A fitting celebration in Norsewood
It was sunshine and Scandinavian flags fluttering in a breeze when Norsewood celebrated Norway Day on Sunday May 20.
There were some significant departures from the last few years’ celebrations with the day starting in the Norsewood Settler’s Cemetery where members of the Manawatu¯ Scandinavian Society explained the significance of people buried under the headstones in the early life of the settlement.
This started with Bror Eric Friberg who came out with his family on the Hovding in 1872 to lead the first settlers as Government Agent. There were other important settlers described but also headstones of those associated with significant events like Edward Brunning and William Roberts, killed when a railway tunnel collapsed in 1879 and five members of the Pettersen family, some victims of epidemics.
A large family reunion of the Englebretsens whose ancestors also came out in 1872 swelled the large crowd to over 100 and were introduced by Steve Englebretsen from Wellington who had carried out the research.
Following an hour of history in warm sunshine the crowd marched down Odin Street where First Secretary of the Norwegian Consulate in Canberra, Beate Gabrielsen, placed flowers on the plaque by the Commemorative Oak and a brief summary of the early days in Norsewood was read by Rose Waterworth.
The focus then moved to Hovding Hall where the winners of the cooking competitions were announced and a very large crowd shared lunch.
The formal part of Norway Day then took place with Tararua Mayor Tracey Collis welcoming special guests Beate Gabrielsen and Honorary Norwegian Consul Graeme Mitchell, presenting each with a gift created by Cherry Peeti-Tapurau.
Graeme Mitchell said he, like previous Norwegian ambassadors, always enjoyed the celebration of Norway Day in Norsewood.
He introduced First Secretary of the Norwegian Consulate in Canberra, Beate Gabrielsen, who said she had always wanted to come to Norsewood to share the day and after two years in Canberra she was pleased to have come with her family.
She drew parallels between New Zealand and Norway with their long coastlines, mountains, fiords, small size and friendly people and she passed on the greetings of the royal family King Harald V and Queen Sonya.
The works of Jane Brinkley was presented by historian Nancy Wadsworth and a summary of Roald Omundsen’s expedition to the South Pole was described by senior student and prefect of Dannevirke High School, Nikayla Deacon.
Most of the crowd then adjourned to the Old Dairy Factory for a Scandinavian concert. (See related story)
First Secretary of the Norwegian Embassy, Canberra, Beate Gabrielsen and Honorary Norwegian Consul in New Zealand Graeme Mitchell led the march from the Settlers’ Cemetery to the Commemorative Oak in Norsewood on Sunday May 20.
Visitors stand around the grave of Bror Eric Friberg, hearing about his role as Government Agent who brought the first settlers to Norsewood in 1872.
Honorary Norwegian Consul to New Zealand Graeme Mitchell talked in the Hovding Hall about how he and previous ambassadors enjoyed the traditional Norway Day celebrations in Norsewood.
The Englebretsen contingent pose at the Norsewood War Memorial.
Beate Gabrielsen with husband Thomas Osterhaus and children Jesper (9) and Amalie (7).
Petur Hagnason and Bill Gundersen with the Kransakaka — Crown Cake — they made for the occasion.
Tararua Mayor Tracey Collis with Honorary Norwegian Consul Graeme Mitchell and wife Judi.
Two members of the Manawatu¯ Scandinavian Society Oleen Ball and Val Burr with local representative Heather Cheer (left) talk about early settlers in Norsewood by their graves in the Settlers’ Cemetery.