Category Archives: Our Club

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

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

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.

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

Neighbours’ Day 2015: Fun at Newlands Marae

In 2014, the club was looking around for a venue for our second summer ceilidh, having grown too large in number to continue dancing at Kristin and Rod’s place (where the first Johnsonville summer ceilidh was held).

Amongst many other places I visited, was Newlands Marae, Ngā Hau e Whā o Paparārangi. It turned out not to be suitable for our ceilidh, but a connection had been made. So when it came time for the marae to celebrate Neighbours’ Day, they got in touch to invite us to participate.

Ngā Hau e Whā o Paparārangi

Neighbours’ Day is all about connections within communities, and across cultural groups, and it seemed like a good thing to be involved in. The theme for 2015 was ‘the young and the elderly’, and at the time we could offer both!

Newlands Community Centre helped with organisation, and promoted the event:

Mark your calendars now for Neighbours Day 2015. This year Newlands Community Centre and Ngā Hau e Wha o Paparārangi (NHEWOP) are organising a neighbourly event for our community on Saturday 28 March, 1 – 4pm at NHEWOP marae. There will be activities and entertainment for young and old including Scottish Country dancing, kapa haka, face painting, bouncy castles, sports activities, hāngī and much much more! Come along and meet your neighbours and have fun!

The plan was for the pōwhiri to take place at 1pm, and for us to dance outside on the grass at 2pm. However, the rain changed all that, and we danced inside instead, which was a little cramped but it made for a cosy atmosphere.

Around two sets of Johnsonville members came along, ranging from longstanding dancers to some of our new dancers (Sarah and Josh), who’d only been dancing for a month or two.

We starting with a demonstration of The Robertson Rant (video from the club’s 2014 Annual Dance), and the ever-popular The De’il Amang the Tailors (video from Wellington’s 2016-2017 Hogmanay, with plenty of Johnsonville members and past members).

The day was all about sharing the experience with the community, so we moved on to some easy dances that everyone could enjoy – our very newest dancers and audience members alike. The Kingston Flyer (video from the 2013 New Dancers’ Celebration, organised by Johnsonville), and Rod’s dance Room One both made for a lot of laughter (as in this video from Johnsonville’s 2015 Bright Midwinter’s Night).

Pat Reesby, who was club secretary at the time, wrote in the club newsletter of 1 April 2015:

“Last Saturday at the marae in Ladbrooke Grove was great fun. We demonstrated The Robertson Rant and De’il Amang the Tailors and then encouraged people to join in The Kingston Flyer and Room One. Here are some photos (thanks to John Munro for taking one of them).

By the way, the ‘fairy’ is Marie Thomson 1 of the New Players of Newlands, and talking with her reminded me that when I worked for Kapi-Mana News back in the 1980s I used to review their plays and pantomimes.”

Click through the arrows at the bottom of the photo gallery below to see the fun we had participating at the Neighbours’ Day celebration in 2015. All photos by Pat Reesby except where stated.

So, a good time was had by all. And some of us went home with gifts of plants from the Newlands Community Gardens. The cabbage trees we received are looking good, and our white kākā beak is struggling on in the Newlands wind.

Kristin Downey
7 October 2021

  1. Marie was a fantastically larger than life Newlands personality, who passed away at the end of 2016.[]

Loralee Hyde: Memories of New Dancers’ Celebrations

Johnsonville dancers at these special events from 2013

Members of Johnsonville Club make the most of opportunities to participate in Wellington Region events, joining other dancers at weekend schools, balls, Hogmanays, New Dancers’ Celebrations, demonstrations and classes.

The New Dancers’ Celebration is a special event for those who have started dancing in the past two years, with more experienced dancers coming along as support.

My perusal of the Region’s publication Harbour City Happenings through the early 2000s didn’t result in finding much about New Dancers’ Celebrations in those years, other than perhaps a paragraph in the President’s Column about the dance coming up or occasionally a programme.

Nowadays, Harbour City Happenings is a wonderful source of historical information with contributions from dancers around the Region about events and those who organised them, developed and MC’d the programmes, and provided the music for us to dance to.

Armed with a better camera from 2013, I have a selection of photos from New Dancers’ Celebrations I’ve attended since then. At other times, various Johnsonville dancers have added their photos to the collection.

As part of the Johnsonville 50 Golden Years Celebration, the club developed a website in 2016. Since then we have developed a fine historical record of many Region events, both through articles and photos contributed by members.

Taken together, the available articles in Harbour City Happenings and on our website, and our photographic records provide a valuable snapshot of the fun and friendship we’ve had at New Dancers’ Celebrations.

Click on the year below to find out about the New Dancers’ Celebration for that year.



Johnsonville Club hosted the New Dancers’ Celebration on 19 October 2013 at the Newlands Centennial Hall.

In the Johnsonville Club newsletter on 23 October 2013, Secretary Pat Reesby wrote:

“What a wonderful time we had at the New Dancers’ Celebration, with lots of dancers (new and ‘old’) from other clubs. Twelve sets!

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!’”

Rod Downey as MC with the band of Lynne Scott, Jean Malcolm and Richard Hardie

Johnsonville Club bunting was used for the first time at this celebration. Some of our new dancers in 2013 came up with the great idea of the club making its own bunting for when we hold a special dance. They suggested collecting tartan and plain fabric, and then having a ‘bunting bee’ so we’d have bunting ready for this New Dancers Celebration.

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

Rod devised the strathspey The Bunting Bee in 2014 as a tribute to those who organised the bunting bee in 2013. See more photos of the making of the club’s bunting, its use at various venues and the instructions for the dance

The floor was filled with dancers including former Region President Bernice Kelly at the right

See all the photos from the 2013 New Dancers’ Celebration


Organised by Upper Hutt Club on 11 October 2014 at the Jubilee Centre at Chilton St James School in Lower Hutt, with music from Roaring Jelly – Lynne Scott on the fiddle, Jean Malcolm on the keyboard and Richard Hardie on the double bass.

In the Johnsonville Club newsletter on 13 October, President Kristin Downey said:

“With approximately 13 sets on the floor, a great night was had by all.

Rod was really impressed with how well all our new dancers did on the night, and says they should be very proud of themselves. As new dancers, they stood out on the floor with their independence, resilience and level of accomplishment.

The great turnout of 28 Johnsonville dancers made up around a quarter of the sets who enjoyed a splendid night of dancing. Despite some understandable nervousness on the part of our eight newest dancers who were there, everyone was up dancing and mixing and having fun. All that hard work on club nights, and studying videos and crib sheets at home definitely paid off! And our 11 experienced dancers supported our new people wonderfully well.

Good news from some of last year’s nine new dancers who attended for their second year, is that they felt much more confident this time around. Instead of constantly worrying about making mistakes they could relax and enjoy the dances they knew well. It’s onwards and upwards from here. All in all, well done team!”

Johnsonville dancers dotted throughout the sets on the dance floor include Loralee at the front of the image Photo: Harbour City Happenings Vol 17 No. 3 2014
Deborah, Rowena, Maureen and Peter. Photo: supplied by Rowena
Sarah, Judy and Rowena. Photo: supplied by Rowena

See more about this celebration from Upper Hutt Club in Harbour City Happenings Volume 17 No. 3 December 2014


Hosted by Linden Club on 17 October 2015 at the Plimmerton School Hall with music from Peter Elmes, Don McKay and Terry Bradshaw.

In Harbour City Happenings, Volume 18 No. 3 December 2015, Region President Philippa Pointon said:

“Thank you to the Linden Club who did a great job of organising the New Dancers’ Celebration. It was a huge success and very well attended. The Plimmerton School Hall was a great venue—both from a dancing perspective and as a central location for people travelling from Waikanae, the Hutt Valley and Carterton.”

In the Johnsonville Club newsletter on 19 October 2015, Secretary Pat Reesby wrote: “A good number (at least 17) from the Johnsonville club attended the New Dancers’ Celebration in Plimmerton.”
Don McKay, Peter Elmes and Terry Bradshaw
Dancing ‘Reel On

See more photos of the 2015 New Dancers’ Celebration


With a yellow and black ‘bee’ theme, this event was hosted by Lower Hutt Club on 15 October 2016 at Knox-St Columba Church Hall, Mc’d by Damon Collin, with music from Roaring Jelly – Lynne Scott, Jean Malcolm and Richard Hardie.

In Harbour City Happenings, Volume 19 No. 3 December 2016, Johnsonville President Kristin Downey said:

“The New Dancers’ Celebration was a really great night. Fourteen of our more experienced dancers turned out in support of our newer dancers. Only four could be there on the night but they did themselves proud – congratulations to Jacqi, Jen, Liz, and Tao.”

Johnsonville dancers in front of the bee-themed stage at the 2016 New Dancers’ Celebration
Johnsonville dancers Maureen, Rod, Deborah, Kristin, Prisilla and Tao in view dancing ‘Lonely Sunday’

Read more about this event from Diane Bradshaw in Harbour City Happenings, Volume 19 No. 3 December 2016

See more photos of the 2016 New Dancers’ Celebration (the first year we archived photos of the New Dancers’ Celebration on the Johnsonville website).

2017 onwards…

From 2017, we have a full history of New Dancers’ Celebrations through articles and photos on our website. Click the links below to see more about these fun-filled evenings and photos.


Hosted by Ngaio Club at Knox-St Columba Church Hall in Lower Hutt, Mc’d by Melva Waite, with music from Aileen Logie, Don McKay, Terry Bradshaw and Hilary Ferral. See more about the 2017 New Dancers’ Celebration

Johnsonville dancers at the 2017 New Dancers’ Celebration See more photos


Hosted by Island Bay (now Capital City) and Kelburn at Knox-St Columba Church Hall in Lower Hutt, Mc’d by Jeanette Watson and Chris Totton, with music from Roaring Jelly – Lynne Scott, Sharlene Penman and Richard Hardie. Read more about the 2018 New Dancers’ Celebration

Johnsonville dancers Maureen, Keryn and Deborah in view dancing at the 2018 New Dancers’ Celebration. Photo: John Patterson See more photos


Hosted by Tawa Club at at Te Rauparaha Arena in Porirua, Mc’d by Maureen Robson, with music from Aileen Logie, Don McKay, Hilary Ferral and Terry Bradshaw. Find out more about 2019 New Dancers’ Celebration

Maureen with the band – Terry Bradshaw, Don McKay, Aileen Logie and Hilary Ferral – at the 2019 New Dancers’ Celebration. Photo: John Patterson See more photos


Hosted by Waikanae Club with a blue butterfly theme at the Paraparaumu Memorial Hall, Mc’d by Romaine Butterfield, with music from Aileen Logie, Hilary Ferral and Jason Morris. See more about the 2020 New Dancers’ Celebration

Dancing ‘Fair Enough’ at the 2020 New Dancers’ Celebration: Elizabeth Judge and Rod in the top set at the left, Sandy in the set behind; Mary (facing away), Lizzie and Charles in the top set in the middle, Bruce in the set behind; Maggie in the second set at the right. See more photos

Roll on more dancing, fun and friendship at future New Dancers’ Celebrations!

Loralee Hyde

Loralee Hyde
24 September 2021

Photos by Loralee Hyde, except where stated

Loralee Hyde: Fun and Friendship at Wellington Region Events through the 1990s

Johnsonville members are keen participants in a range of Wellington Region events, joining other dancers at weekend schools, balls, Hogmanays, New Dancers Celebrations, demonstrations and classes.

With dancers enjoying the fabulous Wellington Region 60th Anniversary Ball on 7 August 2021, it’s an ideal time to recall the happy memories of Johnsonville members taking part in some of the Region’s events back in the 1990s. Photos from my archives provide a vignette of the marvellous friendship, fitness and fun we had dancing over that decade…which continues on to this day.

1991 Happyning

This Dinner and Dance at Southwards Car Museum, organised by Bill Hudson and his committee and MC’d by Maureen Robson, was a sociable occasion with many opportunities to mingle and chat with other dancers from around the Region and beyond.

See more about this event in reviews from three dancers in this article from Harbour City Happenings, Issue 2, July 1991

Current Johnsonville dancer Loralee Hyde in the centre of the set dancing in the Region Demonstration at the 1991 Happyning with former club members Brian Richards and David Holland to her left and Margaret Allison (Bailey) at her right. Other dancers in the set are Bruce at the far left and Margaret at the right.

Ian Simmonds tutored the demonstration team who danced to the music of Peter Elmes, John Smith and Merren Simmonds.

“A highlight of the evening was an awe-inspiring demonstration by the six dancers from the Region demonstration team.”

Alan Kemp, Wainuiomata

1992 Easter Weekend School

A highlight of this weekend (the first school attended by our President Kristin Downey and tutor Rod Downey) was the 18th Century Ball on the Saturday night with many dancers attired in marvellous period costumes.

MC’d by Damon Collin and Betty Redfearn, we danced to music from Peter Elmes, John Smith and Merren Simmonds.

Find out more about this magnificent weekend from three dancers in this article from Harbour City Happenings, Issue 7, July 1992

In their finery at the 1992 Easter Weekend School 18th Century Ball – Johnsonville members Kristin & Rod Downey and Loralee Hyde, with former members Margaret Holland and Jenny Vaughan.
The organising committee of Kath and Alan Burn, Val Jenness, Eric Churton, Betty Redfearn and Damon Collin. Bewigged, in brocade coats and bustles, the group danced a memorable demonstration of the Lancers Quadrille.

“The  highlight for me was the Saturday evening 18th Century Ball. This was an event to savour, dancers resplendent in fantastic costumes, and brilliant decorations around the hall.”

Alan Dixon, Doncaster Branch, UK

1993 Top Event

To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the New Zealand Branch of the RSCDS in 1993, the Region held a Dinner and Ceilidh at the James Cabaret in Wellington. Organised By Bronwyn Maysmor and her team, the evening had a focus on honouring the Wellington Region teachers for their dedicated work, week after week, year after year.

See a summary of all the activities at this event in this article from NZ Dancer, Volume 40, 1993

Twenty-six Wellington Region tutors present at this event were warmly welcomed by Region President Alan Burn with words of appreciation for their commitment to keeping Scottish Country Dancing alive through clubs, classes, demonstrations and region events.

Wellington Tutors at the 1993 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

Johnsonville members who enjoyed the festivities at the 1993 Top Event included Life Members Isla & Eric Norris and John and Aline Homes

Dorothy Wilson from Blenheim MC’d the ceilidh programme with items interspersed by dancing – Scottish Country and ballroom. John Smith, Peter Elmes and Merren Simmonds provided the music (they’re on the stage at the rear in the photo above).

1994 Anzac Weekend School

Organised by Johnsonville tutor Marjorie Crawford and her committee, this was one of the biggest weekend schools the Wellington Region had ever had, with almost 200 dancers attending.

“With the band of Peter Elmes, John Smith, Merren Simmonds and Lynne Hudson in superb form, it all made for a happy, relaxed atmosphere and a good time was held by all.”

Carol Smith, Region President and Harbour City Happenings Editor

Find out more about this weekend in Carol’s article from Harbour City Happenings Issue 16, May 1994

Johnsonville members Rod Downey, Loralee Hyde and Kristin Downey with former member Richard Moriarty dancing in the Region Demonstration at the 1994 Anzac Weekend School. Other dancers are Chris Kelly, Janice Henson and Kath McCulloch.

Tutored by Barbara Gill, the demonstration group danced Argyll Strathspey, Mrs Stewart’s Jig, and The Rose of Glamis.

Watch a video of this demonstration

1998 Anzac Weekend School

Organised by Carol Smith and held at Onslow College, one of the teachers at this school was Johnsonville tutor Marjorie Crawford.

See photos of the Saturday evening ball with MC Gary Morris and the class teachers in this extract from Harbour City Happenings Volume 1, No.3 July 1998

Johnsonville members Jeanette Watson, Loralee Hyde and Rod Downey with former club member Philippa Pointon dancing in the Region Demonstration at the 1998 Anzac Weekend School. The other dancers in the set are Graham Kerr and Chris Kelly.
Wellington Region JAMS Celia, Bevan and Jennifer were also part of the demonstration

Tutored by Noeline O’Connor, the team danced Lanes of Au, Land of Cakes and the Eightsome Reel to the music of Peter Elmes, John Smith and Merren Simmonds.

Watch a video of a men’s demonstration set (including Johnsonville’s Rod Downey and former member Richard Moriarty) dancing The Reel of the 51st Division at the 1998 Anzac Weekend School Ceilidh.

1998 Magical Butterfly Ball

Wellington Region held a special evening in October 1998 “for all dancing butterflies, ugly bugs and creepy crawlies” aged up to 19 years old (JAMS). Organised by Bronwyn Maysmor, these young dancers had a magical evening of dancing at this Butterfly Ball!

Kristin Downey at the 1998 Butterfly Ball with Carlton the ladybird and Alex the bug-catcher!
Many creatures crept, hopped or ran to the ball – with Alex the bug-catcher in the centre of this set!
The magical band – Lynne Scott, Iain Matcham, John Smith and Peter Elmes – with MC Damon Collin. Photo: NZ Dancer, Volume 46, 1999

Remembering these fun-filled events held through the 1990s, we acknowledge and appreciate the considerable work done to make sure each one was an outstanding success. Thank you to all the organising committees, the tutors, the MCs, the musicians and the demonstration teams for their commitment and dedication.

We can look forward to more great Wellington Region events ahead as we celebrate 60 years of dancing this year.

Loralee Hyde
5 August 2021

All photos by Loralee Hyde, except where stated

Loralee Hyde: Memories of Bernice Kelly

Bernice’s close connections with Johnsonville dancers

Bernice Kelly, President of the RSCDS Wellington Region from 2005-2010, died on 6 June 2021 at the age of 87 years.

I was Editor of Wellington Region’s quarterly newsletter Harbour City Happenings from 2008-2014. During the cross-over period in our roles, I got to know Bernice as we worked together on the newsletter. I remember she did not use a computer, so she typed her column for each issue, which arrived punctually in the post for me to transcribe and place into the newsletter layout!

Following her election as President at the Region AGM in November 2005, Bernice mentioned in her first President’s column in the February 2006 Harbour City Happenings she had danced for 30-plus years in Wellington and had been on the Region Committee several times.

Bernice developed many friendships over her years of dancing and through her regular attendance as President at Region events such as Hogmanays and New Dancers’ Celebrations.

Members of Johnsonville Club had a close association with Bernice during her time as President, either through helping to organise Region events or dancing at them.

As a photographer, the photos I took at a number of these events provide a wonderful visual history of the people Bernice was involved with in Scottish Country Dancing in Wellington over the years and a snapshot of the fun and friendship this activity generates.

2006 Wellington Region Hogmanay

At the 2006 Wellington Region Hogmanay, organised by John Gregory and his committee in the Onslow College Hall, Selwyn Ng (Johnsonville member from 2006-2009) was First Foot during the ceremony to welcome in the New Year. This was his and Joanne Ang‘s (Johnsonville Treasurer 2009) first experience of Hogmanay.

After Selwyn, carrying a lump of coal (for warmth), black bun (for sustenance) and whisky (water of life), was piped into the hall by Ross Edwards, Bernice as President raised a toast to the RSCDS Wellington Region, as is the custom.

2006: First Foot Selwyn Ng, Margaret Bailey, President Bernice Kelly and Piper Ross Edwards

See more photos of the 2006 Hogmanay

2008 Wellington Region Hogmanay

Also held at Onslow College, the 2008 Wellington Region Hogmanay was organised by Bob Monks and his committee. Johnsonville tutor Rod Downey MC’ed the evening and Selwyn was again First Foot.

2008: First Foot Selwyn Ng, Piper Ross Edwards and President Bernice Kelly

Read more about the 2008 Hogmanay celebration

2010 Good Neighbours (Guid Nychburris) Festival

Diane Bradshaw and the Upper Hutt Club organised the 2010 Wellington Region event, the Good Neighbours (Guid Nychburris) Festival, at Knox Church Hall in Lower Hutt. Six local teachers were invited to teach dances they had devised—Rod Downey and Jeanette Watson from Johnsonville, Iain Boyd, Romaine Butterfield, Catherine Edwards and Ian Simmonds.

Rod taught Isla’s Fancy, written for Eric Norris on his 90th birthday in 2001. Rod chose this dance as 2010 was the year both Eric and Isla (who were Life Members of Johnsonville Club) died, aged 98 and 97 respectively.

Inspired by the Good Neighbours Festival in Dumfries in Scotland which appoints a ‘Queen of the South’, the Festival organisers selected a ‘Queen of Wellington’ by drawing a name out of a sparkling top hat. Bernice as Region President, presented Dorothy Warring from Island Bay Club (now Capital City) with a royal blue sash and tiara, fit for the occasion.

2010: MC Diane Bradshaw (left) and President Bernice Kelly (right) presenting Festival Queen Dorothy Warring to the assembled dancers who entered into the spirit of the evening by bowing or curtseying as she passed

Find out more about the fun of this unique Region Event in 2010

2010 Wellington Region Hogmanay

After five years as Region President, Bernice stood down at the AGM in 2010. She said In Harbour City Happenings, “I wish to thank the dancers in the Wellington Region for their help during that time to organise the Region’s activities: classes, the New Dancers’ Celebration, the Region Event, Hogmanay Dance and fundraising events. The welcome, hospitality and friendship extended to me by all Clubs has been much appreciated. I look forward to seeing you all at dances during 2011, albeit from the bottom of the set!”

Just one month later, Bernice acted as President at the 2010 Wellington Region Hogmanay in the absence of then Region President Elaine Laidlaw. Held at the Newlands Centennial Hall, this celebration was organised by Rod and Kristin Downey, Prisilla Conroy, Bob Monks, Catherine MacAulay and Jean Denne (all Johnsonville members at the time) with help from John Markham, John Gregory and Bernice herself.

2010: Acting President Bernice Kelly, Piper Ross Edwards, MC Rod Downey and First Foot Chris Totton

See more photos of the 2010 Hogmanay

2013 New Dancers’ Celebration

In the following years, Bernice continued to attend Region events as a dancer.

The 2013 New Dancers’ Celebration was organised by Johnsonville Club at the Newlands Centennial Hall with tutor Rod Downey as MC.

Former member Pat Reesby was Club Secretary in those days and produced the Johnsonville Club newsletter. On 23 October 2013, Pat wrote:

“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 bunting. It was much admired…”

The hall was crowded with dancers including a great contingent of new members from Johnsonville enjoying their first formal dance. I was fortunate Bernice was in the top set for one dance so I was able to get some great photos of her dancing at the age of 79—Scottish Country Dancing is truly for all ages!

2013: Bernice dancing hands across in the top set

See more photos of the 2013 New Dancers’ Celebration

2016 Wellington Region Hogmanay

I took my final photo of Bernice celebrating with the Wellington Scottish Country Dancing family at the 2016 Wellington Region Hogmanay organised by John Gregory and team at the Crofton Downs School Hall. She spent much of the evening catching up with old acquaintances including those of us from Johnsonville.

2016: Bernice welcoming First Foot Selwyn Ng and Piper Doug Sinclair

We remember Bernice for her enjoyment of Scottish Country Dancing and her connections with fellow dancers as well as for her dedication to her role during her five years as Wellington Region President.

A favourite memory of mine is Bernice dancing in bright blue or red shoes—take a closer look at some of the photos above!

Loralee Hyde
16 June 2021