It’s about to reign – with queens
Blossom queens from 1953-1973 will parade through Hastings in September to help the city mark its jubilee, reports LAWRENCE GULLERY
They were the reigning women of their times and now some of the blossom queens of the 1950s and 60s will be back in this year’s blossom festival to mark the “Hastings – 50 Years a City” celebrations.
The Blossom Festival is a 10-day event in September celebrating arts events, exhibitions and shows around Hastings – and includes the blossom parade where the queens will once more smile for the crowds.
The blossom parade was a famous Hastings spectacle between 1953 and 1973.
It was during that time the blossom queens were selected and their annual appointment was used as a fundraising event.
Event management committee chairman said he had got in touch with as many of the former blossom queens as possible and 10 had confirmed they would be part of this year’s parade.
“Glynis Moleta was the only one we couldn’t contact. We’re not sure what year she was queen but her last address was in Hastings,” he said.
Mr Fine said others he had contacted were now living overseas, including one in Towoomba, Australia and another in Bangkok, Thailand.
“A couple of them can’t make it, but we have four coming from Auckland and the rest are local people,” he said.
Among those coming to Hastings is Shona Holgate [Holdgate] (nee MacDonald) who was the first blossom queen, and now lives in Christchurch.
Christine Coleman was a blossom queen in 1965 and now lives in Auckland.
She won’t be able to attend but has donated the gown she wore when she was crowned.
The gown was designed by Havelock North’s Roswitha Robertson and will form part of an exhibition for the “Hastings – 50 Years a City” celebrations in September, at the exhibition centre.
Mrs Robertson said one of her favourites was a gown worn by the blossom queen, Colleen Tait, which also won the New Zealand Gown of the Year competition the same year.
Festival director Keith Thorsen said each of the blossom queens would ride in a car made in the year they were crowned.
“In 1999 we brought them back for a pre-millennium parade as well. This is the only other time we have done it,” Mr Thorsen said.
The Blossom Festival started in 1988 and five years later organisers looked at bringing back the blossom parade as part of the festival.
The festival management committee consists of representatives from the Hastings District Council, Creative Hastings, Hastings City Marketing and local iwi.
The committee’s efforts were recognised yesterday when the council won an award from Creative New Zealand for supporting the Hastings Blossom Festival.
It won the cultural festivals and arts event category, which was announced at the Local Government New Zealand’s annual conference in Wellington this week.
Mr Thorsen said the award had given the festival national recognition.