18 December 2017
The latest addition to ‘The Whanganui Story’, the collection of stained glass windows displayed in the Council Chamber, depicts the first official European settlers arriving to our district.
It shows a group of people disembarking on the shores of the Whanganui River, having been rowed to shore in a dingy from the schooner, 'Elizabeth'. Shakespeare Cliff can be seen in the background as well as two river waka.
The image of the group represents the people considered to be the Founders of Whanganui: Dr and Mrs Peter Wilson and their son, Mr and Mrs John Nixon, Henry Churton, C. Niblett, Samuel King and his two sisters, along with other unrecorded passengers. The group, who were part of the New Zealand Company Scheme, arrived in Whanganui on 27 February 1841.
The creation of the window has been funded by the New Zealand Founders Society Wanganui branch.
Painter Julie Greig designed the window, which was then developed by glass artist Greg Hall. Once Mr Hall completed cutting and shaping the glass, Ms Greig painted the settlers, the schooner, hut, dingy and oarsman, reflections and sand. Painter Aaron Gardiner has painted the carvings on the waka.
Mr Hall said there were many small pieces of glass used for the window to represent the colours of the people, river, sky and cliffs. He selects suitable glass, cuts the shapes then grinds them so they are the right shape.
“I choose the colours as I go and then Julie paints them. I’ve been working on it since October. I can usually do a window in eight weeks but this is a bit more complicated so will take longer. After Julie does the painting, I fire the glass artwork in a kiln. The firing process bonds the glass painting to the glass,” said Mr Hall.
All of the windows have a linking border which in Māoridom represents the incoming and outgoing tide.
Local Founders Society Chairperson Lynley Fowler was delighted with the window.
“The missionaries and settlers played a big part in the history of Whanganui and their story deserves to be told. I am thrilled with it. It’s lovely. The colours are spectacular.”
Whanganui District Council Governance Officer Louise Davies, who takes tours of the Whanganui Story, says more and more people are visiting the Council Chamber to see the windows.
“We had a group of about 80 people the last time we took a tour through. It will nice to get them all completed.”
The Settlers’ window should be installed in the Council Chamber around February 2018.
‘The Whanganui Story’, a project which began in 2006, depicts important events and people in our district’s history and includes Johnny Devlin, Kupe, Mother Mary Joseph Aubert, Kowhai Park, the Durie Hill Tower, Watt Fountain and the Whanganui River.
Of the 32 spaces, ten are yet to be filled and the Council would love to hear from people or organisations with a story to tell who want to sponsor a window.
Please contact Riah King-Wall, Arts Facilitator at email@example.com or 027 541 5217, or Malcolm Hunt, Project Co-ordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org or 027 602 5086.