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Upper Hutt Goes Regal: The Prince and The Baron in A Day

Colonel-in-Chief & Story Telling

It was an unusual day. HRH Prince Andrew was in Upper Hutt as Colonel-in-Chief of the New Zealand Logistics Corps; and TMH Scottish Baron of Prestoungrange was in the City as spokeman for the Global Association of Mural Arts & Cultural Tourism. [And the City Promotions Manager Paul Lambert wanted Mayor Wayne Guppy at both events!]

The City's wish to talk murals had been initiated by Keith and Liz Budd of Akatrack, a mountain wildlife walk for visitors and tourists alike with an overnight stop at Efil Doog, the most amazing garden and art gallery location tucked away in the Hutt valley. [For those unfamiliar with New Zealand's geography, the River Hutt flows to the sea at Wellington Harbour on the southernmost tip of that island.] They took this initiative because they see their Akatrack programme as a part of the total strategic plan for Upper Hutt City to mark itself out with a unique identity for residents and businesses, rather than an adjunct in the regional penumbra of Wellington as the capital city.

Click on images to enlarge

Expressions is a Magnificent Hub

Upper Hutt is not small, with a population in excess of 100,000, and its Welcome Wagon for Prestoungrange began with a gate-crashing visit to Expressions Arts and Exhibition Centre on the Main Street. Not only was it opening night there for great paintings by local artist Marianne Muggeridge but the Upper Hutt Floral Art Club, established in 1965, was also staging an exhibition of Wall-Flowers, and so too were local potters. The Centre, constructed just 3 years previously, is a magnificent hub for artistic expression with an energetic director determined to take eclectic 'action-art and art-in-action' approaches.

But all Openings must be followed by dining and that was hosted by local cinematographic afficionados Wayne & Trish Longstaff. Their Mayfair Restaurant is the old picture house and a vast array of artefacts is on display, and the New Zealand lamb on the menu was beyond description. Also at dinner was other key members of the local arts community including Mary Archibald and Main Street Rennaisance Group leader Nick Thomas.

And as if a fine arts hub, and a cinema restaurant were not enough, overnight accommodations were at Wallaceville House, a period former home of the US Ambassador.

...but no time for breakfast with the Ambassador's ghost. The Murals Presentation was scheduled for 8 am including breakfast back at Expressions watched over by the eyes of the brilliant Maori totem pole.

Pleased to report, the presentation was made to a well receptive audience presided over by Mayor Guppy just waiting for someone [from outside] to fire the starting gun. As requested it was story telling time: stories of success in 50 other towns and cities around the world, not least at Prestoungrange and very close to home at neighbouring Foxton with its 17th Century Dutch Windmill, and at Kati Kati. [And by a delightful coincidence, Dale Meredith, Director of Strategy & Planning for Upper Hutt, had herself lived for many years in Kati Kati. She needed no convincing whatever that murals can bring real social, economic and civic benfits to a township.]

Watch out for Upper Hutt's further continued blossoming as an arts centre where all can participate and understand.


Published Date: September 30th 2005

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