Town crier pits te reo against oyez

The Tribune (NZ) - - FRONT PAGE - RICHARD MAYS

‘‘Oyez! Oyez! Oyez!’’

Now that she has your at­ten­tion with that time-hon­oured and tra­di­tional call, Palmer­ston North’s prima bell-a-donna, town crier Caro­line Robin­son is about to em­bark on a Palmer­ston North pro­file-rais­ing mis­sion.

The city’s of­fi­cial cer­e­mo­nial mouth­piece and bell-ringer since 2000, when she was hired for a week to add some oc­ca­sion, colour and char­ac­ter to a Massey grad­u­a­tion, Caro­line is off to rep­re­sent us in the deep south.

The event is an in­ter­na­tional town crier com­pe­ti­tion in Cen­tral Otago, or­gan­ised by Caro­line’s sis­ter – and Cen­tral Otago town crier – Paddy-Ann Pem­ber­ton.

With dif­fer­ent as­pects of the com­pe­ti­tion to be held in Alexan­dra dur­ing the an­nual blos­som pa­rade, Roxburgh and Cromwell, Caro­line is join­ing two other Kiwi cri­ers from Waipu and from South­land in a tilt at the com­pe­ti­tion ti­tle.

‘‘There are five town cri­ers from Canada, two from Eng­land, one from Wales, three from the USA and five from Aus­tralia. They’ve all won tour­na­ments and ti­tles,’’ Caro­line ex­plains.

‘‘Hus­band and wife Bev and Jeremy Praver from the US are also folk singers. Red­mond O Colonies is a stand-up comic and runs Jest Fests in the US.’’

If that’s not daunt­ing enough, the cur­rent world cham­pion crier, Graham Keat­ing will also be com­pet­ing. Of course, he would be Aus­tralian. Twice world cham­pion and six times in­ter­na­tional cham­pion, Graham will be rep- re­sent­ing the pride of olde Syd­ney towne.

Due to the vi­cis­si­tudes of the south­ern spring (tra-la), it’ll be the first time the com­pe­ti­tion’s three cries will be held in­doors.

The first cry is one ex­tolling the virtues of the crier’s home town. That takes place in Alexan­dra where the com­peti­tors will join in a uni­son cry and a group bells-up. That’s bells-up.

The sec­ond cry in Roxburgh gives thanks to the spon­sors, and the third in Cromwell is any­thing at all about ‘‘gold’’.

‘‘Each cry can only be 120 -125 words, and has to be word for word. You are judged on vo­cal pro­fi­ciency, con­fi­dence and bear­ing, on en­gag­ing the au­di­ence, con­tent and ac­cu­racy. It’s quite strict.’’

Pres­i­dent of New Zealand’s Honourable Guild of Town Cri­ers (mem­ber­ship seven), Palmy’s caped and tri­cornered cru­sader in her be­spoke out­fit from the Palmer­ston North School of De­sign, won Best Dressed Crier in 2013 at Kingston in On­tario.

‘‘I re­ally en­joy it. I love it. It’s part and par­cel of who I am now.’’

‘‘I love it. It’s part and par­cel of who I am now.’’

Caro­line Robin­son

PHOTO: DAVID UNWIN/FAIR­FAX NZ

‘‘Whakarongo mai’’ is recog­nised as a valid at­ten­tion grab­ber, and the city’s Town Crier, Caro­line Robin­son may use it as she takes part in an in­ter­na­tional town crier com­pe­ti­tion in the South Is­land next week.

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