Streampunk Gathers Steam!
Sunday, November 13, 2016 at 3:41PM
Bill Barclay

A couple of years ago I would not have given Steampunk a snowball chance in Hell of succeeding in this town of failed dreams, and long memories. It was just too redolent of the past, mired in crinoline and lace, and generally too bloody twee to catch on.

I could not have been further from the mark. There are probably only two places in this entire country where it could have thrived, that had the necessary atmosphere, and that was Oamaru (where I grew up!) and here. Oamaru got off with a hiss and a roar ten years ago, and we followed. 

In both cases it needed a entrepreneurial spirit for it to succeed, and here we had Deb McDonanld Brown and Gin Clay who led the way while others, many others followed.

The functions they have organised over the weekend have faced down bad weather and scepticism from all over, but the right people in Council were persuaded, and for once put their money where  their mouth was. This year, it obtained one of the major grants that matched what I earlier deemed to be one of the best prepared grant applications I have seem.

The events that I was able to see over the weekend - the Parade & Exhibition,  the Circus & Street Carnival, and a Victorian Music Hall last evening at the Brew - a professionally produced extravaganza like we have seldom seen here, even I suspet in Victorian times. I missed the Burlesque that must surely have provided appropriate (R) entertainment 

But what what surpassed all else was the total commitment of hundreds of people in this town to getting 'dressed' in apprpriate garb for the entire weekend. They occupied the town from Friday onwards, and could be seen disporing themselves like something out of the gaslight era with panache and great style, and not a little sex appeal. 

I commend everyone who had the community spirit that enabled them to enter into the spirit of this wonderful festive occasion, and prove me totally wrong, yet again. This town has needed a festive occasion since gold ran out in 1886, and we all became miserable as pub after pub closed their doors. What we didn't need was another occasion based on gas guzzling motor vehicles like on the Esat Coast, or people risking life and limb on two wheels.

It simply needed the vision of people like Deb and Gin to get it all together, take a few ideas from elsewhere and use the back-drop that this town provided. Aucklanders are constantly on the lookout for occasions like this within cooee of the 'big-smoke' that have entertainment, and that is the secret, even if some of the garb remains redolent of formaldehyde, 

What was absolutely remakarkable was the range of contraptions in the Parade that have been put togther over recent months as bizarre examples of what was possibly in the mind of Ronald Searle, and Heath Robinson. There was gear that must have taken days, if not months to assemble, displaying objects of art and kitchen culture that somehow seemed right and proper in its place.

I doffs my hat to all who took part, and implore all who didn't to shake off the cobwebs, and get with it next year, There are many events planned to whet the appetite, I am told. This is the start of something really big for this town, of that I am sure!


Article originally appeared on BillBarcBlog (
See website for complete article licensing information.