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Richard Mant was a station-hand on the former Ica estate through which One Day Walk passes. He was also poet for the Wairarapa Star. The old time newspapers employed a poet in lieu of a cartoonist, to poke fun at the issues of the day. For a newspaper, a good poet was gold.
Newspaper editors received many a ditty from aspiring poets hoping to earn some extra coin. Often the editor would identify the work as copied. Wairarapa Star editor and future MP, Alexander Hogg, received some well written verse from a Richard Mant, but was suspicious because Mant was a station-hand. On a hunch, Hogg published the poems. The next offering from Mant was the ‘Bachelors’ Ball’. Hogg knew this was original because it described a hugely popular bachelors’ ball planned for Tinui, only to be thwarted by the well-to-do. Mant became the Wairarapa Star’s poet.
Mant had received a collegiate education, but had fallen off the rails. In the words of Hogg: ‘His love of liquor and good company was not simply a weakness, it was a passion’. Years later, Mant walked into a moving train near Woodville, and was severely injured. When recuperating he gave up the booze and lost all ability to compose. At the same time, most of Mant’s compositions were lost when fire destroyed the Wairarapa Star’s premises, but the ‘Bachelors’ Ball’ lives on.
You can hear the ‘Bachelors Ball’ at the top of the hill on One Day Walk.
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