29 Aug Bath House Days – Brian Potiki
I’d cycle from Mead St, a long glide down Fenton St –
before roundabouts – past the railway yards, turning right
through the Government Gardens. Then passing through
the heavy rear doors, I’d hear clatter from the hall as Maxine
and Carol readied the counter, and John Perry’s deeper voice
as he sorted out the morning with Alex.
The Bath House – not yet jazzed-up as a provincial Te Papa Tongarewa –
was a mouldering, slightly creepy place. But the staff were lively and
museum director Ian Rockel was a fellow poet.
My job was to review the art exhibitions (which changed every
month) and to get people into the galleries on friday night
with a programme of films and poetry.
In my late-twenties, I still started the day with a fresh sense of
adventures to come.
Things were done differently.
For instance, when an exhibition was planned around Tuhoe prophet
Rua Kenana, I was tasked with fetching a tewhatewha (a type of
war spear-club) believed to have belonged to him, from the Whakatane
library. I had no car so I hitchhiked there and – with the tewhatewha over
my shoulder – back.
All in a day’s work.
A decade later Jill and I were first into the closed-up Tudor Towers
with our Travelling Tuataras story theatre shows. In a recent (August
11th) daily post article locals fondly recall the nightclub which came alive in
I remember the stink of beer and cigarettes in the carpet and broken
drum-sticks tossed onto the bar’s low ceiling, the huge boxy
dressing-rooms where the south wing is now, and the former
restaurant kitchen filthy with old grease.
I loved all of it.