Category Archives: History Articles

2022 Club Service Awards

To members in recognition of service

Allison Kay

For 9 years’ service as Club Treasurer

Allison joined Johnsonville Scottish Country Dance Club as a beginner in 2013. At the end of 2013, club treasurer Barbara Thomson became very ill, and in early 2014 Allison volunteered to take on the role of acting treasurer.

Allison stood as treasurer at the 2014 AGM, and has been club treasurer ever since, an amazing tenure of nine years in the job. No other Johnsonville club treasurer has approached that length of service. (According to club records the next most long-serving was Ron Hook, treasurer for five years from 1984-1988.)

Changing times

Over the last nine years, quite a few things have changed in the life of the club, increasing the number of financial transactions, and expanding the duties of treasurer.

The club:

  • has widened its advertising campaign for beginners’ classes
  • holds more social events like the summer ceilidh and midwinter dinner
    • continues to increase the number of live music nights
    • has introduced the option of an annual door fee.

    Each of these comes with an increasing number of costs and payments, and consequent increased workload for the treasurer.

    The ANZ:

    • reduced its opening hours and then closed its branch in Johnsonville, making banking of door money less straightforward
    • phased out cheque books, necessitating the club switching to online authorisation of payments, not an easy transition due to ANZ processes
    • Covid also came into play. Cancellation of club nights and events over the last three years has resulted in reimbursements to those who had paid annual door fees, and registration fees for cancelled events.

    Additional service

    In her time on the committee, Allison has also taken on other responsibilities.

    She has:

    • been heavily involved in Midwinter dinners since we introduced them in 2015, delighting us with her mulled wine, co-organising catering, and taking on the role of kitchen co-ordinator
    • served as finance person on the combined Annual Dance sub-committee each year since 2018, when we made the move to shared annual dances with Capital City Club
    • handled finances for special club events like the club’s 50 Golden Years Celebration, and one-off region events organised by Johnsonville, such as Hogmanay and New Dancers’ Celebrations.

    I am extremely grateful to have had the continuity of service that Allison has brought, and particularly to have had her support during the Covid years. It has made my role as President an easier one, having someone with an intimate knowledge of the club’s finances, who I can rely on completely. Thank you Allison.

    Christine Crewdson

    For her spreadsheet work (membership and dance books)

    Christine is a very recent member of the club, only joining us at beginners’ classes in February.

    Despite this, in April she stepped forward when I asked if anyone could help with updating the club’s historical spreadsheet of membership. This list was created by Joan Clayton in 2016 for the club’s 50 Golden Years’ Celebration, but hadn’t been updated since then.

    On 21 April I passed on five years’ worth of membership lists, and by 4 May it was done and dusted, and I thought I would try my luck and see if Christine would be interested in cataloguing the club’s dance books.

    With dreary weather coming up, Christine thought it could be a good autumn-winter activity. Over the next 2-3 months we exchanged packages of books on Monday nights, and Christine created a catalogue of the 227 different books held by the club, Rod’s copies of those books and the additional 164 which Rod owns personally.

    A lot of the books have been donated over the years, to the club and to Rod. Christine suggested including donor information, along with all the other information. In total, Christine worked her way through 629 books once duplicates were included. A mighty effort.

    Spreadsheets are not everyone’s cup of tea, but fortunately for us, Christine enjoys ‘playing with spreadsheets’. Her work has added to the club’s historical records of membership and made life easier for Rod ,and for future tutors using the club’s collection of dance books. Thank you Christine.

    Dancing Lady Home’s Jig at the 2022 Wellington Region New Dancers’ Celebration hosted by Johnsonville – Christine at the left of the front set and Allison at the left of the set at the far right. Photo: Loralee Hyde

    Kristin Downey
    7 November 2022

    New Dancers’ Celebration: Johnsonville as host

    Each year it is the turn of one club in the Wellington Region to organise what is the highlight of the Region’s dancing year.

    The 2022 New Dancers’ Celebration is the third hosted by Johnsonville since Rod Downey became tutor. The first was in 2003, and the second in 2013.

    Johnsonville hosts the 2003 New Dancers’ Celebration

    We have documents for earlier and later periods in the club’s history, but we are missing most documents from a period including 2003. We must make do with the New Dancers’ programme of dances, the accounts for the event, and a single paragraph in the 2004 NZ Scottish Country Dancer magazine.

    The 2003 New Dancers’ Celebration was held at Onslow College, a popular venue for large events at the time, taking over from Newlands College.

    It’s interesting to compare door fees. In 2003 they were $10 Adult, $9.00 RSCDS and $4 Juniors. In the last 19 years door charges have risen relatively little, in 2022 they are $16, $13, and $5 with a lower charge of $10 for new dancers.

    Music was provided by longstanding musician Peter Elmes and associates (individual musicians were not listed in those days). We can see that musicians’ rewards have also not risen greatly over the years. In 2003, Peter received $450 for his three-piece band, these days it’s around $600 divided amongst three musicians.

    Musicians John Smith, Peter Elmes and Merren Simmonds had a long association with Johnsonville Club Photo: Loralee Hyde

    The 2003 dance programme listed 20 dances, more than we do these days – perhaps because our population of dancers is a little older. But many of the same dances are on the 2022 programme including perennial favourites Minister on the Loch, The Reel of the 51st, and of course The De’il Amang the Tailors.

    It seems no-one wrote about the event as such at the time. The only written reference I’ve found was in the Wellington Region notes in the 2004 NZ Scottish Country Dancer:

    There was some surprise but delight when Alan Burn (RSCDS NZ Branch Membership Co-ordinator) telephoned to advise that Wellington Region had won the ‘large region’ class of the Branch’s Membership Challenge. Murray Corps (NZ Branch secretary) presented the award to Phyllis Henry the Region Treasurer at the Region’s New Dancers’ Celebration dance hosted by Johnsonville Club.

    The accounts show door takings of $1,040, so at $10 maximum entry fee, there must have been over 100 dancers. This was typical for the times, making for a very special night for all the new dancers that year – including Elizabeth Ngan, our very own Kitchen Faerie.

    Elizabeth Ngan, Johnsonville Club’s Kitchen Faerie. Photo: Loralee Hyde

    And again in 2013

    Johnsonville tutor Rod Downey as MC at the 2003 and 2013 New Dancers’ Celebrations…and again in 2022. Photo: Loralee Hyde

    By the time the 2013 New Dancers’ Celebration came around (this time with 18 dances on the programme), things were very different, with records galore.

    Johnsonville Club now had a weekly email newsletter, with no need to rely on paper records.

    Additionally, our photographers/videographers were taking digital photos and video recordings of our events.

    In the Johnsonville Club newsletter of 23 October 2013, Secretary Pat Reesby wrote enthusiastically about the 2013 New Dancers’ Celebration held at Newlands Centennial Hall on Saturday 19 October:

    What a wonderful time we had at the New Dancers’ Celebration, with lots of dancers (new and ‘old’) from other clubs. Twelve sets! And special thanks to Debbie and friends who organised the (tartan) bunting. It was much admired and I’ve heard on the grapevine that another (bunting) bee is planned sometime – there are heaps of cut-out pennants left over. The bunting is a wonderful club asset.

    And I wouldn’t be surprised if we’ve set a trend. Bunting bees may pop up in all sorts of places …

    Johnsonville Club members including new dancers Lee, Debbie and Shelley put up the new club bunting in the Newlands Centennial Hall

    We had a wonderful band for the night – Lynne Scott, Jean Malcolm and Richard Hardie. Lynne says: “I think a lot of people enjoy the sound of the band with the double bass in it. And Richard and Jean are such good musicians! I really enjoy playing with them. Also, I do work quite hard to select and arrange music that suits the shape and formations of the dance, and perhaps that helps underpin the playing. It’s certainly fun!”

    Lynne Scott, Jean Malcolm and Richard Hardie. Photo: Loralee Hyde
    The bunting along the walls at the 2013 New Dancers’ Celebration. Debbie, Lee and Shelley who helped at the bunting bee, are dancing in the top set. Photo: Loralee Hyde

    Pat goes on to say:

    Loralee Hyde took lots of photos at the dance and has shared them with us. There’s a lovely one which shows at least four of our new dancers.

    Club photographer Loralee Hyde, had been taking photos of dancing since the 1970s. In 2013, armed with a better camera than previously, Loralee recorded many happy memories of the 2013 New Dancers’ Celebration.

    The floor was filled with dancers including former Wellington Region President Bernice Kelly (who is no longer with us) at the right. Photo: Loralee Hyde

    Loralee has shared all her photos of the night as part of the Wellington Region Celebrating 60 history project. View them here

    Fortuitously, Pat had also just begun her career as a Scottish Country Dance videographer, and filmed some of the dances on the night. Her videos bring back memories of our younger selves and fellow dancers, some who no longer dance, and some who are no longer with us.

    The dances Pat filmed are still new dancer ‘staples’ at Johnsonville. Looking at her videos you can see the capacity crowd filling the hall, and feel the wonderful atmosphere of music and laughter.

    Watch Pat Reesby’s videos of:
    The Kingston Flyer
    The Illabo Rant (and a second time through to accommodate the crowd)
    Violynne (devised by Rod in January 2004)

    You’ll see quite a few children on the dance floor and you may spot some parents swelling the crowd of spectators. It was a pleasure to include the presentation of RSCDS NZ Branch medals to the Region’s junior dancers on the night’s programme, making for lots of energy on the dance floor and an audience who really appreciated the skills and achievements of these young dancers.

    Elaine Lethbridge, teacher of the Region Juniors, and Elaine Laidlaw, RSCDS Wellington Branch President, present RSCDS NZ Branch medals and certificates to the young dancers. Photo: Pat Reesby

    Kristin Downey
    7 October 2022

    Loralee Hyde: A lifetime of photography

    Nearly 50 years of photographing Scottish Country Dancing

    It wasn’t until I inherited thousands of photos and slides from my mother Tess Hyde after she died in 2018 that I fully realised where my love of photography came from.

    In this treasure trove of photos, I discovered my mother had kept her own mother’s collection of dozens of photos of her family from the late 1890s onward. The first photo my grandmother had of my mother was taken in 1924 when she was just three weeks old.

    Mum had told me she’d been given a Brownie box camera when she was in her early twenties. That  started a lifetime of recording family life and activities including birthdays, weddings and travels.

    My father Jim Hyde was a keen photographer as well, capturing records of farming life in the 1930s on the family farm in Horahora, near Cambridge. Dad kept a diary in 1937 when he was aged 16, detailing life on the farm and his first year of paid farming work for a neighbour. His diary entry for 22 February says, “Mr Scarlett took me to town. I bought a camera for 9/3.” (9 shillings & 3 pence; around NZ$0.92).

    In 1962 mum finally got a high quality camera which could take colour photos; a Zeiss purchased duty-free by her mother and step-father when they went to the 1962 Commonwealth Games in Perth, Australia. Right through the 1960s and early 1970s she took slides as they were cheaper to develop than colour film. In the late 1970s she changed to colour film when she and my father toured Britain and Europe.

    An early start to my photography journey

    1964 Off to the beach for a holiday (with my camera around my neck) with my sister Karen at the left. On the family farm near Cambridge. Photo scanned from a slide by Tess Hyde.
    1963 One of my first photos. My mother (with her Zeiss camera around her neck), brother Morris and sister Karen on holiday at Mount Maunganui.

    Mum passed her Brownie on to me in 1962 and that started me off on my photography journey, initially taking photos of our family activities.

    The Brownie was old by then and didn’t produce great shots so I was thrilled to get a new camera for Christmas in 1962 (I can’t remember what type it was).

    From that time on, I invariably had a camera around my neck at family celebrations and holidays.

    Near the end of the 1960s, I got a Kodak Instamatic, a very popular camera with ‘magic flash cubes’ that clicked on to the top of the camera.

    Early photos of dancing

    By the mid-1970s I’d moved on to a Pentax Spotmatic, a 35mm single-lens reflex camera which I used for years.

    My friend Christine (who now lives and dances in Rockingham south of Perth) introduced me to Scottish Country Dancing in Hamilton in 1974. I was hooked from the first evening. My sister Karen started dancing in Hamilton at much the same time.

    1974 In the centre with my Pentax Spotmatic camera in Taranaki with Christine and Trisha, who both started Scottish Country Dancing at a very young age in Huntly. Photo: Karen Hunwick (nee Hyde)

    I soon began taking photos of dancers and dancing. However, the flash on my Pentax Spotmatic wasn’t strong enough to take good photos of people actually dancing in the low-light conditions of many halls. So I generally stuck to photos of groups, particularly when dressed up for special occasions such as theme nights or ceilidhs.

    1982 Enjoying the Down on the Farm theme at the Hamilton Queen’s Birthday Weekend School. I’m second from the left with my sister Karen at the right.

    Enjoy more photos in this article ‘Dressed for the Part’ reflecting the fun we’ve had ‘dressing for the part’ from the 1970s to the present

    Moving to Wellington

    I moved to Wellington from Hamilton in 1983, initially taking up dancing at Lower Hutt Club before moving on to Ngaio and then Johnsonville. Some of the halls we danced at did have good lighting. Even with a limited flash, at times I managed to get reasonable photos of dancers taking to the floor.

    Wellington Region Events in the 1990s Take a look at the fun and friendship of some of the Region’s events through the 1990s (including the names of all the tutors in the photo below).

    Wellington Tutors at the 1993 Region Top Event
    2000 Johnsonville ‘Black & White Annual’ Dance—with Kath Ledingham (Secretary 1991-1994) and Paula Binkhorst (President 2004-2006) (with long-term Linden tutor Ian Simmonds behind Paula). On the stage are musicians Peter Elmes and Merren Simmonds with MC Rod Downey.
    2000 Johnsonville ‘Black & White Annual’ Dance—with the floor full of sets. Former Johnsonville Club member and tutor Margaret Bailey (now Allison) is on the left coming up the middle of the set. Her late husband John Bailey is in the couple behind. Former Johnsonville Club President Catherine MacAulay stands at the right of the top set. Johnsonville Club Tutor Rod Downey is at the left of the photo.

    I spent 2003-2004 in Tanzania with Volunteer Service Abroad (VSA); an amazing opportunity for wonderful wildlife and landscape photos. In 2004, I got my first digital camera, a Lumix DMC-FX1 which had a small zoom lens; great for capturing wild animals but not so good for photographing birds (which I was increasingly passionate about.) The size of the images was just 3 megapixels, compared to the 12 megapixel photos available on many mobile phones nowadays!

    Although there wasn’t any Scottish Country Dancing available in Tanzania, I still had the opportunity to dance occasionally. Here I am dancing with Maasai women at a friend’s family celebration. I handed my camera to the driver who took us out to my friend’s home in the grasslands in northern Tanzania. He enjoyed taking some great shots!

    2004 Dancing with Maasai women in northern Tanzania

    A digital single-lens-reflex camera: A boon for better photographs

    My photography of both dancing and birds took off when I got my first digital single-lens camera in 2008; a Panasonic Lumix with a small zoom lens. Being able to take clearer and close-up photos was a revelation.

    As this camera produced higher-quality images of dancing, I recorded more and more events for Johnsonville Club along with other celebrations throughout the RSCDS Wellington Region.

    Hogmanays

    Welcoming in the New Year with toe-tapping music and fine dancing at a Hogmanay is a special celebration for Scottish Country Dancers.

    2008 Johnsonville dancers at Hogmanay at Onslow College – Désirée Patterson at the left, Kristin Downey with John Homes behind her, Joanne, Rod Downey and Selwyn
    2010 Johnsonville Club hosted Hogmanay in Newlands Centennial Hall
    2010 Hogmanay – Acting Region President Bernice Kelly, Piper Ross Edwards, MC Rod Downey & First Foot Chris Totton

    See other Memories of celebrating Hogmanay in Wellington from 2006-2018 including more from the 2008 and 2010 celebrations above.

    New Dancers’ Celebrations

    New Dancers’ Celebrations welcome new dancers to the wider Scottish Country Dancing community, with experienced dancers attending in support.

    In 2013, Johnsonville Club hosted this event at the Newlands Centennial Hall which was decorated with the newly produced club bunting along the walls.

    2013 New Dancer’s Celebration. Johnsonville dancers Debbie, Lee and Shelley who helped at the bunting bee, are dancing in the top set

    See my memories of New Dancers’ Celebrations since 2013 plus photos from Johnsonville Club archives

    Tributes to those who have contributed to Scottish Country Dancing in Wellington

    The archive of photos Johnsonville photographers have produced over the years provides a visual history of those who have made major contributions to dancing in the Region or who are no longer with us.

    Click the links below to see more about some of these dancers and musicians:

    2022 Kelburn’s Farewell Kelburn Club held its final dance on 19 June, closing after more than sixty years. John Gregory was presented with a Tribute from the Region to mark his enormous contribution to dancing.

    2022 Barbara Kent: 30 years at Johnsonville Club

    2021 Bernice Kelly, President of the RSCDS Wellington Region from 2005-2010

    2019 Tribute to Maureen Robson A special Region dance on 7 December paid tribute to Maureen who retired after teaching Tawa Club for 38 years.

    Peter Elmes with his button accordion

    2018 A photo history of musician Peter Elmes and his band from 1990-2018

    Peter Elmes played a special role in the musical history of Johnsonville Club

    2018 Tribute to Peter Elmes On 24 November, a Region tribute dance marked Peter’s retirement from playing his beloved button accordion for Scottish Country Dancing.

    2017 A Tribute to Betty Redfearn Betty was tutor at Kelburn for 46 years until her retirement in 2015.

    The joy of special Scottish Country Dancing occasions

    I got my current camera, a Nikon D7200, together with a great zoom lens in 2015. With this camera I can get wonderful shots of birds…as well as continuing to photograph special dancing events in the Region.

    2021 Wellington Region 60th Anniversary Ball A fine dinner and dance to commemorate 60 years of the Wellington District Branch of the New Zealand Scottish Country Dance Society.

    2021 Ngaio 50th Anniversary As a member of Ngaio Club from 1990-1992, I was thrilled the club asked me (along with John Patterson) to take photos at this celebration, another evening filled with the joy of fun and friendship.

    John Patterson snapped me across the hall (again, with my camera around my neck) watching Doug Sinclair piping in the 50th Ngaio Anniversary cake carried by past President Margaret Pitt.

    2018 NZ Branch 50th Anniversary Ball at Government House With swirling kilts and fabulous colours of the ballgowns, this evening proved a grand celebration with a welcome from The Governor General, The Rt Hon Dame Patsy Reddy.

    2018 The ‘official’ photographer at the RSCDS NZ Branch Ball. Photo: Bill Douglas

    I also shared an article about a photographer’s view of the Branch 50th Ball—how the smiles of the dancers, their laughter and the fun had by all made photographing the event an enjoyable assignment.

    2016 Johnsonville Club 50 Golden Years Celebration A significant occasion for our club.

    See all about this grand event and the photos taken by me and fellow Johnsonville Club photographer John Patterson

    2016 Johnsonville 50 Golden Years Celebration. I’m photographing a trio of Presidents cutting the 50th Anniversary cake – RSCDS Wellington Branch President Philippa Pointon, RSCDS New Zealand Branch President David Williamson and Johnsonville Club President Kristin Downey. Photo: John Patterson
    2016 With a presentation from Johnsonville Club for the communications work I’d done for the 50 Golden Years Celebration – photography, design and developing the club website

    2014 Wellington Region 1920s Ball An elegant evening of dancing in a beautifully decorated ballroom to celebrate the decade in which the RSCDS was formed.

    To make sure I occasionally get a photo of me dancing, I sometimes hand my camera over to someone on the side-line, asking them to get some shots, like the one below.

    2014 Region 1920s Ball. I am dancing with Johnsonville Club members John Homes and Rod and Kristin Downey.

    2012 Wellington Region Diamond Jubilee Ball This Ball at Government House celebrated the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth ll. The Governor General Lt. Gen The Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae and Lady Janine welcomed us and joined in some of the dancing. The smiles of the dancers, their laughter and the fun had by all made photographing the event an enjoyable activity.

    Lady Janine and Sir Jerry Mateparae joined in the dance with RSCDS NZ Branch President Fiona Bullivant and Lesley Nicol. Current Johnsonville member and guest tutor Jeanette Watson is dancing in 4th man’s position in the set.

    Continuing to make memories…

    I’m still working hard to get good photos of birds. Although dancers move around, I’m more likely to anticipate where they’re going than for birds which flit around or simply fly off!

    Photographing a wee toutouwai (North Island robin) at Zealandia Ecosanctuary in Wellington
    Doug Mills, Nicole Trewavas, Andrew Oliver and Andrea Wells dancing a poussette in The Flower of Glasgow at the Wellington Region Hogmanay on 31 December 2021. New Zealand Scottish Country Dancer 2022, Volume 69.

    There’s nothing quite like photographing the joy of Scottish Country Dancing; attempting to catch the moment dancers smile to their partner or across the set, and covering well. As shown in my photo on the cover of the New Zealand Scottish Country Dancer 2022, Volume 69.

    My plan is to continue recording dancing celebrations and tributes, so we can easily reflect on the fun we’ve had and the friendships made.

    Loralee Hyde
    30 August 2022

    Annual Dance Traditions

    What makes our annual dances so special?

    Many small customs and traditions, when added together, create a night that is special to us in all sorts of ways.

    First – the night

    It’s always on a Saturday night, a traditional Kiwi ‘night out’. Well into the 20th century, Saturday was pay day for most New Zealand workers, and Saturday night was entertainment time for those with the money and the inclination.

    That Saturday night tradition has continued since Johnsonville’s first annual dance held at Onslow College hall in 1968.

    The programme and the MC

    Johnsonville tutors put an emphasis on programmes that are accessible and enjoyable for everyone, and bring their enthusiasm and love of dancing and dancers to the role of MC. Special indeed.

    Tutor Rod Downey as MC at the Johnsonville 50 Golden Years Celebration in 2016 Photo: Loralee Hyde

    Looking back over past programmes, you can see dances falling in and out of fashion, but some have remained popular since those early days.

    For example, the 1969 Annual Dance programme included dances we still do at club today, such as Duke of Perth, Wild Geese, Cadgers in the Canongate and more.

    The supper – big and bountiful

    Since that first annual dance in 1968, a good supper has been important, keeping spirits high, and toes a-tapping till the last dance. The club’s 1968 minute book records:

    supper perfect – same next year but only 12 of sand. instead of 20 dozen. (sandwiches)

    130 people attended, but clearly even they could not consume 20 dozen sandwiches, on top of everything else on offer. There’s no full list of that year’s supper, but you can see a full list of the incredible amount of food served at the 1969 annual dance.

    Supper Co-ordinator Elizabeth Ngan laying out the supper at the 2019 Johnsonville/Capital City Annual Dance. Photo: Loralee Hyde

    Fruit salad – we love it

    I’m not sure when fruit salad started to be part of the supper offerings, but it’s definitely there to stay – we do love a refreshing fruit salad, with a little jelly and cream. We may even love it a little more these days, with jelly no longer such a regular part of our lives.

    Colourful fruit salad in the ‘jewel bowls’ at the 2012 Johnsonville Annual Dance. Photo: John Patterson

    Tartan – the more the better

    In the early days the dance floor was filled with men in kilts, and women in white dresses and a tartan sash. There are not so many tartan sashes around now, but still enough tartan to bring Scotland to the dance floor.

    Adding tartan rugs to the walls and stage reinforce that Scottish atmosphere, and since 1988, Johnsonville club’s cheerful red tartan tablecloths have beckoned us to the supper tables.

    The Pièce de résistance is the club’s tartan bunting, conceived of by our 2013 beginners. They moved swiftly from concept to bunting bee, producing strings of bunting in time for the 2013 annual dance. Somehow, as soon as the bunting goes up, it feels like a celebration.

    Members of the Johnsonville ‘bunting bee’ group who made the lovely club bunting in 2013 – Debbie, Deborah, Lee, Joan and Allison. Photo: Pat Reesby

    Live music – we love that too

    Lastly, and very importantly, the club has a long history of live music at annual dances. The first reference to live music at an annual dance (that I’ve managed to find), is to ‘Mesdames McIntyre and McGowan, and Mr McIntyre’ at the 1971 Annual Dance, then to Hugh McKenna in 1974.

    From that beginning, the club’s enthusiasm for live music has made it a matter of course at our annual dances, with an extra special 5-piece band for the club’s 50 Golden Years Annual Dance in 2016.

    Fabulous toe-tapping music from Lynne Scott, Don McKay, Hilary Ferral, Peter Elmes and Aileen Logie. Photo: John Patterson

    Our Annual Dance is the highlight of the club year, and we aim to keep it that way. We’re especially fortunate to have club photographers and videographers who record all the fun on the night, giving us the pleasure of reliving good times past.

    Kristin Downey
    18 August 2022

    Connections to Kelburn Club

    Johnsonville longest-standing members

    Kelburn’s Farewell Dance on Sunday 20 June started me thinking about club history, and reminded me that Johnsonville’s longest-standing members also have links to Kelburn Club.

    It’s a nice opportunity to find out more about those members who have danced at Johnsonville for so many years, and also recognise the inter-connectedness of the Wellington Scottish Country Dancing community.

    There are four current members who have been dancing at Johnsonville Club since the 1980s. Elizabeth Rendell, John Markham and John Homes all joined the club in 1981, and Aline Holden as she was then (now Homes) joined in 1982.

    One way or another they all have connections to Kelburn Club.

    A number of Johnsonville dancers including long-standing member John Homes, dancing Wild Mountain Thyme at a Tribute to Betty Redfearn (a former tutor at Kelburn Club) in June 2017

    John Markham’s first experience of Scottish country dancing was at Kelburn, having gone along as a spectator in 1969, and been ‘dragged up’ (John’s words) by original Kelburn tutor, Mirth Smallwood

    ‘Going to the races’ at the 1983 Summer School in Wellington: Mirth Smallwood, Mairi-Helen Jamieson, Elizabeth Ferguson (a tutor at Lower Hutt), Kath Burn (former tutor at Lower Hutt) and Carol Smith (tutor at the now disbanded Wellington Club)

    Read Mirth’s obituary in Harbour City Happenings Volume 7 No. 5, November 2004

    Elizabeth Rendell started her dancing as a teenager at the Wainuiomata Club in 1965, then danced at Kelburn Club before moving to Johnsonville in 1981.

    John Homes danced at Kelburn Club in the early 1970s, with tutor Betty Redfearn, before moving to Johnsonville in 1981. He met Aline when she joined Johnsonville Club in 1982, and they went on to marry in 1986.

    Wellington Tutors at the1993 Wellington Region Top Event

    The teachers in the photo above are:
    Back row: Iain Boyd, Margaret Laidlaw, Romaine Butterfield, Rita Brennan, Margaret Allison (Bailey), Edith Campbell, Hilda Brodie (Smith), Kath Burn, Maureen Robson, Damon Collin, Dave Macfarlane, Mirth Smallwood, Barbara Gill, Elizabeth Ferguson, Val Jenness, Gary Morris, Marie Malcolm, Alma Secker, Glenys Mills, Noeline O’Connor, Ian Simmonds, Raynor Stratford.
    Front row: Betty Redfearn, Norm Whitson, Carol Smith, Annette Zuppicich

    Find out more about Kelburn Club’s history from 1959-1984 in this brochure

    Kristin Downey
    16 June 2022

    Photos: Loralee Hyde

    Barbara Kent: 30 years at Johnsonville Club

    Friends and fellow dancers heard the sad news that Barbara Kent passed away on Friday 25 February in her 89th year. She will be missed by many in the Wellington Region, and farther afield.

    Barbara was part of the Wellington Scottish Country dance community dating from the 1960s. She loved her dancing and contributed a great deal to the community, while preferring to keep a low profile.

    Barbara danced at (the now dis-established) Wellington Club, and at Lower Hutt Club before coming to Johnsonville, where she was a member for around 30 years. Her earliest recorded membership is in 1973, and she was still recorded as a member in 2002. In later years she was a long-standing member of Tawa Club.

    Barbara at the right with (from left) Peter Beaumont, Peter Elmes, Loralee Hyde and Kath Ledingham in 2002.
    Barbara enjoying dancing in 2002. In the set at the rear, Johnsonville Life Members Isla and Eric Norris are dancing. Tutor Rod Downey is at the front right. Photo: Loralee Hyde

    I don’t have much information on Barbara’s earlier years, but in 2017, Désirée Patterson, interviewed Barbara for her Tawa Club Life Membership award. You can read about Barbara’s fascinating life, in the June 2017 issue of Wellington Region newsletter Harbour City Happenings

    Barbara second from the right with Tawa tutors at the Tawa Club 60th Anniversary in 2018. Photo: John Patterson

    As part of Barbara’s job with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, she was posted overseas on multiple occasions, and danced wherever she went. In the 1972 NZ Scottish Country Dancer magazine Barbara wrote an article News from Paris, where she described dancing with the Le Chardon d’Ecosse (the thistle of Scotland) group.

    However, her trips weren’t only for work. In 1979 she joined a group of 36 dancers on a trip to Canada (described in full in the 1980 NZ Scottish Country Dancer magazine).

    NZ dancers including Barbara on a trip to Canada. Photo: 1980 NZ Scottish Country Dancer p5

    Barbara was part of a Māori performance item at the 1979 Oktoberfest at Kitchener/ Waterloo. As Scottish Country dancers, they ‘found a compromise (with Māori approval) by wearing a Māori type sash and headband with white frocks and shirts’, and were well received.

    Photo: 1980 NZ Scottish Country Dancer p7

    In amongst all her travel, Barbara found time to support Johnsonville Club both as a tutor and a member of the committee. She was club tutor in 1985 and part of 1986, took beginners’ classes in 1991, 93, 94 and 1996, and was a relieving tutor through the late 1980s and early 1990s.

    In 1976 her role as president was cut short, when she was posted to Moscow, but she returned as a committee member from 1978-79, and then served a part year as president again in 1980, and was back on the committee in 1991.

    1991 was the year Rod and I started dancing, and we really enjoyed our time in Barbara’s beginners’ class. In those days beginners were initially taught in a separate room in Johnsonville School until supper time, then joined experienced dancers in the hall for the rest of the night.

    As beginning dancers, Barbara prepared us well. Her encouraging manner and graceful style paired well with her strong technique and clarity of instruction. For some reason my abiding memory is of her teaching hands across, getting us to understand the elegance and precision of the formation as opposed to muddling through with hands everywhere and anywhere.

    1991 Johnsonville Bad Taste Evening – Kath Ledingham & David Holland at the front with Kristin & Rod Downey behind. Barbara is standing at the right. Photo: Loralee Hyde

    When Johnsonville held its 50 Golden Years celebration in 2016, Barbara’s health did not permit her to dance, but we were very pleased she accepted the club’s invitation to be part of our celebration of those past members who contributed so much to the club.

    Barbara at the right with Ian Simmonds at Rod Downey’s 40th in 1997, where Peter Elmes and John Smith played for some Scottish Country Dancing. Photo: Loralee Hyde
    2016 Johnsonville 50th Celebration Grand March. Barbara is at the left with former Club President Catherine MacAulay. Photo: Loralee Hyde
    2016 Johnsonville 50th Celebration – John Munro, club secretary at the time, presents a golden polyanthus to Barbara Kent for her contribution as a former club tutor. Photo: John Patterson
    2016 Johnsonville 50th Celebration – Barbara third from the right with club members from the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. Photo: Loralee Hyde
    In her 86th year, Barbara looks on as Maureen Robson receives a Wellington Region Award at the Maureen Robson Tribute Dance in 2019. Photo: Loralee Hyde

    Johnsonville Club remembers Barbara for her commitment to dancing, her support of the club and its members, and her many achievements. As her family expressed it in the Family Notices in the DomPost on Wednesday 2 March – A full life well lived and enjoyed.

    Barbara’s family also thanked Malvina Major Village (among others) for their care of Barbara. Unit #9 was Barbara’s home over the last few years, and she told me she was quite tickled to have followed in the footsteps of Ngaio dancers Frieda and Murray Allardice who themselves followed Johnsonville Life Members Isla and Eric Norris in making #9 their home.

    Kristin Downey
    President
    3 March 2022

    Tartan Tablecloths: Five plus One

    Having shared the story of the club’s tartan bunting, I feel honour bound to also tell the tale of the club’s tartan tablecloths.

    Our tartan tablecloths form an appealing backdrop to Johnsonville’s delectable suppers – here at the 2018 October Tartan Night. Photo: John Patterson

    The Five Originals

    The club’s collection of five cheery, red tartan tablecloths has been around much longer than the tartan bunting.

    Honorary Life Members Isla and Eric Norris (and their daughter Gaye) presented the tablecloths to the club as a donation in 1988, and they have been part of hospitality at club events ever since.

    Eric and Isla had a long history with the club, first being recorded as members in 1968, and retiring from dancing in their 90s – their last recorded membership at Johnsonville was in 2003. For at least 20 years, Isla and Eric also served tea to club members at supper time. 

    Club minutes from 21 June 1988 are full of decision making for celebrations of Johnsonville Club’s 25th Anniversary as a community group. (Previously dancers were part of the St Columba Presbyterian church Friendship Club).

    In amongst confirming Peter Elmes as musician for the Special Club Night celebration on 27 June, and realising there would be no cake (!) as the club’s cake baker was going overseas, the minutes record:

    Isla Norris has made up a set of table covers for use at dances, and she and Eric are presenting them to the club for its 25th Anniversary. A letter of thanks to be sent.

    A correction at the next committee meeting on 26 July clarifies that:

    The tablecloths were from all three Norrises, including Gaye.

    The tablecloths would have made many an appearance in that year of celebration in 1988 – at the  (cake-less) Special Club Night on 27 June, the Annual Dance on 9 July, the Special S-themed Party Night on 3 October, and then the Final Night on 9 November.

    Isla and Eric’s wish that the tablecloths be used at dances has been fulfilled many times over since 1988. As the photos below show, the tablecloths create a colourful and cheery presence at Tartan Nights, Annual Dances, Summer Ceilidhs, Midwinter Dinners and special events such as the club’s 50 Golden Years Celebration in 2016.

    Kristin’s 50th in 2006 at a Johnsonville Club Night. Photo: Loralee Hyde (who also made the cake!)
    Fruit salad in the ‘jewel bowls’ at the 2012 Annual Dance, with Elizabeth Ngan busy laying out the supper in the background. Photo: John Patterson
    Laying out supper at the 2015 Johnsonville Annual Dance. Photo: Loralee Hyde
    The tartan tablecloths add to the ‘brightness’ at the Club’s Bright Midwinter’s Night dinner in 2016. Photo: Loralee Hyde
    Setting up the tartan bunting above the supper tables covered with tartan tablecloths at the Johnsonville 50 Golden Years Celebration in 2016. Photo: John Patterson
    Tartan tablecloths on display at Johnsonville’s Dance Around the World dinner in 2019. Photo: John Patterson
    Supper Co-ordinator Elizabeth Ngan laying out the supper at the 2019 Johnsonville/Capital City Annual Dance. Photo: Loralee Hyde
    The last supper we had at Johnsonville School Hall at the 2019 Tartan & Final Night. Photo: Loralee Hyde

    Plus One More

    More recently another tablecloth has joined the collection. In 2016, her first year with the club as a new dancer, Liz Hands donated a blue and green tartan tablecloth, bringing numbers up to six – perfect for Midwinter Dinners. Originally bought for family dining at a refectory size table, Liz no longer had use for it when she downsized.

    Aileen giving the ‘Address to a Haggis’ (with the haggis displayed on the sixth tartan cloth!) at the 2021 Johnsonville Summer Ceilidh. Photo: Désirée Patterson

    Kristin Downey
    25 November 2021

    The Tale of the Tartan Bunting

    In 2013, the club’s tartan bunting joined the club’s tartan tablecloths in being indispensable to any club occasion. The bunting transforms any hall from drab to festive, bringing colour and excitement to our events, photos, and videos.

    Club members and guests enjoy the dance Texas Progressive Threesome at our 2020 summer ceilidh at the Johnsonville Bowling Club, with the bright tartan bunting to the fore!

    How did the bunting come to be?

    The first bunting bee

    2013 was a bumper year for new dancers at Johnsonville, and it was also the club’s turn to organise the New Dancers’ Celebration. The bunting was the brainchild of new dancers Debbie Cooper and Lee Fraser, as a way to decorate Newlands Centennial Hall for that occasion, and for the club to use into the future.

    Debbie took the lead, collecting unwanted tartan or plain fabric from club members, some of us scoured the op-shops for more, and Pete’s Emporium supplied the rest. The call was put out for pinking shears and volunteers, and many club members answered the call.

    Pat Reesby held an open house, where people could come and wield the pinking shears to cut out triangular pennants, ready for the sewing team. Her diary from that time lists members Jean Denne, Joan Clayton, Kristin Downey  and Shirley Kalogeropoulos as potential pinkers.

    Joan was also on the sewing team, together with new dancers Allison Kay, Deborah Shuker, Shelley Hancock, and Debbie and Lee. The bunting bee took place at Ngaio Tennis Club rooms, where Debbie and Lee were members. Deborah S remembers an ‘evening at Ngaio Tennis Club rooms (with) two machines at least and cutters, pinners and material guiders to the machinists’.

    Members of the Johnsonville ‘bunting bee’ group who made the lovely club bunting in 2013 – Debbie, Deborah, Lee, Joan and Allison. Photo: Pat Reesby

    The bunting is launched

    On the afternoon of 19 October 2013, club members met to decorate Newlands Centennial Hall for the New Dancers’ Celebration. There were pot plants, tartan rugs, saltires, and tartan tablecloths on the supper tables, but the star of the show was the new tartan bunting.

    The hall looked fantastic, and a great night was had by all. You can see the bunting in close-up at the start of Pat Reesby’s video of The Illabo Rant, as well as the happy crowd.

    The bunting along the walls at the 2013 New Dancers’ Celebration. Debbie, Lee and Shelley who helped at the bunting bee, are dancing in the top set

    We ended up with an unexpectedly large turnout on the night, as we agreed to host the medal presentation for juniors, with family members in attendance.

    From then on the bunting became a standard feature of club events, next appearing at Kristin and Rod’s house for the club’s first ever Summer Ceilidh in February 2014.

    At Johnsonville Club’s first summer ceilidh on 1 February 2014, John Markham gave a humorous recitation of the The Lion and Albert, with the bunting on display behind him.

    The bunting made every Tartan night at Johnsonville School hall a special night, and added enormously to the atmosphere of every Annual Dance from 2014 onwards – see Pat’s video of The Robertson Rant from our 2014 Annual dance.

    Volunteers setting-up the bunting at the 2019 Johnsonville & Capital City Shared Annual Dance at Ngaio Town Hall

    More bunting is needed …

    Fast forward to 2016, and the club’s celebration of 50 Golden Years of association with the worldwide network of RSCDS dancers. Karori Recreation Centre was chosen to accommodate what we hoped would be a big crowd of dancers, and the space was HUGE.

    So of course, we needed more bunting! Club secretary John Munro rallied club members to the cause, beginning with the club newsletter of 12 April 2016:

    ‘Step forward for the Bunting bee. We’re aiming to have a full complement of tartan bunting ready to decorate the hall for our 50th anniversary dance in August. Didn’t it look great on Tartan Night!’

    The next week he confirmed that:

    ‘The Queen Bee is summoning the workers for Thurs 19 May and/or Sat 21 May. On these days the ‘bunting co-ordinator’ Janet McFadden has Open House between 10am and 4pm for bunting construction. Prior donations of tartan/plaid/plain coloured fabric are extremely welcome.’

    Then on 18 May:

    ‘Bring pinking shears if you have them and beaver away with a cheerful group. All participants will be members of the Illustrious Order of the Bunting Bee, which has been dignified with a fine dance devised by Rod Downey.’

    Ready for 50 Golden Years

    And finally on 25 May John reported:

    ‘Now we are well supplied with extra bunting to decorate Karori Recreation Centre for our big dance on 20 August. Many thanks to: Janet McFadden, Deborah Shuker, Liz Hands, Joan Clayton, Moira Scott, Prisilla Conroy, Kristin Downey.’

    And so a generous expanse of bunting adorned our ‘big dance’, with around 150 dancers, a 5-piece band led by Peter Elmes, five pipers and a drummer from the City of Wellington Pipe Band, and a demonstration set from Newtown Juniors. What a spectacle it was, and how perfect to be surrounded by our tartan bunting.

    The Club bunting made by volunteers from our membership formed a fine connection to our Scottish heritage at the Johnsonville 50 Golden Years celebration in 2016

    Kristin Downey
    18 November 2021

    All photos by Loralee Hyde except where stated.

    Note: The club also holds a small string of beautifully sewn and finished tartan bunting, donated by Lieschen Bayvel in 2016. As John Munro wrote:

    It will be perfect to grace our midwinter dinner and our 50th celebration dinner. Lieschen Bayvel is a friend of Janet McFadden, both members of a longstanding quilting group. When Lieschen heard that Janet was looking to borrow pinking shears for the bunting bee, she went a whole lot better and donated some bunting already made up.

    As you can see, her name is not very Scottish, but her recently deceased husband was Scottish and she thought it would be appropriate to donate the bunting to our Scottish Country Dancing club. Thank you Lieschen.

    2021 Club Service Awards

    To members in recognition of service

    This year at the AGM the committee was pleased to recognise the work that often flies under the radar – that of hall setup and pack-up.

    Most often, service awards go to those who hold a formal position in the club, or perform a service which is highly visible in some way.

    This year, the committee chose to recognise the service of three members who fly under the radar.

    None of these members holds a formal committee position, but each of them makes a regular and ongoing contribution to the club, with no fuss, no bother, no expectation of recognition, and a great attitude of service to our club community.

    This year the committee took pleasure in recognising the contributions of the following club members, who have made substantial and ongoing commitments to the set-up and pack-up of the hall, before and after club nights.

    Lizzie at the back right starts hall pack-up near the end of a club night in October 2021 while very experienced members enjoy dancing Peter Elmes’ Strathspey

    Tomoko Burden

    Tomoko has been with the club since 2013, when she and husband Charles, came along to the club’s beginners’ classes.

    For many years now, Tomoko has been part of the team of people who stays till the end of every club night, to help pack up the hall – first at Johnsonville School Hall, then Johnsonville Bowling Club, and now at Khandallah Town Hall.

    This is not a formally appointed team, it’s not rostered, it’s made up of people who see the need and step in. From 2017-2019 there were also formally rostered teams of volunteers to cover pack-up (when Rod and I were overseas for extended periods), and Tomoko’s name was always on the list.

    Tomoko works quietly in the background, always looking out for what needs doing, helping out when she can, ensuring there are plenty of hands to share the work of packing up. Thank you Tomoko, your practical support for the club over many years is very much appreciated.

    Wendy Donald

    Wendy already had a long history as a Scottish Country dancer when she joined the club in 2019. She was so keen to dance with us, that she joined in the fun at the Summer Ceilidh before the dancing year started.

    Wendy is one of the dancers who has danced at three different club venues since she joined, and has always been an early bird, arriving before dancing begins. Soon after joining us in 2019 for her first year at Johnsonville School hall, Wendy was asking what she could do to help with hall set-up, and so she began.

    With the move to Johnsonville Bowling Club, helping with set-up translated into a lot of furniture moving! Wendy (working with fellow early-bird Robert Vale), moved countless chairs and tables on and off the dance floor during our 2020 year of dancing at the Bowling Club, and again this year when we returned there to dance during Level 2.

    Wendy has continued to arrive early and help with hall set-up at Khandallah Town Hall, doing whatever needs doing, working alongside committee members who also arrive early. Thank you Wendy, the willing work you put in makes a big difference, and we appreciate it.

    Lizzie Tan

    Lizzie is the most recent club member to be recognised this year, joining the club following beginners’ classes at the Bowling Club in 2020. She is an enthusiastic dancer, and has joined fully in the life of the club from the beginning, attending classes, and bringing her husband PK along to social events.

    Despite all the interruptions to dancing over the last two years, Lizzie has kept on coming back, and from early on has stayed to watch the more experienced dancers in the latter part of the night.

    Seeing the need, Lizzie became part of the furniture-moving crew at the Bowling Club, starting to pack up while the very experienced enjoyed the final dance of the night. She has continued helping with pack-up at Khandallah Town Hall, staying till the very end to help carry out bags to the car, before heading home herself.

    While Lizzie is not the member who travels the farthest to be with us, she does have a fair distance to drive home to Porirua – more so since we moved from Johnsonville to Khandallah. But she still stays on till the end, bringing her enthusiasm to the task. Thank you Lizzie.

    Photos: Loralee Hyde

    Sharing the fun of dancing in the community

    Johnsonville Club members are often out and about in the community—sharing the fun and friendship of Scottish Country Dancing. In the past, this has included taking part in demonstrations as part of groups who danced in at retirement homes or in schools, or through current members participating in a variety of community events.

    The first photos I took of members’ participation in the community was in 1998 when a group of new dancers from that year, including Kristin and Rod Downey’s children, Carlton and Alex, danced in a demonstration at the Newlands Baptist Church.

    Carlton dancing with Joan and Tamara, with Rod and musician Peter Elmes at the back left corner. Photo: Loralee Hyde
    Adeline, Alex, Mabel and Margaret dancing at the front of the set. Photo: Loralee Hyde

    More recently, our archive of historical photos taken by various members, brings back memories of those who used to dance with us at Johnsonville, as well as providing a record of those who dance with us now.

    When former club member Pat Reesby’s grandchildren were at Ngaio School, a group of dancers from various clubs enjoyed showing the joy of dancing to the students, with some of them joining in!

    Pat Reesby, Elizabeth Ngan and Désirée Patterson from Johnsonville Club danced with children at Ngaio School in 2014. Photo supplied by Pat.
    Johnsonville members who took part in a demonstration at Ngaio School in 2016 included Désirée Patterson and Elizabeth Ngan in the centre and Pat Reesby at the right. Photo supplied by Pat.

    World Rugby Sevens Parades

    When the World Rugby Sevens teams used to play in Wellington, the associated street parades provided a wonderful opportunity for dancers from around the Wellington Region to support the Scottish team and join in the fun of these popular parades.

    In the Johnsonville Club newsletter on 12 February 2014, Secretary Pat Reesby wrote:

    “Jean Denne, John Munro, Désirée Patterson and I all took part in the Sevens parade last Wednesday. We led the Scottish team, and John Patterson took a photo of us with them (see photo below).

    “Others in the photo are Elaine Lethbridge and Mary and Duncan Macdonald. Iain Boyd is holding the RSCDS Wellington Region banner on the left, and Allan Forsyth (from the Association of Scots Societies) the one on the right.”

    The group of Region dancers supporting the Scottish team in 2014. Photo: John Patterson
    Désirée Patterson and former Club Secretary John Munro just behind the drummer in the 2014 World Rugby Sevens parade. Photo: 111 Emergency

    In 2015, members of Johnsonville, Tawa, Kelburn, and Island Bay Clubs took part in the parade.

    The 2015 Sevens parade with Todd Foster carrying the flag of Scotland, with Kristin behind the wee chap. Photo: Loralee Hyde
    At the right: Kristin, Deborah Shuker and Rowena. Photo: Loralee Hyde
    Johnsonville members in the group of Region dancers in 2015 who paraded in support of the Scottish team,  included Désirée Patterson, Jennifer Timmings, Deborah Shuker, Kristin Downey, Jean Denne and Todd Foster. Photo: John Patterson

    Through our Johnsonville Club website, we now have easy access to details about our more recent participation in community events.

    Fun at Newlands Marae: 2015

    The club took part in Neighbours’ Day 2015 at the Newlands Marae, Ngā Hau e Whā o Paparārangi, sharing the experience of dancing with audience members.

    Johnsonville dancers in tartan added to the colour of Neighbours Day 2015, and encouraged audience members to join in in some fun, easy dances. Photo: Pat Reesby

    See more about Neighbours’ Day 2015

    A visit to Karori Brownies: 2018

    A further community event involving children was a visit to Karori Brownies in 2018. It all came about when the Brownie leader spotted a Johnsonville Club Beginners’ Poster in a shop window in Karori and got in touch with us.

    Rod teaching The Kingston Flyer to the Brownies. Photo: Pat Reesby

    Find out more about our visit to Karori Brownies

    Pipes in the Park: 2021

    Held in brilliant Wellington weather at Waitangi Park in February, Pipes in the Park was a day of piping, highland dancing, Irish dancing, clan and food stalls – and of course some Scottish Country Dancing.

    Scottish Country Dancing at Pipes in the Park 2021 with Johnsonville member and tutor Jeanette Watson at the left. Photo: Maddy Schafer

    Let’s look forward to more fun and laughter of dancing at community events in the future!

    Loralee Hyde
    27 October 2021