As New Zealand and other Commonwealth nations pay tribute to Queen Elizabeth II, who died last week, The Ensign reporter Sandy Eggleston chatted with residents who remember the day in 1954 when the Queen and her husband the late Prince Philip visited the town.
Dulcie Stark remembers the thrill of the moment when Queen Elizabeth II looked at her, 68 years ago.
She had taken the day off working on her parents’ Waikoikoi farm to see the Queen. She was standing in Gore’s Main St holding her box brownie camera, waiting for the monarch’s entourage to arrive, Mrs Stark said.
‘‘When I think back I was quite a wee royalist.’’
When the entourage came into view, she had her camera ready.
A box brownie had no eyepiece to line up the subject of a photograph.
Instead it was held in front of the operator and aimed in the direction of the subject.
As the car carrying the Queen slowly drove past, Mrs Stark took the photograph.
‘‘She just looked at me and had almost eye contact.
‘‘It was a big thrill.’’
The picture turned out well but unfortunately she could not find it now, she said.
Mrs Stark said she had always admired the Royal Family.
‘‘They had family values.’’
John Speden remembers walking from Gore Main School to the temporary grandstand that was put up near where the Gore police station is today.
He was about 8 years old.
‘‘We all sat in our seats and looked at the Queen’s car going past with our wee flags.
‘‘That’s all we saw of her.’’
The pupils learned God Save the Queen for the occasion but did not end up singing it, he said.
‘‘We were too busy waving our flags.’’
He grew up in a family who admired the Royal Family.
‘‘I think she has done a superb job’’, he said.
Jeanette McIntyre was a pupil at Gore High School at the time of the visit.
She was one of a generation who ‘‘have sung God Save the King, God Save the Queen and now God Save the King’’.
‘‘I have wonderful memories of seeing the Queen on her visit to Gore.
‘‘I was so excited.’’
It was a beautiful day.
‘‘I remember the hat, the gloves, the handbag and she was just beautiful.’’
Gore Historical Museum collections manager Stephanie Herring said preparations for the royal visit included farmers shifting stock away from roadside paddocks two weeks before the tour.
They then put the stock back in the paddock on the day of the visit ‘‘to ensure a display of lush farmland and prime stock’’.
‘‘What we were famous for at that time was sheep.
‘‘Gore at that time was the richest town in New Zealand.’’
A Mataura Ensign article of January 28, 1954 records the events of the Queen’s visit.
The Queen had lunch at the Gore Women’s Club, which had its rooms on the first floor of H&J Smith’s department store.
Outside, the crowds waited patiently for the return of the royal couple.
After lunch, when the royal party emerged from the building, the Gore Municipal Band played the national anthem, God Save the Queen.
Four-year-old Maureen Lines, from the Inglenook Children’s Home in East Gore, presented a bouquet to Her Majesty.
As Gore Mayor Alexander Newman escorted the Queen and Prince Philip to their car, the band struck up to the strains of Now is the Hour, and the thousands of people in the streets gave voice to the lilting melody in a fond farewell to their Queen.
Following the Queen’s death at age 96 last week, Gore Mayor Tracy Hicks offered condolences to the Royal Family on behalf of the district.
The Queen had been ‘‘a tower of strength in an evertransforming world’’, he said.
‘‘She was one of the few constants we, as a nation and as individuals, have known.’’
She had always been a friend of the nation.
‘‘All who had the pleasure of meeting her speak glowingly of her knowledge and respect for our place.’’
Mr Hicks also wished her successor King Charles III well for his reign.
‘‘May God bless him and give him wisdom in all he does.’’
Southland Mayor Gary Tong said the Queen was a revered monarch.
‘‘[She was] much loved and respected not just throughout the Commonwealth, but around the world, during her extraordinary reign of 70 years.
‘‘She will be remembered for her dignity, wisdom and unwavering sense of duty to her subjects.’’
The Hokonui Pioneer Village and Museum heritage day on Sunday will commemorate the late Queen’s platinum jubilee.
Village and museum secretary Nancy Stronach said the day would be even more special now.
People were welcome to bring photographs or greeting cards from the Queen.
One of the Gore District Council’s books of remembrance would be at the event for people to sign.