Norwegian celebration at Stewart Island

BRITTANY PICKETT
Last updated 05:00 04/04/2014

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Stewart Island will get in touch with its Norwegian history this weekend.

A Norsk Feiring - a Norwegian celebration - is being held to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the ship of Sir James Clark Ross entering Paterson Inlet, Stewart Island, in April 1924.

Rakiura Museum secretary-treasurer Bev Cowie said the island had "an enduring Norwegian footprint" left by the settlers of the 1920s and 1930s.

The Norwegians established the Whaler's Base which will be recognised during the weekend by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust as a significant maritime site.

Cowie said it will be the first time a maritime site has been recognised by the trust.

About 180 people are expected to attend the celebrations, including some from Australia and the North Island.

"It's going to be a real family reunion for some," Cowie said.

The Norwegian consul will officially open the celebrations.

Schoolchildren on the island have been learning about Norwegian whalers, society and traditions and will present these in displays and performances of traditional dancing.

Cowie said a focus of the celebrations would be an exhibition of 52 black-and-white photos of early Ross Sea scenes, the whaling base, and settlers. It is on at the Community Centre from tonight until Sunday afternoon. The photographs are up for silent auction, closing at noon on Sunday.

A sailing expedition from Golden Bay to Millers Beach/Whaler's Base is planned for tomorrow, together with guided walking tours.

There is a formal dinner tomorrow night and a church service at the Presbyterian Church at 11am on Sunday.

After the service two commemorative plaques will be unveiled - one at the Halfmoon Bay Cemetery in remembrance of three Norwegians buried there, and one at Moturau Moana Gardens commemorating the arrival of the ship in 1924.

 

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