Top of the South’
‘Aoraki-Mt.Cook’
‘Above Auckland’
‘Hauraki Gulf Destinations’
‘Otago’
‘Bay of Plenty’
and a compilation of photographs and quotations titled ‘Anzac Memories’ 2004 all published by New Holland.

My written and illustrated book, ‘Country Churches of New Zealand’ was published in October 2002 by New Holland, who also published ‘Rural New Zealand’ 2004 (photographs and text), and a series of four humorous books of photographs and quotations in 2004 and 2005 titled ‘Woolly Wisdom’, ‘Chewing the Cud’, ‘Fowl Play’, and ‘Pig Tales’. My most recent book was published in August 2006 by New Holland, titled ‘Political Animals’.

Over the years I have written for NZ Herald, Heritage Magazine, Next Magazine and various local and overseas travel and general interest media.

[ENDS]