It's been 30 years since the sinking of the Rainbow Warrior and 50 years since Tauranga Writers began. Last week the two events were commemorated.
Tauranga Writers is New Zealand's longest-running self-help group for writers, begun on June 21, 1967 by co-founders Edna Pithie and Verna Dowrick.
The organisation has been celebrating their half-centenary with a year of workshops, masterclasses, exhibitions, open days, panels, performances and plenty of writing.
The birthday week, which featured masterclasses in creative writing, culminated in an evening at the Mauao Performing Arts Centre with award-winning NZ novelist and playwright Bronwyn Elsmore and a reading of her play Fallout: the Sinking of the Rainbow Warrior.
Bronwyn was living in Rushton Ave, Tauranga 30 years ago, when the Rainbow Warrior succumbed to deliberate sabotage. She was a staunch member of a local anti-nuclear group that took the bold step of naming Rushton Ave a nuclear-free zone.
At the time Bronwyn was also a member, and later president, of Tauranga Writers; an emerging author establishing her present reputation as one of New Zealand's finest writers of both fact and fiction. She has won several short story competitions, been winner of the Playwrights Association of New Zealand's playwriting competition three times, and earned other writing awards.
Papamoa College Head of Drama Dylan Frewin.
Bronwyn introduced the reading of her play. Amongst the audience were those who also had connections to the anti-nuclear and peace activism from the time, including guests of honour Mary Rose, Joy Rising, and Gary and Marilyn Ware. Also present was Tauranga Mayor Greg Brownless.
“I'm very grateful for all the help to put it on here,” says Bronwyn, “because I like people to be reminded of the story which gives both a tribute to the people who took part in all the events at the time, and also informs the young people about what happened 30 years ago.
“I think it's a story that should be remembered. And they should be proud that New Zealanders took the stance that they did and understand what happened here and how important it has been to us.”
The reading of Fallout was delivered by Papamoa College drama students Morgan Burt, Seth Linney and Katalina Hose, under the direction of Head of Drama Dylan Frewin.
To celebrate writers and writing, and to encourage the strong urge to bring out the book inside everyone, Tauranga Writers was granted funding from TECT, enabling a rich programme of events to be run throughout the ten months from February to November celebrating the first fifty years.
In addition Tauranga Writers is running a Jubilee Blog from January 1 to December 31 2017, with the aim to launch one new book by a Tauranga writer every month. The blog can be found at http://www.taurangawriters.org.nz/about-us
The Tauranga Writers 50th celebration cake.
Playwright Bronwyn Elsmore, Tauranga Writers President Jenny Argante and Tauranga Mayor Greg Brownless.