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

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

You can email us - [email protected]

Catherine at the helm
Expect more new books in the Tawa library

The new books session was presided over by Catherine in place of Shelley who is occupied with the Readers & Writers festival. In a very busy session about 20 new books (non-fiction, fiction and biography) were 'traded' across the table by discerning readers. High praise for Transcription by Kate Atkinson from last time which traces the hesitant steps of a young lady whose unwonted job in 1940 was to transcribe the covert conversations of fifth columnists in Britain; a low level chore weeding out ladies in fox furs who had betrayed a slight fancy for the Nazis. A clever story that sucks you in and spits you out at the end. One little gem went through under the name of The Book Lover's Miscellany: a small popular volume chock full of intruiging facts about books. Many facts were floated and few were got right by the group.  Graceland the family story of one Elvis Presley got the cold shoulder despite it being a glossy new volume - largely because it was written by Elvis's mother. Ugggggh!

About ten books were discussed (including two quite separately authored ones about Rosemary Kennedy, the blighted sister of JFK, who was lobotomise and shut away from public view for no good reason); as was the current state of the Wellington Central Library. It may well be that the need to decentralise book placements for some time will mean more new volumes coming Tawa's way. There is a mine of relevant information about all aspects of pending library services on www.wcl.govt.nz and, for those interested in seeing what the future holds for the new library in Johnsonville, Catherine highly recommended www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/news/100078725/construction-of-22m-johnsonville-community-hub-to-begin-in-new-year. This breathtaking fly-through of the much enhanced building.

Two page newsletter sent out for April

For all those members with no access to the website we send out an omnibus edition of website stories that fit the standard newsletter format. The April one has now gone out by hand delivery. If you want or need a hard copy for any reason please let us know as we do have some spare copies to send out.

Are we our brother's keeper (or is he just the bloke next door?)

The Drop-in Philosophy course, on 7 April, was intending to philosophically dissect the concepts that lie behind the question of what duties, as human beings we owe to each other and future generations/the planet. It is was soon decided that in the time available we could only do justice to the first half and not both.  

It was suggested that New Zeeland is long overdue for a reassessment of its social values and associated political system. The latter could do with the development of a supervisory body; one that was “nonpolitical” being, in essence, a self-funding grass roots entity that has the right (and duty) to inform parliamentarians of current social standards/expectations of our central government.

Those standards would, maybe, rule out current levels of poverty, blind cost-cutting of health services, unstaffed police stations and homeless people. It is not enough for politicians to note that such things exist, it would be unlawful for them to exist at all.

It was pointed out that contrary to the values that dominated the political discourse since the 1930s we have seen first the rise of supply-side liberalism followed then by the orchestrated deriding of “nanny state”. The trend has been to ameliorate rather than cure social ills as the dominant social value has been that of “getting ahead” and hard luck on those who don’t.

The recent foreshadowed move to capital gains tax has been met with implacable opposition by a section of the community that is the best-off but who may well pay the least tax. Many multi-millionaires are believed to be paying none. It was opined that maybe if the real incomes and tax liability of all NZers were made an open book we would be better able to assess how the country might indeed be actively promoting inequality.

It is already apparent that the expectation of lower-to-middle earners owning a home is becoming a distant hope for many, while others own several high-end houses. Can that really be allowed to continue? Should we adopt the ancient rule of thumb of the Greek philosopher Plato that no-one should earn more than five (or some other low multiple) times that which is earned by the poorer segments of the population?

It was however recognised (in a mildly heated debate accompanied by the Roundabout’s delicious curly fries) that it is unlikely there will ever be a countrywide values conference to determine what our core values are to be. The very thought of their being more politicians in a kind of upper house goes against the current grain. The very idea of owning your own home is no longer uppermost in many minds.

However both sides fo the political fence seem to have acknowledged that Working for Families is here to stay, that an MMP-type was needed, that there are times when politicians have to swallow hard in the national interest (e.g. National will now vote solidly for gun control after Christchurch.)

While there is no community ‘upper house’ style initiative the main parties do now maintain confidential focus groups to trial the acceptability of their potential new policies. And, ironically, with the appalling policy mess of the Brexit exercise the Brits are calling their Parliament dysfunctional and pointing towards NZ for a much better model!    


The power of The Third Man (1949) is undiminished

On 9 April the films class turned out in impressive numbers on as uni day to view Carol Reed’s black and white masterwork The Third Man.

The film is now 70 years old but creaks not in the slightest. Its success is assured by its having world beaters on tap in all departments. The main actors are the durable Joseph Cotten, a very young and suave Orson Welles, the loyal and stoic Alida Valli alongside UK stalwart Trevor Howard. The screenplay was written by Graham Greene who also authored the book. Anton Karas on zither (for God’s sake) single handedly carried a score that a Hollywood orchestra would likely have ruined. Carol Reed directed to a dark perfection that predictably took him no closer than ever to an Oscar. In fairness the stark cinematography did in fact snag an Academy Award.

The movie is set in (then) current day Vienna which is divided up between Britain, the USA, France and the Soviets. It dares to accept that after years of characterising the Nazis as despicable in a war the Western powers themselves were well capable fo behaving barbarically in peacetime; if only in the black market. (Diluted black market drugs supplied by Harry Lime have caused the horrible deaths of hospitals full of children). The horrific plot would not be readily considered for film making in today’s cultural climate, outside of art houses.  

Then it keeps you waiting for the star who does not appear onscreen for well over and an hour. It relies on irony, intuition, surreal moments and skewed visual perspectives to make its mark.

How many viewers, one wonders, would today connect Harry Lime’s dictum of a world in which humanity can be blithely subjugated to wealth on the basis that if you get up high enough in the sky human beings are reduced to no more than flies. However, when the film premiered in 1949 the world was becoming ever more aware that morality had collapsed universally once airmen could kill civilians in their hundreds of thousands without ever seeing them. (Line’s ferris wheel thesis that a measure of social evil is the yeast that makes all societies robust is utter hokum - but carried off with great and memorable bravura by the great man Welles.)  

The group broke into spontaneous applause at the end of this classic film; one which has mesmerized audiences the world over for many years and will always do so.  

Get in behind! Tour of Parliament
Making sure we behaved ourselves!

Making sure we behaved ourselves!

On Thursday our little Behind the Beehive group of 12 assembled on Tawa Station (and Redwood and Takapu) to catch the train to Wellington equipped with our trusty Goldcards.  

A short walk on a brilliantly sunny day took us to Parliament grounds where we were greeted by the armed policeman and a Security gentleman.  We were ushered inside ready to go through security and then ushered outside again. We were to wait for the "Education" person who would address us before we entered.  That gave us time for the regulation photograph. 

Once inside it was just like going through security at the airport.  Once that was over we were relieved of our bags and coats (and cameras!) and followed our very knowledgeable Tour Guide, Ewan. 

There were several areas we were not given access to: the function room in the Beehive; the government offices; the debating chamber (though we were invited to return at 2pm to sit in the public gallery for Question Time). 

Ewan described the history behind our system of government very fully and filled in many of the gaps in knowledge that most of us have.  Several of the group had done a tour before but the consensus was that this one was much better.  So we walked through the atrium of the central building passing by the Grand Hall (originally it housed several billiard tables!) and the original Upper House where the Queen or her representative presides over the opening of parliament. Then through to the Provincial Chambers now used as the Parliamentary Library. This is a most magnificent building and was certainly the highlight of the tour for me.  

Part 2 of Behind the Beehive will be next Thursday when we will sit in on a Select Committee – yet to be decided which one that will be.

The sad twice-battered hearts of the Great Depression

Mary-Lynn Boyes assisted by Pat Horan mounted her special presentation Poetic Voices from the Great Depression that showcased the poems of Ursula Bethell and R A K Mason. Around 20 members showed up to the 27 March one-off session.

Mary-Lynn and Pat read out the poetry of Bethell and Mason to an appreciative audience. These iconic cultural works are the residue of a generation that had known and borne the scars of a punitive war and a cruel and unjust peace. People who had grievously suffered once in war were made to suffer again in so-called peace. Often they took to the road as swaggies/shiners sometimes they died prematurely.

In the same way that poetry held the Soviet Union together in the horrendous war years beween 1941 and 1945 so too did NZ poetry provide a recognisable emotional home for thousands of troubled Kiwis in those punishing years.They tell an essential truth about the Great Depression that historians often miss. What was enshrined in verse goes beyond the bald statistics and mere events. It goes straight into the saddened, damaged and disillusioned hearts of an entire generation and lodges there forever.  

This presentation through the eyes of two of the poets of the day has been a huge item in the U3A Tawa 2019 courses calendar.

A wonderful performance from Donald McIntyre
Wagner at the Emmaus

Lindis Taylor’s Opera group is quite a revelation. The operas are very effectively shown on a white wall in the Emmaus Centre to an appreciative audience that fluctuates around the mid-twenties in size.

Lindis has been showing these high level musical works for the last twelve years. DVD sources have over that time dried up somewhat. In the early days local libraries supplied many of the disks and it was not unknown for Parsons Books to loan us demonstration copies. Sadly, that wonderful bookshop has been gone for a while and most libraries have downsized their opera collections.

The Centre offers a very good environment for screening films as it possible to achieve a high level of light exclusion despite the impressively large scope of the space.

However it is no easy matter screening operas as they tend, by their very nature, to be on the lengthy side. Lindis does not have the capacity to edit onto separate disks so it becomes necessary to use the start/stop button which presents some difficulties. With some operas running to well over four hours they are often shown in two parts.

The one this week was The Mastersingers of Nuremburg by Richard Wagner. It starred New Zealand bass Donald McIntyre and tenor Christopher Doig in lead roles. Wagner was an amazing composer in that he was as supremely adept at both writing the book as he was in completing the score; a one-off genius, in fact.  The version that was screened was both theatrically effective and charmingly intimate. It was worlds away from the stereotypical ‘fat lady with winged helmet’ that is so often projected in popular culture as what Wagner is mainly about.

Tawa does not have a cinema as such (maybe one day we will get a small Lighthouse?) For now, the operas being screened at the Emmaus lounge attract a rapt and committed audience. Well worth both a look and a long stay. Jaffas are allowed.

Mulling things over in the Courses Committee
Not the Courses Committee

Not the Courses Committee

The new courses subcommittee is beavering away with a large collection of ideas for new course in the second half of the year. Concepts now being evaluated include:

  • A four session course on ‘exploring Britain’.
  • An overview of Monet’s garden in France.
  • A new take on English Literature plus various sessions of poetry readings.
  • An analysis and showings of European Films.
  • A course that critically examines the more controversial and misunderstood aspects of World War One using books and documentary/feature films like All Quiet on the Western Front, Paths of Glory, The Grand Illusion.
  • Christian faith for the 21st

Added to those are further return of previous courses on Health Care, Retirement Villages, Singing just for fun, and New Zealand sheet music. A proposed one on antiques would require that we find an appropriate expert. Plenty to be thinking about but please don’t forget: if you have some pet scheme for a possible course you would like to share with the Committee get on and do that now! They will be glad to see  and assist you.

The creativity of Meccano

The proponents of Lego rightly make great play of the creativity factor in that the Lego pieces do not force children into making just one thing i.e. they open up the mind so that things can be built entirely to the child's own specification. One well known example is that of the two feet high 'block of flats on wheels' that was said to be a young girls take on what an ambulance looks like.

In this gallery we display in a moving gallery the wonderful efforts of our Meccano group builders who have come up with a giraffe, a Spitfire fighter plane plus a Ducati motorbike and the like. All from very anonymous pieces of metal to begin with. 

Urban Art for those interested

Dispersion  3rd April – 2nd May 2019

 Open every Wednesday and Thursday, 10am to 3pm at the Bowen House Exhibition Space on Lambton Quay

 Kia ora, we are pleased to announce the opening of our latest exhibition Dispersion.

Based in Wellington, the Lemon Eye Artist Collective is a collaboration between emerging artists working towards the aim to improve our craft and help one another to get exposed, while contributing to the diverse art scene of our city.

This exhibition is an artistic response to the theme “Dispersion”.

 Please note that due to increased security all visitors will be required to present the security team with photo ID. Please then wait at the reception desk to be escorted up by the exhibition staff.

The wonderful world of scrap-booking
Linda Medcalf shows off her own bag of scrap booking tricks

The scrap-booking group meets weekly and has been going for 14 years. It meets in the Community Centre and rates highly for social values. At its heart it fulfills an important human need: to but a visually enticing frame around the images that matter in life such as our families, pets and our innermost thoughts.

At a quick glance the group of twelve (including two guys) look almost like a Board of Directors (sitting round the big table in the Council room at the Centre) whose board papers just happen to be multi-coloured. There is great intensity in their work as they fashion seemingly random pieces of paper and card into impressive works of art.

The raw materials can be found in small shops in Petone (the Tawa one closed) or at Spotlight, Warehouse Stationery, and the $2 Shop; or just cleverly accessed from the Internet. The groups is highly collaborative and many fine finished pieces are the results of much lateral thinking by more than just the basic author.

Co-leaders Margaret William and Anne Raven are  proud of the urban culture they consciously look after here. The many members of U3A Tawa who have helped the group along over the years, like the legendary Marie Thomson, are commemorated in, well, a scrapbook. That plus an appealing montage of scrapbook creations that is always up on the wall in the morning tea area.

Wheel the main focus is on scrapbooks the group also makes personal cards of many kinds. Anne makes the point that cards may now cost hugely and mass production makes them rather unspecific for many situations that folk today need cards. The groups is able to create more person-sensitive work (and of course U3A also has a separate card making group which we will cover shortly). Some of the card work this group does end up at Longview where it is most welcome.

The scrap bookers of U3A are a very special breed. They value their sociability as does Mandy Russell at the TCC who delights in reading out the daily quiz questions as the group members sip their break coffee and call out the answers.  They also have a fine record in using their passion for card and paper to fundraise having once raised $600 for one exceptionally good cause alone.

U3A Singers heading into new music territory

The U3A Singers choir go from strength to strength. It currently boasts over 50 members 11 of whom are new. It is now rehearsing in the largest space available in the Tawa Union Church.

This week's practice tackled a new batch of songs. "Love Me Tender" has some lovely harmonies and a particularly challenging part for the Descants. "May the Road Rise to Meet You" is often known as the "Irish Blessing". This version is an arrangement by New Zealander, Colin Gibson.

Then the choir thoroughly enjoyed the "Rhythm of Life" from the Musical/Film "Sweet Charity". Lots of tricky words to get your tongue around when it's up to speed – this practice took it pretty slow. Then they made a start on the Contemporary Canadian Celtic Folk Song "Song for the Mira" that has made the secluded, picturesque Cape Breton community of Marion Bridge and its Mira River famous the world over.

They ended Monday's practice with a romp through "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing in Perfect Harmony" – a song that started life as a Coca Cola ad and took the New Seekers to the very top in 1972.


Coming up in the next seven days...

Sunday, 21 April 2019
2:00pm - Drop-In Philosophy - The Roundabout - enrol
Tuesday, 23 April 2019
2:00pm - 4:30pm - 10 British Film Directors - Member's home. - enrol
1:30pm - Write It - Group 1 - Tawa Library - enrol
Wednesday, 24 April 2019
1:00pm - Indoor Games - Tawa Union Church - enrol
9:00am - Card Making - Member's home - enrol
Thursday, 25 April 2019
1:30pm - Leathercraft - Tawa Union Church (Luke's Chapel) - enrol
10:00am - Computing Chatter - Tawa Community Centre - enrol
9:30am - Table Tennis - Tawa Community Centre Hall - enrol
10:00am - Ramblers - Davies Street/Luckie Street car-park - enrol
10:00am - 12:00pm - Art Group - Tawa Community Centre - enrol
Friday, 26 April 2019
10:00am - 12:00pm - Outdoor Games - - enrol
1:30pm - Ukulele - Tawa Library - enrol
9:30am - Scrap-Booking - Tawa Commuity Centre - enrol
2:00pm - An Introduction to Western Philosophy - The Roundabout - enrol
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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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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