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Wanganui: The Tiki Tour
Club Nouméa
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 03, 2010
Posts: 353
From: Wanganui
Posted: 2011-03-24 03:19 am   Permalink

Part 8: The Wanganui Savage Club – the plot thickens...



Whilst doing further research on the Wanganui Savage Club Hall, I discovered this wonderful photo, with its combination of Maori relics and stuffed marine life, showing what the Savage Club Hall looked like back when it was still the Wanganui Museum. (I particularly like the small pot-bellied tiki carving sitting on the top shelf to the right, just in front of what looks like a stuffed albatross.)

It turns out that this photo was taken in 1899...

1899! Hang on, wasn’t the Wanganui Savage Club founded in 1891?

Yes indeed, and upon further research, I discovered that the Wanganui Museum was actually founded in 1892, one year after the Wanganui Savage Club was created, and it appears that the club moved into this building only once the museum had relocated to its current premises in 1928.

So where does that leave us?

With a 37-year period of the club’s existence which is currently unaccounted for. This raises various questions:

Where was the club originally located?

Were the club’s original premises decked out with tiki carvings too?

Are there any surviving photos of the original premises?

So it appears that my initial impression (see Part 6), that most of the décor dates from the early 20th century or later was correct – the building was refitted from around 1928 onwards by the Wanganui Savage Club. But what of those two suspiciously old-looking tiki carvings flanking the stage? Were they transferred from the original premises?

It looks like more research will be involved to get to the bottom of the Wanganui Savage Club than I originally thought.


Californian tiki aficionados should note that in spite of these revelations, the Wanganui Savage Club’s present location is still about 6 years older than Don the Beachcomber’s original Hollywood location...


I have also checked out the Savage Club Hall’s preservation status. It is neither registered with the New Zealand Historic Places Trust, nor is it currently listed in the Wanganui District Council’s District Plan. The ramifications of this are that, as things stand, if the Council’s bureaucrats decide in 2015/2016 that they want to tear down the building and sell off the property, they can do so as it has no legal protection whatsoever.

Something needs to be done about this. I will keep you posted but would like to send out some initial feelers – Sven, would you be prepared to write a paragraph or two about what makes the Savage Club Hall unique in the world in terms of Polynesian pop culture? And do we have any qualified architects and/or interior designers on Tiki Central who would be prepared to offer comments about the uniqueness of the building’s architecture and interior design? NZ bureaucrats love foreign experts with a list of qualifications and references, and are more likely to give them credence than some local like me telling them that it’s more than just an old tin shed with some slightly dubious memorabilia and Maori-style décor of doubtful authenticity (which is the line the Council’s functionaries may adopt if they decide to pull it down).

Thanks in advance for any comments you may be able to offer.

CN



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Toto, j'ai l'impression que nous ne sommes plus au Kansas !

[ This Message was edited by: Club Nouméa 2011-03-24 04:17 ]

[ This Message was edited by: Club Nouméa 2011-03-24 04:21 ]


 
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Club Nouméa
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 03, 2010
Posts: 353
From: Wanganui
Posted: 2011-04-01 06:37 am   Permalink

Part 9: The Wanganui Savage Club - More Photos



There was another musical event on at the Savage Club on Friday night (1st of April), so I took the opportunity to snap some more photos.



The high point of the evening's entertainment was Tama K, an outstanding guitarist with a rock solid rhythm section:



The first thing I noticed, going around the walls looking at the pictures, was that there was very little that predated 1928. This was the oldest photo I spotted, from 1926:



Unfortunately, it's of the Christchurch Savage Club Council - not a tiki or Maori cloak in sight!

The walls with the paintings and photos of the Wanganui Savage Club presidents started only with the 1929 Rangatira (top left), who also happened to be a Man of the Cloth:



So where did the club's older memorabilia go? Another mystery that needs to be cleared up...

Note too that all these Wanganui presidents (from 1929-1962) are wearing a hei-tiki, except for the second to last guy, who is wearing a war medal instead.

Here are the club presidents through to the present day, the latest of whom is a woman:



On the back wall, to the left of the foyer, there are various of these framed medals, commemorating honoured Rangatiras:



A couple of the alcoves on the left-hand side of the hall (when facing towards the stage) are lined with photos of the Savage Club's High Councils:



Here is a close-up of one of the more interesting ones, showing what the stage of the Savage Club Hall looked like in 1953:



A Savage Club membership certificate:



The text reads:

"To all Savages and Kindred Spirits:
Greetings!

"Be it known by these Presents that David Strachan has been for 7 years a member of this the Hawera Savage Club. [note: Hawera is in South Taranaki, north of Wanganui]

"Know that he has merited the name of a truly savage Savage, a warrior well blooded and qualified to hold his own in the social life of his Hapu [clan] as well as in warlike raids on other tribes.

"We commend him to the good fellowship of whatever Hapu or Club may be within his reach, on behalf of the Hawera Hapu we wish him Kia Ora and good hunting in his new sphere."

"Ake! Ake! Ake! Kia Kaha! [Forever and ever and ever be strong!]"

Wanganui Savage Club Protocols, pinned to the back wall of the hall, near the foyer:



And a tantalising glimpse of the Savage Club farewell song board, hanging from ropes above the stage:



One of the various emblems of other Savage Clubs hanging along the side walls:



The following are photos of various "cultural" groups, in increasing order of un-PCness:





Note the use of advertising placards above as substitutes for sporrans - an offence to any Scotsman...





The above photo is interesting because it gives a glimpse of what the Savage Club Hall looked like in 1953.



Judging from appearances and the surname (Karaitiana), there were at least two Maoris in this 1936 haka group. The fact that the various Pakehas (Europeans) have full-face moko painted on is vaguely disturbing, but nowhere near as disturbing as the following photo...

... the faint-hearted may prefer to close their eyes and just scroll down a few inches...

... no seriously...

... really, I'm not joking on this one...

OK, you have been duly warned. From here on in I decline all responsibility:



The Wanganui Savage Club Minstrel Troupe, 1933.

This was of course back in the days when people like Al Jolson used to wear blackface as part of their stage act.


Moving right along, on a less controversial note, the Wanganui Savage Club also has a great collection of velvet paintings on its walls:









And a fairly large collection of its own humorous artworks:





My next step is to hit the libraries and find out about the Wanganui Savage Club's history prior to 1928.

CN





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Toto, j'ai l'impression que nous ne sommes plus au Kansas !

[ This Message was edited by: Club Nouméa 2011-04-01 14:39 ]

[ This Message was edited by: Club Nouméa 2011-04-01 14:47 ]


 
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bigbrotiki
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Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11266
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2011-04-01 10:15 am   Permalink

Thank you for posting all this fascinating material, it really deserves to be documented! I wanna come out there with some lights and shoot it in crisp quality!

I wish I could help you with some writings, but it will take a while, I am actually currently struggling myself with describing WHY this stuff is so cool, explaining that THOUGH it is nowadays realized as politically incorrect, it was created out of a fascination for the culture, but with the limited awareness of the gravity of the colonial insensitivity to indigenous cultures at the time.

New Zealand is such a unique case because Maoridom is still a living tradition, and the whole story of Western influence is being reworked and worked off right now.


 
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Club Nouméa
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 03, 2010
Posts: 353
From: Wanganui
Posted: 2011-04-01 2:16 pm   Permalink

Thanks for the feedback Sven!

I must admit that whilst taking these photos, my response ranged from "that's really cool! (the Maori paintings) through to "Oh my GOD!!! WHAT were they thinking?!?"

I was well aware that seeing white guys from the 1930s in blackface would be a jaw-dropping experience for contemporary Americans that evokes all sorts of very uncomfortable feelings to do with the US's own troubled racial heritage.

Although I wouldn't go so far as to get upset about it, I must admit to experiencing similar emotions when seeing, for example, details of a Californian tiki art event focusing on shrunken heads. New Zealand was a major focus of European trading in such heads in the 19th century, and various Maori tribes are still lobbying European museums for the return of their ancestors' heads, so it is very much a contemporary issue here.

But it would have been inappropriate to sweep this racial dimension under the carpet; hence the "warts and all" approach to the photos. The members of the Wanganui Savage Club back in the day were definitely not PC, but then again they weren't the KKK either...

There is no rush regarding any comments you may have; I will need some time to do further research before making any submission regarding the Savage Club Hall.

CN


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Club Nouméa
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Joined: May 03, 2010
Posts: 353
From: Wanganui
Posted: 2011-10-14 10:24 pm   Permalink

Part 10: Maori Language Nest School, Castlecliff

Here are some photos of the Maori language primary school in the beachside suburb of Castlecliff:



There is a traditional-style entrance too:



And some academically-oriented tikis on the foyer entrance:







CN
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VampiressRN
Grand Member (8 years)  

Joined: Nov 23, 2006
Posts: 5807
From: Sun City Lincoln Hills (NorCal)
Posted: 2011-10-15 12:28 am   Permalink

Wow...fabulous thread. When I was in NZ about 5 years ago, I was privileged to tour the Auckland Museum...we spent several hours there as there is so much to see.

http://www.aucklandmuseum.com/

Thanks for posting such great pictures!!!



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virani
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Joined: Sep 17, 2003
Posts: 1438
From: Volcanic area of France
Posted: 2011-10-15 03:39 am   Permalink

fantastic thread, thank you for all that great documentation.

I'm going to NZ in december, now seeing this, I'm thinking of including Wanganui in my schedule... I also want to do Rotorua, Auckland, and I'll stay at Whangarei.
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atomictonytiki
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Joined: May 14, 2002
Posts: 1279
From: Bangkok
Posted: 2011-10-16 01:11 am   Permalink



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Club Nouméa
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Joined: May 03, 2010
Posts: 353
From: Wanganui
Posted: 2011-11-01 03:13 am   Permalink



[ This Message was edited by: Club Nouméa 2011-11-12 19:44 ]


 
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Club Nouméa
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 03, 2010
Posts: 353
From: Wanganui
Posted: 2011-11-01 03:24 am   Permalink

Part 11: Some odds and ends

Here are a couple of modern pieces from the Wanganui public library:





Each one shows a taniwha, if I'm not mistaken.

And how I missed this fellow on the wall of the Whanganui Regional Museum, I don't know:





CN
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bigbrotiki
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Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11266
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2011-11-11 07:45 am   Permalink

CN, have you made any headway towards finding out about possible preservation avenues for the Wanganui Savage Club? How close are we to a date where it could be threatened?

I like to come back to this thread periodically and marvel at the great space, its murals and details. It really needs to be preserved as is, with not one photo frame taken down or moved.

I had the idea to contact some N.Z. authors that would understand its value, and try to get a group of scholars together to rally for this cause when it becomes necessary. But one has to prepare now.


 
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Club Nouméa
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 03, 2010
Posts: 353
From: Wanganui
Posted: 2011-11-12 7:56 pm   Permalink

Bigbrotiki, I have found out that the NZ Historic Places Trust has been talking to the Wanganui District Council, but no one has filed an application to have the Wanganui Savage Club listed as an historic place yet (which would protect it under law), and as far as I know it is still not protected under the Council's district plan. I have received the application form for getting it listed as a historic place, and have contacted a couple of historians I know, but have not yet received responses from them, so any "big guns" you can line up would be appreciated, even if they could just provide a few words in favour of protecting this unique site.

I have a day off tomorrow, so I am going to hit the local libraries and see what info I can dig up about the early days of the Wanganui Savage Club (1890s to 1920s), prior to it relocating to its present site.

I have also got the contact address of the secretary of the Savage Club in Palmerston North, which is still in operation. Palmerston North is about an hour's drive from Wanganui. The Manawatu Savage Club (it was named after the district that Palmerston North is in) was established in 1908. It is located in an old church and, like the Wanganui Savage Club, it also has a collection of Maori items and décor adorning its walls. I hope to get over there in the near future and snap some photos.

CN

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[ This Message was edited by: Club Nouméa 2011-11-12 20:02 ]


 
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Club Nouméa
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 03, 2010
Posts: 353
From: Wanganui
Posted: 2011-11-14 4:15 pm   Permalink

Part 12: The Wanganui Savage Club - Its Earliest Days

Three primary historical sources for your perusal:


Wanganui Herald, 9 March 1891, p.2


Wanganui Herald, 31 July 1891, p.3


Wanganui Herald, 1 August 1891, p.1

In other words: "please mind your own business".

This looks like it is going to be a harder job than I thought...

CN
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Paipo
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Joined: Jun 22, 2006
Posts: 1886
From: Aotearoa / NZ
Posted: 2011-11-14 7:01 pm   Permalink

Some great background info on the Manawatu branch for you CN - this guy has sure done his homework:

Quote:
The Savage Club Manawatu is located in a wonderful old converted church on a side street in a light industrial/commercial area. On the outside it doesn't look like much, but stepping through the doors is like stepping back in time to New Zealand in the early 20th Century - the walls are all old, dark wood or painted hardboard or plasterboard in faded green - it is what much of New Zealand looked like from around 1940 until as late as the early 80s. This is probably a little exaggerated, but photos of New Zealand small towns between 1940 and 1979 don't tend to show marked changes over the decades - it's as if it was about 1953 for a good ten to fifteen years and then suddenly it was 1970, where time stopped again for another ten or so years. Being a small country at the bottom of the globe does that, I guess.

The venue was a fantastic slice of Kiwiana, a collection of souvenirs in cabinets and photos lining the walls commemorating past presidents (or rangatira as they were known - the Savage Clubs of New Zealand adopted many Maori words and phrases in the beginning but the practice has gone out of vogue these days, sadly). The Savage Club began in England in 1857 as a kind of gentleman's club for artists and bohemian types. The link takes you to the official Savage Club website which has a great deal more information than I care to put down here.

As Britain expanded and created the Commonwealth, Savage Clubs began popping up in each "new" country, each club taking on aspects of the "natives" to make their branch of the club stand out: in Canada, the Savage Clubs adopted Pacific Northwest Indian icons and customs, the New Zealand clubs used those of the Maori. To our Politically Correct sensibilities in this modern age we might look upon this as part and parcel of the aggressive expansionist tactics of the European, branding the indigenous people "savages", but this was not so - the Savage Club was so named because its members comprised free-thinkers and artists, often at odds with "civilised" society - adopting the icons and customs of an indigenous people helped celebrate their uniqueness, at a time when many indigenous people were having a hard time convincing people of their very existence as fellow human beings.

The Manawatu chapter of the Savage Club was known for its musical prowess. While the original Savage Club became exclusive and elitist, the antipodean clubs welcomed in all they could, amateur or professional. The Manawatu Savage Club could at one time or another host gatherings and concerts where the standard of musical performance was indistinguishable from a similar concert at a professional venue - they became famous around the Manawatu and nearby districts when they went "raiding" other clubs and wiping the floor with their competition on the stage.

The auditorium where we played was festooned with coloured incandescent bulbs crisscrossing the ceiling and a very odd-looking homebrew disco ball made from a lump of what looked suspiciously like concrete covered in a rather small number of shards of mirrored glass - a mirrorball by Gaudi, perhaps. As you can see in the photo on the right next to Darrel, the Proscenium (such as it was) was decorated with Maori tiki and koru designs painted on hardboard. A short walk backstage led to a long hall where trestle tables held plates of food for the audience (and would have done for the last seventy years in the same places), and at the back of this hall a store room containing a bunch of possibly antique theatrical costumes as you are wont to find in many old theatres in New Zealand towns. As an ex-thespian it embiggened my heart to see it all.



Can't wait to see some more pics!

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Paipo
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Joined: Jun 22, 2006
Posts: 1886
From: Aotearoa / NZ
Posted: 2011-11-14 7:06 pm   Permalink

Gotta have the famous Aberhardt pic of the WSC in this thread too...

Nature morte (silence), 1986
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