May 2019 NEWSLETTER EXTRACTS
From the BROWNS BAY U3A President
At our April meeting Mr Daniel Newcombe, a Strategic Planner for Auckland Transport, helped us to understand the challenges of getting Auckland moving efficiently by 2021. Major events including Apec, the America’s Cup, the Women’s Rugby World Cup, the Women’s Cricket World Cup, the men’s Softball World Cup, and kapa haka’s Te Matatini Festival in February make 2021 big year for our city. The 2021 challenge is compounded for Auckland Transport still playing catch-up on years of underfunding which has delayed needed development and an annual population growth of 60,000+.
Our Celebration Meeting in June
The June 2019 starts us on the path to the 20th year of operation for U3A Browns Bay in June 2020. Within our membership we still have fifteen current members who either joined during 2000 – our Founders. We also have a further twenty current member who joined in 2002-2004 and have been members for over 15 years. They have been invited to our June meeting so we may honour these members and recognises their contributions. There will be stories and images, a special morning tea and activities to challenge us. Come and join us.
Auckland U3A Network Event
“Celebrating U3A” August 30th 2019
This year the celebration is being held at the Barfoot & Thompson Netball Centre - 44 Northcote Road, Northcote. The main speaker is Mike King an advocate on Mental Health and “The 2019 New Zealander of the Year”. $25 covers registration, morning tea and lunch. Places will fill-up quickly.
Register at http://u3a.net.nz/2019_event.html
Glen Plaistowe PRESIDENT
SPECIAL INTEREST GROUP NEWS FROM April 2019
Gay and Barry Brennan have described their experiences from two trips driving in western France, through the Vendee and Vienne regions down to Bordeaux. On their first trip they stayed in an old rural cottage and explored the areas along the Dordogne and Lot rivers seeing old chateaux and mediaeval villages perched high above the rivers. A second trip last year was centred in north Perigord where they stayed in an old farmhouse and then spent 11 days sailing a canal boat up and down the beautiful Charente river. Highlights along the way were docking in the ancient town of Cognac of brandy fame and experiencing the fun of Bastille Day weekend including a colourful Son et Lumiere pageant and fantastic firework shows.
Our presentation for March was about two Irish Bog bodies, Old Croghan Man and Clonycavan Man dug up by peat cutting machines in 2003. Extremely well preserved, they were both dated to between 400 BC and 200 BC [Iron Age]. An international team of experts were able to analyse hair, finger prints, stomach contents and finger nails. Both met violent deaths and were buried on tribal boundaries, maybe as offerings for the local king's success in ensuring bountiful harvests.
In April Peter gave a most interesting presentation on Homo Naledi, whose bones were found in a previously undiscovered cave south of Johannesburg. While it seems that this species may have overlapped the time when Homo sapiens first evolved, it has some very distinctive features. The skeletons are unique in that they appear to be bipedal, yet their long hands and fingers suggest that they lived at least part of the time in the trees. The many skeletons found in the cave suggest that maybe the cave was somewhere this holmium chose to place the dead of their troupe, as no tools or other evidence of occupation have been found with the skeletons.
Grahame Sydney, New Zealand’s foremost realistic painter was our topic for April. Pam talked about his early life in Dunedin and we then viewed his paintings (produced in egg tempura) from the 70’s. We then viewed the oil paintings he produced from the 70’s to the stunning ones painted recently. These are all held in private collections both in New Zealand and throughout the world. Graham Sydney is famous for his landscapes of the vast interior of Central Otago. We also had a mini presentation on the aboriginal painter Sally Gabori who started painting when she was eighty and has had these amazingly colourful exhibitions all over the world. These could be classed as abstract but are actually land and seascapes depicting her country and her ancestral lands.
Fay Weatherly gave us a very interesting talk and presentation on the work of the graphic artist Escher. Nanette Randall spoke about the artist Gretchen Albrecht whose work is featured in a book that was to be launched that evening.
No meeting because of Good Friday.
Books and Beyond
It took six years for Susan Orlean to research and write "The Library Book". She brings to life stories of head Librarians and workers from 1880s plus history about the development of the Los Angeles Public Library. She explores again the disastrous, mysterious, unsolved 1986 fire that reached over 2000degrees and burned for more than seven hours. It consumed four hundred thousand books and damaged seven hundred thousand more. Tribute is paid to today's essential friendship and wide services Libraries provide.
Our 'Fire' Challenge once more uncovered an astonishing array of titles with 'Fire' as a major theme.
We enjoyed a DVD about the life of Leonard Bernstein ( 1918 - 1990) Despite family discouragement , he became one of the best known American composers and conductors. His special gift was bridging the gap between the concert hall and the world of Broadway. His numerous compositions included a variety of genres including Kaddish, Mass, Candide and the most well-known West Side Story. He harnessed the power of the media, firstly with radio and then in TV, especially introducing concerts of classical music to young people. We then listened to CD versions of many of his popular compositions, from West Side Story and others.
Computer Skills Workshop
No report this month
Creative Audio Visual
At our last meeting we viewed shows produced by Geoff Lucy Lois Penny Terry Val Eugene and Fay. Eugene had prepared two shows. It was agreed that it was an impressive first attempt by him. At this meeting members' shows were those they had prepared using visual effects they had not used before and it is interesting to see how the effects were used and the range of topics. Most of our group uses a program called Proshow Gold or Producer where the user can produce video using still photos from their own portfolio or imported images, which is able to be played on TV's and computers. The images can be manipulated in many ways with music and titles added to create a unique video show of special moments. Come along and see what you could do!
Time passing takes many guises as our writers demonstrated. We went back in time to when postmen gave personal service to house holders with friendly chatter and a whistle to announce the arrival of a letter or parcel. To a time when spinster aunts required children to be "seen not heard" and traditions were strictly adhered to. Recalling memories of schooldays when as children our typical worry was how to win a race on sports day! Turning back time by gazing at aging hands, bedecked with diamonds and gold bands all with memories of times past. This month we changed our meeting day due to Anzac Day.
April 2019 A large turnout ensured interesting discussions on several varied topics ranging from the March 15th Christchurch tragedy to the need to vaccinate or not. Heather spoke about the port area development for the upcoming America’s Cup defence and the resulting encroachment into the Waitemata Harbour. This led on to the proposed extension of Queen’s Wharf further into the harbour to cater for larger cruise vessels and the likely advantages/disadvantages. Stuart’s presentation on the possible legalisation, or decriminalisation, of recreational Cannabis/Marijuana insured a lively discussion as the situation in overseas countries was discussed and considered. Other topics included Brexit (again!), and our changing Kiwi English.
Eleven cyclists took part in a ride, led by Lynne and David, that explored the Millwater and Orewa areas. The weather was great when we started out but towards the end of the ride it began to rain so our coffee time was called off . . . great shame as we love our coffee and chat afterwards. However it was an interesting exploration of both areas.
No Report because of Good Friday
Français pour rire
At our March meeting we heard about linguist, mathematician and scientist, Émilie de Châtelet who became the lover, constant companion and co-worker with Voltaire in 1733. [Voltaire - a writer, historian and philosopher of the French Enlightenment]. For 15 years they worked together at the Château to Cirey, Émilie's stately home. Together they translated the works of Isaac Newton into French, as well as many other achievement. Sadly, Émilie died at aged 40 after giving birth to a child by another lover. Voltaire was devastated."
Thanks to Patricia, we met at Settlers on Easter Monday. Gareth finished his talk about his visit to France, continuing by visiting châteaux, quaint villages and towns in the Burgundy area especially Beaune and Dijon and finishing in Paris. He stayed in the 19th arrondissement and explored the canals in that area.
International Studies across Countries
Val led us with a study of Denmark, which she has visited regularly and has relatives, so a great inside understanding. She covered the country's history from the Ice Age, glacier melt making it a flat country; its involvement as Vikings with other Scandinavian countries through invasion and settlement in Western Europe. Vikings were traders, explorers and plunderers via rivers and coastlines. Danelaw lasted for many centuries in eastern England and northern France. We learned about the Norse gods; arrival of Christianity; rise and fall of feudalism; its role in World Wars; and its settled and ancient monarchy. There are lots of links with NZ Dannevirke being an Old Danish settlement.
At our meeting in April Geoff talked about some of developments and inventions that had a substantial effect on the textile industry in Britain during the Industrial Revolution. Between 1760 and 1860 Britain lead the way in textile, iron, chemical and steam engine development providing it with the strongest economy in Europe. Inventions such as the Flying Shuttle, The Spinning Jenny, The Water Frame, the Power Loom and the Steam Engine revolutionised textile production and created the first factory production lines. The Great Exhibition in 1851 in London was held in order to showcase British ingenuity. The Crystal Palace was the first glass building of its type anywhere in the world.
Late Afternoon Walking
On the last walk this month a small group navigated the area of Murrays Bay. This group would like more members.
We were pleased to welcome members of the Archaeological Group to our April meeting. The topic was the history of Long Bay as found by the Archaeologists.: - Maori middens from temporary sites ; Ditch and Bank Fencing constructed by Pannill for his farm (Part of this has been preserved in the Heritage Protection area): Tobacco growing and wine production by Cholmondeley-Smith. (This is the area of the new Glenvar Ridge Road). Glen Var Wine was Auckland’s first winery and won several awards the late 1890’s.
We are open for new members with the more “user friendly” start time of 10 am.
No report this month
Maori / Te Reo
At the second meeting of this newly formed group, we learnt about Matariki according to the research done by Dr Rangi Matamua, an associate professor at the University of Waikato. This included, what is Matariki, why did Maori observe Matariki and how did Maori traditionally celebrate Matariki. This was followed with Te Reo exercises practising the Maori words for God Defend New Zealand and formal and informal greetings when meeting people.
Medical Science and History
Dr John Harry’s talk, CONCEPTION, GESTATION and BIRTH of a NEW MEDICINE described the process of Drug Development whereby new medicines are made available for doctors to prescribe. The talk outlined the biological basis for discovering a putative medicine, its progress through animal and human clinical testing and the role of the governmental Regulatory Authorities. Success rates of finishing the process are low ( 1 in 10,000 starting molecules) and costs high: circa 2.6 billion US dollars. Mini-talks covered an overview from Brain Day at Auckland Medical School including Stroke Recovery, Migraine and Dementia.
Colin gave an extended presentation about China. A movie filmed in 1910’s shows an overcrowded city where virtually all transport was by manpower – no cars or horses but a small electric tram. This contrasted with a film showing modern China – still overcrowded but with cars and the other trappings of a capitalist society although the wealth was not evenly spread. A second filmed presentation was by Oxford Professor Rana Mitter who discussed China’s involvement in WW2. Of the Allies, China had the longest war as it started with the Japanese invasion of China in 1937 and continued until surrender in August 1945, only to be replaced by the civil war between the Nationalists (Chiang Kai Shek) and the Communists (Mao Tse Tung).
Music Appreciation and History
We watched a most interesting DVD PIANOMANIA. Stefan Knupfer, a softly spoken, bespectacled piano tuner for Steinway and Sons who just might be the most gifted musical talent in the world...even though he's not a musician. Armed with his tool kit, his wry sense of humour and his keen musical ear, Knupfer helps such world-renowned musicians as Lang Lang, Alfred Brendel, Rudolf Buchbinder and Pierre-Laurent Aimard achieve the tone, pitch and clarity they desire from their piano. A fascinating insight into a largely unseen world.
Music - Mainly Classical
Our focus for April was on Felix Mendelssohn (1809 – 1847). We talked about his being a musical child prodigy pretty well equal to Mozart and, for all of his 38 years, a marvellous pianist, organist, composer, and choral and orchestral conductor always in demand throughout Europe and England. He was an experienced traveller, an accomplished artist and writer and, most importantly, realised the value of other composers' music, such as Bach, Handel, and Beethoven, which he promoted at every opportunity. He was a devoted husband and father of five children. We then listened (via youtube) to his Midsummer Night's Dream overture, piano concerto No.1 (Yuja Wang), Hebrides Overture (featuring amazing views of Fingal’s Cave), two Songs Without Words (live performance by Jill), and Violin Concerto in E minor (Sophie Anne-Mutter).
Puzzles Patterns & Paradoxes
To be announced
We explored the range of pre-set settings on our cameras and identified their function. Evaluate the photos taken for composition and looked at the meaning of focal point.
No Report this month
No Report this month
At the meeting we play and sing popular songs, chosen previously by group members, mainly from a 2,400 page songbook. Everyone has two weeks to practice between meetings. Our web page has Ukulele lessons for all levels of experience. Whether you are a beginner, with or without a Ukulele, or a singer, you are more than welcome. Meetings held at group members homes.
No report this month
What’s on in Auckland
(Mainly via email. Meets every 2 months)