A group formed nearly half a century ago to save a piece
of Dunedin history has disbanded after having ''achieved its
Friends of Olveston was wound-up at its annual meeting on
September 10 after no nominations were received for officers.
''The friends was formed back in '67 for the prime purpose of
saving Olveston and it's achieved its mission,'' president
Peter McAuliffe said this week. ''But, for the last three or
four years, we've been down to about 20 active members and
we've struggled to get a committee. There were no nominations
at our AGM for the committee, so a resolution was passed to
wind up the society and it's been discontinued.
''The reality is, there are certain legal requirements in
running a legal society and you need the commitment of the
members. In the last three years, we've asked people to show
their interest and, in February, we set out in our newsletter
the challenges we were having,'' he said.
''It's not just us; it's symptomatic of a lot of clubs and
societies. It's sad, but it's a fact of life. It's been going
a long time and a lot of people are sad that it had to
A new manager, former Fortune Theatre general manager
Jeremy Smith, was appointed to Olveston last year.
''Friends has every confidence in the future of the house.
The house is in excellent shape and we're very happy with how
it's progressed over the years,'' Mr McAuliffe said.
''Now, there is a new manager and a new direction. It's a new
era. People can still support the house and the friends will
still be informed about what is happening.''
Founding friend Margery Blackman, who wrote the 2007
biography Dorothy Theomin of Olveston, said she was
disappointed at the disbanding of the friends.
''I thought it was a hasty decision, but nobody was willing
to take the positions to form a committee. We're all getting
older now; I'm in my 80s. We used to meet eight or nine times
a year for meetings, but we had fewer people attending and
that was reduced to four meetings. Without some grass-roots
support from younger people, it was always going to be quite
difficult to continue.''
Fellow friend Louise Borrie, whose father Dr John Borrie was
a close friend of Olveston benefactor Dorothy Theomin, agreed
it was ''the end of an era''.
''We looked at putting the friends into recess, but we felt
it was better to wind up now, rather than crash land with
only half a dozen people interested,'' she said this week.
''I do feel sad, because it's the end of an era. But we're
moving in a good direction. We're very fortunate to have
The Edwardian mansion, which is officially known as the
Theomin Gallery, was bequeathed to Dunedin by Miss Theomin
(1888-1966) in 1966 and is now one of the city's major
tourist attractions, drawing about 30,000 visitors a year.