Upper Clutha women’s tales keep coming in sequel book

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Tales, tragedy but also triumph feature in a new book launching in Wanaka next week.
Skirt Tales, The sequel: Life Stories of 80 Women of the Upper Clutha has been two years in the making.

Wanaka Women’s Suffrage committee members Liz Hall, Pam Kane, Cheryl Taylor, Dee Gordon and Jenny Moss collected stories from a wide range of women, some as interviews, some contributed by the women or family members.

Committee member Jenny Moss said the book was a sequel to the first Skirt Tales published after the 1993 Centennial of New Zealand women’s suffrage.
The sequel was dedicated to Phyllis Aspinall ‘‘who had the original idea back in 1993 that it was important to record the stories of our women’’.

The first book included stories of women from the early settler period, Mrs Moss said.
‘‘Twenty five years later we believed it was important to continue telling the stories of our women in The Upper Clutha, ’’ she said.

Since the first book the population had increased so much, ‘‘so what we’ve got is a sample of the larger group of women’’.
‘‘Mainly they are women who have lived here for a long time, there are a couple who are born here, others who came here in the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s, ’80s’’.

Women featured in the sequel had experienced a range of challenges over the years.
‘‘There are stories in this book of women who began their life here in relatively isolated circumstances, compared with today,’’ Mrs Moss said.

The women had different experiences to tell, including Lydia Bradey, the first woman to summit Mount Everest without supplemental oxygen, and Dr Susie Meyer, who established her practice in the 1990s.
‘‘People asked if she was a real doctor, and that was in ’95.’’

The stories included loss of homes or families, women who experienced poverty and isolation, but these were also women who helped others and had helped weave the community together, Mrs Moss said.
‘‘They are who have kept our community growing.’’

Having worked on both books the committee was ‘‘putting the challenge out’’ for a new group of women to continue the series in another 25 years to ‘‘collect and record the next lot of stories of our women’’.

A private book launch next week in Wanaka will bring together almost all of the women who have shared their stories, Mrs Moss said.
The book will be available to buy at Wanaka Library after July
28.