The tales they could tell…

Gwen Newland

Local identity—Gwen Newland  93 and going strong.


Gwen’s ancestors immigrated to New Zealand from Bohemia in 1863 and settled in Puhoi, North Auckland.

Gwen was born in Gisborne in 1923, the youngest child of Lottie and Jock Schollum, and she had six older siblings.

Growing up in Gisborne, Gwen heard the first radio broadcast from California U.S.A.  She also witnessed Kingsford Smith land his aeroplane, which he and Charles Ulm had flown over from Australia, on the beach in Gisborne.

During the Second World War, Gwen was initially in the homeguard in Gisborne. A priority at this time was keeping a vigilant watch for any enemy submarines or ships approaching the East Coast. One of Gwen’s tasks was to bike to the nearby coast, climb hills and relay semaphore messages (a series of visual signals with hand-held flags) to other lookouts, which in turn would be relayed to Headquarters. After this, Gwen joined the NZ Army Women’s Auxiliary, and was posted to Wellington.

After the war she met and married Stanley Newland who had just returned from service overseas and they began married life in Minginui, while Stan and others built up a timber business.

In about 1950 they moved to Rotorua and shortly thereafter shifted to Eastside where Gwen has been a resident ever since.  She has seen many changes in the area over the years – when they built their house they were surrounded by farmland.

For many years Gwen has been very involved in community activities as initiated by the Mokoia Community Centre, involving line dancing, cuppa and co meetings, film-watching, and numerous bus trips.

Thanks to all the wonderful support she receives in Eastside, Gwen is still very much involved in the community. She spends two days a week at the Redwood Retirement Village and attends meetings and lunches as organised by the Blind Foundation.

Gwen also spends time with her three daughters and their families, who enjoy and share many fond memories with her.

Pat ThomasCongratulations, Pat Thomas!

Pat is one of the Craft Club stalwarts at the MCA and we have just heard that at the Christmas meeting of the Geyserland Country Music Club she was awarded “Most Improved Female Singer”.

Pat puts her success down to being inspired as a child by her mother’s singing, attending country music club evenings and doing heaps of practice with her husband. They regularly entertain appreciative audiences at 3 retirement homes