After a light and tasty lunch, it was time to head off to Winton for the second poetry-reading event on Jenny and my (J&K Rolling's) Southland Whistle-stop Tour. We had a little over an hour to get there. As we passed through the riverside town of Mataura, I realised that from now on, this plain, functional meat works and paper works town, had been transformed for me by Jenny's 'Southland poetry'; in particular her poem where she imagines Marilyn Monroe in Mataura.
... Jenny reading her poetry in Gore library ...
The turn off to Winton took us into the heartland of Southland, or Central Southland as it is known. Like Otago (and other provinces in New Zealand) Southland is divided up into the points of the compass: Southern, Western Southland, Eastern Southland, Northern Southland and Central Southland. I don't know if it's as defined now, but back when I grew up in Southland, each district had its own distinct character.
... road in Orepuki, Western Southland
Western Southland (where I spent the first ten years of my life) had an early history of gold-mining and settling the land. Occupations were largely connected to services such as the railway, dairy factories etc. and forestry, fishing and farming (dairy and mixed-farming) were well established. Both the residents and the land, sported a wild, south-coast rigour. Strong, affable communities were made up of descendants of early settlers from Scotland, England and Ireland, as well as tangata whenua; they were tough people with a robust sense of humour, who knew how to both live and play hard. In the 1960's, rugby and netball (called basketball back then) were the established main sports. As well as sport, the church, the pub, horse-racing, hunting, fishing and community groups and networks were important.
Deep, green paddocks flashed by us as we zipped along country roads largely empty of traffic. Then before we knew it, there we were in Winton – but where was the library?
We were leaving Winton feeling encouraged and welcomed.
Before we left, we had a look around Merv and Milly's – a fashion outlet shop as both of us wanted to buy something as a memento of Winton and its warm reception.
From here it was a short trip through misty drizzle, into the city of Invercargill. We settled into our accommodation, catching up on the news of the Seddon / Wellington earthquakes and meeting up with Rebecca Amunsden in Zookeepers Cafe. She was our Invercargill contact and had organised our reading event in Invercargill for the next day, Saturday.