By John Pratt
Thames provides the ideal background for a Steam Punk celebration, and so it was that the highlight of Thames’ Heritage Festival, held Friday, 11 to Sunday, 13 November, was a Steam and Circus Punk parade down Pollen Street on the Saturday.
The neo-Victorian Steam Punk aesthetic looked right at home in Thames. Travel back in time 100 years, to Thames’ heyday, when men and women, bankers and investors, entrepreneurs and speculators proudly walked the streets of Thames in their suits and long coats, frocks and finery. Meanwhile the geologists and surveyors, miners and engineers diligently led the march of industrialisation in New Zealand. Add to that mix, the region’s latter-day reputation at the centre of the arts and crafts community, and you have not just the scene, but the cast of an entire Steam Punk movement.
The Steam Punk movement is inclusive. There were dignitaries, politicians, children, oldies, punks, mods and rockers, bikies, young adult trendies, circus performers to motorized wheel-chairers. Everyone found a way to be in the spirit and be a little crazy for the parade. People of all ages identified with the spectacle and vibe of the counterculture movement. The parade atmosphere was exhilarating. Few people were left standing on the footpath - virtually everyone could find their place in the parade and join the movement.
There are no rules, nothing too weird or outlandish. Out-of-the-ordinary is the whole point of the exercise. Costumes range from gymnastic and circus costumes, to the finest and most elaborate Victorian-style evening wear. Vintage aviation-style goggles are almost a must-have accessory.
In the same vein, while many of the vehicles in the parade were adapted, there were also plenty of completely bespoke, fantasy creations, ranging from a mechanical horse to a sleek, electric cycle- car creation. The workmanship and attention to detail was incredible.
The Informer spoke with people who had travelled from as far afield as Wellington, Auckland, Oamaru and all points between, including Mercury Bay, to attend the Thames festival. Almost all of them are return visitors. There were groups who seemed only to meet at the Heritage Festival every year.Truly this is an event not to be missed and one inviting others to be a little crazy and get involved..
Left: Exhibiting all of the colour and aesthetic of the Steam Punk movement is Colin Brocas aboard his unique motorcycle.