2022 Shetland Society of Wellington Centenary

Throughout September 2022 we celebrated 100 years of the Shetland Society of Wellington.

Mural unveiling

Our first event was the unveiling of the mural at Island Bay by the then mayor of Wellington Andy Foster. The weather gods were with us and a good turnout of approximately 100 made up of both of the public and the society attended.

Mark Ormsby began proceedings with a karakia which was of welcome by Peter Glensor who introduced Any Foster, the Mayor, who then officially unveiled the mural and also launched the story map which can be viewed at Story Maps: The Wellington - Shetland Connection or by googling “Shetland Story Map Wellington”. It was produced by Mary Wood and illustrates the many links that Wellington has to Shetland. Mary was to speak at the unveiling/launching but unfortunately was unable to attend the ceremony.

Margaret Tolland, the artist, gave a short talk on the production of the mural and the society owes her a great debt of gratitude for the sensitive manner in which she has been able to portray the links between Shetland and Wellington.

Gibby Inkster sang “Da Sang o da Papa Men” and read the poem “Merchant Seaman” both of which illustrate the thoughts and life of the haaf fishemen and also a merchant seaman as he contemplates that unfortunately Shetland no longer can provide an income for himself and he must spread his wings as generations had done before.

Julia Inkster rounded up the proceedings by playing the Tammie Anderson tune “The Slokit Light” on the fiddle.

Also in attendance were members of the Italian Island Bay Community who had a long and enduring link with the Shetland community of fishermen who were operating out of Island Bay.

The City of Wellington Pipe Band kindly played for us before the ceremony and afterwards led the throng to the Octapus HQ, formally known as the Island Bay Surf Club, for afternoon tea.We are also thankful to the band for providing a piper who played the lament, “The Flowers of the Forest’’ as a memorial to Queen Elizabeth II who had passed away only three days previous to the unveiling.

The Society would like to acknowledge the extremely generous gift made by Lodge Zetland of $2000 towards the cost of producing the mural. Lodge Zetland was originally made up of mainly Shetlanders and had very strong links to the Shetland Society of Wellington in the early days with many being a member of both.

The crowd at the unveiling.

The mural after the unveiling.

Shetlanders in Wellington exhibition

On Monday 12th September the Shetlanders in Wellington Exhibition opened at the Thistle Hall in Cuba Street. This exhibition was a reflection on the events of the society over the past 100 years with each decade being represented by an explanatory poster since the society’s inception.

Each poster explored the relationship that the Society had in relationship to what was happening in Wellington, New Zealand, Shetland and the World as well as important events in the Society that have gone on to shape the Society as it is today.

Of great interest to the public was the display of knitwear which has a prominent position in the corner window and enticed many to come through the doors. Many thought that the knitwear was for sale and not just on display as it would have been possible to sell each piece many times over.

Jim Coutts’s Up Helly Aa suit from 2004 was also a great attraction and caught the eye at the entrance to the description of the areaexhibition.

There were quite a number of visitors who came in and while discussing the exhibition would share a connection with Shetland. One visitor returned for a second visit with a couple of framed JD ratter photos which he donated to the Society.

Also on display were memorabilia and photos from past Viking Balls, and interpretation charts regarding the Shetland fishing community in Island Bay. Also on display was a description and history of the area once known as Taitville,  now between Aro valley and Kelburn, where Robert Tait built and developed the area after arriving from Shetland in 1874.

A busy day at Thistle Hall.

The corner window with knitwear on show.

Fibre and photo competition and exhibition

On Tuesday 13th September the combined Fibre and Photo exhibitions were officially opened by the President of the Society, Peter Glensor at the Hutt Art Society Gallery in Lower Hutt.

These two competitions gave an opportunity for our members and others to show off their skills in working with fibre and their photographic prowess. The range of entries in the fibre competition ranged from fine lace knitting, weaving, quilting and felting whilst the photographic competition garnered entries from as fa away as London with subjects ranging from puffins to family photographs.

The fibre competition attracted 40 entries and the photographic exhibition 70.  Rather than display the entries as two separate exhibitions they were displayed together and in this regard the assistance of the Lower Hutt Art Society must be mentioned as their acumen, which they readily shared with us, in presenting the displays and exhibitions was greatly appreciated.

The winners in the fibre competition were Grant Mahy, Esmee McAuley with the best exhibit from a Shetland Society member going to Feriel Falconer and the Peoples Choice going to Lyn Darroch.

In the photographic competition Jane Haskel won the Shetland Picture category and also the best overall photo, Ruth Mainland won the Shetland Theme category, and Peter Glensor the Shetland Family Treasure category. The peoples choice going to Sue Glensor. Also on display were the Max Bruce photo collection which Max had so generously donated to the Society some years ago.

The exhibitions were also the venue for premier of the short film ‘Flotsam’ by Seth Kelly which told the story of a young Shetland lad who was shipwrecked on the NZ coast in the late 1800’s. The young lad was played by Nat Lawerence and that of the lad grown up by Gibby Inkster. The film has just been released on Youtube and can be viewed online: Flotsam - Short Film.

Members may find it of some interesting that the numbers attending the exhibition was the second highest for any exhibition held on the premises.

Some of the fibre and photo exhibition entries.

Opening night of the fibre and photo exhibition.

Centenary luncheon

On Saturday 17th September the Centenerary Luncheon was held at The Pines at Houghton Bay.

The venue was perfect for the event with sweeping views out to Cook Strait which with not too much of a stretch of the imagination could be likened to a vista similar to which could be seen in Shetland.

This was a good opportunity for the distribution of the tote bags to all the members who had registered for the celebrations.  Three of the tote bags have been sent to Shetland as a small token of our appreciation to Andrea Manson and also the Family History Society.

The Pines has been one of the principal providers for lunch and dinners to the Society for many years and again did not disappoint as it would be difficult to find a more varied and well-presented buffet anywhere in Wellington.

Max Bruce, the patron for the centenary celebrations cut the cake in attendance with his sister Norma Ede and cousin Peter Jeromson all who are grandchildren of the Society’s first secretary John Jeromson.

After lunch the more formal part of the proceedings were embarked upon with a pre-recorded video message from the Convener of the Shetland Island Council, Andrea Manson,  on behalf of the people of Shetland who sent us all the best for a successful celebration and continuing success over the next 100 years. Long time members then reflected on their memories of the society and how it had morphed into the society as we know it today.

The cake.

Cutting the cake.

Closing luncheon at the Scots Hall in Newtown

The last event to take place was an informal gathering at the Scots Hall in Newtown were a display of historic items belonging to the society including the flag which was discovered in our archives some years ago and which has been in the Society’s possession since at least the 1920’s.

The library, which is the jewel in the crown, of the society’s archives was also on display and open for business. The library would be the largest collection of Shetland books in the southern hemisphere and is free to use for all members.

Luncheon was supplied by the committee, the piece de resistance being the tattie soup made by Jane Dowson who also made the anniversary cake the ormals of which were had with a cup of tea after the lunch.

 In conclusion a hearty vote of thanks must go to all who organised and assisted on a voluntary basis the many hours required to run and stage such an event as without them the Centenary could not have been celebrated.

Again, many thanks.

We even made the Shetland Times.