Welcome to Tawa U3A

Tawa U3a is a group of people who are free during the day to gather for activities of interest.

We organise courses to teach subjects of interest like Art , Ancestry or Ukulele.

There are Discussion groups where you can express your point of view, and games both indoor and outdoor.

Talks are arranged on topics of interest like Health, History or Travel. We cooperate with other U3A groups and share sessions.

All up, we offer close to 50 learning and social opportunities at minimal cost.

You are certain to find somethings that are of interest to you.  Read on...




You can email us - [email protected]

How to join U3A

Joining U3A Tawa can be done with a minimum of fuss. An easy way is to ring or email one of our Committee members whose names and contacts appear in the Contact Us part of this site (see above). You can also use our contact Info email at the bottom of this page. The bank account numbers for paying the annual sub are also in the Contact Us page or you can pay to a Committee member. We look forward to hearing from you soon. Welcome to U3A Tawa.

William Shakespeare - a truly funny guy

A popular favourite is back in the saddle when Carolyn Marshall lets the voice of the Bard ring clear and true in the Tawa Union Church.

Those not familiar with this course should know the title says it all. Carolyn chooses and edits one of Shakespeare’s plays and allocates parts to members of the group. Reading aloud adds a most significant dimension.

The whole play is not read but the edit makes sure that everything plot wise is clear. Carolyn herself adds pithy narratives to pull the whole thing into a coherent whole whilst also commenting on the occasional oddity of the Bard’s style and/or the language of the day.

Reading is not compulsory; those who just want to sit and listen are equally welcome. Oh, and some of the best female roles have often been read by men. (Maybe WS was onto something when he used young men in girls’ roles at the Globe Theatre.)

In preparation for the course Carolyn is now reading through the early comedies. The course does not start until September and “we will need some lightness and fun to help us through the equinoctial gales and rain”.

So what is likely to get the nod? Twelfth Night? As you like it? The Dream? The Merry Wives of Windsor?  King Lear? (Probably not).

Oh what an ugly war! Interesting though...

The start of Aspects of the Great War has been put back to 16 July from the earlier 2 July. Preparation has been somewhat hampered by loss FO the Central Wellington Library but the internet and Porirua Library are picking up the slack.

The Great War stated out to be the “War to end all Wars” that is now more starkly known as World War One; which itself speaks volumes.

The course is not a scholarly analysis of leaders, maps, monster battles and their supposed outcomes. It is more of an individual search into aspects that have often hardened over time into debatable snap judgements: lions led by donkeys, criminal slaughter on the Somme, hang the Kaiser for starting it, Gallipoli could have ended the war in just a few months, Sarajevo was the real start of the Second World War.

Each member of the group will receive a folder of short form web searches printed out for their own reading and to promote wider discussion. There are no experts - just enquiring minds.

Everyone will contribute on selected short topics like Pals Regiments, the American effect, dreadnoughts, shellshock, use of mustard gas and the like. We will look at aspects from thought- provoking films like All Quiet on the Western Front, Paths of Glory and La Grande Illusion while having some mindless fun with Blackadder and the songs of the 1960s movie Oh what a Lovely War.

The war poets will also get a canter along with any others aspects of this terrible conflict anyone in the group wishes to raise. One central theme will likely be that the War’s effects are still being felt in much the same way the “Big Bang” billions of years ago can still be appreciated and brought into contention.     

Ancestry: the searching never ends

The ancestry group continues to be one of U3A Tawa’s bigger courses. New Zealand has a notably immigrant past and many of our members have family trees set firmly in the United Kingdom even if they themselves are Kiwis. We dropped in on the group’s 21 June meeting attend by neatly 20 members.

To construct a family tree is to learn so much more about oneself than merely who, what and when. By laying out the entire structure of a large families across time so much social history is bound up the work and “why?” enters the discussion.

The Ancestry group members frequently piece together exciting new aspects of their family pasts; largely enabled by the huge and ever widening sweep of public records now becoming readily available on computer. There are valuable shipping and military records plus a novel focus engendered through DNA searches that are becoming ever more detailed as to family origins when mere written records peter out.

Not only are immigration records now more readily available, many church parishes in England and Wales (Shropshire received a most favorable mention) have turned their registers over to consolidated online access with remarkable results.  Added to this are the many ancestry enthusiasts we have locally who have created unique publications such as “Lost Cousins”; of which Brian Abel spoke and distributed copious back copies he has been holding.

From the government searches end Margaret Robertson used PowerPoint to take members through the enhanced H M Passport Office (General Records Office) computer searches out of the UK. Their subsystems are becoming more capable of creating crucial supplementary data that will often crack open previous informational blockages/gaps such as historical “mother’s maiden name”. This all goes back to the early 19th century and so covers many generations.

There is no single comprehensive textbook in this field. It is essentially an absorbing detective search. Those involved share their successes and seek help re their failures to keep nudging evermore illuminating information out in the open. It is most impressive to see.    

New enrolments but watch for the gremlins

With the half-yearly meeting on the horizon we must turn our minds to how we (a) enroll in a new course (b) enroll in an existing course for the first time starting now. These should be able to be done manually or on the website.

Using the website

To look at what is in the new courses go to Courses and we now have "New Courses". There, all the new courses are set out for your information. Then you can go to Enrol and click on what you want - including any ongoing courses you might want to do in the second half of the year but are not yet enrolled in. There is no need to re-enrol in whole-year courses. 

Not using the website

For those not using the website we have printed 250 copies of the entire course list combined with an enrolment form. You do not need to re-enrol in courses that are ongoing through the year such as Current Affairs or Ramblers etc. When you have made your choice of new course the completed form can be handed in at the half-year meeting or put in the white U3A box in the Tawa Library.

If you receive the printed version of the newsletter there is a copy of the courses/enrolment form enclosed with the May issue which has now been distributed.The same abbreviated material will also be found on the website under Newsletters.(There, there are back editions of the printed U3A newsletter and, from the blank oblong, you can download and print the two-page courses summary).  

If in doubt, ring or email a committee member.    


U3A Singers at Malvina Major for Matariki

U3A Singers at Malvina Major for Matariki

On Monday 17th June, 40 of the U3A Singers turned up in their glad rags to entertain the residents of Malvina Major Retirement Village with an hour of music to celebrate Matariki. 

Although there was only one song in Te Reo, nearly all the songs had some sort of connection with the concept of Matariki.

As with every "New Year", Matariki reviews the past  with stories and legends whilst also looking ahead with renewed hope.  The songs offered on this occasion told stories of reminiscing in various countries:  "Song for the Mira" (Irish-Canadian); Another Day (Welsh);  "Early One Morning" (English);  "To Music" (Austrian); "The Rhythm of Life" (American). 

The audience was invited to "sing along" with several songs – purple songbooks were provided so they could follow the words of songs like: "Love Me Tender", "The Carnival is Over" and "Edelweiss".  

Director, Jancis Potter gave a brief backgrounder to each song (this also allowing the choir to rest between songs as well as giving the audience some valuable context).  Accompanist Lydia Middlemiss took the opportunity during these "rest" breaks to take the photos that are included here.

Presentation of new courses

New courses were presented for the second half of 2019/ John Baldwin typified the computer course as being a resource for all U3A members wanting to get better use out of their devices for which new apps our pouring into the marketplace at a quite baffling rate. Also, there are people who can be flummoxed by IT generally. They can be assured that there is an ongoing U3A resource that will help them through their problems and mind blanks at any time. They only need ask whether they are course members or not.

Two old favourites have returned in the form of Singing for Fun (Sister Francine McGovern) and Shakespeare readings (Carolyn Marshall). The latter is likely to fall in the more comedic end of the Bard’s creative spectrum.

Dave Smith outlined his two new courses which are Aspects of the Great War and European Film. The films course is an extension of the World Kinsmen and British Cinema screenings/discussions that have been well received and attended in the last 18 months. The War course is intended not as a grueling trudge through the entire history of the war. Rather it is meant to be a dynamic but selective discussion forum based on internets materials (to be supplied). Controversy will be the keyword.

Michael Holland was overseas last year and visited some fascinating but little known (in New Zealand) British places i.e. Eyam – the Plague Town that opted to cut itself off from local society to contain an outbreak, Woburn Abbey, Chatsworth House the seat of the Dukes of Devonshire but located up north in Derbyshire, Sutton Hoo and The Tidemill (in Woodbridge).He promised much interesting detail for those interested.

Jim Cunningham was not present but his course will entail a 21st Century view of Christianity that promises an appreciation of Christ appropriate to our increasingly troubled and perplexing times.

Mary-Lynn Boyes spoke briefly about the latest Katherine Mansfield offering “Miss Brill” while Jasmine Thompson opened up the field of Poetry readings which promises to be both a performance and poetry creation opportunity.   

Bruce Murray is cooking up a fascinating road trip (by bus) concept relating to the history of the old Porirua Road but was unavailable to speak to the meeting. We will cover this course in great depth when more is known. As also with the course on seniors’ health and death and dying (the practical issues).

Half-year meeting short but sweet (and savoury)

The half year meeting passed off well on a very grey day. Chairman Michael Holland addressed the gathering that was again slightly down in numbers on previous years. This seems to be a common theme with not for profit voluntary organisations like ours. Steps are being taken to raise membership numbers.

A splendid repast was eaten before the meeting as the style reverted to the older “bring a plate”. Little was left over. After the lunch Jancis Potter and several of the intended leaders gave brief overviews of the several new and highly varied courses plus the joint ones we will shortly be holding with Mana U3A. Some details still need filling in on some courses but theses should become clear in the next week or so.


European films get their day in the sun.

The recently-conducted course entitled 10 British Film Directors has concluded and is its successor will be European Films which will follow similar format. Over 20 members sought to join that previous course in January but some had to be asked to wait till now on the grounds of space in the leader’s home theatre room.

It looks although all those wanting to join will be able to do so along with many of those who were in the first-half course.

It must never be forgotten that films had their birth in Europe (in the late 19th century) while thousands of actors and producers went to America to stock up the US film industry in the friendly sunlit sands of California. Many of those became causalities of the arrival of sound in the mid 1920s which exposed their numerical accented voices like silents never did.

Even today though the premier films festival  is in France while the UK Bafta awards hold a much higher place in world moviegoer estimation than the industry- dominated Oscars; which for many lack a degree of credibility (if not hypnotic pulling power at the box office).

This course do not pretend to rehearse the efforts of greatest directors of Europe. Rather, the films chosen reflect an intriguing set of entertainments while making sure that the likes of Bunuel, Fellini, Bertolucci and Bergman get a fair look in. The bald fact is that from new wave onwards Europe has been pouring out films on a massive scale in many countries and are widely respected for it. Half of the course films are certified classics and the rest derive to be. We have three French, one Swedish, one Spanish, one Polish, one German and the rest from Italy. Films like Blow up, The Bicycle Thief, La Dolce Vita, The 400 Hundred Blows and 1900 were all duly considered but did not make the final U3A cut.

Member Profile: Gerry Durr

Gerard Durr (Gerry) was born in 1933 in Stockport, England, the eldest of five children.  He came to New Zealand in 1958 sailing on the “Captain Cook” and took up a job in Wellington.  Gerry had served an apprenticeship in the carpet and lino business so decided to ‘go out on his own’ after realising he had the ability and that work then was plentiful. 

As a long-time music lover Gerry one fateful day decided to observe a choir practice at St Mary of the Angels Church, a decision that was to change his life.  The Choir Director was the hugely admired Maxwell Fernie. He invited Gerry to trial with the choir.  This was a real turning point in Gerry’s life for two reasons: first, Maxwell’s mastery of religious choral and organ music made a deep impression on him while secondly Gerry met his future wife, Elizabeth (Betty), a soprano who had been singing with the Wellington choir. 

Gerry was a founder member of the Tawa Soccer Club, worked on the Brian Webb  Kindergarten Establishment Group, supported the St Vincent de Paul  Society, sang with the Wellington Male Voice Choir for over 27 years and is now a very keen participant in U3A Tawa and the various courses it offers, a favourite being Current Affairs (“spirited but polite”). 

Gerry and Betty have now been married for 58 years, and have five adult offspring who in turn have produced 17 grandchildren.  The latest one arrived 8 months ago and was their first great grandchild.  Both Betty and Gerry retired from the Choir after their children came along but sang with the Tawa Church choir (eventually disbanded but Betty continued to sing for weddings). They now belong to the U3A Singers.

Gerry and Betty moved to Tawa almost 60 years ago, living first in Victory Crescent, then Lyndhurst Road and currently at Court Road Villas being happily retired. Tawa has certainly “delivered” for them.           

What a life - amid the muddied oafs up North

The 10 British Film Directors course is over. It ended with a marathon session watching Lindsay Anderson’s This Sporting Life; the harrowing tale of Frank Machin the Welshman who signs on for one of the more classier rugby league clubs in northern England in the early 1960s. A miner with a surplus of brawn and a deficit of brain, Machin seeks to barge his violent way into the troubled life of his landlady Mrs. Hammond who is still grieving for her lost husband. (She smiles twice in the whole film).

Her husband died questionably in a factory run by the Chairman of the very sporting club whose hefty cheque secures Frank’s services on the field. A she waves it in her face “A much bigger one than they gave me for losing my husband” is her shattering retort.

Machin is a fish sorely out of water, even up North where the fans are earthy and aim low but the movers and shakers are flashily lower middle class and wield real power in a tightly knit community. Frank lays his body on the sporting line and makes them a fortune at the turnstiles but they still call him “Machin”. His own character flaws ensure that he is a tragedy waiting to happen but he has plenty of help.

The movie is lengthy and generates much depression and human emptiness but the performances of Rachel Roberts and Richard Harris (plus a who’s who of UK television) are strong enough to keep you watching. Roberts was nominated for an Academy award that she would have walked off with in a less demanding movie. Harris, in his very first film, emulates Brando (echoes of Streetcar) for sheer heft and brooding handsomeness alternating with utter repellence.  

This was kitchen sink Britain of the briefly affluent (amid squalor) years where the untutored lower orders could buy things they did not possess the education or good taste to use. The woman’s pain, in a what-goes-around-comes-around plot, transfers to Machin leaving him even more alone than ever before and as a despised declining “oaf on a football field”.

Good solid drama that in due course will rank with lesser Shakespeare if the humans of the next century survive to watch and flinch at it.     

More to Ecuador than bananas

The Travel group was delighted to hear from Gil and Helen Roper about their ten recent days in Ecuador after hearing earlier about their sojourn in the Galapagos Islands. Their time in Ecuador was divided equally as follows. 

The first five days were spent on the Napo River, a tributary of the Amazon River, aboard the ‘Anakonda’ (the change from ‘c’ to ‘k’ was reassuring). From this vessel, Gil and Helen took motor-driven canoe trips to view tropical flora and fauna and to visit local people and villages.

Along the way they successfully fished for piranha and viewed pink dolphins, different species of tropical birds and monkeys. They also learned how the locals used tropical plants for their everyday practical uses.

The next five days were spent at ‘Sacha Lodge’ – a 5000 hectare sanctuary in the tropical rainforest, with access only by paddled canoe. They had walks, aerial views of tropical ‘jungle’ from 40m tall towers. They also undertook paddled canoe trips in the rainforest streams while making visits to local Quichua communities to experience the life of the local people. 

Impressive mini-concert from the music performance group

A group of no less than eleven musicians gathered together on June 6th to perform an impressive hour and a half of music.  There were two singers, a cellist, a guitarist, a tenor viol player and a number of pianists. 

Works were by Rachmaninoff, Bach, Schubert, Brahms, Richard Strauss and Scarlatti as well as some folk tunes and a lovely duet from "Oklahoma".  The afternoon finished with afternoon tea and self analysis.

On the hunt for new members

It is never easy to tell precisely how many U3A Tawa members there are at any given time. Some members leave the district and don’t tell us while others are simply taking time off (without paying subs) waiting for that right course to come along.

What is certain, however, is that from the huge 400+ member highs of yesteryear we are, like many voluntary bodies, now in the 260 or so in terms of numbers. There is no valid research to ascertain the cause but it would seem that several members have recently re-located to retirement villages on the Kapiti Coast, others have deceased or gone into care. There seems also to be a change in the demographic of Tawa in that property values have risen so much in Wellington that Tawa (just one or two train stops away) is being reborn as a haven for young families rather more than older people.

For whatever reason it behooves us to increase our efforts to recruit members. The real pity about U3A is that it is a name that many eligible and potentially keen folk are simply not aware of.  In a novel move we have generated the pictured poster and have started a membership drive using the poster in previously untried locations. We have approached WINZ in Porirua and several GP practices in Tawa and suburbs surrounding here and the basis that new super claimants and patients can be told that U3A is “good for your future health”. Some have already replied very positively but not as yet all.

The Tawa Union Church has also been most helpful in putting us in touch with 65+ people who come to the Church for all kinds of reasons and who were glad to hear about U3A.

Applications for membership are now coming in. Don’t forget that the best recruiter for U3A is you! Talk to friends and, if you are online, send them the website URL. We also have past copies of the newsletters and these can be obtained on request. If you can think of a good place to put the poster pleas

Preview of various upcoming courses

To see the new courses starting from mid-June go to Courses and under Categories you will find the 10 new courses. They all appear under Enrol where you can easily book into them.

We will also be offering a "Shared Seminar Series" – with U3A Mana.  This would be a series of monthly lectures (venues yet to be confirmed) to be held on the 1st Tuesday in each month. Possible programme will look something like this:

  • July 2 1.30pm Mana The Pharmaceutical Society person to tell us about the services pharmacists can provide

Venue: St Andrew's Parish Centre

  • Aug 6 10.00am Tawa "Islands of Despair"

Derek Lightbourne talks about his adventure in the Southern Ocean (mainly shipwrecks and castaways and would be settlements)

Venue: Tawa Union Church Lounge.

  • Sept 3 1.30pm Mana Electric Vehicles

(the pros and cons with Sigurd Magnusson)

Venue: St Andrew's Parish Centre

  • Oct 1 1.30pm   "Less Mess" – Downsizing and Decluttering

Venue: Tawa TBA

  • Nov 5 1.30pm The Proposed Porirua Recreation Park.
  • Venue: Tawa TBA

The basic idea of the Shared Series is to boost the attendance of some groups that would otherwise attract a smaller number of members.  If we open it up to Mana it helps to give guest speakers a good-sized audience.

Venues are yet to be decided, we are hoping to be able to use Tawa/Porirua Libraries and/or Pataka.

As yet you cannot enrol on the website for the joint courses. More info on those coming soon.

Coming up in the next seven days...

Wednesday, 26 June 2019
1:00pm - Indoor Games [IG] - Tawa Union Church - enrol
Thursday, 27 June 2019
9:30am - Table Tennis [TT] - Tawa Community Centre Hall - enrol
1:30pm - Leathercraft [LC] - Tawa Union Church (Luke's Chapel) - enrol
10:00am - Ramblers [RB] - Davies Street/Luckie Street car-park - enrol
Friday, 28 June 2019
9:30am - Scrap-Booking [SB] - Tawa Commuity Centre - enrol
1:30pm - Ukulele [UK] - Tawa Library - enrol
10:00am - 12:00pm - Outdoor Games [OG] - - enrol
Monday, 1 July 2019
1:15pm - 2:30pm - U3A Singers [SS] - Stephen's Lounge, Tawa Union Church - enrol
10:30am - 1:30pm - Music and Lunch [ML] - Member's homes - enrol
Tuesday, 2 July 2019
1:30pm - Write It - Group 1 [WI 1] - Tawa Library - enrol

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To contact us, please fill in the form below. . . . . Advise us of when you paid your subs (if you have paid recently)

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