Christine Hunt Daniell spoke to our members, family and friends at a morning meeting on 26th August 2013 in the Tasman District Library. Although she said that she enjoyed writing more than speaking, what she told us about the background to her work and how she began in 1979 – 34 years ago was enjoyable, entertaining and at times unbearably poignant.
The most telling example was about the man who lived alone in Central Otago. He had travelled little but one day he was persuaded to buy a ticket in a raffle. The prize was a trip on Air New Zealand. The one he chose to go on was the 14th sightseeing flight to Mt Erebus. Today his lake-side home still remains abandoned. Although this might sound like fiction it reminds us that truth can be as equally strange and raises all kinds of questions about the meaning and purpose of life as well as the age-old question of fate and free will.
Christine was well supported at the meeting by members of her family who live locally. She made an interesting observation about brothers and sisters remembering the same family event and how their perspectives can be quite divergent.
Her new book, Just an Orange for Christmas, records the stories of elderly people from the Wairarapa. There are some interesting characters in it. Anne tells us that she had a sister who “…died when I was about two. …I’m perfectly sure she would have been tall, blonde and blue-eyed, a Viking like my mother. Instead of dark, yellow-eyed, with no legs at all, like me! No one could ever believe I was my mother’s daughter.” This was the woman who worked as a secretary for Shirley Bassey. After she left, she still kept in contact: “She’ll ring me up and say, ‘What are you doing?’ and I’ll say, ‘I’m talking to the sheep!’ She’ll have just had lunch with the Queen, something like that.”
Christine has written three other books dealing with different areas of the country; Something in the Hills (Central Otago), Speaking a Silence (Golden Bay) and I’m 95 – any Objections ( the South Island).