Tears from top 'treasures'

23:06, Feb 17 2013
Joy Cowley & Duncan Whiting
Marlborough's newest living treasures : Joy Cowley and Duncan Whiting

There were tears from two of Marlborough's top creative talents when they heard they had been named as living treasures of the region.

Author and poet Joy Cowley and theatre director Duncan Whiting are the latest people to have been named as Marlborough Living Treasures. The pair will be awarded celebratory medals at a ceremony at the Marlborough Museum in Blenheim on April 3.

Ms Cowley said although she has moved from the Marlborough Sounds to Featherston, she considers being named as a Marlborough Living Treasure as more special than any of the other national and international awards she has received.

"I got a bit choked up. To get awards from other places that's very nice. I have had awards in America and New Zealand, they're like beautiful toys really, but when you get something from your home place that's different, that's family. It's very special, it makes a deep connection."

When she heard about the award she "felt about an inch high" thinking of others who deserved the award more than her, she said. The Marlborough region itself was the living treasure which inspired her work and she still travels to her family bach in the Sounds to write, she said.

"The deepest things go beyond words. It's just an inner peace. I fly in to Blenheim airport and something like a sigh ripples through me. I go out to the Sounds and all the stress disappears, I wake up fresh and energised and the words just come out."


Mr Whiting said getting the news about the award had taken his breath away.

"And I'd have to say there was a little tear in the eye, too. It's made me very happy to think that lifetime of input is acknowledged by your peers and by the community."

One of the highlights was being included alongside Ms Cowley, he said.

"That's an honour to be mentioned in the same breath along with her, that tickled me more than anything. I thought it was wonderful."

He had been involved in theatre in some way or another every day since primary school and the passion was not dimmed, he said. The best part of theatre, though, was working with the people and being able to inspire them, he said.

Weaver and artist Peg Moorhouse, 95, was the first recipient of the Living Treasure award when it was instituted last year. The award, which organisers believe to be the first of its kind in New Zealand, is given to people who have made outstanding contributions in the community, particularly in cultural endeavours with extraordinary, inspiring and significant excellence.

The Marlborough Express