Gathered by Ynys Fraser and Alison Brown
Published July 2011
Available at McLeod’s Booksellers Rotorua or online from email@example.com
The concept, the book and the on-going project
At the age of 92, Ynys Fraser got to wondering how many others of her age were still around in the Rotorua district. She advertised, inviting the over-90s to join her at a celebration that she organised. Fifty-three responded; 49 attended.
Ynys’ concept went further: “I was so impressed with the fun we all had and with the vibrancy of my new friends that I resolved to revisit each of them to collect whatever they were prepared to give by way of their thoughts and memories.”
Over the ensuing year Ynys met 37 of her guests, individually. Accompanied by her colleague, freelance writer Alison Brown, Ynys chatted with each friend while Alison took photos and made notes, later chronicling each interview into a record ranging from 600 to 1500 words in length.
Passionate about recognising the individuality of each personality, Ynys is delighted that these ‘interviews’ yielded such fascinating insights into life – and its hardships – in Rotorua and beyond, throughout the last century.
Most participants – people from the far corners of New Zealand (and some from overseas) – have been drawn to Rotorua.
Their insights create a collection which recognises over-90 year olds as people in their own right and reflects the energy of their lives.
She adds: “I have been humbled by their vitality, their excitement in living, their personal pride in surviving the years – their ‘stories’. Many of their stories reveal the human fortitude, steadfastness and endurance of spirit that is the essence of our country today. How lucky we are to have these gems here in our midst adding to the fabric of our community.”
Now aged 94, Ynys hasn’t finished yet!
Ynys holds the concept that these persons should be valued not only by the family but within the whole community: “These courageous, enduring, interesting people are a vital link with our past.”
She believes her book is a manifestation of just how a local community can capture the memories of its most senior residents. Ynys would love to see communities all over New Zealand getting involved – and she’d like to think that this ‘mosaic of memories’ can assist others by providing inspiration and encouragement.
She recognises that each community is unique and will have ideas of its own about how to implement the project appropriately, emphasising that this 120-page publication is only one approach.
“But time’s running out. The gathering of memories needs to be done now before these living treasures pass away.”