Ramblings of a much published New Zealand author

27 May 2011

New Zealand Odyssey: Topz Footwear Repairs, Trafalgar Street, Nelson

'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.


More corrugated iron! This lean-to was in the main shopping street of Nelson in 1988 and it, with the adjacent green building, seemed to be defying any attempt to bring the city into the 20th century (as it was). I wonder whether it still exists in the 21st century?

As for the Westpac Bank, I'm not sure whether it was also behind old iron like the repair shop but it had already struggled into a new dawn by changing its name from The Bank of New South Wales in 1982.

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz
.


26 May 2011

New Zealand Odyssey: Baptist Church, Nelson

'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.


To my mind this rather grand church belies what I have always thought of as a simple religion, perhaps I'm thinking of some other? Quakers perhaps? But it was a joy to paint in 1988 with all its decorative features and iron curlicues but, as with so many New Zealand buildings it's wearing a cloth cap - corrugated iron! Surely they could have run to a few shingles or shakes?

I knew a very beautiful woman once who was a devout Baptist. When she heard that I was an atheist (or maybe agnostic) she told me that when I die I will have a 'hell of a shock'. I thought that somewhat arrogant; it remains to be seen!

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz
.

25 May 2011

New Zealand Odyssey: Port Mapua Corrugated Iron

'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 has had a love affair with corrugated iron that goes back to the earliest days of European settlement and this suite of sheds at Port Mapua near Nelson is typical. No doubt any new buildings erected by or for the Nelson Harbour Board will be subject to all sorts of consents and permits but they didn't bother about that sort of delaying, revenue-producing rubbish in the days when the nation wanted to move ahead. 

There's been a bit of a stink around Port Mapua since I did this drawing in 1988, something to do with noxious chemicals like methyl bromide leaching into the local tidal flats. Doubtless everybody blames somebody else but sheds like these hide their secrets.

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz
.

24 May 2011

New Zealand Odyssey: The Dolls House, Nelson

'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 wooden house in Nelson was so pink and fresh after a rain shower that it looked as if it had just come out of a hot bath! It was the ideal place to set up 'The Doll Centre of New Zealand' being perfectly twee with its Italianate window boxes; even the electrical box at the front corner had been painted pink!

I liked the quoins at the corners. They're usually a feature of stone buildings, quite unnecessary here but I guess they look impressive.

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz
.

23 May 2011

New Zealand Odyssey: Rai Valley Motors

'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.


On State Highway No. 6 between Nelson and Havelock, it's quite possible that this garage is the same today as it was in 1988 when I did this illustration. It's typical of country garages in New Zealand where you not only expect to find petrol and oil but also anything to do with machinery and its repair: cars, trucks, utes, tractors, mowers, chainsaws, milking machines, sewing machines, panel beating, service, tyres, batteries and accessories.

I speculate that Rai Valley Motors is the hub of an enormous land area because it not only sits at the heart of farmlands to its south, west and east but is also a jumping off point for the western Marlborough Sounds and as far north as D'Urville Island.

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz
.

21 May 2011

New Zealand Odyssey: ERG Battery Roof, Riverlands, Marlborough

'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 haven't seen a roof advertisement like this for a long time but in 1988 they were quite common. I suppose a little man traveled round the country offering owners a small sum for the use of their roofs, and provided the farmer, or whoever it was, was happy to proclaim the odd brand name it was probably a good deal if for no other reason than that he got his roof painted. (Come to think of it I have a roof today that I'd be willing to rent out!).

I haven't hear of an Erg battery recently but it used to be a big brand and I'm sure I must have had one in my 1929 Austin Seven, 1936 Ford 8, 1947 Vauxhall 12, 1952 Morris Minor; I won't go on, I'm showing my dotage!

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz
.

18 May 2011

New Zealand Odyssey: Havelock Post Office (1988)

'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.


In 1988 this was the post office in Havelock, a charming little village at the southern end of Pelorus Sound. It was a rather grand post office and it was said that the plans for it had been mixed up with those for a church. Apocryphal? Must be, but it makes a good story.

In those days, when New Zealand Post still had some pride, they came out every day at opening time to hoist the flag which then flew until closing time. I haven't been to Havelock lately but I'm sure the building still exists - perhaps it's a restaurant? Or museum? Or library? I doubt if they still sell stamps.

Oh, and that telephone box is historic, too.

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz
.

17 May 2011

New Zealand Odyssey: Pomposity In A Blenheim Graveyard

'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've never been able to understand why people have to leave pompous monuments behind when they die. I can only think that they must have thought that they were so important that they had to remind everybody. As far as I'm concerned any old patch of ground can have my ashes - even a burial at sea as long as it causes no trouble. This bizarre edifice adorned a graveyard in Blenheim; I think it was the grandest thing in sight; perhaps they were Joneses up with whom they thought others would have to keep?

While in Blenheim I noticed 'Don's Place', a second hand dealer. Thats much more my style.

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz
.





16 May 2011

New Zealand Odyssey: Old Malthouse, Riverlands, Marlborough

'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 end view of a very interesting old malthouse at Riverlands, near Blenheim. I was unable to find out any history about it and it was clearly well past its 'use by' date although there was a bit of farm machinery and lots of dangling cobwebs inside. But it wasn't badly derelict and a bit of love and care could have made it useful again. That was in 1988 - perhaps it lives again now?

A technical note for confidence tricksters: I did the bricks by drawing their mortar lines with liquid rubber solution, then painting the pink wash, then peeling off the rubber solution. The dry grasses are scratched out of oil pastel and watercolour wash with a scalpel blade. All the world loves a cheat!

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz
.

15 May 2011

New Zealand Odyssey: Marlborough A & P Association, Blenheim

'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 found an interesting similarity of shape between these two buildings both of which were part of Blenheim's Agricultural and Pastoral Association's showgrounds. The entrance gates (above) were obviously designed to impress with their carefully considered brick doorways and wrought iron gates whereas the stockyards (below) had a distinctly cloth cap look about them, businesslike, ready for the manure and trodden straw, the plaintive bleating of Perindales and Romneys and the patient ruminations of cattle and goats as they awaited their annual parades.

A & P shows are the essence of rural New Zealand usually held once a year and where town and country mingle, country people showing themselves off and townsfolk acknowledging this country's debt to the farmers of the land.

 © DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz

.

14 May 2011

New Zealand Odyssey: Oxley's Hotel, Picton

'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 was Oxley's Hotel in 1988 before they took down the wrought iron and later put it back again. In 2011 it is a façade with a modern, rather ugly, building looming behind it. I believe the pub dates from about 1870 but got its name from an Oxley who bought it sometime later. 

Picton flourishes because it is the railhead that links the South and North Islands and it's here that trains, trucks, cars and passengers arrive and depart from and across Cook Strait.

There's talk of locating the ferry terminal at Clifford Bay, farther south. If that happens Picton will become a backwater.


I couldn't understand why the locals so much objected to dogs and bicycles. Every dog has its day but these days cyclists are the new élite and nobody dares argue with them - they have their rights! The notice has probably gone.


© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz
.




11 May 2011

New Zealand Odyssey: 6 and 8 Brougham Street, Wellington

'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 amazing what a coat of paint can do. These two houses are basically the same - in mirror image - but a couple of pots of Dulux makes all the difference. I liked the flexible 'carport' hung between the two (obviously by co-operative good neighbours). It's so kiwi! That was in 1987. I expect that if you tried to do something similar today some busybody from Wellington City Council would find that it had breached a by-law. Either that or you'd have to wait a year for resource management approval.

But... let me assure my overseas readers that while New Zealand is a land of rules and regulations it's also full of people happy to ignore them. In this respect we resemble Italy.

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz
.

09 May 2011

New Zealand Odyssey: Wellington Fish Supplies, Molesworth Street, Wellington

'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 a famous fish and chip shop, 'Wellington Fish Supplies', in Molesworth Street as it was in 1987. I'm certain that it no longer exists. It stood opposite parliament buildings and was as frequented by MPs as any other folk. In fact, there was a famous photograph of David Lange, before he became Prime Minister, fatter than an elephant, with three cronies - Roger Douglas, Mike Moore and Michael Bassett all gorging themselves on fish and chips - eaten out of a newspaper - that undoubtedly came from this dishevelled looking takaways establishment.

Don't you just love that reckless rusty iron half roof!

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz
.

08 May 2011

New Zealand Odyssey: 4 Port Street, Wellington

'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.


Wellington, a city in which I have lived twice, has always struck me as a place that people are passing through. Indeed, I went to a party once in Auckland of which all of the fourteen people present had once lived in Wellington! 

It's a town of apartments in the inner suburbs; of tenants who have little regard for their landlords or their neighbours. In this case the occupants of the ground floor keep to themselves and rarely see the light of day - or are they cowering from the noisy ones on the first floor who have parties on Saturday nights and a big clean up, including the weekly wash, on Sunday morning? There's obviously no garden otherwise why would the smalls all be hanging out on the balcony?

All speculation, of course. But I enjoyed painting the scene.

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz

06 May 2011

New Zealand Odyssey: Ram's Head, Crown House, The Terrace, Wellington

'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 one of many rams' heads carved by Clare Athfield that feature as keystones above the windows of what, in 1987, was Crown House on The Terrace, Wellington. Ordinarily you'd view the building as a whole from across the road but, as I commented in the book, 'the search for detail pays rich rewards'. These sorts of 'grace notes' are rare in modern architecture which is usually designed down to a price. Clare's carvings are not only artistically adept, they also exhibit a nice sense of humour.

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz
.

05 May 2011

New Zealand Odyssey: 19 Sydney Street East, Wellington

'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 extraordinary building lies within a stone's throw of the House Of Representatives off Molesworth Street. I think it must have been designed by a mad architect - perhaps more than one. But it was sufficiently interesting to attract my attention; those strange doors and windows, the weird hanging roof; and at each end of the top railing - are those gates? The mind boggles...

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz
.





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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]