Marnie Kelly of Clyde is no stranger to weaving colourful yarns about her life.
Those yarns are now part of a repository of locals’ life stories stored at Central Stories in Alexandra, as part of the Central Otago Heritage Trust’s Oral Histories Project.
Ms Kelly, who counts founding artisan wool business Touch Yarns among her many achievements, initially sat down with project volunteer Jo Wilson to help her former neighbour practise during her training for the project.
That was in March, and the two recorded a second session in late June that has become part of the project collection.
Oral Histories Project manager Carolyn Squires said there were 37 recordings in the repository, another six in progress and a further 12 in the planning stages.
An initial two-year pilot project concluded at the end of August and further funding from the Central Lakes Trust has enabled the project to continue and expand, and more funds are being sought.
Interested parties can make an appointment to listen to the histories at Central Stories, and it is hoped that the collection will also be available online sometime soon.
Some recordings that specifically relate to Cromwell can also be heard at the Cromwell Museum.
The project offered a unique method of recording and sharing history with the wider community, Mrs Squires said.
“Generated by community volunteers, the collection creates a shared taonga [treasure] voice, endeavours and unique perspectives of the people of Central Otago across a range of eras, locations, occupations, and social and cultural experiences.”
Ms Kelly said she was happy to be interviewed for the project, having played historical tapes from Radio New Zealand to her patients while working in the occupational therapy department at Dunstan Hospital in the late 1980s.
“It brought so much joy to so many people’s faces,” she said.
Ms Wilson, who interviewed Ms Kelly, said the two-day training course gave her and 30 other volunteers a good grounding in how to interview and the kind of topics to raise.
Oral histories were valuable because they captured “an almost truer history”.
“You get to hear the person, the intonations, personal thoughts, their passions and recollections.
“Sometimes they’ll recall things that even they haven’t thought about for quite some time.”
Capturing Ms Kelly’s history may require another recording session in the future as the former nurse, businesswoman, renovator and avid craftswoman, who, while having retired from Touch Yarns three years ago after 27 years, still has plenty of energy to do more with her life.
Having completed her new home last year, then added a garage and loft, she had decided to run an Airbnb “to stop me getting bored”.
One cannot help but wonder if that will be enough to hold her focus.
“There might be another project in me yet,” she said.