Reginald Gardiner – Mark von Dadelszen

[Introduction missing from recording]

Mark von Dadelszen: It did occur to me that if I had done enough to warrant some form of recognition in the Queen’s Birthday Honours, that really my grandfather and my father at least should also have received recognition, although in reality I think in both cases their wives, as with my wife, are very much part of whatever we do.

[Shows slides throughout talk]

So that’s as I remember my grandfather, in his study in his favourite armchair with a rug over his knees, and the reason for that I’ll explain to you later. And that’s from a 1952 photograph by Chapman-Taylor who was a personal friend. And that was taken when I was the tender age of six or seven, and I still have that chair; it’s something which I still haven’t got around to reupholstering and restoring. But more of that later.

Now this I think, was used in some of the publicity, and it’s from Matthew Wright’s ‘History of a Village’ and I’m so pleased that somebody else wrote this rather than me, because if I said it you’d think that ‘oh, well – perhaps he’s gilding the lily’. But he said that:

The whole shape of village life in the 20th Century was profoundly affected from before the First World War by Reginald Gardiner – the deep-thinking, enthusiastic community-minded villager – and his immediate circle of friends. Their legacy far transcends their organisation, the Havelock Work, creating the community spirit that appeared later in such forms as the Keirunga Garden Society.”

And if I had to try and summarise my feelings or my impression of my grandfather apart from being my grandfather, that’s indeed what I would say and he was my mother’s father. And those were my grandparents: a photograph taken appropriately at my parents’ wedding on 25th August 1939.

And can I just give you a little insight into my grandfather? You have heard from the previous slide that he was a deep-thinking person. My parents got engaged on St Patrick’s Day, 1939 – the 17th of March. My grandfather believed that war was coming and he encouraged my parents to get married sooner rather than later. They married on 25th August; they went on honeymoon; on the day they returned from their honeymoon, war was declared. So my grandfather certainly was well aware of what was happening in the world. He was born Thomas Henry Reginald Gardiner in New South Wales in March 1872, the son of an Anglican vicar. And after time in Australia, in South Africa and England, he first came to New Zealand in 1885, working in Taradale, Napier, and then later north of Gisborne working for Williams & Kettle. He managed a store on the coast there; I can’t remember the name of the settlement. I remember visiting it as a child, and my father and mother telling me where the store had been close to the coast.

In 1896 on medical advice he returned to England where in London he met Canadian Ruth Scott, and he followed her to Canada where they became engaged and then married in 1900, and my wife, who’s just arrived, wears her engagement ring … a lovely one carat solitaire diamond ring. In Canada he worked for his father-in-law’s Quebec Railway Company, and that company was responsible for much of the trans-continental railway from east to west coast. Still suffering poor health, he then returned to New Zealand in 1907, and he settled in Havelock North where his brother, Allen – and you may be curious about the spelling of that, but it is correct – was the vicar of St Luke’s.

And in fact there is another Alan Gardiner, also a Reverend, who was a captain in the Royal Navy and belonged to the Church Missionary Society; and he died in Tierra del Fuego. The reason he died in Tierra del Fuego was that he went there on a missionary voyage, and they went to Spanish Harbour and he and some of his men were left there, and a relief ship was supposed to come and it never did. And it’s Charles Darwin’s fault that my grandfather [?] and his companions died. The reason it’s Charles Darwin’s fault, is that Charles Darwin said that the natives there were cannibals. And so although the diaries that were left, and found after they had died, described the fact that they could see the settlements of the natives and their fires, they never approached them because they believed they were cannibals. They weren’t. So … who knows what would’ve happened? Sorry – that’s a total sideline from my talk.

So initially my grandfather established an import and commission business, and later became secretary of the Hawke’s Bay Herald [Tribune] newspaper, and was secretary of the Woodford House Board for thirty-five years from 1909 to 1944. And he and a member of the Chambers family in fact walked the hills behind Havelock North to find a suitable site for Woodford to be built on, so he was actually involved in the choosing of the site where Woodford now is.

They had three children: Tony, whose full name was Ireton;  Faith;  and the youngest was my mother, Michael; who was called Michael … whether her parents wanted a boy I don’t know … but she was Michael. When she became something of an artist in her later life she occasionally signed her name Michaela, so that people wouldn’t think that she was a man. Ireton – that is a historic name; there was a Colonel Ireton … my wife will correct me if I’m wrong … who was one of Cromwell’s right-hand men, and he married a forebear of mine, hence the name Ireton being carried down into the family.

They purchased about eighteen acres of Mason Chambers’ Tauroa Station land, and in 1907 ‘Stadacona’ was built by Robert Holt for £500, of heart kauri and totara with all the materials being dragged by bullock dray up the track now known as Joll Road in Havelock North. And those of you who are familiar with it know that it’s a fairly windy and sometimes a bit bumpy road – you can imagine what it was like over a century ago, before it was sealed. And they built what is now the Keirunga homestead, but they called it ‘Stadacona’;  and the reason they called it ‘Stadacona’ was that that was the North American Indian name for Quebec, where Ruth Scott came from.

Charles Tanner purchased the property in 1919 and renamed it Keirunga – the place on the hill. And then in 1928 George Nelson, who was also a close friend of Reginald and Ruth, bought Keirunga where he lived until his death at the age of ninety-three in 1964. So that’s Keirunga as it now is. [Shows slide]

Reginald was a supporter of the Arts and Crafts movement of which I’ll talk more later; so I think he would actually be delighted that the house that he built is now the homestead at the Keirunga Arts Society. There’s something strangely – or not strangely, but really appropriate – in the fact that they built the house and it is now the centre for an Arts and Crafts Society, so that gives me considerable pleasure.

So just a little bit of context for you – Havelock North was developing between 1910 and 1911, and at that stage the Chambers family, Hugh Campbell, and George Nelson established the Hawke’s Bay Tribune, and my grandfather became the secretary. At that time the population of Havelock was five hundred and one, and Woodford House moved from Hastings to the site that was chosen my Mason Chambers – not the current Mason Chambers, but his – I think father or grandfather – and my grandfather, and the buildings were designed by Willie Rush. In 1912, following a petition to the government – and my grandfather was one of the signatories – Havelock was proclaimed a town district, but was chronically short of funds … seems rather a familiar plea from local government. 1913, Heretaunga School moved from Hastings and later merged with a Wanganui school called Hurworth, to become what we now know as Hereworth.

Turning then to the Arts and Crafts movement, this was a British, Canadian, Australian and American design movement that flourished from about 1880 to around about 1910. It was instigated by the artist and writer William Morris in the 1860s and was inspired by the writings of John Ruskin. It influenced architecture, domestic design and decorative arts using simple forms and a medieval style of decoration. They advocated truth to materials, traditional craftsmanship, and somehow or other into the mix, economic reform. Again, not a lot changes. So the followers of the Arts and Crafts movement in Havelock North included my grandfather, architect James Chapman-Taylor who designed ‘Turama’, the house … which I’ll come to in a moment … for my grandparents; and also ‘Whare Ra’ for Dr Robert Felkin; and other local buildings. And the artist and architect William Rush was a devotee, and he designed the village hall; what’s now known as ‘Rush Cottage’; and a number of other houses and buildings.

So what was the Havelock Work? At a time of social and intellectual changes the Havelock Work was an artistic, cultural and spiritual movement that stimulated much that happened in Havelock North – and I’ll come to the spiritual later. Reginald and Ruth Gardiner and Harold Large, who I will mention shortly, formed a small, informal literary discussion group, meeting regularly; and that was in 1907. And in 1908 … why they met in Frimley I’m not quite certain … but over a hundred people met at Frimley to discuss cultural issues, with Reginald Gardiner a main speaker, proposing an organisation to encourage the talent of the musical, dramatic and literary people.  The Havelock Work, as it became known, was born, and eventually embraced the whole town. You might think that a rather extraordinary claim, but I’ll explain it in a moment.

In preparation for today’s talk I went into a suitcase of material that my mother put together, and I came across about twenty typed poems which were typed by my grandmother. And I thought, because I’m talking really about her husband, that I would use the poem ‘Husband and Wife’ as it’s called, that she typed; and when I say she typed it, you can tell she typed it because she made corrections, some of them with the typewriter and some by hand.

I see in thee a haven, and thou in me a ship
To carry all thine argosies with graceful curve and dip
I see in thee a tall tree, uprising to the skies
And thou in me the spring flowers, the life that never dies
I see in thee a great wind, lashing the sullen sea
And thou in me the bird’s wing which braves it carefully
I see in thee the hearthstone and thou in me the fire,
Come warm thy hands, beloved one, thee and thy heart’s desire
I see in thee my master, my leader and my friend,
Thou sees in me a type of love, that love which cannot end
Perchance we are just two children set down to work to-gether
He trusteth us, He kneadeth us, He weldeth us to-gether’

The hyphens in the ‘together’ were in the original. Now that’s quaint, but it rhymes, and it expresses a lot, I think, about the relationship between my grandfather and my grandmother – they were a team.

When I was a child … I was born in 1946, and my grandmother died when I was about seven. I didn’t see an awful lot of her; we used to see them always at Christmas. I frequently went from where we lived … particularly when we shifted to 49 Duart Road when I was seven … I would walk up the hill to my grandparents’ place at the top of Duart Road. Before that we were at 19 Duart Road, which was a bit more of a walk. But whenever I remember visiting, my grandmother was almost always in a chaise longue. There’s one very like it in the museum in Duart House on the first floor – I mean, it could well be the same chaise longue – I simply don’t know what happened to it. But that’s where I remember her sitting; she didn’t keep particularly good health. She believed in the fairies in the bottom of the garden – at least she made me believe there were fairies in the bottom of the garden. [Chuckles] And she obviously was as much of a deep-thinking person as my grandfather, but she didn’t have the same sort of public persona; and again I’ll come to her again later.

Now I’ve inherited this candlestick, which is made of iron. I’ll pass it round … you can see that it’s got some beaten decoration on it. And I was recently visited by a couple of ladies from the museum and art gallery, and they are reasonably certain that it was made by a member of the Havelock Work – not one of my grandparents. So you might just like to pass that round and have a look at it.

So from 1908, meetings developed, from readings from Shakespeare and Dickens in the St Luke’s schoolroom, to social afternoons and Wednesday night talent shows, then carving and drama classes, flower and fruit shows, and arts and crafts exhibitions. And Reginald Gardiner carved, and opened a craft shop in the village to foster local interest. A Morris Dancing side was formed by school children – the first in the country. And of course Morris Dancing is still based at Keirunga in Havelock North.

Now, I inherited my grandfather’s Marples Carving Chisels … good for calling attention at the beginning of a meeting … but quite sharp, and still excellent steel, and I used those in the 1970s when I was at university and carved wooden jewellery and small scale sculpture. I still do occasionally use them. And one of the things I’ve inherited is this chair here, which I’ve just finished reupholstering and restoring for the second time in our ownership of it. In the 1970s, you might recall there was a craze for dark furniture, and I inherited this broken-down chair with horsehair padding when we moved into our first house and didn’t have a lot of furniture. So I got a book on upholstery and set about reupholstering it. And unfortunately oak didn’t exactly suit our perception of décor, so I covered it with a mahogany stain. I then felt all guilty about it when I came to reupholster it this year – in fact I started it last year – I think this project’s taken about eighteen months since I first took paint stripper to it. It took a couple of coats of paint stripper, and if you look at it carefully you’ll actually still see elements of that stain that I applied in the 1970s; but it’s sort of appropriate – it’s part of the history of the chair. So I’ve restored it as best I can, and I am fairly certain that my grandfather carved that chair. He didn’t put his name on it, but I can think of no other reason why it was passed down through the family to me other than that he would’ve carved it. And there is another chair almost exactly the same – well the framework of the chair is almost exactly the same; again in the Duart House Museum. The carving is different, possibly a different member of the group. So that’s a treasure; in fact I was just … I haven’t consulted my wife about this, but I was actually thinking, ‘What’s going to happen when we’re no longer around to look after it?’ And while our children might be prepared to look after it, I have a suspicion that it ought perhaps go to someone like the Duart House Society so that it is preserved in perpetuity – at least I hope it would be. So that was literally … I finished that task of about eighteen months this week, when I finished the re-upholstery.

Before I gave a similar talk to the Duart House Society, I went up to the top of Duart Road to the second ‘Turama’ – and I’ll come to that later – because I remembered that my grandfather’s study where that first photograph was taken had carved cupboard doors, and I thought, ‘I’d love to see if they’re still there.’ Well they are no longer there. And the people who own the house were very welcoming. The house has changed considerably since my grandparents owned it, and I hate to say it, but I think those cupboard doors probably went up in smoke – to my regret, but there we are. So those are the carving chisels; and this is actually a nursing chair. Do come up and have a look at it later, and also at the chisels.

So the Havelock Work proposed a village hall; and $1100 [£1100] was collected by public subscription, with the hall being opened by Bishop Averill in 1910, and there were weekly dramatic performances in the hall. And in 1911 an old English village fete was held, opening with a procession of over a hundred men, women and children in medieval costume and carrying banners; ‘King Arthur’ and his court presided over Morris and folk dancers, tourneys, playlets, and stalls sold refreshments and crafts. Entertainments included games; sixteenth century songs and dances; music by the Hastings Town Band and other concerts; a Woodford production of ‘Much Ado About Nothing’; a performance of ‘The Merchant of Venice’; scenes from ‘Twelfth Night’, ‘King Lear’, ‘Julius Caesar’, ‘Romeo and Juliet’ and ‘Love’s Labour’s Lost’, with Reginald as Don Adriano de Armado, and Ruth as Katharine; and a ball was held in Shakespearean costume. They didn’t have things like playstation and television and computers [chuckles] to keep them busy and otherwise occupied. I mean, can you imagine that amount being done, even with the resources we have in say the whole of Hawke’s Bay now, all in the space of a couple of weeks? I think not. So that was the Shakespearean Pageant – and that’s my grandfather right at the back – and the pageant included ‘Queen Elizabeth’ and her court and retinue. And when we were raising funds for the Havelock Library, we had a medieval dinner, partly because of this history.

The ‘Forerunner’ was a magazine which was produced … or a newsletter produced … as an informal publication initially typed and hand-illustrated, but soon printed on a small press at ‘Stadacona’. In the first issue, Reginald Gardiner explained its purpose:

“We seek expression for the ideals that well up from time to time from the deeps of our eternal self, so we produce this first attempt, a magazine which may draw nearer together those who live for the same great ideal. As we keep true to the invisible within us, we shall steadily grow to express our local conditions; our local environment; in terms of truth and beauty, joy and harmony.”

The ‘Forerunner’ was the voice of the Havelock Work, publicising social and philosophical commentary while also printing literary criticism, poems, stories and self-help items. There’s also, in the first issue, a glimpse of his philosophy of life:

“If we faithfully follow the inner life, and leading our subject, we’ll grow more vital and defined; our point of view and treatment more varied and direct; our work will be like some great and glorious symphony, vibrating in accord with the mysterious genius of our land; each one of us will add his chosen part as individual units of an orchestral band.”

Now that’s again, somewhat quaint in language, but that was obviously the way he’d talk. And the ‘Forerunner’ had a later success in the ‘Lantern’, a publication from 1936 to 1949 which was more associated with ‘Whare Ra’. And when the Havelock North Community Centre was built … now called The Function Centre … I ensured that there was a reference back to the Havelock Work, because the gallery at the front is called the Lantern Gallery and if you look on the right hand side of the double doors as you go in there, you’ll see a little explanation of where that name came from.

And there was a rather nice coincidence; that at the time when the Community Centre was being built, the village hall was demolished, and some of you may recall that was a matter of some controversy. The reality was that it was a dreadful earthquake risk and it was probably a good thing that it was pulled down. But people didn’t really want it to be pulled down. I can remember going to election meetings when my father was a candidate for the Havelock North Borough Council, and I think the first time I stood for the Borough Council the Rotary Club had an election meeting there, and I spoke at that.

So returning to my grandparents’ domestic life – the house that Fred and Heather Sanders now live in was built for my grandparents and called ‘Turama’; and turama is the Māori for ‘lantern, source of light, and spiritual illumination’. So again, in the naming of their house there is a reference to their philosophical, spiritual approach to life. And those illustrations are taken from Judy Siers’ book, and the house is not much changed since then. And I believe they almost certainly moved from ‘Stadacona’ which, bear in mind, was only built in 1908, and they shifted less than ten years later. I believe that they moved to be closer to the Felkins who were based at ‘Whare Ra’, just across the road at the top of Duart Road. The porch and windows were added later.

Around the time of the First World War, author Ngaio Marsh lived in Havelock North – that’s something that most people don’t know. And fifty years later she observed, “By one of those curious runnings-together of affinities Havelock North had become a cultural centre, and thought of itself as such. The esoteric found a fertile soil there.” Many philosophies flourished: theosophy; Rudolf Steiner’s anthroposophy; Robert [Herbert] Sutcliffe’s School of Radiant Living; an order of the Round Table of the Hermetic Order [of the Golden Dawn]; and those of us who’ve been around long enough will remember all of those things being present in Havelock North.  And I remember the stories that went around, particularly about the School of Radiant Living, and the stories that still go round about the Hermetic Order at ‘Whare Ra’, most of which are balderdash and nonsense. [Chuckles]

So my grandparents sought to find the esoteric wisdom teaching of Western philosophy, which they thought had been lost. And inspired by Harold Large, who was a former theosophist, and who stayed in the cottage in the ‘Stadacona’ grounds – which is now the Quilters’ Cottage – Reginald and Ruth Gardiner, Exchange Hotel owner Mary McLean, and Reginald’s sister Rose who lived at 19 Duart Road – which is the first house that I lived in when I was born because my parents bought the house from her – sought the esoteric wisdom teaching of Western philosophy, and prayed and meditated together. They felt that The Church had lost the esoteric teachings of Jesus and his disciples, and through training and initiation, sought to learn those hidden teachings. The group grew and became known as the Society of the Southern Cross, and Reginald Gardiner considered the Havelock Work to be built around this silent power station.

In 1910 Father Fitzgerald of the Community of the Resurrection at Mirfield [UK], an Anglican Order, came to New Zealand, met the members of the Havelock prayer group, and agreed to direct their spiritual work from Britain – again, in the days before email … even faxes … and to a large degree even before fast, motorised ships;  so it must’ve taken at least six weeks for letters to get to the UK and another six weeks to come back, so spiritual direction was a sort of three-month time lag. [Chuckles] After a period, Father Fitzgerald told the group that they required personal instruction and recommended Dr Robert Felkin, Chief of the Stella Matutina Order. Dr Felkin and his family visited New Zealand for three months in 1912, establishing a temple of the Order in Havelock North. In 1916, at the invitation of members of that New Zealand branch, and with the offer of a life tenancy of ‘Whare Ra’ – Māori for ‘House of the Sun’ – Dr Felkin and his family returned to New Zealand for good. By 1926, just ten years later when Robert Felkin died, the Smaragdum Thalasses Temple had become the largest in the world, with members including many of the most wealthy and influential people in Havelock North and Hastings, including bishops, senior military officers and Members of Parliament – don’t ask me who, because I don’t know.

Mrs Felkin stated that Reginald Gardiner – and I quote her words – “had exercised so great an influence over our lives”, and was “the motive power” for the Felkins’ move to Havelock North in 1916.” Dr Felkin, in his turn, described Ruth Gardiner as “small and fair. She was very psychic, and I had a profound admiration and respect for her gifts.” And as already noted, she was also a poet.

After Dr Felkin’s death in 1926, Reginald Gardiner replaced Dr Felkin as the greatly-honoured Chief of the Order, and with Mrs and Miss Felkin ruled for a further stable period of thirty-three years, which brings us up to 1959. By 1930 the Inner Order had over one hundred members and the Outer Order numbered over two hundred at its peak. During Reginald Gardiner’s time as Chief, the Order was renamed the Order of Smaragdum Thalasses.

The Order declined during the Second World War, and by the time Reginald Gardiner and Mrs Felkin died in 1959, numbers had dwindled and Miss Felkin, who was Dr Felkin’s daughter by a previous marriage and therefore the step-daughter of Mrs Felkin, died three years later.

I remember them both. We used to go and visit ‘Whare Ra’ at Christmas time; I remember the overpowering smell of the pine tree that was always there as the Christmas tree; I remember the lights … we still have some of the electric lights that must have been very early decorations at that time, that adorned the tree. And I remember Mrs Felkin as a rather formidable lady, and I remember Miss Felkin as being something like a wraith – one moment she was there and the next moment you’d turn round and she’d disappeared; and then she’d come back again, for no apparent reason. [Chuckles]

In 1978 a letter was circulated to members announcing the closure of the temple in 1979. Now at that time my father was the Chief of the Order. If you search the internet you’ll find somebody who was a personal friend of my father claiming that he was authorised by my father to continue the work of the Order. I don’t believe a word of it – my father considered that the Order had done its dash; it had seen its day. Numbers had dwindled and there was nobody in the younger generation to carry it on, and they ceremoniously burned the records and a lot of the material relating to the Order in 1979. So anybody who claims to be a successor of the Order, I regard frankly as a fraud.

Another outcome of the Havelock Work – the Mount Tauhara Trust was formed in 1938 with the original trustees being Dr Felkin’s daughter, Ethelwyn, Reginald Gardiner, and his son-in-law and my father, John von Dadelszen; bearing in mind this was before my parents were even engaged let alone married, so obviously my grandfather could see the writing was on the wall.

Aged seventy-two in 1944, which is when he gave up being Secretary of the Woodford House Board, Reginald Gardiner had a leg amputated above the knee to cure a circulatory problem, and thereafter he walked using crutches, which is why he very often sat in that chair with a rug over his knee. And I can remember him saying, you know, that “Charlie was itching”; and that was his big toe that was no longer there, and had been gone for, oh – two years before I was born.

By the time I was born I believe that my parents had moved from what is now 82 Duart Road, to what is now 84 Duart Road. So just in front of the Sanders’ house there’s a building which I think has fibrolite sheathing and sort of Tudor-style lathes across the joints. And I remember my grandfather being most often seated in his sitting room armchair, which was in the illustration at the beginning. Ruth died in 1954 and Reginald in 1959.

So what are my memories of my grandfather? A thinking and spiritual man; calm and secure in his beliefs without being dogmatic. An interested and interesting grandfather; I related to him without regarding him as an adult, but as a knowledgeable and empathetic friend … and I have to say that now that I’m a grandfather, that is a challenge which I aspire to follow. And a Renaissance gentleman; he was just a lovely man, everybody seemed to respect him. He had a huge library, and I remember their sitting room being absolutely lined with books, some of which we now have.

I have to say I never really appreciated my grandfather’s influence on our community until Matthew Wright’s ‘Havelock North, The History of a Village’ was published.

[Shows slide] That’s a painting of Reginald Gardiner by Howard MacMillan in January, 1958. Howard MacMillan and his family lived in the house that my grandparents had originally built, and Howard was … I don’t know, he was probably about twenty at the time when he painted that. He was a very talented artist as a young man, and that is a very good likeness of my memory of him.

So their enduring legacy?

Keirunga (Stadacona), now appropriately the heart of the ongoing arts and crafts movement in Havelock North, if I can describe the Keirunga Garden Society in those terms; all the independent thinkers of the village who follow their traditions of philosophical thought, spirituality and creativity; and Havelock North is – there are a lot of people there who in their own way are very philosophical; there are still a lot of people there who have deep spiritual beliefs; and there area lot of people there who follow creative and artistic activities, and the Keirunga Gardens Arts and Crafts Society, which was formed less than a decade after Reginald’s death, born in part from I believe, their enduring influence on Havelock North.

Audience question: When did the change come, and [it] was known as Havelock North?

Mark: That was around about the time of the First World War, and the reason was that there were two Havelocks, and one of them had to become either North or South. I think it was … I don’t have that information. Find it in Matthew Wright’s book, which I’m sure the library has.

As I started with a quotation from Matthew Wright I’ll close with one as well:

Havelock North became a tight-knit community, a spiritual centre, a village proud of its heritage and unique sense of purpose. This community spirit was something more than the sum of the ambitions, aims and beliefs of the movers behind the Havelock Work; it was a new social dynamic that took on a life of its own, adopted with pride by new generations. Socially, Havelock North was unique; nowhere else in New Zealand did a living sense of small town community spirit gain such strength and endurance. Much of the credit can go to the legacy of Reginald Gardiner and his friends.”


I’m happy to answer any questions (a) if we have time, which I think we do, and (b) if I can answer them.

Joyce: [A] very comprehensive talk … fantastic. Fascinating. Questions please? At ‘Whare Ra’ when we came to live here … it’s that thing that floats around … no-one truly understood it, or really knew what was going on there. It’s just great to see it in a different context.

Question: Do you understand all the theory and stuff that went on?

Mark: No, I don’t. My brother and I … I suppose we weren’t old enough to become interested, although … well … 1979, I was thirty-three and my brother was thirty-eight, so I suppose in a sense we were old enough but neither of us showed any interest in it. My brother and I actually referred to the meeting that my parents went to rather irreverently. [Chuckles] What I can say with absolute confidence, is that much of the ridiculous nonsense that’s still perpetuated periodically in the newspaper every now and again, when somebody has a rush of blood to the head and wants to stir something up which might be more exciting than dogs attacking people … excuse me saying that, but you know, this resurfaces, and I don’t think there was anything sinister in it; I don’t think it was black magic.

The interesting thing is that my grandfather was a committed Anglican – I must tell you a little story because it illustrates the point. When the Tauhara Centre was being built in Taupō which was … I mentioned that the Tauhara Trust was established in 1938 … it took a long time for them to actually build. And they actually purchased land in Taupō, and sold that as Taupō really enveloped it in a residential sense. They bought then land out at Acacia Bay – up above Acacia Bay, and they had a Retreat Centre designed for there, and my father asked me to act for the Trust and to represent it when it went to the hearing in front of the Taupō County Council. And in those days, the County Council – all the councillors sat on their planning committee, and the hearing went perfectly well; we had a favourable report from the planner and there were no real objections that I can recall. And the ward member from Tūrangi asked a question, and he said, “Mr Chairman, could Mr von Dadelszen please tell us the religious affiliations of the trustees of the Tauhara Trust?” And the chairman quite correctly said, “No, no, no, no, no, no – that’s quite out of order.” And I said, “Well Mr Chairman, I’d actually rather answer the question because I’m aware of the fact that there are rumours going around Taupō that the Trust is a front for the Church of Scientology, or alternatively, for a nudist colony.” [Laughter] “And as far as I am aware it is neither. My father’s the Chancellor of the Anglican Diocese of Waiapu; one of the trustees is a synodsman from St John’s Anglican Cathedral in Napier; and I’m sorry, I don’t know the religion of the other trustees.” So I turned to my father and said, “Can you tell me?” He said, “I’ve got no idea.” [Chuckles]

So … I mean, these sorts of rumours gain currency now and again;  but seriously, I don’t think so. If you look at the illustrations of what was in the temple, there are symbols there which I do not understand, but you know, they must relate to the Eastern philosophies and so on … sorry, Eileen?

[Correction by family member, Eileen]: The Western Esoteric.

Mark: Oh, The Western Esoteric, yeah … and I don’t pretend to understand them.

Question: So does anyone understand it? Has it been documented?

Mark: No. I think you can get information about the Hermetic Order, but to my knowledge I’ve never seen anything to explain exactly what the temple in Havelock North was all about.

Joyce Barry: Michael, you’ve stumbled on nothing more?

Mark: They were … in fact, the first time I had any dealings with Michael [Fowler, local historian] it was as a result of writing to the editor of the newspaper and saying, “Mr Fowler doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”

Michael Fowler: No, it wasn’t me! [Laughter] I’m sorry, no.

Mark: It was somebody or other.

Michael: I had some, but that wasn’t one of them. [Chuckles]

Joyce: They all seem extremely satisfied, Mark, and I am too, ‘cause that was just a fantastic talk. It’s marvellous – what a family! Lot of family connections as well, I mean it was so influential in such a small area.

Mark: Well again, you know – I’m not here to talk about my other side of the family, but my paternal grandfather was the Chairman of the Havelock North Town Board from around 1926 until he died in 1946. And it was again, really only when I read Matthew Wright’s book about Havelock North, that I appreciated what he’d been like as a politician; he gave the politicians in Wellington a fair roasting over their lack of financial support for the citizens of Havelock North after the Hawke’s Bay earthquake in 1931.

But the other thing that really hit me when I read that book, was the fact that the … sort of the political leadership in Havelock North and the spiritual leadership in Havelock North, if I can put it that way, were in some way brought together with the marriage of my parents. And [I] hadn’t really appreciated that dimension in quite the same way until I read that book.

Joyce: Thank you very much. On behalf of Landmarks, Mark, a very modest thank you; but … absolutely thrilled; but really, thank you for coming again.

Mark: Pleasure.


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Landmarks Talk 12 June 2012

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