The New Zealand Report 19/20

MR PHILLIP O’SHEA

Membership: Obituaries
Mr Squire Lionel Speedy, a Life Friend (No 1598) died at his Takapuna, Auckland, home on 9 December 2019, aged 95. His wife, also a Life Friend, died on 9 May 2019, as reported in last years’ Report. I conveyed the sympathy of the Friends to the Speedy family.

Mr Speedy’s great uncle was Captain Charles Speedy of the Indian Army who at the request of the dying Empress of Ethiopia was entrusted with the care of Alamayu, Prince of Abyssinia, the son of the Emperor Teweodros II [Theodore II], of Ethiopia, who died in 1868. Queen Victoria was understood to be fond of the Prince and on his death in 1879, aged 18, the Queen permitted his burial next to St George’s. In the Chapel there is a memorial plaque to him. (see St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle by Hugo Vickers, 2008, p.86.)

Membership
Despite several enquiries about membership the New Zealand Roll presently totals 35.

News and Activities

TRH The Prince of Wales, KG and The Duchess of Cornwall, GCVO, visited New Zealand from 17 to 23 November 2019. They visited Auckland, Waitangi, Christchurch, and Kaikoura. Kaikoura was the scene of a major and complex earthquake (7.8 magnitude) on 14 November 2016 which devastated the area. Here the Prince met locals and inspected various wildlife conservation projects. At Waitangi, in the Bay of Islands, The Prince returned on long-term loan from The Queen a fine flax korowai (cloak) gifted to Queen Victoria in 1863 by a Ngāpuhi Chief.

At Christchurch, the royal couple met survivors and families, and first responders involved in the appalling terrorist attack on two Mosques on 15 March 2019. The Prince also visited the site of the Christ Church Cathedral damaged badly in the 2011 earthquake. The Prince has become the Royal Patron for the Cathedral restoration. To commemorate the visit New Zealand Post issued set of six postage stamps.

It was a delightful pleasure to personally meet Annette Parsons during her brief visit to New Zealand in October 2019. Annette visited Wellington and on 31 October joined Jenny Officer and me for a light lunch in a local café. Afterwards, Jenny provided Annette a tour of Wellington. I was unable to join them having been hospitalized for the previous two weeks.

The first issue of the Friend of St George’s Newsletter in October 2019 was a welcome addition to information on the Chapel.

The 250th anniversary of Lieutenant (later Captain) James Cook’s sighting of New Zealand fell on 7 October 2019. Accompanied by Joseph Banks, Dr Daniel Solander and Tupaia, the Tahitian priest and navigator, they landed on 9 October 1769. At Mercury Bay on 15 November 1769 the Union Flag was raised and Cook took possession of the land (New Zealand) for King George III.

The Coronavirus Pandemic (Covid-19) has had a significant impact on routine life in New Zealand, as it has world-wide. Like many persons I was in lockdown at home from 22 March to 19 May. New Zealand has moved between four Alert Levels in an effort to bring the pandemic under control.

Secretariat
My special thanks to the Honorary Secretary, Linda Aitken, and Annette Parsons, for their ongoing assistance and support to me and New Zealand Friends in general. Especially during the worrying times of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Historical note: New Zealand link with the First Earl of Orford, KG (1726)
Sir Robert Walpole, the first British Prime Minister 1721-1742, in 1726 became the first commoner since 1660 to be appointed a Knight of the Garter, according to The Concise Dictionary of National Biography, part I, OUP, 1969, and the first after the Restoration. He was created Earl of Orford in 1742. A descendant of Sir Robert Walpole, Lady Anne Sophia Berry (formerly Walpole and formerly Palmer) died at Gisborne, New Zealand, on 18 September 2019 in her 100th year. Lady Berry was the only surviving daughter of the fifth and last Earl of Orford (of second creation) who in 1928 settled in Manurewa, New Zealand, where he died in 1931. Lady Anne made many visits to New Zealand. Her first husband Colonel Eric Palmer, by whom she had two sons, died in 1980. In 1990 she married Bob Berry and they settled in Gisborne on the East Coast of the North Island where they were both involved in horticulture. Bob Berry died in 2018 aged 102. In 1988 Lady Anne gifted her English garden ‘Rosemore’ to the Royal Horticultural Society. Lady Anne was not a Friend of St George’s.

The George Cross 80th Anniversary
The 80th anniversary of the institution of George Cross (GC) was on 24 September 2020. This special decoration for acts of gallantry and bravery was named both in honour of its founder, King George VI, and Saint George, the patron Saint of England, and of the Order of the Garter. The shape of the cross is taken from the flag of England, a red cross on a white field, and known as ‘St George’s Cross’. The centre of the decoration, on the obverse, bears a representation of St George slaying the dragon. This design also appears on the reverse of the George Medal (GM) instituted on the same date.

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The Queen's Free Chapel. The Chapel of the Most Honourable and Noble Order of the Garter. The Chapel of the College of St George.