Home' The Wellingtonian : June 23rd 2011 Contents 17
THE WELLINGTONIAN, JUNE 23, 2011
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Lyrical memorial: Paul Gurney of The DeSotos
recalls the Wahine disaster in song.
By REBECCA THOMSON
An Auckland band with close ties to Welling-
ton has written a song about the Wahine Day
Four-piece band The DeSotos released its
second album, Highway for Tonight, earlier
this month. It features the song In The Har-
bour, which reflects on the capsizing of the
interisland ferry Wahine in 1968.
Lead singer Paul Gurney grew up Welling-
ton and remembers the day clearly, although
he was just eight.
We lived in Seatoun and our house was
nearly demolished by the storm -- the roof
was gone and the walls were caving in -- so
we went to a friend s place in Seatoun vil-
lage, said Gurney.
From there we walked to the beach. That
was just when a couple of lifeboats [from the
Wahine] were coming in. Most went to East-
The Wahine listing on its side was one of
those images that was seared into the brain.
However, it was not until recently that
Gurney turned his memory of that day into a
song. He said the length of time since the
incident made it easier to look back and write
It was difficult to approach lyrically,
though. It was a chronological telling of
events at first, but then I added the music
and worked through it.
It was a delicate thing to do.
He was pleased with how the song turned
out, and hoped one day it would be used for
a film score about the Wahine.
I would love for Peter Jackson to think
about making a film about it. It is a story that
needs to be told, and he could use my song.
Although In the Harbour was melancholy,
Gurney said there were upbeat songs on the
The band, which also includes Stuart
McIntyre, Ron Stevens and Mike Burrows,
plays a mix of country, blues and jazz-rock.
Proud author: Judith Burch with her magnum opus, Karori and its People.
Photo: JESSICA TAPPENDEN
By JESSICA TAPPENDEN
Seeing the finished copy of her book,
Karori and its People, for the first
time was an experience Judith
Burch will never forget.
It was a magical moment. I knew it
was going to look good, but I hadn t
realised quite how good, she said.
In 2003, Mrs Burch decided that a sub-
urb the size of Karori should have a more
comprehensive written history.
She met with members of the Karori
Historical Society, of which she is presi-
dent, to discuss what should be covered
in the book, and to divide the writing
among those with particular areas of
Jan Haynes, vice-president of the
society and co-editor the book, got photo-
graphs and images from the Alexander
Publisher Steel Roberts helped to
source caricatures which Mrs Burch said
added a bit of levity to the book.
Sorting through the material some-
times seemed an almost impossible task,
Mrs Burch said.
There was so much information that
at times it was quite overwhelming. I
took responsibility for more chapters
than I should have, but I enjoyed it.
The book follows the suburb s history
from its beginning in 1840 as a settler
community to today.
Subjects include settlement and
growth, the town centre, heritage, and
Much of the information was taken
from Stockade, the society s annual pub-
Originally from Christchurch, Mrs
Burch studied history and English at
Canterbury University. She then moved
It wasn t until Mrs Burch joined the
historical society that she really became
interested in the history of Karori.
One of her favourite images in the book
was a colour photograph of the painting
The Rata in Flower, a very idyllic scene
that epitomised the area, albeit in an
Karori is one of those suburbs that in
the way it was developed, the geographi-
cal environment was something that
people had to cope with, Mrs Burch said.
During her research she came across
an interesting account of a generous Eng-
lish landowner, George Graham, who
bought land and leased it to farmers,
initially for a low rent and later for free.
Mr Graham never visited New Zealand.
One of the farmers, Mr Dixon, offered
to buy the land, to which Mr Graham
replied that if Mr Dixon could afford to
buy the land he should clear off and let
some poor man who wants the land enter
into possession .
Mrs Burch said she hoped that after
reading the book, Wellingtonians would
appreciate what lovely suburbs they lived
in, and want to learn more about the
history of where they lived.
Buy the book at karorihistory.org.nz or
from some bookshops, $45.
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