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Maori invasion of Tramway Village

You must admit this is a good headline and like most headlines there is just a little bit of truth in it. When I headed off to travel in Australia and New Zealand recently the editor suggested that I might be the CACN southern hemisphere correspondent. Consequently I spent three months looking for a Crich connection in the Antipodes. Usually when people asked where we were from and we said �Crich� we were met with blank looks. �Derbyshire,� we would add, to more blank looks. �Peak District,� we would try for further clarification. �Awesome,� they would say and look doubtful and change the conversation to cricket. (Never rugby we would notice.) So for some time a Crich connection eluded me. We did run into one of the organisers of the Wirksworth Festival sand-tobogganing on the huge dunes in the very north of New Zealand, but hurtling down a sand dune is not very conducive to conversation and tends to lead to the inhalation of rather a lot of sand.

So after three months of travel, in Christchurch on our very last night we attended a Maori historical drama presentation exploring the confluence of Maori and European culture. Here we were guided into a Maori meeting house, wandered around a traditional village viewing the crafts, and were attacked by hostile tribes and protected by our Maori hosts. There were smoke and battles and musket fire, plagues and lots of fierce hakas with terrifying faces and tattooed tongues.

picture of Larry Day and two Maori guides welcoming visitors onto the tramNext, as the drama moved into the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth centuries we were conveyed by tram into a replica township reminiscent of our own Tramway Village.

Then, after the �hangi� which is a traditional meal cooked in a hole in the ground, the Crich connection emerged on the return tram. When Larry Day, the driver of the Larry Day and two Maori guides welcome visitors onto the tram Brisbane Drop Centre P36, heard I was from Crich it was as if I was apostolic. He immediately relinquished the controls and insisted I drive. My wife�s knuckles went white and I had to admit that not every resident of Crich could drive a tram. But Larry had spent a few days at the Crich Tramway Village in 2006 and was not to be discouraged, insisting on giving us a late night tour of their workshops. We also heard that the old picture house in the historic township had a Rank �Look at Life 1963�4� which featured footage of the early days of the Crich Tramway Village.

There might be a moral in this story such as: If you are attacked by Maori, jump on a tram. However, the next day we flew to Bangkok where there were no Crich connections to be found, apart from trying to negotiate traffic which was not dissimilar to Crich Market Place.

Martyn Offord