Lifelong innovator and ideas man Lee Bennett has created a workshop space where he and assistant Wolf Hatch encourage young and old to experiment with technology, think like entrepreneurs and sow the seeds for future Kiwi businesses.
Mac Armstrong has been breeding and racing pigeons for over 60 years.
These days, 84-year-old Mac trains his birds specifically for the annual Invercargill to Auckland long-distance pigeon race, a distance of over 1,200 kilometres and a premier event in the racing calendar. Spectrum’s Lisa Thompson joins Mac in the lead up to this year’s race and learns what it takes to be king of the perch.
Meet Jak the border terrier/fox terrier cross. Now thirteen years old, and still looking pretty sprightly despite one missing leg. He’s given the Department of Conservation almost 90 of his years as its chief rodent dog. But now he’s had to retire, at his farewell party, a couple of months ago, Jak was hailed as a hero by his peers. Now he has a new life at Waihi beach.
Scores of bikers ride their BSAs and Nortons, Indians, Harley Davidsons, Ducatis – you name it – to the Boyle Kawasaki shop in the Wellington suburb of Newtown. As well as the bikes, beards (mostly grey tinged) and black leather are prominent but so are the laughter and the stories at this ‘Bikers Bit of a Do’. Spectrum’s Jack Perkins drops in on what turns out to be something of a street party.
Devonport’s Torpedo Bay has seen moa hunting and been a launch site for floating mines. Spectrum’s Justin Gregory signs on for a sail through Torpedo Bay’s history.
In June 1913, William Massey's government clamped down on youths who were avoiding recently introduced military training. When a dozen or so young conscientious objectors were incarcerated in Fort Jervois on Ripapa Island in Lyttelton Harbour (also known as Ripa island) - the controversy erupted country-wide.
A look at the Rural Education Activities Programme (REAP ) - an innovative education initiative launched in New Zealand in 1979. This unique ‘cradle to the grave’ education programme was set up to meet the wide and varied needs of those living in remote rural communities.Spectrum meets some of the community education officers of this programme at recent reunion in Wellington.
Orpheus Beaumont was named after New Zealand’s worst maritime disaster, the sinking of the HMS Orpheus on the Manukau Harbour Bar 151 years ago. It was thought her teenage brother, Henry Newman, was on board and presumed drowned. However, he survived and Orpheus’ mother rejoicing at the news, named her daughter after the ship.
The sea claimed the life of another of Orpheus’ brothers and when the ‘unsinkable’ Titanic struck disaster, Orpheus answered a call to design a functioning lifejacket better than the cork ones then in use.
Her design for the Salvus Kapok Lifejacket was accepted and an order from Britain was issued for 30,000. The design became a worldwide standard for many years. Spectrum hears the tale of one New Zealand woman’s struggle against the sea and how her determination saved countless lives.
Every Wednesday Guy and Noeline Marks open the doors of the St John Ambulance archives in Ellerslie, much as they’ve done for the last 17-years.These days though they’re joined by eight other volunteers to sort through a mass of material accumulated by St John during its almost 130-years in New Zealand. For Spectrum, David Steemson visits the cheerful little band, and finds stories of gallantry and tales of early days of the Order of St John in New Zealand.
Vincent Aspey was a key figure in the development of music in New Zealand in the middle of last century. For 20 years he was leader of the National Orchestra formed in 1946 (later re-named the NZ Symphony Orchestra) as well as being an outstanding concert violinist. Vincent Aspey’s son, Vince Aspey junior, also a fine violinist, recalls his father in conversation with Jack Perkins.
'Brass banding is a great relaxation,' says Bill Rimmer, a Soprano Cornet player with The Band of the Royal Regiment of New Zealand Artillery, 'We all come from different walks of life…and we’re all brought together by music.'
The 'Arty' Band, as it’s affectionately known, has been bringing its members together for the past 149 years, making it the oldest band in New Zealand with a continuous playing history. Established in 1864, the Band has played on through two World Wars, the Great Depression and at least 35 New Zealand Premiers and Prime Ministers.
On the eve of the band’s 150 Anniversary celebrations, Spectrum’s Lisa Thompson hears how its members are still marching on.
David Steemson visits Tiritiri Matangi in the Hauraki Gulf to talk to founders of a Supporters group who have helped replant well over half the island in native flora.
Jack Perkins discovers an Aladdin’s cave of oriental rugs and carpets in the central Wellington workshop of Anna Williams. Anna has been repairing these exotic floor coverings and wall hangings for over 20 years. She’s worked in Turkish back streets and lived with nomads in southern Iran, all in pursuit of improving her repair skills.
In a few small rooms packed to the ceiling with storage boxes, Robert Johnson and Lisa Young make sure the music happens for the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra. It’s their job to find that obscure piece of music or to handwrite notations into dozens of scores - and then rub them all out again after the performance. All this in an office space so overflowing with boxes that simply walking through it is an adventure. For Spectrum, Justin Gregory joins Robert and Lisa as they wash-up after one concert and also prepare for the next.
Alwyn Owen explores the lighter side of New Zealand’s poetry of patriotism which was fashionable during the latter half of the 19 century and the early 20th. Our patriotic versifiers were eclectic. They praised the 1840s Wakefield Settlement Scheme, the 1924 All Blacks and many things in between.' For Zealandia and God' is narrated by Bill Toft (first broadcast in January 1973).
Eleven year-old Jo Hamid and her family of seven emigrated from England to New Zealand in 1950. The boat passage cost 10 pounds and children travelled free. During the immediate post war years, this assisted emigration scheme encouraged about one million to leave war-weary UK in search of better conditions in New Zealand and Australia. The ‘Ten Pound Poms’ as they were often known, escaped the rationing and recession of post war Britain but, as Jo Hamid tells Jack Perkins, their new life wasn’t without hardship and challenge.
‘You do get tongue-tied,’ giggles Marie Hindmarsh, one half of the group Knocker Knitters.
‘You were going knicker-knotters at one stage!’ laughs her friend and partner in knitting, Christina Kilfoyle.
The Auckland pair started knitting woollen breasts earlier this year, as an alternative to prosthetics for women who have undergone mastectomies.
And they now have women all over the country picking up their needles to help.
Spectrum’s Lisa Thompson finds out why Marie and Christina have traded beanies for boobs.
David Steemson drops in on kilt maker Eric Von Hurst who learned the craft when he was a young man in the Canadian army. He’s one of only two certified kilt makers in New Zealand. Each kilt contains a single run of fabric eight metres long, imported from Scotland and the whole thing is created by hand.
Dog adopters gather to picnic and celebrate. Organized by the Wellington SPCA, this open-air event attracts dozens of animal lovers and voluntary SPCA workers but the main focus is on those who have welcomed a homeless dog or other animal into their family.
A group of Kaimanawa horses, which once roamed wild over the Central Plateau, are proving how adaptable they can be by learning to bow, use a seesaw and perform to music. With these skills, Robin Sisley’s nine Kaimanawa horses are now contributing to their upkeep by performing for small shows at her Waikato property. For Spectrum, Lisa Thompson finds out how Robin has turned her horses from wild to workable.
You arrive with a bang on Little Barrier Hauturu. The island’s been a wild life sanctuary since 1897, there’s no jetty, and the boat carrying visitors lands by speeding up a ramp on shore, and then being winched up to a boat house. A team of scientists has been collecting birds on the island for transport to a new sanctuary on Rotoroa Island. Visitors to Hauturu are by invitation only, and for Spectrum David Steemson is part of a group invited to watch the final bird collection work.
Spectrum’s Jerome Cvitanovich visits Te Puna Wai Ora - the Spring of Life.
This natural fountain supplies an estimated 250,000 litres of water a month to the people of Wellington.
Twelve women, aged between 50 and mid-70s and mainly from Taranaki, recently trekked for 3 days through Nepal’s mountain passes to the remote village of Kharikhola. They were accompanied by Sherpa porters carrying 10 sewing machines, haberdashery, fabric, threads, elastic and needles. Calling themselves ‘Stitches for Britches’, the intrepid team taught village women how to sew. The hope is that as their proficiency improves, the villagers will develop a cottage industry.
It’s one of New Zealand’s greatest aviation questions – did farmer and inventor Richard Pearse achieve controlled flight before the Wright Brothers in 1903? While a definitive answer may never be known, there’s one man who is determined to see if Pearse’s patented aircraft will actually fly. Automotive engineer Ivan Mudrovcich has dedicated nearly a decade to building a reproduction of Richard Pearse’s early flying machine. Spectrum’s Lisa Thompson pays a visit to Ivan’s garage and finds a backyard inventor adding his own chapter to our aviation history.
During the Great Depression of the 1930s, George Davies, along with his mates Curly and Big Mac, gave up the struggle to survive in the city and travelled to the Howard goldfield in the Upper Buller to try their luck. They mixed with characters and criminals and found that gold recovery was back-breaking work. But they served an apprenticeship, found physical and mental skills previously unknown to them and became practitioners of a craft. (Produced by Laurie Swindell and first broadcast in May 1972)