Ramblings of a much published New Zealand author

29 November 2011

The Twenty-nine.

From Kahurangi to South Westland
There’s a rolling wave of grief
You can feel it in the birdsong
In the flax spear and fern leaf
And it echoes in the depths of
The great Pike River mine
As it mourns the poignant loss of

        New Zealand’s Twenty-nine.


They were undistinguished toilers
In Man’s caverns; places strange
To us who’ve never quarried
In The Paparoa Range
Where the cryptic seams of black gold
Rise on high, and deep decline
Ever luring brave men onwards, men like

        Westland’s Twenty-nine.


Now their names will live forever
In the light of unsought fame
And they’ll join the ranks of heroes
Lost in Westland’s deadly game
They’ll meet the men of Dobson,
Brunner and the Strongman mine
And in history they’ll be known as

        The Pike River Twenty-nine.

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz
.

New Zealand Odyssey: Flemings' Creamota Factory, Gore

'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, when I did this illustration, the Flemings Creamota factory still produced the oatmeal porridge that had fortified New Zealanders at breakfast since 1919. Later, the factory closed down in 2001 - another 'icon' (how I hate that word) gone. 

The weird cartoon character on the left of the building is 'Sergeant Dan', the grotesque figure that gave as much symbolic recognition to Creamota as that ghastly Four Square man did to the eponymous grocery chain.

The factory is still there and is listed with the NZ Historic Places Trust as a category one  building.

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz
.

28 November 2011

New Zealand Odyssey: Alliance Textiles, Milton

'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 did this drawing in 1988. I felt then that in a little town like nineteenth century Milton it expressed the pride and good intentions of local industry to do something worthwhile in New Zealand.

But right now, in November 2011, its life has finally ended. These dates are from Internet news:

1897: Bruce Woollen Mill established to scour, card and spin and weave wool into yarn, blankets, rugs and clothing fabric.
1901: Mill destroyed by fire.
1902: Rebuilt mill opens with latest imported machinery.
1962: Business taken over by Alliance Textiles.
1992: Forty-nine workers locked out for refusing to sign new employment contract agreements. A group of 13 protest outside the mill gates for the next six years - longest industrial action in New Zealand trade union history.
1999: Alliance Textiles closes mill, 54 jobs lost.
1999: Mill reopens after QualitYarns New Zealand Ltd buys mill and equipment, 11 staff, growing to 35 by end of first year.
2000: QualitYarns buys worsted spinning line, creates another 13 jobs. 2008: Fifteen staff made redundant. Mill continues to employ 27 staff.
2011: Mill to close.

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz
.

25 November 2011

New Zealand Odyssey: 'The Poplars', Taieri Plain, Dunedin

'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.


Woodside Manor or 'The Poplars', on the Taieri Plain south of Dunedin, is rather grander than the stately colonial villas that I've earlier posted. It was built in 1876 by a Scot, Francis MacDiarmid, and hints at those serious piles built by landed clansmen that one sees in 'Country Life'.

Using a more considered drawing than this sketch, I featured the mansion in my book New Zealand House and Cottage after I'd had the honour of meeting the owners who were bravely restoring it from severe malnourishment.

This watercolour was done in 1988, before I met the owners. I couldn't get near the house on that occasion but as I said then, 'distance lent enchantment' for, like Katisha, it wasn't too glamorous close up.

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz
.

21 November 2011

New Zealand Odyssey: Girl Guide Hall, Mosgiel

'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 little town of Mosgiel, south of Dunedin, was, in 1988, almost village-like and still showed signs of an earlier community. I'm not sure how old the Girl Guides' hall was but it seemed a luxury to be dedicated to one organization only, and rather suggested that there was probably a Boy Scouts' hall somewhere nearby.

The blank door aperture under that earnest keystone fascinated me. Had there ever been a door there, or was it just a matter of good intentions? On that score, why is the entrance where it is? Was the adjacent block an afterthought? An architectural oddity.

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz
.

16 November 2011

New Zealand Odyssey: 'Clairinch', Taieri Plain, Dunedin

'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 another of those gracious old houses on the Taieri Plain south of Dunedin. 'Clairinch' was built in 1878 and embodies those qualities that typify most buildings whose form comes from function rather than 'design'. 

I didn't go inside when I drew the house in 1988 but suspect that the stairs to the dormer storeys are narrow and possibly have a rope rather than a wooden banister rail.

Somebody still loved 'Clairinch' a quarter of a century ago. I hope it's still cherished today.

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz
.

14 November 2011

New Zealand Odyssey: 'Duddingstone', Taieri Plain, Dunedin

'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.


'Duddingstone' built in 1864 is one of a number of fine houses on the Taieri Plain south of Dunedin. It's a large, flat area laced by the meandering Taieri River and was probably attractive to early European settlers (many of Scots origin) as ideal grazing farmland. 

Architecturally, the settlers seemed to compete with each other somewhat but the results of their up-with-the-Joneses efforts remain today in larger numbers than one might expect.

I did this watercolour in 1988.

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz
.

10 November 2011

New Zealand Odyssey: Manor Place, Dunedin

'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.


Dunedin is a hilly city and must have caused headaches for all of its builders. Two things fascinated me about Manor Place: firstly the urge to colour each component of the terrace differently - an impulse towards individuality, I suppose. The second was that in accommodating the horizontal boundary of the roofline and the slope of the street the segment on the left is one storey shorter than that on the right (while the two in the middle have trouble deciding whether to be two or three storeys). Most other structures residing in the same topography would be the same height but stepped up (see Stuart Street Terrace). Fascinating.

This drawing was done in 1988 so the colours may have changed by now but I think the shape will still be the same,

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz
.

06 November 2011

New Zealand Odyssey: Post Office, Mornington, Dunedin

'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 building that I drew in 1988 is still there but it's no longer a post office. They hide post offices (which they now call 'shops') in grotty little buildings in shopping malls these days and the wonderful old tradition of fine, dignified buildings designed to reassure the public has now been killed. It's a sign of the times: email murdered snail mail!

I must have been feeling jolly when I did this illustration because it's all loose and wriggly. Happy days!

 DON DONOVAN
donovn@ihug.co.nz
.

01 November 2011

New Zealand Odyssey: 'Waiata', 24 Duke Street, Dunedin

'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 Victorian house with its studied windows, self-important door lintel and stone quoins reminded me of Mr Pooter of 'The Diary Of  Nobody' by George and Weedon Grossmith. I'm sure the first owner must have been just like him and would probably have painted his bathtub scarlet with the latest scientifically formulated enamel paint from the local hardware store.

One suspects that in 1988, when I did this illustration, it was yet another accommodation house for Otago University students. If it was, it stood up to them rather well.

©  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]