You’ve undoubtedly heard of Peter Rabbit™, Beatrix Potter’s mischievously loveable bunny who took the world by storm in the 1900s.
But did you know about New Zealand’s very own Peter Rabbit™ connection? Possibly not, because Peter’s House has been a special secret in Garston for a long time now.
Once upon a time, a rabbit dug a burrow under an old fir tree.
Thirty years ago, only those who crept under the spreading branches of the massive fir tree between the Presbyterian church and the Garston cemetery knew the secret. Someone had spotted an abandoned rabbit hole and put up a tiny sign — “Peter Rabbit’s House.” Then came a small washing line with delicate, knitted garments and, next, a lopsided bunny dunny.
Who put them up? It’s a bit of a mystery, but whoever it was, I hope they know how their whimsy brought smiles and that gradually more secret “rabbit paraphernalia” appeared.
Welcome Rocks Gardens owes its existence to a VERY lucky break: “If I hadn’t stopped here, a day later I’d have been locked down in a Queenstown hostel for six weeks.”
Have you ever noticed how, sometimes, split-second decisions have far-reaching consequences? Tiny choices can lead to life-changing events — and you never know when the Fates are spinning their threads.
Welcome Rock Trail owners, Tom and Katie O’Brien, needed a WOOOFer to clear some firewood. And when Brendan Lopez applied, he never dreamed that he’d end up running a market garden south of Queenstown.
I mean, there wasn’t even a hint of an idea of market gardening in Garston at the time.
Yet, two years later, he’s at the helm of Welcome Rock Gardens, a thriving supplier of fresh, organic vegetables in Queenstown and beyond.
The Piha surf is pounding; wind and rain are sweeping across the black sand. Usually, only the surfers brave this weather — but today there’s one, lone photographer, hunched into her jacket.
She’s waiting. Any moment now there’ll be a break in the weather. That’s when she’ll whip out her Sony A7SII camera and get the shots — waves, surfers, footprints on the sand, and the next on-coming rainband rushing across the bay.
Daisy Thor-Poet is the sole camera-crew, sound operator and director of Tinted Productions. And she will brave any conditions to get the footage for her latest documentary series, “Changemakers.”
Because, as she explains, “I had one day free in Auckland, so it was my only chance. I got soaking wet, but I got the shots… which ended up working perfectly.”
One of Peter’s main passions is restoring old vehicles to their former glory. When Russell Glendinning found that two of his old railway jiggers had gone to rack and ruin he brought them to Garston, hoping that Peter would work some magic.
And Peter did. Now, Garston is lucky to have them on display as part of our railway heritage precinct on the Garston Green.
Noel, on the other hand, has dedicated much of his time to collecting and preserving documents from the past. He’s got files, folders and books galore of fascinating documents and photographs showing farming and community life as it used to be.
Now, Noel is collaborating with his granddaughter to bring us a new Facebook page. Amanda has been posting photos and articles from Noel’s vast collection and reminding us of a bygone era. If you’ve lived in Northern Southland, you might well recognise places, events and faces. You might even spot yourself at these special events.
Russell Glendinning was a giant of a man in Northern Southland. I think you’d be hard-put to find anyone as passionate and dedicated to trains and community as the man known to many as Mr Kingston Flyer.
A Crowd Gathers In Garston
On February 22nd a crowd gathered near the little railway shed on the Garston Green. They came from all over Southland and beyond. Railwaymen caught up with their mates. St John’s personnel leant against their ambulance chatting to friends.
Locals from Kingston, Garston and Athol came along. Family, friends, dignitaries…
We were all there to honour one extraordinary man.
The Russell Glendinning Memorial Seat
This rustic seat is a heartfelt tribute to a legendary Southlander. And, like Mr Glendinning, it’s down-to-earth yet complex. Aaron Abernethy built it carefully, from railway sleepers and cartwheels. Russell might have blushed to read the information board created by Donna Hawkins and Chris Chilton. But he’d have loved the attention to detail on Macaela Hawkins’ re-creation of the Kingston Flyer perched on top.
“I think it is a great tribute to Russell,” said Kingston Flyer Ltd Director Neville Simpson. “It’s a place to come and remember him, to sit and contemplate.
Russell used to do a lot of that. He’d go up the track, do a few sleepers then lie back in the grass and contemplate life.”
But, who was Russell Glendinning and why did 100 people gather to honour him on that rain-threatened afternoon?