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Obit: Yvonne DuFresne NZ (1929-2011)

Little Robyn 30 Mar 11 - 06:13 AM
Desert Dancer 30 Mar 11 - 07:39 PM
GUEST,Mrs. Randi Ottosen, Denmark 10 May 11 - 03:54 PM
Little Robyn 10 May 11 - 05:43 PM
GUEST,Randi Ottosen 14 May 11 - 04:18 AM
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Subject: Obit: Yvonne duFresne NZ
From: Little Robyn
Date: 30 Mar 11 - 06:13 AM

Yvonne du Fresne 30 September 1929 – 13 March 2011
Although better known as an author and teacher, in fact Yvonne was responsible for starting up the Folk music club at Wellington Teacher's Training College in 1963 and introducing us to the folk music scene of the day.
As our music lecturer, she would play us records, many borrowed from friends who had been overseas, so we heard many 'rare' recordings including Folkways, particularly the children's songs from Pete Seeger, Leadbelly and Woody Guthrie. She introduced us to Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Bob Gibson, the early Newport Folk Festival recordings and 'Wait a Minim' from South Africa, as well as many others that were not available in New Zealand at that time.
We would play the tracks we liked until we had learnt the songs and then on Thursday mornings we would sing them, sometimes all together with song sheets, sometimes as individuals or in groups.
She encouraged us to attend concerts by visiting singers – William Clausen,
Peter, Paul and Mary, Judy Collins, Josh White and even Andres Segovia and Elisabeth Schwarzkopf.
She managed to teach most of the class to play ukulele and there were always a couple of guitars available for us to use so we would sit outside in the sun at morning tea time, playing and singing. For students who had come from schools where "Folk Songs" were sung to piano accompaniment, songs like 'Ah, lovely meadows' and 'Speed Bonny Boat', this was a liberating experience.
We all set forth ready to teach the next generation, armed with an instrument and a collection of songs. My junior classes learnt not only children's songs but also protest songs from that time, including 'We shall overcome', 'If I had a hammer' and 'Kumbaya'.
Yvonne's main interest, after music, was storytelling and she would entertain us with folktales as well as stories from her childhood – her ancestors were French Huguenot's who had escaped to Denmark several hundred years back but later migrated to New Zealand. Many of her stories were published later and she won an award, which allowed her to travel back to Denmark and reconnect with her Danish roots as well as the Scottish connection on her Mother's side. When in Scotland, she saw the Northern lights and said she felt that they had put on a display especially for her.
Yvonne was the one person responsible for introducing me to folk music and without her I would probably never have gone to all the clubs, concerts and festivals I have been to over the past 48 years. I might never have met my husband and I certainly wouldn't be here at Mudcat!
She fired up my interest in family history and helped me connect with my ancestors, leading to a visit to Britain in 1972 where I located my family in Padstow and joined in the Mayday festivities. I also bought my first set of Northumbrian smallpipes and had my first experience of Morris dancing.
Without the influence of Yvonne duFresne almost 50 years ago, my life would be so unimaginably different.
I wonder if she has seen the Swan of Tuonela on her journey?
NZ Book Council has a page for Yvonne with a photo and further information about her work and her novels.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Yvonne DuFresne NZ
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 30 Mar 11 - 07:39 PM

She sounds like a wonderful person, Robyn. I'm sorry for your loss.

~ Becky in Long Beach

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Subject: RE: Obit: Yvonne DuFresne NZ (1929-2011)
From: GUEST,Mrs. Randi Ottosen, Denmark
Date: 10 May 11 - 03:54 PM

Back in time Yvonne's and mine ancestors came to Denmark after having left France and lived in northern Germany on the way.
We met more than 25 years ago.
She gave me so much inspiration to go for my own writing.
Sometimes she would make a call late in the night to hear whether we were all ok. When staying in Denmark at one of her many visits here, she had some wonderfull months in our beach house, close to the sea.
Two years ago we sat in her studio at Makara Beach , - heard her telling the stories from her books for some hours.The wonderfull view from the house made all the stories come alive..

In my teaching I still use parts from her books and they are an eye opener to many of my students .
We are so sorry to have lost such a good and inspiring friend

Randi Ottosen.

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Subject: RE: Obit: Yvonne DuFresne NZ (1929-2011)
From: Little Robyn
Date: 10 May 11 - 05:43 PM

Hi Randi, if you click on the NZ Book Council link above, halfway down the page you'll find an interview with Yvonne where she answers some of the students questions.

"Writers in schools information
Du Fresne is available to visit schoolchildren of any age as part of our Writers in Schools programme. She is happy to discuss writing about her Danish roots in New Zealand, and using her local landscape in Makara and Karori in her writing."

I have just finished rereading her 'Motherland' novel and I recognise so much of Astrid's thoughts and memories. Yvonne was Astrid.

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Subject: RE: Obit: Yvonne DuFresne NZ (1929-2011)
From: GUEST,Randi Ottosen
Date: 14 May 11 - 04:18 AM

Well we were friends for so long. Yvonne stayed in our beach house in Dk, when writing bits to "Motherland".

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