Day Two of the Regional Rally was another hot day in sunny Otaki. The club flags were hardly fluttering as they hung at the entrance of the school grounds.
With 20 caravans, 3 motor-homes, and one 5th wheeler attending, everyone was parked up nice and cosy on the available grassed area. Most modern rigs these days seem to come with TV satellite dishes fitted to the roof, or like us, with a portable one placed on the ground. There was a mix of New Zealand built Leisurelines, some Aussie vans, a few older ones, and others imported from UK and Europe.
The lunch time Sausage Sizzle was organised as a fund raiser for the school and was a huge success. So much so that the cooks had to make a quick trip down to the local supermarket for more supplies. We enjoyed bacon and egg butties each for lunch, and sausages wrapped in bread were in hot demand too.
We had organised a musical evening for the night’s entertainment, with David Dell, from Musical Heritage New Zealand, (formerly the Sheet Music Archives). David Dell had previously entertained our Probus Club, and we thought that he would be perfect for our Regional Rally. And he didn’t let us down. With his interesting patter of facts and figures, and stories behind the song writing of yesteryear, he kept the group enthralled and entertained. David’s particular interest is early New Zealand sheet music, and he passed around laminated copies of sheet music covers, playing his keyboard and bursting into song as he imparted yet another story.
The stories kept flowing, such as the one behind our National Anthem, God Defend New Zealand. Newspaper Editor Thomas Bracken wrote the words, printed the poem in his publication, and initiated a competition to set the words to music. One night in the winter of June 1876, John Woods read about the competition in the Saturday Advertiser. According to tradition, he usually met the coach that delivered the news in the main street of Lawrence to pick up his paper. It was already 9 pm, but he went straight to his piano and composed the tune for what later became the national anthem. In a later letter to A.H. Reed, he explained that the words inspired him so much he had to write music for them. With eleven other submissions entered, three independent judges in Melbourne unanimously agreed that Woods' composition was the clear winner. The prize was ten guineas.
It was a delightful evening, with plenty of chances to sing along to some early New Zealand tunes with David, and learn plenty about our heritage along the way.