Writ­ing nona­ge­nar­i­ans


The Owaka Writ­ing Group re­cently cel­e­brated the 90th birth­day of one of its mem­bers, Frances Knight, with pavlova made by an­other mem­ber in her 90s, Bessie Wad­dell who cel­e­brate her 94th birth­day in Oc­to­ber.

Yet an­other mem­ber, Rona Wil­liamson, who drives her­self from Kaka Point to Owaka to at­tend the monthly meet­ings, is also in her early 90s. The writ­ing group be­gan with a night class in July 1998, and then spread to meet­ings at mem­bers’ houses.

Peo­ple write sto­ries of their lives, the lives of their fam­i­lies and an­ces­tors, and read them out. Some peo­ple write po­ems, oth­ers read the writ­ings of older rel­a­tives, but mainly they write up their own mem­o­ries.

Frances Knight said she en­joyed the group be­cause it was an eas­ier way to gather sto­ries for her chil­dren and grand­chil­dren than hav­ing to write a whole book.

Bessie Wad­dell uses the group to pre­pare for the fam­ily mem­ory books she writes and re­searches in con­junc­tion with her daugh­ter Glenda Lan­dreth. Rona Wil­liamson has a host of sto­ries of the early days of Kaka Point and Maori life and the life­style, in­clud­ing hous­ing, cloth­ing and school­ing, of the 1930s.

All three of them en­joy the so­cial as­pects of the group as well as the his­tor­i­cal sto­ries they hear there.

Frances Knight, left, who cel­e­brated her 90th birth­day re­cently, with mem­bers Bessie Wad­dell and Rona Wil­liamson.

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