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NZ folklore brought to the fore at symposium


28 November 2007

Is Wellington’s ‘Blanket Man’ a modern-day folk hero?
New Zealand folklore brought to the fore at symposium

Is Wellington’s ‘Blanket Man’ a modern-day folk hero? What are the roots of horse-whispering in New Zealand? Is the humble Kiwi bach a unique form of vernacular architecture? What are New Zealanders’ favourite conspiracy theories and legends?

These are just a few of the intriguing questions that will be aired at the New Zealand Folklore Symposium, to be held at the National Library of New Zealand on Saturday 1 December.

The symposium is open to the public and presents fresh work from leading New Zealand and international researchers in the areas of history, social anthropology, literature, music and culture.

“Folklore is the wild unruly cousin of high art, music and literature,” says Professor Lydia Wevers, Director of Victoria University’s Stout Research Centre for New Zealand Studies.

“It encompasses a wide range of vernacular and traditional culture, including urban myths, tall tales, children’s playground rhymes, ghost legends, email lore, initiation rituals, graffiti, folksong and music, work traditions, and domestic food customs.

“However seemingly inconsequential, folk culture can provide important insights into human emotion, belief and creativity. Folklore also offers a different take on the international dimensions of ‘New Zealand culture’,” Professor Wevers says.

Graham Seal, Professor of Folklore at Curtin University, Western Australia, will present the keynote address on The Traditions of Anzac, discussing how folk culture – including song, verse, story, belief and custom – has played an integral role in the Anzac traditions of Australia and New Zealand.

Victoria University’s Mike Lloyd and Bronwyn McGovern will present an address on the Wellington’s ‘Blanket Man’ and contemporary celebrity.

Other speakers include historians Tony Simpson and Alison Clarke, heritage balladeer Phil Garland and psychologist Marc Wilson. Topics range from Little Gems from Town and Country Schoolyards and Cultural Differences in the Vernacular Use of Humour through to From Bogeymen to George W Bush.

For event details and registrations please contact the Stout Research Centre for New Zealand Studies, Victoria University of Wellington, 04 463 5305, email stout-centre[at] Full programme details and downloadable registration forms are also available on the website:


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