After the Gisborne library we drove to Wairoa for an afternoon program there. Teensy little library. And the narrow little mezzanine was packed with 35-40 kids and grownups. The turnout they get for library programs! Granted, Wairoa is a small town and there’s not much else on for a kid to do on a sunny winter school holiday. Still…they were out of the house.
I was part of the Eastern and Central District Council-sponsored reading program called Winter Warmers — a lot like the Summer Reading Programs we run in U. S. public libraries. I was amazed at the one-on-one interaction between library staffers and blossoming readers. After a kid finishes reading a book, s/he sits down with one of the children’s staff and they discuss it for a few minutes. Eyeball to eyeball. Not like a book report. More like a book discussion.
The town of Wairoa sits at the edge of the Wairoa River, the banks of which are furnished with playground equipment and picnic tables. We ate our leftover Turkish takeout dinners from the night before (Note to self: When eating leftover lamb, be sure you can nuke it. Cold lamb is nasty.) and wended our way toward Napier.
The picture on the right shows what Napier looked like (nearby Hastings, too) in 1931 after it was hit by a 7.8 earthquake — much stronger than the earthquakes that rattled the living daylights out of Christchurch in 2010 and 2011. The city fathers decided the rebuilding of Napier would factor in earthquake safety, and since they were pretty much building from scratch they had a unique opportunity to establish some sort of visual cohesion to the new city. Even though the insurance companies did what insurance companies do best in times of natural disaster — denied as many claims
as possible — an outpouring of charitable donations poured in. There was a Depression going on. Laborers and skilled craftsmen delighted to have a job to do. And within two years — by the beginning of 1933 — Napier was officially pronounced “reborn.”
We stayed in a backpackers hostel that had once been a hotel over a pub — The Criterion. And there, we met a young man from Oklahoma City (my hometown). That was the day before Germany killed Brazil in the World Cup. All the kids in the hostel were up EARLY to watch the game. Some of them were German. None of them was Brazilian. It was a party.
Napier’s beach is made up of black pebbles. The waves coming in made a different music than waves coming in on sand.
After a morning gig at the Napier library, we headed into the suburbs for a rousing afternoon in Taradale. Librarian Anne Davis took this great photo of everyone flaunting the sailboats they had just learned to fold.
Two nights in Napier, lots of walking and gawking. And then, after a triple header in Hastings, Flaxmere, and Havelock North … we were off to Te Rangi, a farm that sits just outside Otane, to visit our friends Mary and Peter on their home turf.