Toko­roa man makes QB hon­ours list

South Waikato News - - Your Paper, Your Place - TE AHUA MAITLAND

Dou­glas Blair be­gan his ca­reer in Toko­roa as a pri­mary school teacher at Toko­roa East School.

The 80 year old still re­mem­bers the day an­other teacher asked if he wanted to sign up to per­form­ing arts.

‘‘Back then, in the 1950s and ‘60s, it was a fancy name, The Toko­roa Dra­matic So­ci­ety Club, like a drama club.

‘‘I went along, au­di­tioned and got a part in the play – al­though I can’t re­mem­ber what it was called – and that sparked the in­ter­est, and I’ve been in­ter­ested ever since.’’

To­day, Blair is be­ing recog­nised for his con­tri­bu­tion to the com­mu­nity and ser­vices to theatre, span­ning more than 50 years.

He is one of the hand­ful of Waikato peo­ple se­lected for the Queen’s Birth­day Hon­ours for 2016. He didn’t ex­pect it. ‘‘I have no idea where or how this came about, to be hon­est with you. My chil­dren were up here, and I just couldn’t keep it to my­self.

‘‘I swore them to se­crecy about a week ago, but I’ve known for a cou­ple of months, but didn’t tell a soul.’’

Blair was the pres­i­dent of the Toko­roa Lit­tle Theatre for over 20 years, and has di­rected for over 30 shows at the theatre and school pro­duc­tions. He is still in­volved in pro­duc­tions with the Toko­roa Lit­tle Theatre and tries to pro­duce three or four a year.

‘‘We had to work hard – and we still have to work – to get peo­ple to come along, but we’ve got a core of reg­u­lar at­ten­dees.

‘‘It’s pleas­ing to see that we’re get­ting more and more young peo­ple in, too, as it is mainly an older group that watches the live plays.’’

He said the arts are alive.

‘‘I think it’s very im­por­tant to have an­other branch of cul­ture in the town, like theatre. It’s good to have a live theatre and mu­si­cal shows, and this is what we try to pro­vide.’’

Blair taught at a few schools in Toko­roa, as well as teach­ing for a bit in the UK, be­fore he re­tired as prin­ci­pal of Cargill School. He cur­rently sits on com­mu­nity boards tied to the arts and is also a mem­ber of the Lions Club and Toko­roa Club.

PHOTO: FRANCES FER­GU­SON/FAIR­FAX NZ

Dou­glas Blair, 80, re­ceived a Queen’s Ser­vice Medal for ser­vices to the com­mu­nity and theatre.

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