The Robbins' Christmas Newsletter 2002

Larry & Jane Robbins
42 Knights Road     Rothesay Bay      Auckland 1311    New Zealand
Tel: +64 9 478 4782      Fax: +64 9 478 4785


reetings to you as we move towards the end of another busy year.   


ver the past few years we have sent out a reasonably large number of cards at Christmas-time. Often it is the only way that we keep in touch with valued friends and as we do so we remember each of the recipients as we stick on the labels, sign the cards and add the stamps. However this year we have decided to move into the modern age and we will not be sending cards and/or posting the Christmas letter. . Instead we will be emailing a brief message with a URL link to this Christmas Newsletter to those for whom we have email addresses. This will give you the option of printing it out or reading it on your computer.  The savings on postage and cards will be donated to the Christmas Appeal of a suitable local charity.  We will send the letter in the traditional manner to those for whom we do not have an email address. We appreciate that this may not suit everybody, so, if you receive this link by email and would really prefer to receive it by post, please let us know.   


hat said, down to the news. It has been a very busy year [which partly accounts for the extreme lateness of this missive –Ed][No real excuse – sub-Ed] … and no doubt yours has been the same. We spent our Christmas holiday at home last year, pottering and doing all those things [not all of them, I still have a list! – Ed] that don’t get done during the busy round of weeks. We had had a trip to UK in August 2001 and were planning an overseas trip in June so we stayed close to home. 


e reported last year that Larry achieved a major ambition and got to conduct the RNZN Band in concert. In February, as the result of making the winning bid at a charity auction, he got to play in an orchestra … a real one … the Auckland Philharmonia no less!  You will be aware that Larry is gifted at playing the fool [guess who is typing this bit – Ed] but claims no other musical ability.  Somewhat to our surprise, having thought that it would be just a matter of bowling up, playing a note (his given instrument was the bass drum) and bowling away again, the APO insisted that he attend rehearsals. The percussionist, Lenny, gave him a list of 5 pieces  and suggested that he listen to them on CDs.  It proved remarkably difficult to discern the bass drum but at least Larry was familiar with the ‘tunes’ [you will now have some idea of the level of our musical knowledge! – Ed]. The rehearsals went ‘sort of okay’ and on the due day we turned up at Government House for the APO’s fundraising concert.


 The musicians’ view (… and Larry’s too - Ed) – Jane is in there somewhere!


arry struggled his way through the minor pieces (fortunately Lenny or his off-sider were on hand to help him count, and occasionally assisted by way of a rather novel bass drum duet – one stick between two!!).   After the interval came the ‘piece de resistance’, SPARTACUS by Katchachurian (perhaps better known as the theme to ‘The Onedin Line’).  There IS only one Bass Drum note in this piece, but it is a Biggie! The conductor warned the crowd to watch out for this and, after a loud, slow build up, cued Larry in. He (L) thumped the drum loudly (having been advised that it was well insured!), bang on cue, bang on target. There was [literally- Ed] a standing ovation, and Larry got a curtain call. What a great day. He has only just come down to earth! [But remains humble as ever – Sub Ed]



o, the year started well. Work continued for both in the city. Jane at AUT (Auckland University of Technology) where she is still involved in developing and supporting the university’s student administration system which they built from scratch and hope to sell. Larry is entering his fourth year as CEO at the NZ National Maritime Museum. We still drive in together. As Jane is a bit more of a morning person she drives in and Larry reads the newspaper (he has aspirations in doing this from the back seat but [wisely – Ed] sits in the front passenger seat!) Larry is the one who drives home.

Jane with Fijian fish


e took a winter holiday in Fiji, (click here for more photos ) electing to go on a Blue Lagoon Cruise. It was everything that it was meant to be.  Jane discovered snorkelling and proved extremely adept at it. (Larry enjoyed the snorkelling too, but it was Jane that excelled).  We were extremely well fed, well looked after and the ship, Mystique Princess, was very well run and maintained.  We met a number of nice people (crew and other passengers) and enjoyed the Yasawa Islands very much. We spent some time in a budget hotel in Nadi before and after the cruise, hired a car, visited various tourist sites and spent a lot of time around the pool with drink [complete with little bits of fruit and umbrellas! – Ed] in hand discovering that we were, in fact, quite capable of doing very little for days at a time!


arry had 3 weeks in Europe in September, attending a museums conference and taking some time to visit museums in southern France and Italy. [He says he has heard all the ‘tough job but someone has to do it’ comments he needs – Ed]. Unfortunately time did not allow for a visit to UK. Jane decided that there are only so many museums that even the most loyal of partners can stand [?!? – Sub-Ed]  so decided not to accompany him on the trip, instead spending the time planning some modifications to the garden. Our landscape designer is even now barrowing loads of earth and bark around [No, Larry is no more of a gardener than he ever was! – Ed] [sense prevails – Sub-Ed]


he Maritime Museum continues well, and it is busy with the activities of the Louis Vuitton and Americas Cups happening close by. Over the last few months of the year the Museum has been running the “Americas Cup legend” exhibition. An excellent history of the Cup using modern audio visual techniques.  We have been out a couple of times to watch the racing though the weather has been abysmal and on one occasion we just sat around drinking bubbly, eating and enjoying the sunshine. In November we were lucky enough to be invited to the Louis Vuitton party, the gala event of the year. It was a wonderful bash!


ane continues as Hon Secretary of the International Sailors Society Auckland (Inc) and is the sound system supervisor at church. Larry resigned as Deacon this year because he was just a little overloaded but continues as Hon Treasurer of the Kindergarten, and Hon Treasurer of the Sailors Society; he also runs a number of websites (including the church one)


o, what does next year hold?    Not sure … probably more of the same. We are planning some sort of mid-winter holiday. Larry keeps talking about a cruise on a big ship, but we shall see!


hank you to those who have beaten us to the draw [wouldn’t have been hard – Ed] [Now, now – Sub-Ed] and have sent cards and wonderful newsy letters. We have enjoyed a number of  visitors from overseas this year (and a couple from NZ also) and  are looking forward to visits from a number of friends in the new year.   There is [almost – Ed] always room for visitors though we tend to find ourselves busy and sometimes have obligations that can’t be shuffled round so be ready for the ‘self catering’ option on occasions!. 


ith very much love to you all, and our sincerest best wishes for Christmas and the New Year. We hope it starts, and then continues, well.


Here's a few more photos from the activities of the year:

In April, a boat, built entirely of bricks, was launched in the Viaduct Basin. The Museum’s steamboat Puke (pook-ee)  was used as the tug and Larry skippered her. Jane went along to take pictures in case there was an insurance claim!! Fortunately it all went without mishap and was actually quite interesting and exciting.

NZ Herald Article


(right) Unpacking the ‘Legend’ exhibition. (l-r) Bruno Troublé, Ashley (exhibition manager) and Larry with large polaroid photograph of Tom Schnackenberg of Team NZ

(far right) Jane developing new skills during visit to friends at Keri Keri.

(Below) Larry conducting, and Jane at ease watching an LV Cup race!



Christmas 2003   Newsletter

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