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]

If you are just interested in seeing our current courses PLEASE SCROLL to the bottom and check on the courses going this week

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' page of this site.  You can also use our 'ENROL' page or 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.

Library constitutes a precious store of literary work for us all

The New Books in the Library session this time fed off previous sessions with many gems of books doing the rounds (“I’ll take that, thanks”) across the table. Some are having to go back to general library readers as they are now on reserve. Books that have surprised us and which will be of wide interest to U3A members are:

  1. The Cuba Street Project (Brash a & Lloyd). Members say that a visit to Cuba Street will never be the same again. It’s history of Wellington is gobsmacking.
  2. London’s Strangest Tales by Tom Quinn is a tiny book with a massive punch. It is still in great demand in the group. If you are thinking of going to London in the coming months or years then bone up some marvellously quirky tales going back many centuries.
  3. Outsiders by Gerard Hindmarsh: a New Zealand volume that takes a sobering look at the down and outs, swaggies and the plain unwanted. It tells us much about the ‘liberal’ country in which we all live.
  4. Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams delivers a superb black woman into London and turns her loose to make her own rock-strewn way.
  5. The Salt Path by Raynor Winn. This searing book starred on Kim Hill’s show last week and tells of a middle class couple in the UK who at the same time lost everything and then became afflicted by degenerative illness. They found themselves unjustly homeless and learned what a stigma that now is. They tramped (and illegally camped) along the hilly and daunting “salt path” that runs over 600 miles across North Devon/Cornwall terminating midway along the south coast of England. It was a chastening experience that changed them forever.(Some members were so moved by this work they have purchased the paperback version of this book)

Newer books included:

Kevin (Crazy Rich Asians) Kwan’s outrageous Rich People’s Problems, Saltwater by Jessica Andrews “ a stunning new voice in British literary fiction. The Other Americans by Laila Lalami which traces the fraught lives of ordinary Muslim Americans in the wake of 9/11 and Sweet Little Lies by Caz Frear – a blistering debut from “a major new voice”.

Overall, there were 22 new books this month (plus earlier ones); a cornucopia of riches for the mind to be duly savoured over the next month.

Librarian Shelley is honoured by U3A and the WCC

At the September meeting of New Books in the Library the group’s organising librarian Shelley Prowse was given her civic award certificate by Wellington’s Deputy Mayor Ms Jill Day. Other Council reps there included Northern Ward Councillor Malcolm Sparrow.

Jill read out the citation for the award, which is based on the willingness of employed people to go the extra yard to help others. It was also mentioned to great acclaim that Tawa has a team of librarians who routinely do the Tawa community proud. The U3ATawa-Library relationship is both strong and mutually supportive. Long may that continue.  

Second Fellini film hits the target bigtime

The European Film group this week truly enjoyed a Fellini film, 8½ (1963) that has at times been known to be both difficult to watch and to fully appreciate.

With a wonderfully circular logic, the film which the hero/film director struggles to make is actually the film we are watching; process and outcome have become one and the same thing. Last time we looked at Fellini’s La Strada which was rather straightforward neo-realism in it from and meaning. A decade later and Fellini was into modernism. That is the difference between Constable and Picasso (who lasso started out as a realist painter).  

The movie takes full advantage of the glorious fact that unlike with other art forms filmmakers could successively, disturb and then re-establish a chronological order. Film modernism was therefore an enquiry on the potentialities of cinema, not a revised struggle to describe the world. 

The work is a critique of the amorality of a (then) newly affluent Italy. It was, however, 8 ½ which most decisively marked the director’s transition into a cinema of internal self-reflection. Where the camera is in places used subjectively rather than objectively.

Guido, the Fellini avatar, suffers a personal crisis is to a degree one of creative block. It is also one brought about by a sense of purposelessness, equated here with the dilemmas of modern living. However, Guido does find an answer and he does make ‘his’ film – just not the one the industry was expecting.

And the good news is that for all its depiction of personal doubt and turmoil, 8 ½ is ultimately a joyful celebration of life and cinema. It won Foreign Language film Oscar.

EV’s draw large attendance for the Shared Seminar Series

Ed Forsman gave an impressive presentation on Electric Vehicles in Plimmerton on Tuesday 3rd September. His talk covered the historical development of the motor vehicle, statistics of EVs around the world, the pros and cons when thinking of buying.

At the end of the talk several people headed to the car park to have a look at a member’s Nissan Leaf and to hear some personal experiences of EV ownership.

Ed is an independent ICT Technology Management Consultant with 25 years in business and a background in electrical and electronic engineering. He is interested in, and passionate about, science, technology, energy, materials and their application to helping humans manage the environmental and social challenges we face today. He has no affiliation to the automobile industry or any vehicle dealer.

Buying a car is the second biggest financial purchase decision most people make after their home. This valuable presentation

  • demystified EVs in layman’s terms,
  • brought us up-to-date with the market in Q4 of 2019 and
  • outlined how the EV industry is likely to evolve over the coming decade.

Most importantly, it informed potential purchase decisions in clear and easy-to-understand terms.

(NOTE: There are two more sessions in this highly successful joint series during October and November and they are set out in the item lower down this webpage)

Great night out for the U3A singing quizzers

Last Friday night at the Tawa Union Church hall, U3A Singers had a social night. It was hosted in great style by Quizmaster Hilary (of Taylormade Quizzes that hosts the Roundabout pub quiz nights) plus a Pot-Luck dinner. Everyone enjoyed Hilary's infectious sense of fun and her cleverly challenging quiz questions. We are seeing more and more social events spinning out of class sessions. Well done U3A Singers and the more the merrier!

September Current Affairs session shows enthusiasm and informed views

September’s Current Affairs gathering was excellent. It was very well attended and great efforts were made to find topics that both promote discussion and allow members to learn from each other the many complexities there are in modernday living.

The current measles epidemic and the demoralizing deficit in vaccinations drew horrified comments from people who can well remember the scourges of polio and diphtheria before medicine stepped in with tis magic bullets. It seems that all generations have to re-learn the horrors of war and medical neglect firsthand in order to realise what is at stake. There was a strong leaning towards compulsory jabs but some thought that might well be counterproductive and intensive education is the only tenable approach.

A lengthy debate ensued over the merits of U3A scheduling Te Reo sessions if a suitable tutor can be found. Some were implacably opposed but most opined that a broad appreciation of Māori language is appropriate when the reo is now one of NZ’s three official languages.

A valuable contribution was made by a (former) engineer member who explained in detail why it is that the present government has so promptly failed to meet its social housing targets. Apparently, the technical demands of and resources for modern day mass-building of houses are simply not to hand in Aotearoa; so it was irresponsbile/naive ever to suggest that massive target were ever in the realm of the do-able.

The group has for several months decided not to discuss Brexit. However the recent defeats of the restructured British government argued for the issue to be reviewed. The consensus was that the UK electorate is now at a point where it could make bad long terms decisions, just to see the back of an issue that everyone is heartily sick of. (If WE generally are then THEY must be).

On the subject of review of DHBs wonder was expressed as to why it is thought that there was any magic number of them and whether that mattered. The hard fact is that the 20+ bodies are nearly all in the red simply because they are underfunded to tackle the obvious needs of a growing and ageing population. It is no good either treating a wide variety of DHBs with massively different social demands as if numbers alone are the more rational basis for assessing need. We do though have to maturely accept that costly medical apparatus like MIR scanners cannot be held in every DHB.

It was resolved that the rights and wrongs of the coming local body elections will be discussed at some length next time around as the elections will be held in the coming month.   

Drop-in Philosophy takes stock of its ground rules

The Drop -in Philosophy group this last week took stock of how it is meant to operate. The line between a current affairs template and thoughtful philosophical analysis of positions and values had become somewhat blurred.

New ground rules have been developed and the preferred presentation style will become more akin to a board meeting where comments go through the Chairman and individual (sub) debating one-on-one is ruled out. Group members are encouraged to develop a chosen subject argument based in logic or broader philosophical techniques when expounding their argument.

By the same token, merely stating a concluded view without supporting analysis is considered less valuable to the group. The accent is to be less on convincing others than clearly putting forward a considered argument/view.  

How we plan U3A Tawa course arrangements for next year

In brief summary:

Everyone will get the first semester booklet along with the November newsletter.

Anyone wanting to receive the printed newsletter must request that.

We aim to provide the courses booklet in November this year.

The booklet will go out to all members along with a supporting newsletter.
This will mean that members will have notice of courses being offered.

Enclosed with the general newsletter will be a short form to be filled in and sent (or returned to us at the AGM) by those members wanting to receive a printed newsletter.
At present, we are delivering about 40 of those.

We would hope that many will pay their next year sub (either online or in cash at the Tawa bookshop) and book their courses before Christmas 2019.
Enrolments can be made on the website or on paper forms returned to us.

The website has delivered up-to-date news that amounts to a new newsletter every three weeks or so. Items go on the site the day they are received.
The website content cuts out printing or delivery so cost savings have been impressive, helping to keep membership subs very low by national standards.

However, if you still want a printed newsletter, please make that known and newsletters will be delivered to you throughout 2020.

As we stated at the start of this year nobody needs to miss out.
Note also that all past newsletters (and the current courses list for 2019) are carried on the website under the Newsletter heading.     

Discussion, poetry and new viewpoints mark the WW1 sessions

Aspects of the Great War is heading peacefully to its close. This week the group first looked at the development of tanks 1916-1918 and their relatively minor (though useful) contribution to ending the war; compared to, say, artillery tactics, war weariness, the arrival of the small but fresh US Army and the Royal Navy blockade of Germany.

It was noted that books on military/optical history tend to suggest that the US, Britain or France was the decisive actor in the defeat of Germany depending on the birthplace of whoever wrote them. The truth is probably that it was combination of all their brave efforts and cruel sacrifices at a crucial point in the war. Germany long regarded the War as being a bloody stalemate fit only to be taken up again 21 years later.

The Spanish flu was also discussed both as to its effect on the entire world and is many causes. It is often overlooked that Germany was just as badly hit by it. The strict censorship among the allied nations meant that this flu got is name from the bout that afflicted neutral Spain where there was no such censorship.  

There was extensive discussion of President Wilson’s 14 points and the Versailles Treaty especially the dismissive way it treated Germany. We doubted that in itself is was a cause of the next European war. It was not only Germany that fell into grave economic trouble in the years following. It did hoverer provide a marvellous rallying cry in the oratorical hands of Herr Hitler.

The final session will consist of a showing of the original German film All quiet on the Western Front - the author of which was later put on an arrest list by Hitler.   




Time to start thinking about designing new courses

U3A Tawa has an enviable track record in making a wide variety of course available to its members.  Tawa-Mana residents are lucky to be so close to the nation’s capital (and its public service) while having access to a solid commercial base as well.

This means that our members, in their working lives, have come into contact with many and various subjects of interest in which they have become impressively skilled. This enables U3A to maintain a durable courses model where members are one day learning a course then, the next, teaching another one.

We are now at that time of year where we need to inject into our courses booklet the first half courses for 2020. There will be the many ongoing popular subjects such as U3A Singers, Current Affairs, Gardening, Ancestry, Sports and Ramblers.

Alongside those however will run new courses in subject areas not before included on our courses list. Some of these might go on to be regular features, others will likely go into the “one off” pile. It pays, though, to try new things. Recent major new successes have been films, ukulele and Meccano.

Please now start thinking of course subjects you might be able to share with your fellow members in the coming year. Often we have skills we personally underrate and which with some help from a member of the Courses Committee could easily blossom into some most worthwhile.  

Looking around other U3As the following might be worth giving a try

  • Photography
  • Dressmaking
  • NZ/American/Asian History – political and social
  • Modern play readings
  • Line dancing/other dancing
  • Ethnic cookery
  • House decorating
  • How to do odd jobs round the home
  • How the NZ tax system works
  • Bookkeeping/budgeting
  • French, German or Italian for travelers
  • Quizzes

These are just some random ideas but we feel sure that there are hundreds of doable topics that would make good U3A courses. Don’t be afraid to come forward and show what you can do. Most of us can achieve far more than we think we can.

Preparing for the October arrival of Miss Brill

Mary-Lynn Boyes will be looking at Katherine Mansfield’s Miss Brill on 16 October. Enrolments are good but we take the opportunity to quickly highlight the themes of this unflinching work and encourage those enrolled to obtain and read a copy before mid-October.

Just as Mansfield herself lost her brother Leslie (Chummee) on 9 October 1915 to a Great War accident in training, so too did ladies like Miss Brill by the million lose someone close to them in the War. After 1914 the dancehalls of Epee and many other places around the world saw bereaved women dancing together for many years to come.

Each Sunday she, a teacher from England, puts on symbolic fox fur and goes to her local park in France.   As she walks around it Miss Brill draws on the lives of strangers in snatches of conversations and band music coming from the bandstand.

All around is bright and gay but inwardly Miss Brill is dead. She is written of in the third person with only a partly focused point of view on her surroundings. The piece studiously lacks structure, paralleling her upturned life which is decaying from the inside; just like the fox fur.

Mansfield famously declared that a War where (in the immortal words of Wilfred Owen) men “die as cattle” would forever change the way people wrote. It had brought about a changed world where too many young women knew the “slow drawing down of blinds”. A short piece but powerfully telling.

Botanic wonders of the Titahi Bay beach-side track

The Botany group has just been walking along the beach-side track at Titahi Bay. They observed the coastal native plants growing there and had some fun working out which plants of the common Taupata were male and which were female.  

Some had their ‘bits’ round the wrong way until the group came across a bush where the male flowers had their pollen-bearing anthers on clear display. The female bush has flowers with a two-part stigma on which the wind-blown pollen settles. So, there you have it.

The group also identified some of the native vegetables that would have been used in pre-colonial times as ‘greens’. Native spinach and celery were also growing there.


We are offering a "Shared Seminar Series" – with U3A Mana, a series of monthly lectures to be held on the 1st Tuesday in each month. Programme remaining:

  • Oct 1 10.00am   The Proposed Porirua Recreation Park.  Venue: Tawa Union Church   Contact: Jancis Potter 2323915  email: [email protected]
  • Nov 5 10.00am  "Less Mess" – Downsizing and Decluttering  Venue: Tawa Union Church  Contact: Jancis Potter 2323915  email: [email protected]

Improving the visual aspects of this site

We have received lots of useful comments on the site from members over the last few months. One recurring observation as been that the our stories often contain more words than can be comfortbaly accommodated on a mobile phone or tablet.

We have now become able to allow items to be condensed and extended into full format only if a reader wants to view the whole item. Just click on the picture and you are taken to the balance of the piece.

Coming up in the next seven days...

Monday, 23 September 2019
9:30am - Building with Meccano [BM] - Member's home
1:15pm - 2:30pm - U3A Singers [SS] - Stephen's Lounge, Tawa Union Church
Tuesday, 24 September 2019
2:00pm - ASPECTS OF THE GREAT WAR 1914 - 1918 [AW] -
10:00am - Books2 [BK2] - Member's home
1:30pm - Write It - Group 1 [WI 1] - Tawa Library
Wednesday, 25 September 2019
1:00pm - Indoor Games [IG] - Tawa Union Church
Thursday, 26 September 2019
10:00am - Ramblers [RB] - Davies Street/Luckie Street car-park
10:00am - Computing Chatter [CC] - Tawa Community Centre
9:30am - Table Tennis [TT] - Tawa Community Centre Hall
1:30pm - Leathercraft [LC] - Tawa Union Church (Luke's Chapel)
10:00am - 12:00pm - Art Group [AG] - Tawa Community Centre
Friday, 27 September 2019
9:30am - Scrap-Booking [SB] - Tawa Commuity Centre
1:30pm - Ukulele [UK] - Tawa Library
10:00am - 12:00pm - Outdoor Games [OG] -
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