Final resting place: Rose Anne Hall (nee Dryden), and her husband Sir John Hall (former Premier of New Zealand, and campaigner for universal suffrage). Churchyard of St John’s, Hororata, Canterbury, NZ. Image: Su Leslie 2018

Monuments to the dead are often elaborate structures; from mausolea and sarcophagi to intricately carved headstones of crosses, winged angels, birds, flora, and all manner of other symbolic elements. Often the more prominent the person in life, the more magnificent their funerary art.

So it was something of a surprise to find — in the churchyard of St John’s Anglican Church Hororata – the spartan graves of Sir John Hall (18241907) and his wife Rose, nee Dryden, (1828-1900).

Both Rose Dryden and John Hall were born in England and arrived in New Zealand as young adults. John Hall came to farm in Canterbury, but entered politics quite quickly. He served as a Cabinet Minister in several administrations, and as Premier of New Zealand between 8 Oct 1879 and 21 Apr 1882.

Although a conservative, Hall is best remembered as one of the major driving forces behind women’s suffrage in New Zealand, championing the cause in Parliament.

I can find little information about Rose Dryden. Indeed she is not even mentioned in Hall’s biography in Te Ara — Encyclopedia of New Zealand.  In fact, the only reference I can find for her in NZ historical sources is an entry in NZ History that she (probably) signed the Women’s Suffrage petition, alongside 32,000 other women. This petition was famously presented to Parliament by her husband; all 500 pages glued together to form a roll that stretched over 270 metres.

The Halls were prominent citizens of the Canterbury province, having their farm and homestead in Hororata. They were actively involved in the community — regularly attending church at St John’s (and apparently teaching in the Sunday School), as well as school prize-giving, sports days and other events. I know this because the Big T’s family also has strong roots in Hororata, and newspaper archives tell me that some of his ancestors were recipients of those school prizes.

The Big T and I spent well over an hour in the St John’s churchyard, searching for — and finding — headstones for a very large number of his ancestors. Amongst those memorials to the dead, the Halls’ graves stand out as perhaps the plainest and most spartan.

Perhaps their children believe that the best memorial to their parents lies in the ballot papers cast by women in each election.

Posted to Ragtag Daily Prompt |spartan


All done: canapes for whanau* dinner


Mini choux pastry balls; a little snack for the whanau catch-up dinner. Image: Su Leslie 2018

* whanau  [ˈfaːnaʉ] is a Maori word that loosely means extended family.

Posted to Six Word Saturday

And celebrating Maori Language Week

Like father, like son … not really


A younger, and much muckier, boy-child. Image: Su Leslie 2006

I really had to go searching for a shot of the boy-child in any sort of state that could be described as grubby. He’s always been an outdoorsy sort, but as a skateboarder, prefers paved urban street to muddy fields.

His father on the other hand ….


Never afraid to get grubby in the pursuit of a good bike ride. The “I’m so tough, I kick sand in my own face” shot. Image: Su Leslie 2016

Posted to the RagTag Daily Prompt | grubby

Living in the journey


The last family holiday before the boy-child took wing. The path to Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany, 2015. Image: Su Leslie

“Once you have travelled, the voyage never ends, but is played out over and over again in the quietest chambers. The mind can never break off from the journey.”
– Pat Conroy

Life is full of journeys. Twenty one years ago, the Big T and I had just set out on the longest and most significant voyage of our lives — nurturing the embryo that would become our son. It’s a journey filled with memories that refresh and strengthen as we share new moments together.

Posted to Debbie’s weekly quotation-inspired image challenge at Travel with Intent

Sometimes the journey is the best part

Ruapehu dawn. Road-trip with the boy-child. Shot of young man photographing morning mist shrouding Mt Ruapehu, New Zealand. Su Leslie, 2017

Ruapehu dawn. Road-trip with the boy-child. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

“The journey not the arrival matters”
– T.S. Eliot

Eliot’s words are particularly true when the journey is made in good company. This shot was taken last year when the boy-child and I were on a road-trip to visit family in Whanganui. A-typically for a teenager (but typical of the photographer that he is), he insisted on an extremely early start so that we could experience sunrise on the Desert Road.

Posted to Debbie’s weekly quotation-inspired challenge, at Travel with Intent.

The Changing Seasons: June 2018

Low cloud hangs over hills and the Whanganui River at Papaiti Road, Whanganui. Su Leslie 2018

Late afternoon rain clouds, Papaiti Road, Whanganui. Su Leslie, 2018

While some months can certainly be summed up in a single image, June hasn’t been one of them.

The first part of the month was shaped by my father’s admission to hospital. He’s nearly 86 and has a series of medical problems. On the plus side, this means that any change in his condition is taken seriously by his doctors and he receives swift and usually excellent care; on the minus side it’s incredibly worrying for my step-mother and for me.

Visiting my dad entails a six-hour drive through some of the North Island’s most beautiful countryside (well it would be six hours if I didn’t stop to take so many photos). Whanganui itself is a lovely place and turned on one day of glorious sunshine during my visit.

My drive home was also favoured with brilliant — if not particularly warm — sunshine. An early morning stop in the small town of Hunterville revealed these beautiful frosted roses in a series of little gardens lining the main street.

Back home, and relieved that my dad is recovering, I could turn my attention to a project I’m working on with artist Claire Delaney to document the life of her studio over a year; this month hanging out at a couple of weekend workshops as well as a regular weekday class.

June has been particularly special in the studio as it’s where Claire hosted the launch of a book she illustrated. Dining with Vikings, written by local chef Penny Webster, is part cook-book, part family memoir.

The shortest day has now passed, and while the weather will undoubtedly get worse before it gets better, we are now heading back towards a time when the outdoor furniture will be covered in food rather than leaves.

About The Changing Seasons

The Changing Seasons is a monthly challenge where bloggers around the world share what’s been happening in their month.

If you would like to join in, here are the guidelines:

The Changing Seasons Version One (photographic):

  • Each month, post 5-20 photos in a gallery that you feel represent your month
  • Don’t use photos from your archive. Only new shots.
  • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so that others can find them

The Changing Seasons Version Two (you choose the format):

  • Each month, post a photo, recipe, painting, drawing, video, whatever that you feel says something about your month
  • Don’t use archive stuff. Only new material!
  • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so others can find them.

If you do a ping-back to this post, I can update it with links to all of yours.


See how June has played out for other bloggers:

Max at Cardinal Guzman

Tracy at Reflections of an Untidy Mind

Pauline at Living in Paradise

Garry & Marilyn at Serendipity — Seeking Intelligent Life on Earth

Jude at Under a Cornish Sky

Joanne at My Life Lived Full and Following a Bold Plan.

Tish at Writer on the Edge

Klara who’s joined us again from Brussels.

Sarah at Art Expedition

Ju-Lyn at All Things Bright and Beautiful

Deb at The Widow Badass

Mick from Mick’s Cogs