Harry (Henry) Rillstone was well known for his ability as a lightning sketch artist and as a hypnotist. Papers Past is just starting to show some of the advertisements for his shows in Wellington.
Harry did a head and shoulders painting of Miss Mary Wotten who was the first Miss New Zealand. I have the article somewhere will add in the reference when I find it again.
The book The New Zealand Book of Records, pg 68 has a photo of Harry after inserting needles through his arms and face. The article is headed:
“Most Remarkable Yogi”
“Before his retirement at the age of 57, Mr Rillstone was probably New Zealands best known practitioner of the art of yoga. Mr Henry Edward Rillstone demonstrated yoga techniques on national television, and as a stage performer. One of his most spectacular achievements was to allow long needles to be inserted through his arms without feeling pain, and also preventing the copious bleeding that could be expected to accompany such and act. Mr Rillstone also used to demonstrate lying between two chairs with only his head and ankles supported.
(Collectors Edition, 1994, Katherine Joyce and Jonathan Eisen. Auckland Institute of Technology Press)
There was a documentary done about Harry which showed on the “Tonight at Nine” television programme. TVNZ managed to save about 5 minutes worth of film which I have on disc.
Harry was also well known for his skills in horticulture. For many years he worked for the Marton Council and was in charge of the Marton Parks and reserves. He did extensive development to the gardens at The Marton Parks. In the main park there is a set of red and white mushroom tables made of concrete that he made. He instigated “Flower Sunday” at the park which attracted large crowds. Included in the show were large displays of floral carpets made by local community groups and individuals.
In his early years with the council part of his responsibilities was to dig the graves at Mount View Cemetery. As a child I heard a conversation between a two couples who said they were visiting the cemetery one sunny day and notice a newly dug and as yet unoccupied grave. Out of curiosity they went over to have a look. To there surprise they discovered Harry sleeping on the job in his underwear stretched out in the bottom of the grave. His response “It was cool and peaceful and he was hot and tired”.
Harry recycled everything. A trip to the dump in his Chrysler truck usually resulted in two three trips to bring back all the things he found that “would be useful one day”.
By profession was an upholsterer who I believe had his own business in his yearly years and later worked at the Ford Motor Company in Wellington.
He was a very creative man who if he didn’t have something he needed he would make it. If OSH had been around in the 60’s-70’s they would have had all his tools confiscated. Like his siblings he was very competitive and was I believe involved in wrestling and swimming in his younger years. Nigel Latter wasn’t around in those days, o help his parents Heneritta and Charles Edward Rillstone.