Bards, ballads and bulldust

Maniototo Bards, Ballards and Bulldust organiser Roger Lusby (left) and visitor Mike Garland...
Maniototo Bards, Ballards and Bulldust organiser Roger Lusby (left) and visitor Mike Garland share a joke at the Ancient Briton Hotel in Naseby at the weekend, while proprietor Adrian Hood looks on. Photo: Tom Kitchin
The air is cold and thick, not a soul on the streets.

Then the pub doors open, the lights are bright, the heaters are up and the atmosphere invites you in.

The Maniototo Bards, Ballads and Bulldust festival, a mix of folk music, poetry, stories and folklore, was held at the  weekend.

Late on Friday evening,  at the festival’s opening event, about 100 people  crowded into the Ancient Briton Hotel in Naseby, sipping their drinks, having a laugh and listening to tales of New Zealand folklore from a variety of performers.

This year’s festival included a tribute to the late Phil Garland, often called the "grandfather of New Zealand folk", who was one of the festival’s instigators.

His brother, Mike Garland, was at the festival in Naseby to celebrate his brother’s life and tell stories of the folk music legend.

Mr Garland said the festival was a dream of the late William Brock.

In 2006, Phil Garland and Roch Sullivan started the festival. The event had been held most years since then.

Mr Garland, from Dunedin, played with his brother in four bands over the years.

"There’s no other festival quite like this in the country," he said.

"The spoken word is a really important part of New Zealand history."

Over the years the festival drew more and more people from all over the country to the isolated  settlement.

"[Historically] in other countries you’d hear tunes in the pubs. In New Zealand the guys would be more likely to leap up on the bar and recite poetry."

This festival was the first without Phil, Mr Garland said, but his memory would live on.

"Phil would not necessarily be promoting himself, but would  tell New Zealanders to be proud of their own history and heritage — both colonial and Maori."

Festival organiser Roger Lusby, of Nelson but originally of Roxburgh, said the festival celebrated the significance of Maniototo’s history.

"The whole show is put together  for the locals to celebrate the special environment where they live . . . the environment itself, the buildings, the gold mining history and the farmers."

tom.kitchin@odt.co.nz

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