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Talk: Celebrating Norma Evans


Sun 2 Jul 2017, 2:00pm–3:00pm

Where: Te Runanga Tea House, Queens Drive, Government Gardens, Rotorua, Bay of Plenty

Restrictions: All Ages

Ticket Information:

  • Admission: Free

Listed by: Rotorua Museum

Earlier this year Rotorua icon, Norma Evans, passed away leaving behind a social history legacy spanning four generations.

Rotorua Museum is delighted to host a talk by Ann Somerville celebrating Norma’s life and her extensive clothing and accessory collection. The talk will take place on Sunday 2 July 2017 at 2pm in Te Rūnanga Tea House (Government Gardens), followed by a bring-a-plate afternoon tea.

Ann has a long association with Rotorua Museum. She joined the staff in 1990 and held several roles until her retirement in 2013. Since then she has continued her involvement and now volunteers as a guide. It was during those years that the Norma Evans collection came into the Museum, and Ann worked with Norma to document the collection. She also curated four exhibitions using the collection.

Norma was born into a family steeped in the ‘making-do’ tradition. Her mother and grandmother were dressmakers; her father was a craftsman saddler. In 1942 when she was 18 Norma set up her own dressmaking business.

Norma, her husband Bob Evans and their four daughters moved from the Hakataramea Valley in Canterbury to a farm block near Rotorua in 1955 as part of the post-war rehabilitation scheme for servicemen. It was back-breaking work with little income initially.

Norma made all the family’s clothes and had to re-use and recycle as much as possible. Norma made everything they wore, including underwear, dressing gowns, raincoats and hats. She also made her own jewellery, hats and handbags, and recycled materials into items for the home.

Norma’s collecting was intentional, partly because she needed to keep the items to hand down and to re-use, but also because she understood the importance of the collection. Rotorua Museum holds more than 2,000 clothing items from Norma’s collection, mostly handmade.

She kept meticulous records of the materials used and what they cost, providing us with a unique record of her efforts. The collection also includes some NZ-made items that Norma purchased for herself from op shops.

Some of Norma’s handmade items will be available at the talk for people to view, and Rosemary Deane, Collections Curator – Social History at Rotorua Museum, will be on hand to answer any collection questions.

Inspired by Norma’s bring-a-plate legacy people are invited to bring a plate to share for afternoon tea following the talk. Tea and coffee will be provided.

For further information contact Rotorua Museum:
Phone - 07 350 1814 or Email -

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