Verse and Versatility

From Spectrum, 12:10 pm on 9 August 2015

Nowester Pic
Sketch by courtesy of Ashley Smith.

I give lift to wings of hawk, I’ve rocked the laughing owl
Where kaka die and tara cry, I burn the tussocks brown...

– From The Great Nor’wester by Roger Lusby.

Roger Lusby’s parents ran an orchard in the Old Man Range near Roxburgh in Central Otago. Some of Roger’s earliest memories were of characters among the fruit pickers. But this was the late 40s early 50’s and one of the marvels of the age, the Roxburgh hydro dam, was under construction, attracting thousands of workers and colouring Roger’s experience of the region.

Lusby orchard in winter
The Lusby orchard and homestead in the embrace of a Central Otago winter.

Roger migrated north sampling the McKenzie Country, droving, small town life and even Canterbury’s hot, dry Nor’westers.At an early age he discovered a flair for fixing things mechanical and this led to a year in Antarctica in 1969, responsible for machine maintenance at Scott Base. He was only 22 years old.

lusby pan
A transporter built by Roger in Antartica. Some of the machines the 22 year-old had to maintain.

Clean, sharp crack of frost
Blue white frozen snow
Minus fifty degrees below

– From Husky by Roger Lusby.

Lusby pan
Repairing one of Sir Edmund Hillary's old tractors - where to begin?  Roger after a year in Antarctica.

Nothing escapes Roger Lusby’s pen:-dogs, cattle, phone party lines, drought and even the Queen’s visit in 1995 - there's a story in them all.

Spectrum’s Jack Perkins chats with Roger about his colourful life with illustrations from his poetry.

Roger Lusby
Roger Lusby