Big Norm’s mes­sage of good luck re­called

Otago Daily Times - - INSIDE ONE -

YOUR mem­o­ries of Nor­man Kirk keep flood­ing in and it is just about all I can do to keep up with them. Apolo­gies if I have not man­aged to re­turn your call or re­ply to your email.

I caught up with well­known for­mer broad­caster Rod­ney Bryant the other morn­ing. Rod­ney, if you re­call, was in one of the clips I men­tioned, in­ter­view­ing Mr Kirk af­ter the Labour Party’s vic­tory in the Novem­ber 1972 elec­tion.

Rod­ney re­counted to me the night of the 1974 Rata Awards for New Zealand mu­sic, tele­vised live, at which he was a pre­sen­ter.

He says just as he was about to go on stage, he was handed a tele­gram. It was from Mr Kirk, wish­ing the group Ebony ‘‘good luck’’ with their hit from ear­lier in the year, Big Norm, which was nom­i­nated for an award.

Rod­ney says he read the tele­gram out to the au­di­ence.

[Ac­cord­ing to Wikipedia, the Bulldogs All­star Good­time Band won the record­ing artist/group of the year ti­tle and the best recorded com­po­si­tion was John Han­lon’s Is It Nat­u­ral.]

It turns out the show was held just 24 hours be­fore Mr Kirk died. The list­ing in the ODT for Fri­day Au­gust 30 that year said: ‘‘8.06pm , 1974 Rata Awards (colour), live from the Christchurch Town Hall.’’

Ali­son Heb­bard of Al­bert Town says she was driv­ing a taxi around Mos­giel on the night of the prime min­is­ter’s death.

‘‘The dis­patcher told the driv­ers over the ra­dio tele­phone. It was a big shock at the time.’’

Dave Pettersson re­calls where he was when the an­nounce­ment came through.

‘‘I was 10 and be­ing babysat by my teenage sis­ter and her friend at her friend’s house. They were wash­ing each other’s hair and play­ing with a hairdryer, and I was watch­ing TV in an un­fa­mil­iar lounge.

‘‘The an­nounce­ment came over, and the thing that got my at­ten­tion was that it was said he had died at the Home of Com­pas­sion in Is­land Bay, Welling­ton.

‘‘I was too young to ap­pre­ci­ate that our prime min­is­ter had died but, be­cause of where he died, I was in­trigued, be­cause the Home of Com­pas­sion was built on land that my great­grand­fa­ther had sold the nuns.

‘‘My dad had told me sev­eral times over the years that his grand­fa­ther, Charles Pettersson (born Karl), was a sailor from Swe­den who jumped ship in Welling­ton and hid out in a cave at Red Rocks around from

Is­land Bay, even­tu­ally melt­ing into the Is­land Bay com­mu­nity.

‘‘He bought land in Is­land

Bay, and made a mar­ket gar­den in Rhine St (it may have had a dif­fer­ent name then), some of which he sold to the nuns, where the Home of Com­pas­sion was bsoui­wlte. Mary ed ta aldkw in agsv be orry ne ian­r1­ly92203t,h cen­tury.’’

Thanks Dave.

Tele­vi­sion mem­o­ries

Aaron Phillips emailed the photo in the col­umn this morn­ing of Smi­ley Broth­ers, which fea­tured in a voice­over ad­ver­tise­ment on the first day of DNTV2.

‘‘I was read­ing your col­umn and saw you men­tioned Smi­ley Broth­ers shoes and thought I would send you a pic­ture of a Smi­ley Bros ad­ver­tis­ing card that I have. It is 37.5cm high x 30.5cm across.’’

Bruce Barnett of Taieri Beach says he was work­ing at Rus­sell Oaten’s Disk Den in the first days of tele­vi­sion in Dunedin and cop­ing with the in­ter­est from the slo­gan ‘‘Don’t Dilly Dally see Russ for your Telly’’.

‘‘We kept get­ting re­quests for in­stal­la­tions out in the coun­try, so af­ter most of the lo­cal work dried up we de­cided to see what could be done.

‘‘We first tried re­ceiv­ing sig­nals in the Mid­dle­march area and found that, by in­stalling 50­foot masts on top of the roof, with twin­stacked, five­el­e­ment yagi aeri­als, we could get a rea­son­able sig­nal and the cus­tomers were happy to pay.

‘‘But go­ing fur­ther afield, the sig­nals be­came mar­ginal and not what we con­sid­ered ac­cept­able. How­ever, al­most al­ways the clients in­sisted on com­plet­ing the sale and were quite happy peer­ing at a snowy, flick­er­ing pic­ture, as long as they could hear the sound.

‘‘Those 50­foot masts didn’t fare to well in the oc­ca­sional gale so sev­eral had to be re­vis­ited for re­pairs.

‘‘I re­tired last year af­ter 56 years in the trade and hav­ing geo ran e th fr­rooumgh th teobc lo al cok u­r a,n pd la­w sm hi ate, LCD and now LED tech­nol­ogy, broad­cast TV, satel­lite TV and now stream­ing.

‘‘It is a lot eas­ier now to get that pro­gramme to watch.’’

Sure is, Bruce. And it is a darned sight eas­ier to tune in, too.

Have a good week­end. More on Nor­man Kirk on Monday and lots of mem­o­ries of Dunedin cable cars to share next week as well.


Any­one got any ideas what this bird is? Jim Fraser sent us this pho­to­graph, won­der­ing if it is the ‘‘long thought­to­be ex­tinct New Zealand snow­bird’’. No New Zealand or Aus­tralian bird book can help, he says.


Aaron Phillips found this ad­ver­tis­ing card for Smi­ley Broth­ers’ ‘‘sport­ing footwear’’ af­ter read­ing in this col­umn that the first ad­ver­tise­ment on DNTV2 in the early 1960s was a voice­over for their shoes.


Dave Pettersson’s great­grand­fa­ther sold the land that the Welling­ton Home of Com­pas­sion — where Prime Min­is­ter Nor­man Kirk died on Au­gust 31, 1974 — was built on. This photo from De­cem­ber 1908 shows some of 220 Welling­ton res­i­dents tak­ing part in a work­ing bee to con­struct a reser­voir at the home.

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