To city’s po­lar op­po­site

The Tribune (NZ) - - CONVERSATIONS - RICHARD MAYS

Di­a­met­ri­cally op­po­site Palmer­ston North on the other side of the globe is the small Span­ish town of San Martin de Valdei­gle­sias.

About an hour’s drive west of Madrid, the name trans­lates as St Martin of the val­ley of the churches.

This 13th cen­tury town with its own cas­tle and a pop­u­la­tion of about 8000, is Palmer­ston North’s an­tipodes.

Vir­ginia and War­ren War­brick had been ex­plor­ing those an­tipodean links with an orig­i­nal per­for­mance piece, and vis­ited the town mid-year bear­ing gifts from the Palmer­ston North City Coun­cil to the Span­ish tourist town.

While there, they per­formed An­tipodeans, a work that com­bined 16th cen­tury Span­ish clas­si­cal mu­sic and tra- di­tional Ma¯ori in­stru­men­ta­tion with mod­ern New Zealand mu­sic and po­etry.

‘‘It’s a piece that’s in Span­ish, Latin, English and Ma¯ori,’’ Vir­ginia said.

While War­ren’s ap­pear­ance wear­ing a short cloak or hieke and a maro or tra­di­tional loin­cloth re­veal­ing his legs cov­ered in ta¯ moko, raised some eye­brows among older cit­i­zens, through their trans­la­tor, a 9-year-old boy, the pair made favourable con­nec­tions with the hongi, which was a hit, and with the pu¯ta¯tara or conch trum­pet.

‘‘They have lots of fes­ti­val pa­rades with lots of lo­cal brass bands, and War­ren’s wind in­stru­ments were a great con­ver­sa­tion starter.’’

They left the pu¯ta¯tara as a gift from Ran­gita¯ne, as well as gifts from the city coun­cil.

The idea be­hind An­tipodeans arose from the ques­tion: ‘‘If we were to travel as far as we could from here, where would that be?’’.

Back in the 16th cen­tury, Span­ish ex­plor­ers were per­haps ask­ing sim­i­lar ques­tions.

‘‘There is a plaque in the square [in San Martin] com­mem­o­rat­ing some­one from the town who helped ‘dis­cover’ the Pa­cific Ocean 500 years ago in 1513.’’

Now she said ex­plor­ers from the Pa­cific had ‘‘dis­cov­ered’’ San Martin.

Towns­folk were gen­er­ally aware of New Zealand as ‘land of the long white cloud’ and for Lord of the Rings - a lot more aware than New Zealan­ders were of Spain, War­brick said.

‘‘It’s well-known in Spain that they are op­po­site New Zealand, but peo­ple we talked to in Palmer­ston North had no idea who we were op­po­site.’’

PHOTO: VIR­GINIA WAR­BRICK/SUPPLIED

War­ren War­brick and the mayor of San Martin de Valdei­gle­sias, Maria Luz Las­tras Par­ras, share a hongi.

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