From humour and cynicism to the deeply haunting, a range of James K Baxter poems held a Whanganui audience enthralled on National Poetry Day.

The event was a fundraiser for the Guyton Group Trust's project to install a bronze statue of Baxter in Guyton St. The 100 tickets sold out, with guests enjoying a buffet breakfast in between readings of Baxter poems.

The readers were schoolgirl Leah Aiono, actor Kerry Girdwood, deputy mayor Jenny Duncan, artist Rere Sutherland, former mayor Annette Main, journalist Paul Brooks, opera school chairman Donald Trott and trust chairwoman Lesley Stead.

Each got to choose their own poems and Brooks, as master of ceremonies, kept the occasion flowing.


After the breakfast donated goods and services were auctioned off for additional funds, by Brian Hayward. The breakfast and venue was donated by Grand Hotel owner Neville Gorrie.

Altogether about $4000 was raised, Stead said, and judging by the volume of chatter the guests had a wonderful time.

The trust needs $100,000 for the statue, which will be made by Whanganui sculptor Joan Morrell. With an anonymous donation of $2000 from a Sydney wellwisher, the total raised so far is $54,000.

The event was organised by trust members Darni Struijck, Elise Goodge, Rochelle Handley, Jill Stegmann, Jilly Hare and Bronwyn Crow. They were lucky to have a hotelier and an auctioneer both in their street and happy to help.

The trust's aim is to turn Guyton St into a creative precinct. The Baxter statue is just the first project, Stead said.

"We really do find that the community is so behind us in this endeavour that people are incredibly generous towards our fundraising."