Topic: A Christmas Star

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The Star Hotel 

The word ‘ephemera’, commonly used to describe written and printed material that is unlikely to be retained, derives from the Greek meaning something short-lived or transitory. Ephemera is collected by private individuals and museums around the world and includes items such as greeting cards, letters, pamphlets, tickets, and advertising posters. Such objects reveal a great deal about the time in which they were in use.

The Tauranga Heritage Collection includes three beautifully printed Christmas Dinner Menus from the Star Hotel, Tauranga, dated 1961, 1962 and 1963. The Star, opened in August of 1881, stood on the corner of Devonport Road and Spring Street. For many years it was an important gathering place for the community. Indeed, during World War One many of the final farewells to Tauranga soldiers took place from its balcony and front steps. Sadly it was demolished in 1984 to make way for the Mid City Mall.

The artwork on the cover of the menu is signed by James Turkington and this provides a clue as to why a Taranaki scene was chosen. Turkington was born in Ireland in 1895 and emigrated to New Zealand with his family in 1897. His talent as an artist was recognised at a young age and at twelve he began selling sketches of Mt Taranaki. Turkington was to become a well known and respected New Zealand artist and his long career included 13 years as a senior lecturer at the Elam Art School in Auckland.

Reported as being a warm and kind man, who campaigned for human and animal rights, Turkington had many friends some of whom would become loyal patrons. One such person was James Kelliher who’s liquor empire would consist of hotels throughout the country, including the Star Hotel. These menus were amongst the many works of art commissioned by Kelliher.  

And what was on the Star Hotel’s Christmas menu? Roast seasoned turkey, of course, with all the trimmings!

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