Communion Of Dreams

Scenes from a trip: Koha a go-go.
November 18, 2011, 4:15 pm
Filed under: Guns, Music, N. Am. Welsh Choir, New Zealand, Society, Travel

Looking out the window of our hotel room, clouds of steam rose from the various hot thermal springs and mud pools near the hotel and then drifted through the trees.

* * * * * * * *

Sunday morning we had some free time, with a number of different options open to us. I decided to have a nice walk in the redwoods of the Whakarewarewa forest. A little over a century ago there was an effort to see whether redwoods would grow well in this part of the North Island. They did OK, but not as well as some other species, so the effort was mostly abandoned, leaving a nice sized grove (about 15 acres) of coastal redwoods. What’s a little odd, is that they also have a mix of tree ferns. But it made for a very nice walk of about an hour.

* * * * * * *

I got back to the hotel to find that Martha had gone into town to do a bit of shopping. We didn’t have anything going on until that afternoon’s concert. I decided to try calling another contact I had concerning the shooting sports, a man named Don Perry. Don was a driving force behind the local shooting club, and one of the major players in bringing the 2013 Australasian IPSCAA pistol championships to Rotorua.

Don answered his phone, had been hoping that I would call. “Where you at?”

“At the Holiday Inn. Tell me where to go, and I’ll get a taxi out to the club.”

“Don’t be absurd. That’d cost you a small fortune. I’ll be there in ten minutes.”

I think he was two minutes late. I didn’t mind.

* * * * * * *

Again, I’m going to write about this more completely for, but let me say that what Don and the other members of his club are trying to do in preparation for the 2013 IPSC event is nothing short of stunning. Seriously, they’re hard at work to take a decent-sized shooting range and turn it into probably the largest and most varied range in the world. It’s huge – everything from a score of short (25 meter) and medium (50 meter) shooting bays to a 180 and a 200 meter rifle range, and about a dozen different long-range (50 to 100 meter) bays where different tactical scenarios can be set up which competitors will have to move through. And all of these – all of them – have to have side and back berms which are 5 meters (16 feet) high, in some places almost twice that. Here’s a shot of a large CAT in the distance building one of the tall berms:

* * * * * * *

I spent about an hour tromping around the range with Don. In addition to the impressive scope of what they’re building, the site is situated in a gorgeous and mostly remote valley, which makes building the range and getting the necessary permits much easier, since it doesn’t present any kind of problem for neighboring houses or suchlike. If they can pull it all together, they will have a world class facility in one of the most beautiful locations imaginable.

When we were done, Don gave me a lift back to the hotel.

* * * * * * *

Martha and I had a bite of lunch before it was time for the choir to go to their pre-performance rehearsal. Our friend ML and I were the designated “sales team” for the choir, handling CD sales, handing out the programs for each concert, et cetera. We went along to help get things set up.

Good thing we did, too – there was a fair amount of set-up necessary at the church (St. Lukes), and the choir accompanist had forgotten something back at the hotel. ML popped out to get that, I took care of getting the display table ready and hanging a Welsh flag in the front window of the church. Handy that I had my little emergency kit with me, with 30′ of Spiderwire in it.

* * * * * * *

Since the choir was performing in a church, it was against the law to charge admission, even though the proceeds were going to help with rebuilding damage from the Christchurch earthquake. But they have this handy Maori term which is commonly used in New Zealand: Koha. The closest English is ‘donation’ or ‘gift’, but there’s more to it than that – it contains an element of respect. You show more respect, and gain more respect, by making a nicer gift/donation. So the little basket we set up had a note on it which simply said “Admission by Koha.”

Given that the local Welsh heritage society had been the ones to organize the venue for the choir, much of the audience were of Welsh settler stock, and they appreciated the choir coming. Donations were generous. And once the performance was done, more than a few people stopped by the basket to increase their Koha.

Because yeah, it was a great performance. The church was quite full, the acoustics good, the audience enthusiastic listeners and participants whenever they were offered the opportunity to join in (plus some times when they decided to join in anyway). ML and I sold a fair number of CDs, and a good time was had by all.

* * * * * * *

When the performance and chatting with the audience was all done, we loaded back on the bus. It stopped in the downtown area to drop off those who wanted to get something to eat there, but Martha and I decided to just grab something from the Bar Menu at the hotel. ML joined us, and we had a good meal, relaxing over drinks in the large lobby area. It was a good ending to a busy day.

Jim Downey

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