Remembering our special people
22 November 2004
It's shaping up to be a memorable week in the Waikato, which is just as it should be when two significant memorials are to be unveiled to the public. Both will attract a power of attention, but for one of them at least, not all the reaction is likely to be favourable, writes the Waikato Times in an editorial.
First, a street party is planned in the middle of Hamilton as the Riff Raff statue, tribute to the man who created the iconic theatre show The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Richard O'Brien, gets its first public viewing at midnight on Friday.
Then, on Saturday, the Governor-General and various military high-flyers will be in the city as a replica Spitfire, to commemorate the World War II flying dead from the Waikato, will be unveiled at Memorial Park on River Rd.
Of the two, the Spitfire, brainchild of Waikato and New Zealand aviation pioneer Ossie James, will almost certainly be clasped to the city's collective bosom. Increased interest in Anzac Day in recent years is all the evidence needed to confirm the built-from-scratch plane will touch the hearts of a great number of the people from the Waikato.
It's a different story with Riff Raff though, with the city split when the idea was mooted earlier this year; many people feeling O'Brien, Rocky Horror and Riff Raff, one of the characters of the play, were an inappropriate image for the city to be linked with. Letters to the editor flowed and every time a story on the statue's progress ran the same group kicked over the traces. It's not that we don't like art, just that trans-sexuals and fishnet stockings are a bit too risque.
Hopefully the coincidental timing of the two launches will make the detractors think twice.
While a World War II memorial has little in common with recognition for a thespian who must seem slightly strange to the majority of people, there is a common bond. In both cases we are marking something special. O'Brien and Rocky Horror have hardly had the same impact as airmen who gave their lives, but the show and the movie it spawned have become highly revered in the business. The stage show draws thousands every time it tours, and that's decades after O'Brien wrote it. He may have spent a lot of his formative years in places like Tauranga, but the fact he says Hamilton and the old Embassy theatre, where he spent much of his time here, were the biggest influences on his career, make it something worth remembering.
AdvertisementAdvertisementSo we'll have a replica plane on top of a pole at Memorial Park and what is likely to be a space-age, Hollywood-inspired (it is being done by the special effects gurus of Weta after all) statue in Victoria St vie for attention this weekend.
Both are different, but they are symbols of the same thing. A city marking the significant things that have happened in its history. We should celebrate both.
"No, I said I got it caught in my BUTTON hole!" ~ The One and Only Lauren Matyis