One of the two Write-It groups in the Tawa Library
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.

Tawa goes back into the trenches

The Great War study course has had its first meeting and slipped easily into a conversational style of considering the many big and small topics that fall within what is a huge subject. Most of the group have good grasp of the War history (and the related social issues) to begin with.  

The session ruminated over the causes/origins of the First World War and was assisted in that by a dossier of short websites and the entertaining presentation of “the main players” that appears in the film Oh What Lovely War. The Knights and Dames of the British stage of the 1960s imaginatively played out the perhaps controllable events following Sarajevo. Snappy drama is not considered history but it helps to make the academic pills easier to swallow!

There was a reading of Philp Larkin’s post war poem MCMXIV (1914). Its title was put in Roman numerals by poet Larkin so as to emphasize how that year was simply “made” to put on the face of a stone monument. A few short lines tell a huge tale of how men wearing straw boaters and bowler hats flocked to the colours in that year believing they would all be home by Christmas.

They had not the first clue what lay before them. As Larkin memorably puts it they were “Dust behind limousines”. The French too were amazed to find that they were suddenly in a massive conflict when the Sarajevo events had been two months earlier with no obvious wider consequences. Diplomats with agendas had, they say, danced several countries over into the abyss.

Historian AJP Taylor revoked that the German lunge into Europe via Belgium was the product of modern railways. German efficiency required that once the trains began to take 600,000 sol ciders to Liege they simply could not have been stopped. Even the Kaiser realised in late 1914 that once Britain and its Empire joined the War everyone then had a world war on their hands.  


Dropping in on the UN.

The Drop-in Philosophy group has considered the question of whether the United Nations is still “fit for purpose”. It was a topic that required much unraveling of broad impressions and a rigorous analysis of what really is the mission of the UN. It was certainly not set up as a world government. It can only mop up after wars but not join them.

The suggestion was that the UN is failing to meet its founding charter requirements in not getting to grips with situations like Syria and Venezuela. It was also suggested that the UN is doing nothing to prevent present day (illegal?) immigration across borders that was said to threaten peace in some countries.

As Winston Churchill noted, the UN would never deliver our best dreams but it might save us from our worst nightmares. It was suggested that the UN has always had a rather mixed record from day one. Its presence in Korea around 1950 was only possible because the Soviets were boycotting the Security Council over another issue at the time; so they were not a position to exercise the veto they otherwise surely would have.

This led to group discussion about how so many much of the UN’s alleged impotence seems to arise from the fact that many war issues are caused by countries that are permanent  members of the Security Council. Those who bombed the Rainbow Warrior meet that description. The burglars are, in effect, running the police force.

The cost of running the UN is around US$13bn per annum. That may sound a lot but it is roughly what the UK is currently spending on Brexit planning. The UN is actually badly strapped for funds given the huge demands on it.

The UN was set up after the world had suffered two wars that killed well over 100m and devastated Europe and other continents. The mere fact that there has not yet been another world word may be the ultimate success measure. (Maybe the H-Bomb itself has made nuclear war unthinkable anyway.)

Don Hunter drew us all back to a basic question. What is the United Nations.? Not only is it a political facilitator it is also a vehicle for disaster recovery (e.g. the Banda Aceh tsunami) and economic development in third world nations. It scores well on those aspects. Everything can be improved but the UN is more of a success story than is often portrayed.     

Next time we look philosophically at the concept of progress. The following quotes give some favour of what we will be considering. All are welcome to join us!

  • Change is inevitable, change will always happen, but you have to apply direction to change, and that's when its progress. Douglas Baldwin


  • Do not confuse motion and progress . A rocking horse keeps moving but does not make any progress. Alfred A Montagert


  • A process that leads from the amoebae to man appeared to the philosophers to be obviously a progress ----though whether the amoebae would agree with this opinion is not known. Bertrand Russell.
  • Progress is man's ability to complicate simplicity. Thor Heyerdahl

Website issues in the last few days

Our website is valuable to U3A Tawa not only as a frequently-updating electronic newsletter but also as an admin tool for keeping track of members and their courses.

The admin package saves score of hours of otherwise tedious administration using spreadsheets. However, it has recently been prey to a number of technically small but irritating niggles that are now, we believe, cured. We apologise for any inconvenience that has been caused.

We are in our first year with this technology and it is not a full custom-designed computer system as much as a useful website add-on. There are a few small aspects of the U3A courses system that have tested the website recently and produced some unexpected effects.

Website administrator Digby Gudsell has been engaged in lengthy discussions with the website developers. We will shortly publish a list of the small but troublesome issues and indicate the steps taken to address them. Feedback from previously affected members, as of this week, is most favorable and we now feel that we are winning.


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:

  • 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.

Contact: Jancis Potter 2323915  email: [email protected]

  • Sept 3 1.30pm Mana Electric Vehicles (the pros and cons with Sigurd Magnusson)

Venue: St Andrew's Parish Centre 11 Steyne Ave Plimmerton

  • Oct 1 1.30pm   "Less Mess" – Downsizing and Decluttering
  • Venue: Tawa Union Church
  • Contact: Jancis Potter 2323915  email: [email protected]
  • Nov 5 1.30pm The Proposed Porirua Recreation Park.

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).

On the road to nostalgia with Bruce Murray

Let’s leave Bruce to tell of it….

“I’m going to speak about the Old Porirua Road, and on the 9th July, will start at the Kaiwharawhara end.  We have three sessions, two in St Christopher’s church, and a bus trip.  The first will take in the old track up to Cockayne Road (used to be the OPR till about 1934, I think).  We’ll then follow Cockayne Road to Box Hill, and Box Hill to Fraser Crescent, and then Johnsonville Road to St John’s Church.  Then it will be Middleton Road right along to the end of Willowbank Road, where the Takapu Road comes across the railway bridge.

The second talk on 16 July will deal with where the OPR went through Tawa Flat - Boscobel Lane, Main Road to the end of Oxford Street; back to the Main Road, and down to Duncan Park, and under the Linden Social Centre;across the road (Linden Ave) to the back of Linden West Park; across the park to the Gee Street corner, and down to Wall Place, a residual of the OPR.

Then on 23 July we will have a bus trip along the OPR from Kaiwharawhara to Wall Place, stopping at the site of the old ‘Halfway House’ near the Twigland Garden Centre on Middleton Road for a bit of lunch (bring your own, or buy at the Garden centre shop).  Will leave at 10am, and be back at 1pm The bus can take 45-50   The bus trip will commence and finish in Gee Street, where there is plenty of off-street parking”.

Luxuriating in book heaven with Shelley

This month’s new books in the library was tribute to the hard work that librarian Shelley puts into assembling some great Fiction, non-Fiction and Biography for us to choose from.

All U3A members who use the Library should note the following literary treats that may still be available after we took our monthly haul. This Mortal Boy (Fiona Kidman) an Ockham award winner, Identity Crisis (Ben Elton), Plume a surreal and mysterious exploration on the precariousness of life in modern London. The Cuba Street Project (Beth Brash & Alice Lloyd). Things I’ve been silent about (Azar Nafisi)

Books that got snapped up again from last time were The Sellout by Paul Beatty -a Booker winner that takes on black American issues with the comic vigour of Jonathan Swift. Michelle Obama’s memoir Becoming still heads the “most popular” list in this U3A group.

To Obama: A People's History by Jeanne Marie Laskas tell how every day, President Obama received ten thousand letters from ordinary American citizens. Every night, he read ten of them before going to bed as did his predecessor FDR. (Reagan used to read letters from and and write back only to kids!)

A book about Jackie Kennedy and her competitive sister Lee entitled The fabulous Bouvier Sisters was quickly re-grabbed. The Reykjavik Confessions by Simon Cox a tale of gross miscarriages of justice in the A. A Thomas vein (Alannah Whooley our group member was in Iceland just a few weeks after the ghastly thing blew up there. She swears by the accuracy of this book.) The Real Wallis Simpson by Anna Pasternak occasioned huge borrowing interest and will be passing through many hands. Napoleon the man behind the Myth by Adam Zamoyski is a beautifully written tome that could have used a more original title.  

Great choices by Shelley and the team. Since this group started we have doubled in size (and not through eating the tasty morning teas put on by our wonderful library staff.)

Not all European but a pretty good movie to start with

The first film in the European Films course was shonw on 9 July. There was a smaller turnout than experienced during the previous course (10 Brit Film Directors).

Leon: the Professional directed by Luc Besson was chosen because it is filmed is a remarkably light- strewn New York with a Jewish-American child star and a main star from France who is Spanish by descent. (The harder Euro man stuff will come later). Getting this story to jump successfully from the written page to the screen is fraught with artistic peril (it made many world reviewers needlessly queasy).

It tells of a 9-5 gangland assassin (Leon) who befriends a young girl (Matilda) whose family has been brutally wiped out by corrupt cops working for the US Drug Enforcement Agency. So many films for TV have this sort of unpromising template. What makes the film soar is the appealing quality of the cinematography (NY might be mistaken for LA thereby eschewing the troubling dark of Mean Streets or Taxi Driver), the tenderness of the acting and the crisp editing.

Leon is a form of action artist working in bullets and pocket-sized bombs. He disposes of villains to order in a way that might be broadly called elegant; but for the rather unlawful nature of the business. Matilda is a twelve year old who owes her very life to Leon who, as the next door neighbour, shielded her from the murderous mavericks of the DEA (led by an gloriously unhinged Gary Oldman).

Now she wants to learn from Leon how to get her just revenge. She will do his shopping, ironing, cooking and cleaning if he will share with her the esoteric secrets of the effective use of high powered pistols and shotguns. In fact, she does much more than that. Matilda gives him a valid reason for living in an ugly world where Leon’s only previous loves were a ubiquitous pot plant and watching Gene Kelly movies. The two “fall in love” in a believable, creative and not at all unhealthy way. Good direction can do that.

Jean Reno is the man and Natalie Portman the gifted orphan. Ethically and rationally the plot does not stand up to well; but when these two do their stuff plot takes a well-recessed back seat. Portman has gone on to snares Oscar’s nominations and statuettes. Anyone watching this 25 year old movie would be bound to note that she was a dazzlingly confident juvenile performer with a great future coming her way.

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.    

Coming up in the next seven days...

Monday, 22 July 2019
9:30am - Building with Meccano [BM] - Member's home
1:15pm - 2:30pm - U3A Singers [SS] - Stephen's Lounge, Tawa Union Church
10:00am - Books2 [BK2] - Member's home
Tuesday, 23 July 2019
10:00am - BRUCE MURRAY'S BIG ROAD TRIP [BT] - Gee Street for Bus
2:00pm - EUROPEAN FILM [EF] -
1:30pm - SINGING FOR FUN [SF] -
1:30pm - Write It - Group 2 [WI 2] - Tawa Library
Wednesday, 24 July 2019
1:00pm - Indoor Games [IG] - Tawa Union Church
Thursday, 25 July 2019
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
10:00am - Ramblers [RB] - Davies Street/Luckie Street car-park
Friday, 26 July 2019
9:30am - Scrap-Booking [SB] - Tawa Commuity Centre
1:30pm - Ukulele [UK] - Tawa Library
10:00am - 12:00pm - Outdoor Games [OG] -
Sunday, 28 July 2019
2:30pm - Drop-In Philosophy [DP] - The Roundabout

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