Home' Napier Mail : September 20th 2011 Contents 28 NAPIER MAIL, SEPTEMBER 21, 2011
Rugby car draws crowds, funding
By CLAIRE HAMLIN
Collector's edition: Megan Harris and Graeme Ryan with the car covered in All Blacks' signatures.
It is a white 1992 Toyota Corona
with almost 400,000km on the
clock, but it gathers friends and
admirers wherever it goes, raising
money for child cancer.
At least, it used to be white.
Nowadays, the paintwork is
becoming more obscured, as All
Blacks players add their
signatures to the 200 that already
cover its panels.
Colin Pinetree Meads, Inga
the winga and Norm Hewitt are
just a few who have carmmortal-
ised themselves alongside
Hawke s Bay s Israel Dagg and
The car belongs to Napier
couple Megan Harris and Graeme
Ryan, who bought the car almost
by accident at a charity auction
The signatures were gathered
by Aucklander Rikki Faint, who
decided to raise money for the
Child Cancer Foundation after
friends lost their two-year-old
daughter to the disease.
He travelled the country
collecting the signatures and
other rugby memorabilia, to be
auctioned for the foundation.
We had been invited by friends
to go to an All Blacks v South
Africa game in Wellington and to
join them for the charity auction,
Ms Harris says.
I wasn t really intending to buy
anything but when the car went
it, she said.
We thought it made sense as
something we could use to keep on
raising money for CCF, as
opposed to a rugby jersey in a
The first hurdle, which caused a
little head-scratching, was how to
get it out of the hotel ballroom --
on the sixth floor -- but the couple
knew it had got up there somehow
and were relieved to find that it
was as easy as driving it into the
parking building alongside.
Once the car was in the hotel
foyer, it didn t take long for a
crowd to gather reading the
signatures -- which gave them
their first strong clue that this
particular car was going to gener-
ate a lot of interest.
I wasn t sure how well it was
going to drive, but it went like a
dream all the way home, it s a
good old classic and will probably
never die! Ms Harris says.
So I just trucked along,
listening to the tape that Rikki
had left in the tape deck -- I m not
usually a fan of country and west-
ern but it seemed appropriate
A comfort stop in Dannevirke
proved once again that the
car simply draws attention
to itself, as by the time I
came back to it, once again there
was a circle of admiring readers.
So now the car lives in Napier
and Ms Harris and Mr Ryan plan
to add to the list of signatures --
there s still some bonnet space
and the whole roof to fill in -- and
the car will be displayed at pre-
match festivities for RWC events
in Hawke s Bay, where collectors
will be onsite for rugby fans
to donate to the Child Cancer
We feel we have been blessed
that our own children are healthy
and happy, but we know that
other families are not so fortu-
nate, the couple say.
However, none of us know
what the future holds and this is
a way that we can help others and
maybe pay it forward .
The Masonic's most famous guest
By CAROLYN VEEN
Old Napier: The
built in 1897
was in turn
and a third
Masonic -- the
know today --
built on the
Riverboat man: American author
Mark Twain was one of the Masonic
Hotel's most famous guests.
When American author Mark
Twain stayed at Napier s Masonic
Hotel in 1895, the building was so
close to the beach that he could
have skipped a pebble across the
water from his bedroom window.
Visiting Napier with his family
during a world lecture tour, Twain
described his experience with
poetic passion, despite being quite
unwell at the time.
Suffering with painful carbun-
cles, it seemed he found comfort in
the sound of nearby waves as they
rolled along the shingly shore.
Overlooking the ocean from his
bedroom suite, Twain wrote many
letters, including the following
one to his old friend Rev Jos Tich-
well, which gives us a glimpse of
what our little town was like
through the eyes of a great word-
Dear Joe, Your welcome letter
of two months and five days ago
has just arrived, and finds me in
bed with another carbuncle . . . I
lectured last night without incon-
venience, but the doctors thought
best to forbid to-night s lecture . . .
I think it was a good stroke of luck
that knocked me on my back here
at Napier, instead of some hotel in
the centre of a noisy city. Here we
have the smooth and placidly-
complaining sea at our door, with
nothing between us and it but 20
yards of shingle . . . and hardly a
suggestion of life in that space to
mar it or make a noise. Away
down here fifty-five degrees south
of the Equator this sea seems to
murmur in an unfamiliar tongue
.. .aforeigntongue.. .tongue
bred among the ice-fields of the
Antarctic . . . a murmur with a
note of melancholy in it proper to
the vast unvisited solitudes it has
come from. It was very delicious
and solacing to wake in the night
and find it still pulsing there.
Mark Twain (the pseudonym of
Samuel Clemens) was describing
the first Masonic Hotel, which
opened almost exactly 150 years
ago on September 14, 1861.
As a matter of interest, pioneer
hotelkeeper Stapylton Caulton
became licensee of the Masonic
Hotel in 1863, the same year the
riverboat-loving author adopted
Mark Twain is an old
riverboat term that refers to the
line between safe and dangerous
Twain had embarked on his
round-the-world tour just six
months after he had completed
Tom Sawyer Detective.
Then, on May 23 1896, less than
six months after he left Napier,
the beautiful Masonic building
was totally destroyed by fire.
Although the fire station was
within 100 feet of the hotel, it
seems the fire bell was not rung
until 15 minutes after the fire
started, a little after 10pm.
Tenders were called for within a
month of the fire and the Masonic
was rebuilt in 1897 by Mr C
Fleming McDonald. Designed by
architect Stanley Jeffreys, it
became the grandest hotel in
Originally three storeys, with a
single-storey building alongside to
house the stables, a two-storey
extension was added in 1906.
The extension had a promenade
roof with an area of 18,000 square
It was one of the largest and
most elaborate, up-to-date hotels
in New Zealand at that time.
This grand wooden building
was famed as the heart and soul
From its two balconies guests
were able to view the many
celebrations that took place in
front of the hotel and around the
Prior to uplifting of land in
1931, this majestic building was
literally a stone s throw away
from the sea, and the water s
In the 1931 Hawke s Bay earth-
quake, the Masonic Hotel was
destroyed again, mainly by the
fire that followed rather than by
the earthquake itself.
After the earthquake, a tempor-
ary corrugated iron building was
erected to serve the patrons while
the new hotel was built.
Today s 1932 Masonic Hotel
was designed by Wellington archi-
tect W J Prowse.
The exterior of the simple sym-
metrical structure, which is
enlivened by its elaborate upper
storey wooden pergola, remains
Although the hotel still faces
the sea, it is no longer close
enough to skip a pebble across the
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