Southlanders set to fill Beehive's banquet hall

Last updated 05:00 17/09/2012

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Parliament will be filled with southern drawls and plenty of maroon on Friday when the Southland Party is brought back to life.

The yearly get-together for Southlanders transplanted to Wellington has been absent from the calendar for the past nine years, but a crew of expats, including MP Eric Roy and Newstalk ZB political editor Barry Soper, have brought it back.

The party will feature the best of Southland cuisine, from oysters to beef to that essential southern drop Speight's.

In its heyday, the evening attracted about 400 Southlanders to the banquet hall at Parliament to reminisce about everything southern.

"It's a time when Southlanders can get together and talk a lot of rubbish," Soper said.

The parties had been the highlight of the calendar for many ex-pats, but had been a lot of work to pull together, leading them to be stopped a few years ago.

"But it was such a popular event that the most frequent question I get asked is ‘why we aren't doing them any more?'

"So here we are giving it another go." The Gore-born journalist brought together a team of hardcore southern folk to get the party up and running again, and the evening at Parliament is gaining steam once again.

With Southland well known for its hearty cuisine, a protein-heavy feast was promised, and appropriate decorations would also be in place, he said.

That included a replica of Gore's giant brown trout which was made for the party by Weta Workshop.

"It used to be on a plinth just like the original one, but then people started dancing with it and tackling it and so on," Soper said. "It's a bit more rugged looking now."

Mr Roy, who is the MP for Invercargill, said there was a sizeable community of Southlanders who were based in Wellington.

"The feedback so far has been extremely positive."

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- The Southland Times

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