A town crying out for a crier
It's a job offer like no other. The benefits include travel, the downfalls include hecklers.
Palmerston North town crier Caroline Robinson has this morning been in Cuba Mall using her considerable vocal power to urge Wellington, very loudly: ''The capital city of New Zealand needs its own town crier.''
But it is not just Wellington that needs one. Town criers in Kapiti and Petone, she says, would not go amiss.
Asked why Wellington would need a town crier she replied simply.
As proof that Wellington needed a town crier, she was today hijacked by a film crew making a Wellington tourism video - though she neglected to do any crying on film for it.
As she was pontificating from beside the Cuba Mall bucket fountain, a heckler plucked a leaf from a nearby bush and poked Robinson in the face, earning a special ad-lib thank you at the end of her prepared speech.
Robinson, who has a theatrical background, was enlisted to become a town crier in a joint project between Palmerston North City Council and Massey University at the turn of the new millennium.
In the 13 years since, she has been contracted by the council to be a town crier five to six times each month.
She may still hold the title she won in 2000 as New Zealand's best town crier, but she is by no means the country's only person in the public profession.
A few have died in recent years, but there remains about six nationwide.
''We are a professional group of people - you can't be the town clown.''
Robinson is soon off to Ontario, Canada, where she will compete with 30 of the best town criers from around the world.
The Dominion Post