Life MemberHonoured

Gavin Ellis, a Life member of the National Press Club, was appointed ONZM in the Queen's Birthday Honours List.

His appointment to the Order was for services to journalism. He is a former editor of the New Zealand Herald.

Michele Reverbel Europe’s Leading Scribe Spearheads France’s War on Illiteracy

Michele Reverbel is France’s leading public writer. The modern day scribe enjoys the exalted official status ofChevalier of Arts and Letters. French society acknowledges that there are many who are illiterate and therefore something must be done about it. The “war against illiteracy” as it is known is officially designated in France as one of the “great national causes.”Michele Reverbel In the photograph Madame Reverbel meets National Press Club president Peter Isaac. In the background is social commentator Philippe Pitault.

Public writers are encouraged to set up their stalls in supermarkets, market places, lofts, factories, prisons, hospitals and fairs in order to practise their craft. Madame Reverbel is the author of a number of books on the subject including You Speak – I Write. Here she reveals that illiteracy is much more widespread than is popularly supposed. Well represented in this category she notes are members of the professional classes.

Under tradition, remuneration for public writers is entirely voluntary and there is no set scale. France’s public writers trace the origin of their craft to ancient Egypt and its scribes. In the mediaeval era they enjoyed a prestige comparable to that of lawyers in more recent times.

Public writers enjoyed immense popularity during the Renaissance when they benefited from the loosening of the monastic grip on scribe services.

It was not to last. The sponsors of the French Revolution saw public writers and their influence as a threat to their cause and the revolutionaries sought to eliminate the craft. Napoleon similarly saw the craft as subversive and thus a threat.By modern times the craft had all but disappeared. But in 1980 when illiteracy first began to be openly talked about, a handful of public writers were allowed to form their own Academy.

In 2009 the public writer movement enjoyed a major boost when France’s notoriously centralised government shifted policy and started to distribute certain social services. The public writer craft was identified as being part of the voluntary movement capable of taking over publicly funded specialist services, in this case assisting adults who could not write. It was now that public writers federated themselves into a national organisation.

Though public writers exist throughout Europe and especially the Mediterranean region, it is in France that they enjoy their most clear cut role and recognition. Which makes Madame Reverbel Europe’s top scribe.


Club at Barossa ValleyTo Meet Forgotten Taste-Maker

Don Hewitson’s triumphs in the field of fine living are fabled in every country except his own. New Zealander Mr Hewitson in London in the 1970s introduced the wine bar as the keystone in the imperial capital of haute cuisine. Until the arrival of Levin-born Mr Hewitson British bars and restaurants peddled cheap burgundies or wine bottled by the chain breweries.

His career in wines began at Wellington Coachman restaurant, mine host, Des Britten. It was one of a trio of pace-setting restaurants there at the cusp of the 1960s/70s that included Le Normandie and the Lotus.

The Wellington sommelier in London now became closely associated with ground-breaking wine bars as Shampers, Cork and Bottle, and the Hanover Square Wine Bar. He retains an interest in these last two. He is credited with if not inventing the phrase popularising Life is too short to drink bad wine.National Press Club operations manager Rex Benson, pictured with the larger-than-life Hewitson, was there at the style maker’s 70 birthday celebration in Australia.

Why is this prophet of the profitable London wine bar celebrated everywhere save his own land? And at a time when entrepreneurs especially those in international cuisine are shouldering out rugger players in the national Pantheon?

With homes in several of the world’s most sought after destinations the former music reviewer on Victoria University’s student publication Salient remains one of New Zealand’s unclaimed assets.

Might not the Horowhenua lad’s next birthday be celebrated not in the Barossa Valley, but perhaps in Marlborough or Martinborough?

Death of Carrick Lewis

Carrick Lewis who has died after a long illness was a determined and contributing member of the National Press Club.He was one of a number of high-level public sector administrators who joined the club via the University Club and then the Civil Service Club as these clubs reluctantly closed their doors for the last time.Carrick Lewis

Of measured and considerate manner he was a studious listener who enjoyed being drawn into discussions, be they practical, abstract, or doctrinal. He attended all annual general meetings of the National Press Club, and took the proceedings with notable seriousness and attention to detail.

He was for many years involved with the United Nations Association being national president in the early 1990s. He was a former president of the National Library Society, and was prominent mover behind Grey Power.  He was much to the fore in cultivating closer relations between the USSR- Russia and New Zealand, and at a time when there was much hostility toward the Soviets.

His mild and accommodating manner disguised though his fierce determination to promote the interests of what he saw as underdogs. This also extended to individuals and entities of money and power if he believed that they were being treated as underdogs.

He was born in 1937. He is survived by his wife Norina.

National PressClub StalwartAddresses PolandParliament

Krystina Tomaszyk (pictured) has addressed the Polish Parliament on the topic of the post World War 2 diaspora of the nation’s peoples. She addressed the Senate, the Upper House, on the divergence of Polish peoples in different parts ofthe world. Krystina Tomaschyk Mrs Tomaszyk spoke of the variables affecting the groups in terms of geographical location and the differing attitudes of the communities in which they now found themselves.During World War 2 she was among those forcibly deported from Poland by the Soviets to Siberia. Then via Isfahan, and through the influence of the Polish legation in Wellington, eventually arriving in New Zealand.These experiences and what followed are related in Mrs Tomaszyk’s autobiography, Essence. In her adult career in New Zealand Mrs Tomaszyk continued to cross boundaries becoming a pioneer marriage guidance counsellor and in other areas of community health. Along the way she became a publisher, and it was in this capacity that she joined the National Press Club.In her address to Poland’s legislature she warned that neither Poland itself nor its dispersed peoples could be complacent about their future. Past threats could recur she warned, and become present dangers.She has been prominent in a number of internationalist associations, notably that of United Nations. She married in 1952 the late Czeslaw Tomaszyk a hero of the Polish resistance movement.

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