An everlasting love affair

Marin Burgess remembers the very first time she stepped into Howick Historical Village and fell completely in love with it. That was on March 8, 1980. Forty-two years later, as President of the Howick and Districts Historical Society, the village is still an integral part of her life, as she along with a dedicated board, fiercely safeguards its rich legacy. The Howick and Districts Historical Society that celebrated its 60th anniversary in June, is the owner-operator of the Howick Historical Village. FARIDA MASTER talks to Marin about her long-lasting relationship with the iconic village that captures Howick’s past and leads the way for the future.
Marin Burgess

The secret to your long-lasting love story with the historical village is…

My paternal grandmother lived a very old-fashioned life which has been such a gift. I grew up spending a lot of time with her. The time spent with my grandmother taught me how life was lived once upon a time and the first time I stepped into the village it brought back so many beautiful memories. I used to churn butter, feed the chooks, make bread with my grandmother and of course it all fitted in perfectly with the Historical Village. It was like I never left. I was rooted in living history…

Why do we rush around so much these days?

The role of the Howick and Districts Historical Society has been…

Large in my life—the Society is an important vehicle to protect its unique heritage and history for the community and ensure the stories of people live on. We hold extensive archives chronicling local history.

As President of the Howick and Districts Historical Society, you must…

Be fleet footed! Listen. Trust. Have a good Board. And buy lotto tickets every week— in hope.

The highlight of your association with the Historical village has been…

When I first began volunteering at the Village my daughter would come with me as a very small child. She grew up with all those influences and interests and now has a thriving career as a museum professional. I’m very proud of that and of her.

The historical village is thrilled that new school (history) curriculum brings with it…

A shift in focus to a more collective history. We have a fantastic opportunity to encourage students understanding of Aotearoa’s history and how it shapes our present day. We have begun to develop programmes that give voice to our diverse communities and their part in historical Howick.

If you were reborn as a historical character, you would be…

Mary Bumby. Mary Anna Bumby came to the Hokianga in New Zealand in 1838 and bought with her two skeps (hives) of bees: the first honeybees in New Zealand. She later married Rev Gideon Smales and lived in what is now East Tamaki. Mary’s life was fascinating—it had adventure, tragedy, drama, and she was certainly no shrinking violet. Mary epitomises the pioneer spirit so evident, but often overlooked, in women of the day.

The day job you enjoyed very much was…

Working with the volunteers at the Auckland Cancer Society for over 20 years: the people who put their hands up to help people with a cancer diagnosis all deserve medals. People who volunteer lead very rich lives and invariably get back more than they give.

Any three people you would like to invite for dinner are…

  1. We’d need a piano – Beethoven for his glorious music and outrageous personality.
  2. Freddy Mercury for his glorious music and outrageous personality.
  3. Winnie Atwell for her keyboard skills and outrageous personality.