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BUSH, BOG, BRINE & BUGLE Yestermusic of Featherston County FOREWORD The first migrants to the region brought with them rich traditions of pūoro–and their new home would inspire them to coin many more. The plains and forests of the Wairarapa played muse and audience to the evocative waiata tangi of the Rangitane people and the spirited karanga of Ngāti Kuhungunu. Later the valley came to know of the sweet oriori of the Ngāti Ira and the fierce haka of the Ngāti Tama. Europeans began colonising the area from around the mid-1800s and the sea shanties, murder ballads, Irish jigs, Scottish reels, Norwegian skillingsviser and German Liede that accompanied them were added to the melange. In their new setting, pieces began to morph, cross-pollinate, and evolve. A song’s protagonist might be swapped out for a local hero or villain. The orchestration of a piece might substitute instruments more commonly found in the burgeoning colonies; for example, a tune coined for organ or piano in Europe might come to be commonly rendered with the highly portable harmonica or accordion. In some cases, the basic musical architecture of songs would alter much like genetic material over the generations. Rhythms changed, tempos relented or quickened, and scales and modes mutated as the music began to reflect local tastes, experiences and history. As the 19th century rolled in and the population exploded, so did the quantity of music created and consumed in the region. The proliferation of pianos in homes and public houses had a profound effect on the musical landscape, as did the presence of the military camp in Featherston with its brass and military bands. From this period, there were compositions that went on to become national and even global hits, for example Rimutaka Waltz by Charles Woodley and Wairarapa Waltz by E. E. Martin. Since then, Featherston has continued to produce musicians who punch above their weight in their respective fields–from Bell Street’s pop rock sensations, Fourmyula (who produced Nature, voted NZ’s top single of last century) to the town’s favourite songwriting son, the prolific Warren Maxwell (Little Bushman, Fat Freddy’s Drop, Trinity Roots)–from the inimitable sonic genius of internationally renowned Campbell Kneale (Birchville Cat Motel, Black Boned Angel, Our Love Will Destroy the Earth) to the highly in-demand, bass player vir-

tuoso Patrick Bleakley (The Troubles, Jonathan Crayford Trio, Blerta)–from the indefatigable élan of master musician Saali Marks (Battleska Galactica, Vinyl Bison) to the vocal finesse of the very gifted Marguerite Tait-Jamieson. To pare down tracks for an anthology from the full canon of what constitutes Wairarapa’s musical history would be a daunting prospect indeed. Thankfully, our task was made easier by shrinking the pool of candidates to only those meeting certain criteria. Firstly, we wanted compositions with a strong connection to Featherston County. Some songs were written by folk who were born in or settled in the County, like Take Away the Wee Fish and Aglow in the Arrow. Others, such as South Seas Tarantelle and The Ballad of Swagman Magee, are about Featherstonians themselves. We also trimmed down the list by excluding all those composed after 1945. In the final instance, we were keen to focus on lesser known compositions. Acclaimed and popular pieces such as the aforementioned Rimutaka Waltz by Woodley have already been widely published and are wellpreserved with background information in archives such as David Dell of Upper Hutt’s excellent and extensive collection of NZ music material. The one notable exception, of course, is The Last Post. Its inclusion in this compilation has everything to do with the distinctive local backstory to that particular rendition, recorded as it was in Featherston by a notable Featherstonian many years ago. It should be noted that the early music of local Māori is not well represented here. This is primarily out of a deep respect for the local tribes and their music as tāonga. It is for those iwi to decide how their music should be performed and presented and by whom and when. Tuna Heke and Hei Konā Mai, E Te Tau are both in te reo Māori but whilst they have connections to Featherston neither come care of the iwi long affiliated with the area. The composer of Tuna Heke, Ngā Jacobs, resided in Featherston in the late 1800s. She was probably of both Kāi Tahu and Ngāti Porou heritage, although she was always rather coy about revealing her actual whakapapa. She herself claimed to be Tasmanian as she was born on the outskirts of Hobart. Hei Konā Mai, E Te Tau is a translation and rearrangement of the wellknown Italian resistance tune, Ciao Bella. The translation is credited to Featherstonian, Anaru Wharekauri.

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- Christopher K. Miller, Featherston 2015


PROGRAMME LINER NOTES A FLOOD IS COMING

Mssrs. Lecoq, Nehua & Kaan 1

Wairarapa, damnable bog To trudge one mile is half a day’s slog Hot sun, wet rain, often in fog Just fish your eels and drink your grog

2

A flood is coming, mark my words A flood is coming, watch them birds A flood is coming, take it from me To flush us bog men out to sea

3

Midges bitin’ me all night long I used my net and now it’s gone I used my net to catch some eels I scratch a lot but at least eat meals

4

A flood is coming, mark my words A flood is coming, watch them birds A flood is coming, take it from me To flush us bog men out to sea

5

Soggy breeches, drenching rain Bitin’ creatures, drive you insane Priests and preachers want my soul Save your speeches, I’m damned I know

6

A flood is coming, mark my words A flood is coming, watch them birds A flood is coming, take it from me To wash us bog men out to sea

Whilst many of the early Pākeha settlers to the lower Wairarapa from Wellington were industrious and ambitious types eager to bend the land to their will and make something of themselves in their new country, there were also many wayfarers and itinerants that had for a variety of different reasons drifted into the district and coalesced near the boggy shores of the Wairarapa Moana. There they could guarantee a regular and easy supply of eel and fish. For most, the exile was self-imposed. There were exseaman, old sawyers, soldiers, prospectors and miners who had lived their entire lives out of doors and who could not or would not acculturate into ‘normal’ urban life in the city or larger provincial towns. There were ship-jumpers, vagabonds, deserters, escaped convicts and more than a few of

Unknown ‘Bog Men’, c.1903 the certifiably pōrangi. Considered by all ‘decent’ folk as a thoroughly godless and unsavoury lot, the ‘Bog Men’–as they came to be known as collectively–were generally left alone out on the swampy wetlands. In return for this tolerance, the Bog Men kept out of the surrounding towns and hamlets, only entering the likes of Featherston when they needed to stock up on basic necessities such as flour, oats, sugar and replacement parts for their ‘gut-rot’ stills. A Flood Is Coming (also known as the Damn Bog Ditty and Wairarapa Damnable Bog) was a drinking song regaling life out on the swamp. The lake and surrounding lands were prone to heavy seasonal floods and more than a few Bog Men were lost to these deluges in the winters before the Ruamahanga River was diverted. It was an Old Testament fate often prophesied for them by local clergymen hence the song’s cheeky chorus warning listeners to watch out for the impending floods. It is not known who the original composer of the song was (if indeed it can be attributed to a single composer); however, the most popular rendition was almost certainly that of Guillaume ‘GG’ Lecoq, Billy Nehua and George ‘Smiles’ Kaan featuring harmonica, guitar and tea chest bass.

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RIMUTAKA MARCH RAGTIME Burling Rag Band

1

Rimutakas in the morning They’ll march us o’er the hill I’m heading in to Featherston Tonight I’m gonna drink my fill Start on up at the local pub End up ragging at the Anzac Club, Rimutakas in the morning They’ll march us o’er the hill

2

Private Parker’s got a sweetheart Moana with shining eyes He leaves for France in the morning, So tonight they’ll have to trade goodbyes His final test, before goin’ West Is to coax her down into Nesbit’s Nest Private Parker’s got a sweetheart Moana with shining eyes

3

Rimutakas, Lord Bless the WPA Rimutakas, let the Little Cobbler lead the whole way

4

The Sargent’s out on the warpath He’s got no love for me Take me back to the camp town I think I just heard the reveille Late sure means, I’ll pull the latrines O please Lord spare me, ship me out to Messines The Sargent’s out on the warpath He’s got no love for me

5

Rimutakas in the morning They’ll march us o’er the hill I’m heading in to Featherston Tonight I’m gonna drink my fill I feel fine yet, they’re calling time, Lend us a shilling and the last round’s mine Rimutakas in the morning They’ll march us o’er the hill

6

Rimutakas, Lord Bless the WPA Rimutakas, let the Little Cobbler lead the whole way

Tim Shoebridge’s excellent 2011 report entitled Featherston Military Training Camp and the First World War, 1915–27 provides this account of the the Rimutaka March:

The writer A.H. Reed recalled that as his period of training at Featherston drew to a close, ‘the prevailing topic of conversation was the impending “march over the hill”. Except for final leave this was the last big event of our New Zealand training.’ Men packed their bags on their final morning at Featherston Camp, then marched over the Rimutaka Range in full uniform and kit to complete their training at Trentham Camp. Columns of more than 1000 men marched the long arduous road over the hill, farewelled by the people of Featherston as they passed through the township. An ambulance followed the men up the hill, ready to take care of anyone who collapsed on the way. The ladies of the Wairarapa Patriotic Association prepared a hot meal at the summit, where a hut with tanks and boilers had been built for the purpose. The ANZAC Club mentioned in the song’s lyrics was built in 1916 as a place for soldiers to relax and enjoy social events such as dances. Early jazz and ragtime music from America was gaining popularity at this time in New Zealand. The Burling Rag Band–a local ensemble including double bass, clarinet, and guitar–were frequent performers at the ANZAC Club in the early 1920s. Their homage to the rite of passage–the march over the hill–was this peppy ragtime.

Recruits marching over the hill. 1917. The ‘Little Cobbler’ asked to lead the whole way in the rag’s refrain refers to Featherston’s elderly bootmaker, Rutherford, who was adopted as the soldier’s mascot when he lead the fifteenth and sixteenth reinforcements over the hill and down to Trentham. Rutherford’s contribution to troop morale and NZ’s war effort is outlined in a book on the town’s history Featherston: 1857-2009 by David Yerex et al.


In the second verse, a Private would be attempting to lure his love interest down into Nesbit’s Nest before ‘going West’ (a double play here meaning heading to the front in Europe but also a WW1 euphemism for dying). Nesbit’s Nest was a part of the camp’s practice trench system also described in Shoebridge’s report: ...the Engineers’ Signallers trained at Featherston (camp). They built an almost invisible underground labyrinth of trenches to practise signalling with flags, telephones and buzzers. Sections of trench had names such as Nesbit’s Nest, the Whispering Gallery, Hyde Park Corner, Lacey’s Lane, and Pall Mall. The underground parts of the trench system were lit only by lanterns.

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THE BALLAD OF SWAGMAN MAGEE B. & G. Scott

7

Down by the banks of the Tau-her’-ni-kau He would pull at his pipe and watch the stream flow Lean back on his pack, he’d swig his whiskey And drift off to sleep beneath the kauri

8

Along came the rascals from Underhill Way “Let’s give the old scruff a cold bath” one would say And the other agreed and so down the pair crept Unheard and unseen down to where Magee slept

9

His days on the road were often dangerous His nights on the road were downright risky But that was his life, he’d have no other Oh swagging’s the life for the Swagman Magee

10

Then out from the trees, they approached from above With a 1 2 3 4 and an almighty shove The old boy went rolling down clean off the Bank His swag became ballast, and down Magee sank

11

His corpse eddied up down by Madison’s place Such a hideous corpse, for the eels chewed his face The townsfolk assumed, twas some drunken mishap But the boys from the town knew it wasn’t like that

12

A noise in the dark, it made them anxious A splash in the stream, a guilty mem’ry Their jape cost his life, he’d have no other Just haunting and taunting for Ghostie Magee

1

When I was a young lad my Da’ said to me If I behave poorly, then Swagman Magee Will come round tonight for a word in my ear And Swagger Magee had been dead for a year

2

He carried his whole world, stacked high on his back As he wandered each highway, each low way, each track But our County would hear no more of his gay song The day when two lads pulled a prank that went wrong

3

His days on the road, were hard yet simple His nights on the road, were often lonely Yet that was his life, he’d have no other Oh swagging’s the life for the Swagman Magee

13

The first lad went down to the priest to confess But the revenant haunted him more and not less When he went missing, they searched for a week They found the young scamp with his face in a creek

4

Returned from the Great War in 1918 Though he’d never tell tales of that which he’d seen Instead, for a pint he would give you a tune Of elves in the woods or the man in the moon

14

The next lad had tried to escape his tormenter Who chased the lad screaming through the town centre Just when he re’lised his flight was in vain The fleer was crushed by the 5:40 train

5

To Featherston Town he’d come up for supplies To stock up on grog, scoff down a few pies With a feed in his belly, he’d leave a fair tip Then head for the river to have a wee kip

15

So listen my boy, don’t play the joker Treat all with respect and dignity too Or one of these nights a face half-eaten With swag on its back will come hunting for you

6

His days on the road, it made him happy His nights on the road, it made him feel free The road was his life, he’d have no other Oh swagging’s the life for the Swagman Magee

For well nigh a hundred years swaggers were a common sight on the roads of Wairarapa. Men of all ages, all sizes and nearly all races, walked the dusty roads with all their worldly possessions tied in a swag held


over their shoulder, usually balanced with a stick. Originally they were the mobile work force, moving from station to station, hoping to pick up seasonal work. Later they came to be men who were looking for a life of freedom on the road. —Masterton District Library/Wairarapa Archives ‘14 Over the years, many swagmen became famous across the lower North Island. The Latvian Barnis Krumen–known by many as Russian Jack–was a tall gentleman fondly remembered by those who knew him. Poet Harry Lawson and Thomas Bracken (who composed New Zealand’s national anthem) both took up the swag for spells and trod the Wairarapa prior to the turn of last century. The eccentric ‘Baron’ Fred de Lacey was rumoured to have been a man of aristocracy, his custom of wearing a monocle and keen ability to recite Shakespeare from memory both traits that likely fed such speculation. Peter Gray was remembered for being a bit of a scoundrel and con man, and the threat of being sent to see the swagger Mickey Dalton was often used to scare children into obedience.

In and around Featherston, the name of Swagman Magee was just as likely to be invoked by parents attempting to curb a child’s misbehaviour. He appeared on the roads around Featherston County in the 1920s. An Irishman by birth, he had travelled the World extensively and even served in the Australian Army during World War I fighting in Europe. Well-mannered and never one to outstay his welcome, he was warmly received into many homes throughout Featherston for a spot of supper during the chillier winter months. His untimely end came by way of drowning in the Tauherenikau river. His body was found with his swag still attached, leading the local constable to surmise that he had slipped when attempting to cross the swollen current; however, it wasn’t long before urban legend fleshed out the ambiguities around his demise with a slightly more dramatic turn of events connected to the untimely deaths of two lads shortly after Magee was found; the new version being far more useful in fable form where it could be invoked as a cautionary lesson of the consequences of misplaced morality to wayward sons.

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SOUTH SEAS TARANTELLE Enzo Sabbatini

Thom ‘Swagger’ Magee, 1926

1

From Puglia she came to the Wairarapa A sadness fell upon her Like the darkest winter Na ni na ni na ni na Tell you a story of death by pizzica

2

Betrothed to an old man–a cold cruel farmer Her husband had a temper Like the King of Malta Na ni na ni na ni na I’ll tell you a story of how he went too far

3

Alone on the shoreline with insomnia The moonlight shone upon her And all was limned silver Na ni na ni na ni na There on a sand dune she felt the pizzica

4

The rush from the kiss of a tiny spider She felt her blood igniting A feeling so bizarre Na ni na ni na ni na Dancing till dawnspring in sweet euphoria


as for the bluntness of his manner. In 1893, three Featherstonian young men with a history of rustling went missing. After a few weeks, suspicion fell on Collins as having done away with them when he had encountered them on his land up to no good–accusations he denied emphatically. Months later three ballasted corpses were found in the silt of Wairarapa Moana. No charges were ever laid for the murder but many remained convinced that Collins was responsible. In 1913, he met a violent end–although it wasn’t, as many of his detractors had prophesied, at the hand of one of his enemies. Instead, it was his young, unhappy bride, Ava Ragnatella–originally from Melpignano in Apulia, a region synonymous with the phenomenon tarantism and the pizzica or spider dance–who ended their marriage in emphatic style with over 300 slashes of a kitchen knife to all parts of his body.

Ava Ragnatella c.1905 5

A fortnight went by when her ole man beat her Pummelled to the floorboards She never knew what for Na ni na ni na ni na From beneath the coal range leapt out a t’rantula

6

She offered her wrist to the kindly creature Once more her blood igniting A rush familiar Na ni na ni na ni na Free now to frenzy a wild hysteria

7

Consumed by the fire of tarantella A madness fell upon her She snatched hold ‘a cleaver Na ni na ni na ni na Twirling, spinning–a bloody massacre

In 1890, Bryce Collins, a Yorkshire immigrant leased a rough hewn tract of South Wairarapa wetland from local iwi with a view to converting it to a sheep farm. He was renowned in the County as much for his business acumen

The tambourine (or lu tambureddhu) features heavily in the folk songs of Salento and it is not uncommon for songs to involve three or more tambourines frantically beating out the rhythm. Songs are often based around a simple two-chord progression over a pulsing 4:4 beat–a repetitive, driving form conducive to inducing trance-like states. The South Seas Tarantelle adheres to this simple musical form and, although sung in English, the lyrics conform to a traditional structure–the same that underpins such well-known pieces as Santu Paulu de Galatina and Te Pizzicau. The quintessential refrain “Na ni na ni na ni na” of the Pugliese tarantela is evident here.

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TE TUNA HEKE

Ngā Jacobs (based on tune by Manu Hao) 1

Te tuna heke, te tuna toa Haere atu rā Te tuna heke, te tuna toa

2

Ka uakina au ki te awa Kua reri au? Ka uakina au i te ata Nō hea ahau?

3

Ko te kaumoana!, Ko te kaumoana!

4

Te tara heke, te tara toa Haere atu rā Te tara heke, te tara toa


5

Ka rere atu au ki ngā ao Kua reri au? Ka rere atu ahau ki te pō Nō hea ahau?

6

Ko te kaumoana! Ko te kaumoana!

asks itself ‘Am I ready?’. In response to its own question, it replies with another: ‘Where am I from?’–and we sense something of its inner struggle to overcome anxiety about the journey and the pull to leave and so learn something about its place of origin.

Nearing the end of its life (which can easily be in excess of eighty years), a New Zealand eel (tuna) will begin its final migration, leaving the river systems in which it has spent most of its life, down through the coastal wetlands and deltas and out to sea. It will travel over a thousand kilometres North to its breeding grounds out somewhere amongst the Polynesian islands. Having spawned, it dies leaving the next generation to make the return journey south to New Zealand alone. The expansive wetlands of the Wairarapa were once famous for the eel runs for it was a huge catchment area and the point where the river system would drain into the ocean at the mouth of Onoke Moana (Lake Ferry) was very narrow by contrast. Tame Saunders, a Ngai Tahu eeler who settled in Pirinoa explained in an interview in 1960: Throughout the ages, the mouth of Wairarapa Moana has paid homage to its eel migration by obligingly closing its mouth at the end of February or the beginning of March. Legend records that Rakai Uru, the taniwha who is the caretaker of the lake, is responsible for this seasonal closing. Rakai Uru takes the form of a large totara log. When the migration is about to take place he makes a journey out to sea, and the mouth of the lake closes behind him. After Wairarapa Moana has been closed for about a week, the eels begin to migrate downstream. There are four species of eels (tuna). They are the hao (also known to the local Maoris as the King eels), the riko, the paranui and the kokopu tuna. To my way of thinking, one of the most wonderful things about this migration is that they never go down to the mouth out of their turn. The first to make the journey are the haos; next come the rikos, then the paranuis, and last of all the kokopu tuna. When the run of eels begins, they come down in thousands—one wonders where they all come from. They pass through the channel as thick as the channel can hold them.

Ngā Jacobs, 1922 The song’s simple form is repeated in the second half but features another impressive migrator, once common to the Wairarapa, the tern (tara). This small sea bird migrates between the Arctic and Antarctic Circle several times during its lifetime. The bird asks itself whether it is ready to fly off into the clouds and into the dusk. Jacobs’ simple composition is a keen metaphor for that internal dialogue many of us have conducted when subjected to the strong pull of home or the immense curiosity to know more of one’s origins–a scenario that the song’s author would’ve been all to familiar as an Australian-born New Zealander.

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TAKE AWAY THE WEE FISH Lyrics F. Guinness

1

If you take away the wee fish You take away the med fish You take away the big fish Then what’s for tea?

In the waiata, Te Tuna Heke (The Migrating Eel), the 2 singer wishes the ‘brave’ animal farewell. The eel in reply explains that it will slip down the river in the morning and

If you take away the seaweed You take away the fish feed Taking more than you need That’s greedy


3

A plundered Sea’s A lifeless Sea Take away the wee fish What’s for tea?

4

Bore along the sea floor Oil laps upon shore Sickened seas make all poor Such folly

5

Scrape along the sea bed Fragile worlds wiped dead To her fate we’re all wed So silly

6

A poisoned Sea’s A dying Sea Pollute the briny ocean What’s for tea?

7

Spill her oily marrow Never leave her fallow Folks is dim and shallow Leave her be

8

If you take away the wee fish You take away the med fish You take away the big fish Then what’s for tea?

9

Treat the Sea Respectfully If you take away the wee fish What’s for tea?

Before Fabian Guinness (or Old Man Rip as he was more commonly known) came to the Wairarapa, he had been a fisherman for most of his life out in the cod rich seas of the North Atlantic. Old documents in the Wellington archives suggest he was sent to New Zealand as a remittance man–encouraged not to return to Britain in exchange for a meagre monthly stipend from the government–although the papers give no firm insight as to why he was sent in to exile. He divided his time between Featherston town and the South Coast where he took his cutter out to fish. It was late in life that Guinness became increasingly concerned about the effect mankind was having on the oceans and was not shy about voicing those fears to any who would

F. Guinness (Old Man Rip), c.1890 lend an ear. He believed that the seas were in peril of being overfished and he was convinced that indiscriminate fishing techniques such as large-scale net trawling would hasten the outcome. Guinness was particularly scathing of whalers and sealers who had all but emptied New Zealand’s waters of sea mammals by the early 19th century. He was also very suspicious of the oil and gas industry’s recent expansion into lakes and deltas in North America in the late 1800s and early 1900s. He warned that if they were to move their activities into the open seas they risked reducing the oceans to a lifeless, toxic sludge. At the time, he was largely dismissed as a bit of a loon, but in hindsight it is obvious that he was ahead of his time in his thinking. His ideas would certainly not be considered fringe if he were to espouse them nowadays. Guinness knew many shanties and sea-songs from his years on boats and in ports around Britain and was always happy to oblige an audience whenever an accordion or guitar was taken up in a tavern or bar. He was known to have coined his own lyrics to the occasional ditty. Take Away the Wee Fish is one such example where he set his anxieties about the state of the environment to a well-known traditional Celtic tune.

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The formidable forest stretching between the Wairarapa and Hawkes Bay was known as Seventy Mile Bush and it was notoriously dense and rugged. The life of a Scandinavian bush feller was far from easy. Not only was the job of felling forest giants in such rough terrain perilous and fatiguing, but they had to tend with the worries of hunger, fever and dank, cold winters as well.

HEY JOSEF ‘Bushfeller’s Chopping Duet’

based on song by William Moses Roberts Jr. 1

He-e-ey Josef, ‘Said where you taking that axe in your hand? Where you taking that axe, Joe? (x2) Where you going with that axe in your hand?

2

I-I-I’m going down To chop my ole lady To chop my ole lady (x2) Y’know I caught her messin’ round the town

3

He-e-ey Josef, Said I heard you chopped your woman down Heard you chopped your woman (x2) Heard you chopped your woman down

4

Ye-e-es, I got her Got them both whilst in my bed Got them both, now they’re dead Got them both right through the head

5

He-e-ey Josef, Where you gonna run to now? Where you gonna run to? (x2) Said where you gonna run to the now?

6

I-I-I’m going down Way down south where I’ll be free (x2) Way down south to Waitati Old Tom Long ain’t gonna hang me

In the 1870s, the first Norwegians, Danes and Swedes (or ‘Skandies’ as they were to be called locally) arrived on ships like the the Celaeno, the Høvding and the Ballarat. The families that docked in Wellington on the England in 1872 were all destined for the Wairarapa as part of a government assisted immigration programme to bring bush fellers to New Zealand to help clear vast tracts of forest, put in roads and open up the North Island hinterland for farming. The town’s namesake, Dr. Isaac Featherston, had at one time been dispatched to Scandinavia as an agent of the government responsible for enticing lumberjacks and saw millers to the colonies in exchange for free passage and 10 acre plots. Towns like Dannevirke, Norsewood and Eketahuna (which was once called Mellemskov) flourished into being.

Hey Josef belongs to a genre of song known as the work-song. Sailors working the capstan, chain gangs hammering rail iron and cotton-pickers in the field would often accomJosef Fjørstel. c.1847 pany their movements to song. It helped to synchronise movements and alleviate boredom. Lumberjacks and bushfellers were well known to have employed song to that end when sawing and chopping. Hey Josef is an example of an ‘alternating chopping’ worksong. Two axeman working on the same tree would take turns. As one chopped, the other would stand aside and sing a verse in time with the axe. They would swap roles each verse until the tree was felled. The original song can be attributed to an American, William Roberts; however, the version favoured by bushfellers working in the Rimutaka Hills behind Featherston in the 1900s has a few obvious substitutions. The character Joe becomes Josef, most likely in reference to the axman Josef Fjørstal who in 1876 after being spurned by a lover took her life and that of her new fiancé. He was thought to have fled to the South Island to evade the authorities and escape the hangman, the notorious Tom Long, who is mentioned in the final verse.

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HEI KONĀ MAI, E TE TAU

Anaru ‘Te Oke’ Wharekauri (based on traditional Italian folk tune) 1 I oho ahau i te ata Hei konā mai, e te tau I oho ahau, i te ata Ko te whakaariki

Una mattina, mi so’ svegliato Bella ciao (x3) ciao ciao Una mattina, mi so’ svegliato E ho trovato l’invasor’

2 Kawea atu au, taituarā Hei konā mai, e te tau Kawea atu au, taituarā Kei te whakahemohemo au

O partigiano portarmi via Bella ciao (x3) ciao ciao O partigiano portarmi via Qui mi sento di morir’

3 Mehemea, ka mate ahau Hei konā mai, e te tau Mehemea ka mate ahau Me tanu koe i a au

E se io muoio da partigiano Bella ciao (x3) ciao ciao E se io muoio da partigiano Tu mi devi seppellir’

4 Tanumia au i te maunga Hei konā mai, e te tau Tanumia au i te maunga I raro i te rākau

E seppellire sulla montagna Bella ciao (x3) ciao ciao E seppellire sulla montagna Sott l’ombra di un bel fior’

5 Ka taha ana ngā mātātahi Hei konā mai, e te tau Ka taha ana ngā mātātahi «Ka rawe» hei korero rātou

Cosi le genti che passeranno Bella ciao (x3) ciao ciao Cosi le genti che passeranno Mi diranno «che bel fior’»

6 Te kauri o i te kaitiaki Hei konā mai, e te tau Te kauri o i te kaitiaki I mate ai mō te mana

E quest’è il fiore del partigiano Bella ciao (x3) ciao ciao E quest’è il fiore del partigiano Morto per la libertà

Anaru ‘Te Oke’ Wharekauri served in World War II. Like many Māori in the Corps, he was adept at picking up foreign languages and within a relatively short time of his tour of duty on the Italian campaign, he had become conversant in the language. In his memoirs, he reflected how invaluable that small understanding of the language had been in opening the door to a rich heritage of music and culture as his battalion moved up the peninsular.

And how can I relate to these people, their fears, their hopes, their pain, their sorrow? Why listen to their waiata, of course. If I am to know their waiata and so their hearts, then I knew I must learn something of their tongue, and so this is where I started. As his long-time colleague Major Audcent later pointed out, his language skills did his chances with the local signorinas no harm either.

Anaru Wharekauri, 1908 Based on a song from Northern Italy, Bella Ciao is sung from the perspective of a partisan who ‘woke up one morning to find the invader’, that is, the Germans. Feeling that he is about to die, he tells the listener that he wishes to be buried in his beloved mountains beneath a beautiful flower. It could then be explained to any who passed by the grave in years to come that the flower marked the grave of a brave Partisan who had given his life for the sake of Liberty. Wharekauri slotted in a few substitutions of his own to have a warrior buried below a kauri tree, and as such the


whole scenario could easily be reimagined as being from the perspective of a Māori rebel fighting the Government in the New Zealand wars–a subtle translation of scene made possible by the universality of the original. 8 In modern times, Bella Ciao has gone on to become some- thing of an international song of resistance translated into many different languages–an outcome that would have little surprised, Wharekauri who was well aware of the powerful resonance the song would have for anyone who 9 was forced to take the fight to an oppressor.

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NE’ER HOME, NE’ER MORE Conrad Monroe

1

So she watched from the pier, “I’m fine” she lied “Papa go while tide is still turning, While the Mackerel run, go cast your net wide So that we might eat in the morning”

2

“O my wee, bonnie lass, now dry, your eyes”, From the shore she could hear her Pa calling “I’ll return on the tide before sunrise” Then he loosed the boat from its mooring

3

And there she would wait, as sun slipped down A west wind whipped up in the gloaming And it birthed a foul storm, a fierce typhoon Which set sea to frothing and foaming

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And out at sea, the wee boat was tossed By a wave that soared like a mountain There was naught to be done, all hands were lost As her hull was split by the ocean

5

And below those rough waves and howling wind His last breath coalesced with salt water Watching on were queer creatures, cold and finned As his mind cast back to his daughter

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Who stood for three days, a sentinel When the townsfolk found her near starving Then in tears, she gave toll that lone pier bell Ne’er home, ne’er more, father darling Then seven years passed, she’d been a bride

“Lover go, while tide is still turning While the Mackerel run, go cast your net wide So that we might eat in the morning” “O my sweet loving wife, shed no tear now I’ll be back before the next evening” A kiss on each cheek, one more to her brow And one more on her lips before leaving And down to the wharf, she came that night Thick fog slipped in on the sea breeze “Something’s wrong I just know this brume’s not right” And her heart sank low with the mem’ries

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And out on the sea, one careless slip O’er board, found he in the roil The sea moved on his unmanned ship And left him to a hopeless toil

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And below those rough waves and freezing wind He now knew he would never recover Watching on were queer creatures, cold and finned As his mind cast back to his lover

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Who stood for five days, a sentinel, When the townsfolk found her near starving Then in tears, she gave toll that lone pier bell Ne’er home, ne’er more, lover darling

Morag Monroe, c.1894


13

Passed twenty one years, one son her pride “Laddie stay, let the tide do its turning Let the Mackerel run, stay fast to dockside So that you might see the day dawning”

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“O my dear Mama, lift up your face I must go and fish while they’re jumping” Then they shared what would be their last embrace And he left her there, her heart thumping

15

And out at sea, his last catch hauled in His boat’s path by chance coinciding With the weight of a great leviathan His maimed boat was put beyond guiding

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And down to the shore, she came each day But each day passed by with no sighting And so wracked with grief, she knelt to pray “Lord I’m cursed, show me to the righting”

17

And there, off the pier, she heard faint cries “Dear wife, sweet Ma, bonnie daughter” And out of the kelp, black angel eyes Beckoning her down into the water

18

And below the cold waves and icy wind Her last breath came out silent laughter Watching on were queer creatures, cold and finned This’d be her home ever after

19

So it was the sea gave up her lad And the townsfolk found him near starving “She were right” he wept, “twasn’t worth the scad May you sleep in the deep, mother darling”

Conrad Monroe was an Orcadian who arrived in New Zealand around the mid-1880s at the ripe old age of 14. At first, he was employed on a cargo boat ferrying goods between ports on the East Coast of the North Island until he was able to save enough money to buy his own fishing vessel, which he did by the time he was 20. He built a small cottage on the South Wairarapa Coast to the West of Lake Onoke and for the next fifty years was content to fish the rugged waters off the coast for his livelihood. Locally, he was as renowned for his generous hospitality and keen love of music and the arts almost as much as for his expertise as a fishermen. His humble home was frequently overrun with musicians, artists, writers, and actors who would never fail to stop by to pay their regards on their tours of the country.

The inspiration for the ballad Ne’er Home, Ne’er More, if we are to take the composer at his word, comes from his own family history when his forbears lived and fished off the Shetlands. His paternal great-grandmother, Morag Monroe, lost both her young husband and her father as they chased mackerel (or scad) as they were carried through the isles on the strong tidal currents (or roosts). Years later, when her son had failed to return from a similar expedition, she ended her grief by dropping herself off the island’s main pier into the icy North Sea. As it transpired, the lad (the songwriter’s grandfather) had not perished. On his return to shore, his boat had collided with a whale which destroyed his rudder and left him to drift at the mercy of the ocean’s currents. He washed up weeks later on North Ronaldsay, the northernmost isle of the Orkneys. Days after his 70th birthday, Conrad Monroe rowed out to check his cray pots in Palliser Bay as he had done hundreds of times before. It was a calm Autumn morning. No ill weather was in the offing. No trace of him or his boat was ever found.

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SPANISH FLU LULLABY Pania Verkerk (original tune by J. Martin)

1

Hush now darling, may you sleep I’ll Pray the Lord you’ll see the day Let this fever pass you over Please don’t leave, I beg you stay

2

If He calls you to his side, Angels Grim and Deadly They will set your soul free Rise to the Almighty Go with Grace, my child

3

If you do, know that I love you I’d hope to God that I could follow you This cursed flu might claim me too And so we’d never part again

4

Hush now darling, there’s a starling, Calling for the sun to shine Can you hear me? Are you near me? Please I beg just one wee sign?


mother’s anxious bedside vigil over that crucial first night. Being as swift as it was, there were many who were upright and walking in the evening yet dead by the morning. In the case of Audrey Verkerk, she recovered–and in time went on to become one of Featherston’s most celebrated composers. In her popular operatic work Pane Con Volpe, she pays homage to her late mother, clearly referencing the lullaby in the melody of the aria of the dying protagonist.

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AGLOW IN THE ARROW Damian Bicknell

Nurse Pania Verkerk, 1917 Just as World War I ended in late 1918, the Spanish Flu landed in New Zealand. Within just a few months of its arrival, the pandemic killed an estimated 8,600 New Zealanders. It was thought to have arrived with troops returning from the battlefields of Europe, and its spread through the general population was probably aided by people gathering for jubilation celebrations and victory parades. Military camps–where men barracked closely together–were particularly hard hit. There were 172 deaths recorded at Featherston camp alone. Pania Verkerk had been a nurse at the military camp at the time the epidemic hit. She was fondly remembered in the memoirs of many a patient for her exquisite voice and the welcome effect it had on one’s spirit when confined to the camp sick bay surrounded by the infirm and dying. She would often complete her rounds to an accompaniment of song and was happy to oblige all and any requests where she knew the tune. Although without any formal training, she was a very capable piano player and was always welcome and encouraged in hotel bars and parlours throughout Featherston to get behind the ‘ivories’ for the benefit of patrons. During the 1918 influenza pandemic, Pania’s young daughter Audrey fell ill. The Spanish Flu Lullaby recounts her

1

Tomorrow I go down to Otago Prospecting for flecks of yellow I’ll stake me claim, as hundreds done same ‘Langside the river Arrow

2

There’s gold in them hills, I’m told, I’m told There’s gold in them hills, I’m told I’ll leave the North Isle, just for the meanwhile There’s gold in them hills, I’m told

3

On shore a young boy from Ngati Mamoe Showed me how that river did flow All day I’d sift stones while the cold burnt me bones For the current draws straight from the snow

4

For it’s cold in them waters, it’s cold, it’s cold It’s cold in them waters, it’s cold Too long in the river, brings rheumatic fever It’s cold in them waters, it’s cold

5

In the opium den of a Chinaman friend A remedy was readied for me A cut of moonshine to help ease me spine On a substrate of milk pappy tea

6

For laudanum eases thy soul, thy soul For laudanum eases thy soul Me spirits so liftin’, I return to siftin’ Cos laudanum eases thy soul

7

With all me debts paid, small wealth had I made For seven hard years in a row I pine for Ngawi, no more gold dust for me Back homeward tomorrow I go


8

On opium, I spent me gold, me gold On opium, I spent me gold Nothing remains but backaches and pains On opium, I spent all me gold

THE LAST POST (The Poppy & The Fern) Traditional

Timothy Mandrake was born and raised in Featherston and After spending several years as a merchant sailor on the had been quick to sign up for military service at the outhigh seas between the Americas and the Orient, Irishman break of World War I at age 18. He served in Turkey and Damien Bicknell secured a plot of coastal land in Feather- took part in the Allies’ ill-fated offensive of Sair Bair in 1915 ston County on which he built a cottage and ran some live- where his battalion sustained heavy casualties attempting stock. When his flock was wiped out in a particularly severe to take and hold the summit of Chunuk Bair. Mandrake had flood, he took the opportunity to head south to the recently the misfortune of being wounded terribly in two separate discovered goldfields of Otago with a view to amassing incidents. His left forearm was shredded by canon fire badenough of a fortune to replenish his herd. In Spring 1862, ly enough to warrant amputation just below the elbow. Still he worked the Arrow river near Queenstown. After several recovering, he sustained burns to much of his upper body years and with failing health he returned to the Wairarapa and right-side of his face in a fire when the ship he was sent with scant more money that what he had left with. to England on came under attack. Despite his terrible disfigurement and the loss of a limb, he was nevertheless bitterly disappointed to be dismissed from military service, and upon returning home to Featherston he was eager to continue to play his part in the war effort and so sought employment at the local military camp. While his enthusiasm and overt patriotism were generally applauded, some of the camp’s administrators believed his presence would be a ‘little off-putting’ to many of the new recruits at a time where the conscription had just been introduced in New Zealand when the number of volunteers had dropped off dramatically as the war dragged on. As a result, Mandrake was given the task of ‘preparing the terrain’ in advance of exercises in the field. Troops would head out on manoeuvres in full kit to run mock battle scenarios. Mandrake was given a large tent and stationed out in the Damian Bicknell, 1864 Tararua ranges well away from the main camp for the reHis simple air is based on a common Gaelic tune with a mainder of the war where he would set up ‘enemy’ outposts similar melody to that which underpins many other Irish to be secured, erect flags for capture, and lay ambushes classics including Woe Betide You, The Bastard’s Boast and from where he could startle unsuspecting recruits by sendTá Tart Orm, Tá Mé Ólta (‘I’m thirsty, I’m drunk’). Bicknell ing machine gun fire over their heads as they negotiated a made it somewhat of a signature device to end verses and steep bank or swift river crossing. chorus with the slow drop of a semitone from tonic to seventh. Musicologist Grenada Wilkes once speculated it may He had once been a competent clarinet player but post-achave had much to do with Bicknell’s fondness for all things cident he switched to playing the more manageable mouth Māori and that the ‘drop’ was in part a kind of imitation organ. As the men would prepare to hunker down for a to the emotional karanga that he had witnessed and been night in the bush, it was Mandrake who would mark day’s moved by. Another hallmark of Bicknell’s compositions was end and signal the start of the night vigil with a rendition his mixing of tempos in the same song and the exaggerated of The Last Post on his harmonica from an unseen posiretardation of notes just prior to such a change. tion somewhere in the bush above the camp. The rendition featured in this anthology is a remastered version made by the Canadian sound recordist Samuel Beaumont in 1918. Already a particularly emotional tune for any ANZAC, the

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effect of the dusk chorus in the background seems to heighten this poignancy. In fact, the original gramophone pressing by Hampshire Linden Phonograms featured the evocative title The Poppy & The Fern with The Last Post given as the subtitle.

ing, etc) I never had a chance to include: David Wright, Jedd Bartlett, Rupert Watson, Simon Price, Greg Stokes, Janine Price and Sam Duckor-Jones. Thank you to Warren Maxwell for so generously availing Stoned Feathers studios to me to record in and to Kate Mead and Ross Vickery (and Damien) for allowing me the use of their piano (and living room). Thank you Theo Janssen for the use of the Mandola. Thank you Campbell and Ellen for the early counselling–you were right, cutting early demos was instrumental to getting it all happening. Nga mihi nui korua, Kelly Tuala-Keane and Lavina Edwin for all your help with the te reo and ‘takk’ to Siv Fjaerestad for the Norwegian tips. Thank you Jean McDowall for casting an eye over the liner notes. Thanks to Emma McCleary for the early advice on all things ‘crafty’.

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Private Tim Mandrake, 1918

ACKNOWLEGEMENTS I am indebted to Creative New Zealand and the South Wairarapa District Council for the grant that helped fund the manufacturing of the CDs–with extra thanks to the SWDC for the extension of a few months when the project deadline was overrun. A huge thank you goes to the tireless Council Board Member Katie Beattie, champion of all things Featherston, who first alerted me to the grant scheme and beseeched me to ‘pick a project and chuck in an application’. I owe the greatest debt to the many amazing musicians on the album who over a period of months I harangued, dragooned, cajoled and nagged into lending their talents (for free) to the endeavour: Marguerite Tait-Jamieson, Matthew Hancock, Orene Tiai, Kate Marshall, Paris Mason, Saali Marks, Ellen Rodda, Campbell Kneale, Patrick Bleakely, Marcus Harvey, Matthew Dillon and Jamie Nevill. As crazy-busy as they all were, everyone proved super accommodating. At the risk of sounding a touch mawkish, it was truly an honour to get the chance to work with so many consommate pros with so much mana. A big thank you goes to those musos who I had approached and who were keen to help but then for various reasons (e.g. tours to Europe, instrument issues, bad tim-

An extra special thank you goes to Matt Dillon not only for his invaluable assistance with the mastering of the album and supplying me with mikes but also for saving my computer (and ultimately the project) when my hard disk royally self-destructed after a seemingly innocuous OS update. Thank you to all the local historians and history buffs whose knowledge I have invoked and a special thanks goes to the invaluable Wairarapa Archive in Masterton who have generously made available many splendid old images on their website (as the ‘Picture Wairarapa’ collection) for public use. Thanks to the Featherston Beautification Group and the Featherston library’s programme for kids (‘Bookbugs’) for letting me donate all and any profits of album sales to their cause. Thanks heaps to Monty and Beatrix who were subjected to many early renditions of these tunes and who gave the best tacit endorsements possible by drifting off to sleep to the lullabies and ballads, and by breaking into frenzied whirls at each and every hearing of ‘that pizzica song’. And finally, a massive thank you to the anthology’s most enthusiastic supporter, my agent and muso wrangler, the project’s patron saint and the album’s dedicatee, Jade. Sources: Samples from Radio NZ on ‘Afternoons’ with Jim Mora– 18.4.12–‘NZ’s Largest Ever Military Camp’ feat. Neil Frances & 19.4.12–‘More Memories of Featherston Camp’ feat. Keith Stewart & 12.10.14 ‘Sounds Historical’ with Jim Sullivan. Photos in liner notes courtesy of the Wairarapa Archive’s Online ‘Picture Wairarapa’.

Yestermusic of Featherston County: Bush, Bog, Brine & Bugle - Album Liner Notes  

16 page booklet that came with the album entitled 'Yestermusic of Featherson County: Bush, Bog, Brine & Bugle' – a revived compilation of fo...

Yestermusic of Featherston County: Bush, Bog, Brine & Bugle - Album Liner Notes  

16 page booklet that came with the album entitled 'Yestermusic of Featherson County: Bush, Bog, Brine & Bugle' – a revived compilation of fo...

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