Town crier pits te reo against oyez
‘‘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.’’
‘‘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.