Identity Profile – Rod Coleman


Image: Rod Coleman after winning the Junior at Patea, 1951

Rod Coleman

Grand Prix motorcycle road racer, b. June 19, 1926

Rod W. Coleman (born June 19, 1926) was a Grand Prix motorcycle road racer from New Zealand who raced for AMC (Associated Motorcycles) riding AJS motorcycles both at the Isle of Man TT (Tourist Trophy), and in the Grand Prix World Championship in Europe, between 1951 and 1956. He was the first official entrant from the New Zealand Auto-Cycle Union in the 1949 Isle of Man TT, but crashed in practice, and in 1954 became the first New Zealander to win a TT.

Rod Coleman is the son of “Cannonball Coleman” also from Whanganui who first raced at the 1930 Isle of Man TT but retired from the 1930 Junior TT and Senior TT Races. The first New Zealand competitor to enter the TT was Alan Woodman who entered the 1910 Isle of Man TT races, but lost a leg in a practice crash. The “TT Special” of 1951 describes Rod Coleman (R W Coleman) as a “motorcycle dealer from Wanganui”, then aged 25 years.


Image: Rod Coleman riding a Manx Norton, 1951

In 1951 Rod Coleman secured a works contract with the British manufacturer, Associated Motorcycles, who produced AJS, Matchless and Norton machines. He rode an AJS to eighth place in the Isle of Man Junior TT, while his Norton failed to finish the Senior TT. In the 1951 Grand Prix season, he finished 12th in the final 350 class standings.

In 1952 he came fourth in the Senior TT, and third in the Junior TT, riding AJS in both events. He was fourth in the 1952 500 class standings. For 1953 there was a fourth in the Senior TT, and while leading the Junior TT, his bike broke down and failed to finish. For the 1953 season, he was tenth in the 500 class, and sixth in the 350 class.


Image: Rod Coleman riding a M.S.S Velocette

In 1954 he won the Junior, the first New Zealander to win a TT. (He failed to finish in the Senior.) In the 1954 Grand Prix motorcycle racing season Rod came twelfth in the 500 class, and third in the 350 class. This was also the year Associated Motorcycles quit racing. Coleman met and married an English woman and they returned to Whanganui where he ran a thriving motorcycle and car business. Rod Coleman was 81 years of age in 2006, and intends to attend the Isle of Man TT Centenary in 2007.

More information about Rod Coleman and the 1950 Patea TT Trophy Road Race is available below in this digital publication.


Information by Bob Pearce; Motorsport: TT champ Coleman still revved up at 81 courtesy of and images from the heritage collections at Aotea Utanganui Museum of South Taranaki.



Join us this Saturday – Generation Exchange Walk (Patea)

darcell-portrait-websizeDarcell Apelu: Generation Exchange (Patea) – Join artist Darcell Apelu (pictured) on a walk through the township of Pātea to trace the memories of her maternal grandparents and to exchange family stories and local knowledge with others. 6 – 8am, Saturday 24 September, 2016.  For information see the poster attached.



This event has been organised by:







School Holiday Programme – Pipe Cleaner Creations

Pipe Cleaner Creations

Creative fun making pipe cleaner people, animals, insects and birds. With a little imagination you can make just about anything! Bring your ideas and be prepared for fun! You’ll be able to take these creations home.  View this video clip above for easy pipe cleaner crafts for kids.  Join our Educator Rob Groat for this exciting School Holiday Programme!

When: 10.30AM – 12PM, Tuesday 27 September, 2016

Where: Aotea Utanganui Museum of South Taranaki, 127 Egmont Street, Pātea

Contact: Rob Groat or 0800 111 323


Identity Profile – Ronald Hugh Morrieson


Ronald Hugh Morrieson

Musician, freezing worker, novelist, music teacher, b.1922 d.1972

James Ronald Hugh Morrieson died at 50, a sad and disappointed man. His remark, ‘I hope I’m not another one of these poor buggers who get discovered when they’re dead’ became a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Morrieson was born on 29 January 1922 and lived his entire life in the house built by his grandfather at the corner of Regent Street and South Road, Hawera. He was the only child of Eunice Hyacinth Johnson and her husband, Hugh Francis Morrieson, an English-born musician. Both parents had musical talent: his father and all of his mother’s family were proficient on various instruments and Eunice was a pianist and music teacher.

He undertook seasonal work at the Patea freezing works and in the late 1940s had a part-time job in charge of the delivery of the Hawera Star. In 1951 and 1952 Morrieson enrolled extramurally at Victoria University College: like his first brush with academia, this was a failure. By 1953 he had joined his mother as a music teacher and expressed to friends his desire to write books. In order to write seriously he tried to adopt a more settled lifestyle and by 1959 had given up playing in dance bands.

Morrieson’s first published novel was The scarecrow (1963), although much of the material used in Predicament may also have been written at this time. The scarecrow received good reviews – especially in Australia, where it was published – for its lively, racy narrative style. Morrieson himself said, ‘It’s a kind of thriller I suppose, but I think it’s also a work of art – at least I hope it is’. The portrayal of sordid and even macabre happenings in a small New Zealand town – clearly Hawera – as seen through the eyes of an adolescent boy brought condemnation from many locals. Other critics gave special praise to the colourful and authentic colloquial dialogue.

Ronald Hugh Morrieson holds a unique place in New Zealand literature. No other writer has so vividly depicted New Zealand provincial life or captured its colloquial language. Morrieson’s life – its isolation and oddity and his premature death – has also captured the imagination. The feature films of The scarecrow (1981), Pallet on the floor (1984) and Came a hot Friday (1985) achieved considerable success.

Watch this Ronald Hugh Morrieson adapted trailer for Predicament (2010), a coming of age crime comedy set in 1930’s New Zealand.


Further Readings

Early childhood teacher Katrina Fraser has just completed her post-graduate diploma of education, early years, and focused some of her research on gifted individuals on Ronald Hugh Morrieson.

Ronald Hugh Morrieson in Hawera, Taranaki, New Zealand (15 April 2013), article written by Dr. Tony Shaw,

Ronald Hugh Morrieson biography, NZONSCREEN,

NZ Listener article The Scarecrow by Ronald Hugh Morrieson,

An interview with Sam Pillsbury called Kiwi Rural Gothic,


Information By Julia Millen courtesy of

Image of Ronald Hugh Morrieson courtesy of Ian Richards




Generation Exchange (Patea) by artist Darcell Apelu


Darcell Apelu: Generation Exchange (Patea)

6 – 8am, Saturday 24 September, 2016

Join artist Darcell Apelu (pictured) on a walk through the township of Pātea to trace the memories of her maternal grandparents and to exchange family stories and local knowledge with others.  For information see the below poster.



This event is being coordinated by:


Saturday Family Fun Day – Conservation Week 2016

conservation week 2016


Conservation Week 2016. Become a bird (or a weta) for a day! Learn more about New Zealand’s special animals and create your very own face mask.

When: 10.30AM – 3PM, Saturday 17 September, 2016

Where: Aotea Utanganui Museum of South Taranaki, 127 Egmont Street, Pātea

Contact: Rob Groat or 0800 111 323

To see what Conservation Week 2016 is all about view the video below.

Microfilm Magic: From dusty old newspapers to new digital pages


The Museum has just installed a new ST ScanView III Microfilm scanner/reader for viewing, editing and interpreting old newspapers on microfilm.  Thanks to Martin Smith (pictured) and Sheryl Sporle-Fahey from New Zealand Micrographics (NZMS), we are now able to offer our customers this research service.  Contact the museum at or 0800 111 323 for a free test drive, you never know what you may find!

What is Microfilm?


Microfilming, also called microphotography, consists in the reduction of images to such a small size that they cannot be read without optical assistance. This amazing photographic compression often results in a ninety-nine percent saving of space. The microfilming service is one of the most extensively used and common practices in modern reprographic science.

The remarkable increase in microfilming activities is due to the recognition that a large portion of books, periodicals and newspapers are deteriorating because of the poor quality of paper and print. The use of microfilming for almost seventy years has provided an excellent reproduction method for recording photographic images of printed materials. Using modern film, advanced processing technology and climate-controlled storage vaults, Heritage Microfilm produces images that will last 500 years or longer, far longer than most paper stocks in use today.

How does the machine work?

A microfilm reader uses film (or fiche) instead of a plastic laminate. In this, it’s like a movie projector that also uses film. A movie projector works in a very similar way to an overhead projector, in that it uses mirrors and a light source to project the image onto a white screen.

View the video below to see how our machine works.


A movie projector, though, is constantly flashing through the images on its film reel to give the illusion of movement. A microfilm reader does the same thing, except without automatically going through the microfilm. It allows whoever is using the machine to look at each image at his or her own pace, and then to wind the reel to look at the next image (usually by pressing a button on the machine).

The microfilm reel is loaded into the machine, and then pulled along the feeder until you get to the image you want. You can go backward and forward through the microfilm reel, making your research run a little bit smoother. Some readers are equipped with printers that allow you to print the image that you have projected onto your screen, too!


What papers can be researched this scanner?

The Pātea Mail from 1875-1941 is available on Microfilm

The Hāwera Star from 1880-1910 is available on Microfilm

Contact the museum at or 0800 111 323 for a free test drive.

Current Exhibition – Highlights from the Collection


Current Exhibition – Highlights from the Collection                                        

Highlights from the Collection focuses on a wide range of photographic images from the Livingston Baker Archive. Delve into this exhibition experience and discover fresh images you may have never seen before, and re-discover your old favourites.  This bespoke exhibition experience, located in the Reading Room, showcases some of the best examples of portraiture and landscapes from our heritage collection while offering viewers a look back into the past. This exhibition, Highlights from the Collection, is also available by viewing these images below.

Season: August 2016 – January 2017 – Livingston Baker Archive & Reading Room

Above Image: Manutahi School Pupils (2001-855)

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Identity Profile – Maud Ruby Basham ‘Aunt Daisy’


Maud Ruby Basham ‘Aunt Daisy’

Singer, radio broadcaster and personality, writer, b.1879 – d.1963

Maud Basham, also known as Aunt Daisy, was famous as the host of a radio show focused on domesticity. Upon the success of the broadcasts, she wrote accompanying cook books, and was awarded an MBE in 1956. On 4 June 1904, in Hawera, Daisy married Frederick Basham, an English-born civil engineer. There were three children of the marriage. Frederick’s work as a council engineer took the family from Hawera to Eltham about 1907, to Waipukurau in 1918 and to Ngatea in 1924. Throughout this period, Daisy taught music, conducted choirs, organised popular entertainment groups and continued with singing engagements.

She was especially acclaimed for her appearances as contralto soloist in Handel’s Messiah. Daisy Basham began her performance career as a choir-member and soloist, as well as a conductor. During this time, she frequently appeared on Auckland radio stations as a writer and singer. Asked to stand in for the vacationing presenter of a   children’s programme, she broadcast regularly for two weeks, and the moniker ‘Aunt Daisy’ was born. Soon after, she moved to Wellington on a permanent radio engagement, a position cut short soon after by the depression. Now the breadwinner for her family, Daisy began taking positions with privately owned radio stations, and eventually landed on the ‘Friendly Road’, a radio church. Here, her job was to welcome listeners at the beginning of each day with a charismatic ‘Good morning everybody’, a signature for which she became tremendously well-known. Given her own morning programme for women, her popularity swelled as ownership of the station changed hands.

From 1936, now on the ZB network, Aunt Daisy was able to promote products of her choosing, and, on some occasions, a product endorsed in the morning would be sold out that afternoon. Whilst these were paid advertisements, Daisy would not promote any goods which she herself had not tested, and thus listeners trusted her implicitly. She would continue to broadcast her daily programme until 1963. To accompany her programme, there were also at least 10 Aunt Daisy cookbooks, each with handy hints and tips. Having embarked upon a world tour in 1938, she became known in the USA as ‘The Dynamo Down Under’.

Hear Aunt Daisy below on one of her famous radio shows getting reading for Christmas.

New Zealand, the 1940’s and 50’s. Radio was the only media in town, and Maud Basham, aka Aunt Daisy held prime of place each morning with household tips and tracks for all the housewives out there.


By Peter Downes; adapted by Patrick Whatman, Courtesy of


Engage with Museums and be Inspired

This video from museums in Cornwall, UK, shows just some of the many fantastic community activities taking place at museums, sharing how museums are supporting better places, sparking imaginations and creativity and making people happy.