To city’s polar opposite
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.’’
Warren Warbrick and the mayor of San Martin de Valdeiglesias, Maria Luz Lastras Parras, share a hongi.