True tales of Onerahi and Whangarei Heads

By Lindy Laird

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Agnes Hermans (left) and Valerie Moss-Green with hot-off-the-press True Tales of Onerahi. Photo / Michael Cunningham
Agnes Hermans (left) and Valerie Moss-Green with hot-off-the-press True Tales of Onerahi. Photo / Michael Cunningham

The next two editions in the runaway-success True Tales local history books have just been launched.

True Tales of Onerahi and True Tales of Whangarei Heads both follow the format of storytelling by local people in their own voice that has seen other books in the series sell like hotcakes.

The Onerahi edition, launched on Saturday, was compiled by a local committee and includes 109 stories contributed by 92 people and 200 photos.

They cover the local geology, Maori history and the development of the area known first as Onerahirahi, then named Grahamtown before reverting to Onerahi. Boat-building, shipping and the railway are a feature of the early suburb.

Committee members Agnes Hermans and Valerie Green-Moss said the response to the call for contributions was extremely positive.

During the collation, committee members took a small busload of senior citizens who had lived much of their lives in Onerahi on a short tour from the shoreline to the current shopping centre, and circling Whangarei Airport.

The tour of sites of interest, including some long-gone buildings and public facilities, engendered so much interest and fact-sharing that what would normally be a 10-minute drive took three hours, Ms Hermans said.

Putting together a picture of the past was made easier by the number of good-quality photographs and documents available, and oral history recordings stored in the Onerahi Library, Ms Green-Moss said.

Jan Boyes collated the True Tales of Whangarei Heads edition which was launched yesterday, the day after the Onerahi book.

Ms Boyes said the stories include ones supplied by specialists in relevant fields, and colourful 'true tales' from generations before.

All make up a picture of a community, Ms Boyes said.

Also about to be launched is True Tales of Great Barrier Island 2016, compiled by Whangarei writer Don Armitage, who got the True Tales genre off the ground.

Mr Armitage said that because there are unlimited personal or historical stories about a place and more are created as time passes, books can be repeated every few years, "which will grow an increasingly rich social history, not by a single historian, but by a community, about a community and for that community".

Last year saw the release of True Tales of Kamo compiled by Jane Painter, and the second volume of Kamo is being compiled by Ross Morris.

- Northern Advocate

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