Thursday, 22 August 2019

WHITIANGA WEATHER

Goggles, ray guns, corsets and all - meet Whitianga's very own steampunk fan group

If you have a love for fancy dress, Victorian science fiction and good old-fashioned fun, you need to look no further than Whitianga’s very own steampunk fan group, The Endeavours Assemblage (or TEA for short), to fuel your passion.

A quick Google search describes steampunk as a genre of science fiction that has a historical setting and typically features steam-powered machinery rather than advanced technology. “Imagine an alien civilisation visited Earth with their futuristic technology and then left, leaving it all behind,” says Eloise Green, who founded TEA a year ago. “The Victorians then came along and with their lack of electricity, altered the technology to work on steam power.”

What may come as a surprise is that elements of steampunk can be found in well-known films such as the Golden Compass, Wild Wild West and Alice in Wonderland.

Eloise, who has been steampunking for eight years now, started TEA in the hope that others may also be keen to become involved. The use of flamboyant words is favoured in the steampunk community and the name of the group is derived from the fact that tea was a big part of the Victorian era. Before she formed the group, Eloise had to make do with travelling out of town to satisfy her steampunk cravings. She attended parades and festivals in both Thames and Auckland over the last few years. Oamaru, coined the mecca for steampunkers, is on her bucket list for the near future.

TEA is very family-orientated and there are no age limits. Members range from eight to 89 years old. The group’s Facebook page has more than 100 members, although not all of them are living in Whitianga.

A favourite activity of the group is to create their own personas and costumes. Recycling, upcycling and repurposing are key in the costume design process. The group have recently made their own magnificent moveable teapot sculpture to add to their image.

The members of TEA meet regularly. On Sunday afternoons they often get together for lunch dressed up in their costumes. They also have “play dates” where they each bring a plate of food and work together on their costumes and creations. In addition, Eloise runs frequent workshops where she shares her extensive costume and prop making expertise and where members of the group come away with a unique handmade project. There are no secrets - all tips and techniques are shared to create an encouraging and supportive community.

The TEA gatherings consist of laughter, enjoyment and “tea duelling” (something you will discover if you join the group). Eloise says their aim is to be fun, quirky and whimsical. “We strive to help one another and just to enjoy life in its steampunk glory - goggles, ray guns, corsets and all,” she says

When asked what draws Eloise and the other members of TEA to the steampunk world, their answers ranged from a love of dressing up and using their imagination and creativity to being able to share their passion with other like-minded individuals.

Eloise’s aim is for TEA is to keep on growing. The steampunk following in Thames started small and is now of such a size that they have an annual festival. Eloise hopes to one day see a steampunk festival in Whitianga too. TEA strutted their stuff (and showed off their teapot) in the Whitianga Santa Parade on Saturday last week and they have a swimsuit gathering planned for February next year, complete with a Victorian beach picnic, croquet and cucumber sandwiches.

Check out TEA’s Facebook page to stay up to date with what they are doing. “All are welcome in our wonderful community,” says Eloise.    

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