A very enjoyable and interesting evening was I spent at the Otago Chess Club's rooms last evening. The president of the club (Mr H. J. Cleland) introduced Mr O. Balk, who gave a lucid and interesting lecture on Chinese and Japanese chess. The lecture was illustrated by diagrams. A vote of thanks to Mr Balk having been carried, a consultation game was arranged between Msssrs R. Clelland, J. W. Mellor, and O. Balk (white) against Messrs J. Monet, P. Lyders. and H. J. Cleland (black). The Evans Gambit was accepted for the opening, and this was followed by a spirited attack by White. Black successfully parried this, and after a stubborn fight queened a pawn and won the game about 11.30 o'clock. -Evening Star, 12/6/1896.
"TOUCH AND MOVE."
TO THE CHESS EDITOR.
Sir, — When there is a nuisance, there is nothing like hammering away at it till it is abated. I was extremely pleased to see you drawing attention in last week's column to the infringment of the touch-and-move rule in chess — the first and most important rule of the game. We aro not surprised to see this rule infringed by "drawing room" players, but club players we expect to bow to this rule absolutely and without question as a soldier obeys the rules of the service. Unfortunately many of them do not, and it is a sad and sorry sight to see players in our club again and again disgrace themselves, the club, and the games by this abominable practice of taking back moves. The disgrace to themselves may not be considered to be of much consequence, but the defilement of the game is unpardonable. It seems quite useless in the case of some players to appeal to their self-respect in this matter. There are others, however, who do have some respect for themselves and for the game, and it is their plain duty to cut out the ulcer. The operation is easily performed if they once and for all time decide to rigidly uphold this rule and never relax it out of mistaken kindness. There is no more "kindness" in this than there is "charity" in the gift to a drunken man of a sixpence wherewith to satisfy his craving for another drink. In allowing his opponent to take back a move, a player assists in outraging the noblest game which men of intellect engage in. It would be well for both offenders to realise that they have failed to grasp the first principle of the game — that their play is neither a credit to themselves nor of benefit to others, and that their time would be far more profitably employed at home playing tiddley winks with the children.
— I am, etc., O. Balk. Otago Chess Club, September 10. -Evening Star, 17/9/1898.
N.Z. CHESS CHAMPIONSHIP TOURNEY. (excerpt)
Mr O. Balk is a chess player of 14 years' standing. In 1886 he joined the Oxford City Chess Club (England), and played in several matches against the University Club. In a contest at Birmingham Mr Balk, the youngest member of the team, made the only win for his side. Mr Balk had five years' study subsequent to this in Yokohama, and held the championship there when he left. Since coming to Dunedin he has won seveval tournaments in the Otago Chess Club, but this was the first congress he has taken part in. -Otago Daily Times, 5/1/1903.
Mr O. Balk's win of the Otago Chess Club's championship is a most popular one among chessists, and is nothing "succeeds like success," the champion should make an effort to bag the New Zealand championship at Christmas. His very fine score of 6 1/2 points out of a possible 8 (only one loss recorded) is indisputable evidence of consistent play.
Mr Balk previously held the club's championship in 1899. The game in this column numbered 518 illustrates the style of play the champion adopts when his opponent is ditto. -Evening Star, 21/11/1903.
Messrs A. W. O. Davies (present chess champion of New Zealand) and H. L. James are mentioned as likely representatives from Wellington at the contest in Auckland for the chess championship of the colony. Mr Oscar Balk is organising a party of summer trippers to "do" the colony from Dunedin to Wanganui next January or thereabouts. Chess and bowls are to bulk largely in the programme. -Otago Witness, 11/10/1905.
Mr Oscar Balk and his band of holiday trippers commence their summer tour on 8th January next. The party visits Oamaru, Timaru, Ashburton, Christchurch, and Wellington, and proceeds onwards to Wanganui, playing chess and bowling matches en route. -Otago Witness, 13/12/1905.
The most noteworthy event of last week was the opening of the new green at Maori Hill (Balmacewen). There was a fairly representative gathering. Mr W. D. Warren, secretary of the Lakes Club, forsook the pleasure of a "roll up" on the more "advanced" swards to accept hospitality at Balmacewen, and most of the town clubs sent representatives. During the afternoon Mr R. T. Wheeler had a look round. Mr P. Duncan, who has acted in a most generous spirit in regard to this club, was on the bank, but did not take part in the play. Maori Hill residents fully appreciate Mr Duncan's efforts to give the club a send-off. The property is a fine one, and in a few years the bowling green should be the beauty spot on the hill. Mr O. Balk also is deserving of much praise for the plucky way he has stuck to his guns. It requires a man with a pile of grit to undertake the uphill task he had in hand; £1700 is a fairly heavy liability to face, but he smiles serenely when asked how it is to be wiped out. "Don't you make any mistake," he said to me; "we are going to have a first-class property at Balmacewen before long, and the money is not going to trouble us." May his anticipations be realised to the full.
When Mr Passmore (president) stood up to make a few remarks previous to play starting, he said that for 25 years Maori Hill had been almost unknown. Now it was on the way to become one of the best known suburbs of Dunedin. The district had its electric trams, up-to-date school, waterworks, and last, but not least, a bowling and lawn tennis club. No other borough had made such rapid advancement. After Mrs Passmore had rolled the first bowl the usual opening match was commenced, though there was not a sufficiency of bowls to accommodate all who wished to engage in the game. The opening, however, was successful, and even if the green was slightly bumpy, and players were allowed to tread the sward in their every-day leathers, everything passed off pleasantly. Balmacewen is now launched, and possibly residenits of Woodhaugh and the surrounding district will soon become accustomed to the "sound of revelry by night" and the "burning of heads."
Whilst gazing on the surroundings of Balmacewen the thought struck me that at times it will "blow gales" there. I may be wrong. It's a lovely spot, anyhow, and in fine weather the green is sure to be fully occupied. For the benefit of those who have not yet visited th|s green it may be stated that the electric tram runs to within a couple of hundred yards of the gate. -Otago Witness, 12/12/1906.
SOME PERSONAL NOTES.
NEW ZEALANDERS ABROAD. (From Our Special Correspondent.) LONDON, September 14.
Mr O. Balk, of Messrs Balk and Co., of Dunedin, who arrived in the Old Country about the middle of June, has been enjoying life in these latitudes immensely. For a month he divided his time between London, the Thames Valley and Scotland, and then for six weeks toured in Germany. He is now in London again sightseeing and doing a little business. Mr Balk has decided to return to New Zealand by way of New York and Vancouver, joining the Marama at the latter port on October 9th. -NZ Times, 24/10/1908.
BALMACEWEN CLUB. The Balamewen Bowling, Tennis, and Croquet Club opened its greens and courts for play on Saturday. Mr S. N. Brown explained to those present that on account of the absence of the president (Mr O. Balk) the official oeremony had been postponed until the arrival of that gentleman from a trip to the Home Country and Europe. As evidence of the interest Mr Balk takes in the club, a cablegram was received from him from Brisbane hoping that the opening would prove successful and wishing the club a prosperous season. All sections of the club were well represented. -Otago Daily Times, 2/11/1908.
Our Public Schools Column
CORRESPONDENCE. Dear "Magister," — your readers can no doubt pick the Southern Cross without any difficulty, but few of them have probably noticed that the sky round the Cross is simply full of beautiful crosses. Some of them are of perfectly symmetrical shape, and if the stars composing them were of greater magnitude they would put the ill-shaped Southern Cross quite in the shade, so to speak. Although they are somewhat faint, these crosses are quite easily picked out with the help of the little diagram I am attaching. As my own children have been very much interested when I have pointed them out to them, you may perhaps think it worth while drawing your young readers' attention to them. Just now while the moon is absent is a favourable time for viewing the constellations.
— Yours, etc, O. Balk. Maori Hill. -Otago Daily Times, 1/9/1910.
THREE CHAMPIONS OF THE OTAGO CHESS CLUB. H. J. Armstrong (1912), Mr K. A. Cleland (IS&S-7, 1909, 1911), Mr O. Balk (1899, 1903, 1913). The position shown on the board is an original three-mover by Mr Cleland. -Otago Witness, 8/4/1914.
Mr O. Balk received a cablegram from Oxford on Sunday advising him of the death of his only brother, Mr Charles C. Balk. The late Mr Balk was born in Ipswich, England, 58 years ago and resided in Oxford practically all his life. For over 25 years he did valuable work on the staff of the New English Dictionary, under the editorship of Sir Jas. A. H. Murray, who predeceased him by only a few months. Of his five sons, four are at present serving with the Army and Navy, one having taken part in the Dardanelles operations on board of H.M.S. Cornwallis. The youngest son recently came out to Dunedin and joined the staff of his uncle's firm. -Otago Daily times, 7/12/1915.
The staff of Messrs Wilson, Balk, and Co. met at the residence of Mr O. Balk, Maori Hill, on Monday night to bid farewell to Mr Harold C. R. Balk, who is leaving with the 22nd Reinforcements to-day, and Mr Gibb presented him with a wrist watch. A pleasant evening was spent with music, etc. Mr Harold Balk is the fifth son of the late Mr C. G. Balk, of Oxford, and all the brothers are now in the Army or Navy. -Evening Star, 19/10/1916.
Mr O. Balk, of this city, has received advice that at the distribution of King's Birthday honours, the Military Cross was awarded to his nephew, Lieutenant Thomas Oscar Balk, of the Royal Warwick Regiment (attached Signal Service R.E.). Lieutenant Balk and his four brothers all volunteered for active service in the army and navy, and they were fortunate in coming through the war safe and sound. The youngest of the quintet, Lance-corporal Harold Balk, of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force, is returnnig to the dominion in the Somerset. -Otago Witness, 6/8/1919.
Whilst on a short holiday in Queenstown at New Year, Mr O. Balk, of Dunedin, availed himself of the opportunity of making a trip from Lake Wakatipu to Lake Te Anau with Mr J. Edgar, the guide. They went via the Greenstone to Lake Howden, and from there abandoned the track running along the shores of Lakes Lockiel, Fergus, and Gunn. Mr Edgar was prospecting for a new route, and the high range between these lakes and Lakes Howden and McKeller was taken; fine views being obtained of all these lakes, as well as Lake Marian. The "going" was good, and at the crowning point Mr Balk climbed some 500ft higher than his companion; and at a height of 4600 ft obtained a view of unsurpassed loveliness the three lakes — Lockie, Fergus and Gunn — being spread out at his feet; a high mountain range towering opposite; densely bush-clad on the lower slopes and reaving their snow-covered summits into the fleecy clouds; to the left the beautiful valley of the Eglinton River stretched away, while to the right, Mountains Chrisltina, Tutoku, and other giants were prominent. As far as Mr Edgar knew no human eye had ever seen this view before. — 'O. D. Times.' -Lake Wakatip Mail, 20/1/1920.
On February 22 a party of chess problemists, under the leadership of Guide O. Balk intend exploring the hills and valleys between Pineapple Point and the Silver Peaks. -Evening Star, 14/2/1920.
Chess Tournament (excerpt)
The trip down the harbour yesterday, which was participated in by between 20 and 30 people, was in every way a success, the weather being perfect. After lunch at the Portobello Hotel, the more vigorous of the party, under the direction of Mr O. Balk, ascended Harbour Cone. The remainder, including the ladies, were taken by the secretary to the fish hatchery, which the curator kindly opened for inspection. After returning to town the players were entertained by the president, the other visitors being looked after by the members of the Otago Chess Club. -Otago Daily Times, 3/1/1921.
A DUNEDIN WALK
OVER THE HILL TO WHARE FLAT.
It was a merry party with swags on their backs on one of the fine spring mornings, of recent experience, to enjoy a day on the hills — the hills which give Dunedin such romantic beauty! To those who make a habit of roaming over them it is over a source of wonder and regret that so few of the dwellers in this city avail themselves of the opportunity of drawing upon this inexhaustible store of health and pleasure, which Nature has placed within such easy reach. With many it is just a want of initiative; they don’t go because they don’t know, and nobody has suggested it to them. If they were invited to join a party they would probably do so, and enjoy the outing to the full. Most of our party had tramped the hills many a time and oft, and were keen to go again as the hills always look a bit different and invariably present fresh aspects of beauty.
We started from Maori Hill. I promised a visitor from the City of the Plains that I would take him a walk, which for variety of scenery and an entire absen.ee, of dull and uninteresting stretches would be hard to match anywhere in New Zealand, or beyond. What could give us a better start than the picturesque golf links, with their velvety tread? Even short-legged “Scotty,” the pet of the party, showed his delight by racing round and barking like a liberated imp. It was here that we left the hard roads, and said good-bye to dust churned up by motors — those servants of modern restlessness and masters of physical deterioration. Down we dipped into a bush-clad gully, till recently and for many years the home of a nature-loving “hermit," and crossed School Creek at its junction with Ross’s Creek. A few minutes’ climb brought us to the reservoir, nestling like a miniature lake among the hills. It is gratifying to notice the improvements which have been made here, and which render it an ideal picnic resort, so close to the city, and yet so far removed from it.
Following the road for a short distance we strike a by road, which is still covered with green sward, bringing us to the bottom of the bush, right alongside of Ross's Creek, which tempts us to a long, cool drink. Now we have a fairly strenuous climb of 20 minutes up the bush track, rising about 600 feet, but no matter how hot the sun’s rays may be, we are well sheltered from them here. For the botanically inclined there is an endless variety of bush plants and ferns on this track, and further up the hardier species of mountain plants are in evidence. As soon as we emerge from the bush a fine view opens out but we hold back our admiration till we have circled round to the right, and reached our beloved Pineapple Point. Here is spread before us what is undoubtedly one of the loveliest views in the vicinity of Dunedin. Looking over a foreground of bush we see nearly the whole of the City of Dunedin lying at our feet, with the wide, blue ocean framing the only part of the picture which the green hills leave bare. Now the glasses are brought out, as there is much of interest to see, whether it be the traffic along the winding Leith road up to Sullivan Dam, the reflections in the deep blue water of the reservoir, the shipping at the wharves, prominent buildings round the city (such as the new hospital at Wakari), or the coastline stretching far away to the south past Taieri Island to the Nuggets, nearly 60 miles away. Meanwhile one of the rucksacks has been broached, and a tin of pineapples has been opened. Never did pineapple have a better flavour is the unanimous verdict! Thoroughly refreshed we follow the track along the fence leading up to the saddle, having on our right the wild gully known as Nichol’s, and harbouring in its deep recesses some five or more picturesque waterfalls. While we all feel grateful for the forethought of the early settlers which reserved for all time the Town Belt, and other reserves, we feel that here is a locality which should never have been allowed to pass into private hands to be so ruthlessly despoiled of its native bush.
A steady pull brings, us ere long to the saddle from which we obtain the first view of the dark and rugged Silver Peaks, and of the snow-clad Rock-and-Pillar range beyond, and the “new-chums” of the party feel that now they see something quite apart from everyday scenes! At this point we also strike the historic old trail running over the hills to Waikouaiti — the first “road” which connected the Otago settlement with the older settlement of whalers at Waikouaiti. It was never used for vehicular traffic, only as a pack and bridle track, and for bringing cattle over to the New Settlement. “Johnny” Jones would come that way on horseback, when he spied a ship bound for Dunedin with a likely cargo of flour. He had a store in Jetty street, and would address his storeman with. “Martin, how is flour selling to-day?” “At 20s just now, sir,” “Make it 14.” “Very good, sir.” Then there was cheap flour in Dunedin for a few days. When the skipper to his disgust found a poor market in Dunedin and had departed, Jones would tell his storeman to make the price 20s again! There was the commercial instinct, even in those primitive and unsophisticated days!
Following the old trail towards Flagstaff “trig.” We are presently attracted by a curious pile of broken rocks running in a dead straight line alongside the track for three or four chains, looking for all the world as if they had been built up at one time by masons working with a line, and yet having no apparent object whatever. Many a time we puzzled whether these rocks had been piled up by nature, or the hand of man, and we had discussed many theories regarding their origin. At last some two years ago we had in our party one who had made a study of geology as a practical miner, and who was greatly interested when we took him to these rocks. Without any hesitation he assured us that the hand of man had nothing to do with these rocks, that they were a geological ‘lode’ or 'dyke,' and that this particular one was well-known among geologists all the world over, and that he had more than once looked for it, but had so far been unable to locate it. We were naturally much interested in this explanation, and accepted it implicitly.
Once more we inspected this ancient dyke, and again marvelled at its astonishing straightness. Then we took a new track which crossed it and ran over the hill in the direction of Whare Flat. This track has recently been roughly formed by our old friend, “Ben” Rudd, and leads to his new abode. Some 18 months ago “Ben” sold out of the property he held for so long, and was given an easy billet with comfortable quarters and good food by a resident of Maori Hill, but after a while the Call of the Wild was too strong for him, so he bought a fresh ranch, of rather more than 100 acres, and is now busy putting up a new “home” among rocks and scrub, on one of the sunniest and most picturesque spots on the mountain side. With much toil he has formed the long track, and carried all the material for his hut on his back over the mountain. Now, his great concern is again to keep trespassers off his ground, and he lets you know, without a trace of a shadow of a doubt, that nobody has his permission to come on his property, and that he prefers to be entirely left alone. Having been on good terms with him for many years I took my party to his hiding place, and, after expressing our admiration of his garden plot, I asked him, “Ben, you know that dyke running at the top of the hill here? How did it get there?” “Oh. that was built there about 40 year ago by man named Ross. An old Irishman who lives in the Kaikorai Valley worked on it.” Here was interesting information. I made it my business later on to look up this old Irishman, and heard from him that Ross had the wall built for the boundary of his property, but got tired of it soon after starting. So here evaporated the scientific explanation of the wonderful lode!
Just on this part of the mountain are some very, rough and striking moraines, four of which, at fairly even distances, pointing nearly straight down the mountain side, give Flagstaff such a distinctive appearance among surrounding hills, as a zebra would have among a mob of horses. These “stripes” are quite a feature as you look towards Flagstaff on the walk from Mount Allan to Silver Peak. We now make a rapid descent towards tho old sanatorium, now part of the water reserves. From this point several tracks may be taken towards Whare Flat, all of them very picturesque. The old coal-pit track past the Craig Lowan waterfall has a wild beauty of its own, and affords some wonderfully pretty peeps of the “Flat” when it comes in view. We decided, however, to sweep round to the right along the road and descend to Kaye’s Creek some chains below the bridge. To see this creek at its best you should go through the gate above the bridge, and keep on the high bank of the creek. Here is an ideal spot for boiling the billy, right under the branches of century-old kowhai trees in full bloom. The conditions are so idyllic that it is difficult to tear oneself away from such an enchanting spot. Whare Flat abounds, however, with beauty spots, and we have a good way to go yet. A little further along towards the house where the owner of this little bit of Heaven resides, we are attracted by a strong manuka growing out of a rock, which it has split and pushed asunder with surprising force. At this stage we are almost sure to fall in with the genial Mr Donald McQuilkan who, so far from chasing visitors off his property, bids them welcome as long as they do no harm to the trees he loves so well. It would be hard to find a greater lover of Nature, or one who appreciates more the extraordinary beauty of the hills and glens among which he has spent his whole life, though frugal be the fare which they provide. From Whare Flat an endless number of trips can be made into the gullies of Silver Stream, Powder Creek, etc., or up the spurs to the top of the Chalkies. Wild pigs are not far to seek, and afford exciting sport in the dense bush, But the kowhai trees are the glory of Whare Flat in the spring, and we linger some time under the rich bloom, and watch the bees busy gathering in the honey. Then we start on the return over Bell’s Hill, from which, as we rapidly rise we obtain fresh and striking views as the declining sun throws long shadows over the dark bush-clad gullies, on the other side of the great valley.
A fairly strenuous dimb brings us to a height of 1800 ft (a good 1000 ft over the flat we have just left), and we now approach the “Trough,” where the Expansion League’s comfortable seats invite us to a well-earned spell, and incidentally often afford the best possible view of a glorious sunset.
From here the road is practically all down hill, and taking a short cut across the paddocks and the golf links, we are not long before we reach home. -Otago Daily Times, 8/10/1921.
Ascent of Cecil Peak.
A party of Dunedin ladies and gentlemen made a successful ascent of Cecil Peak, Lake Wakatipu, a week ago. They were disembarked a day or so previously at Cecil Peak Station, having come straight through from Dunedin. Making the huts their headquarters, and with Mr Phil. Petrie as their guide they set out on their climb at 5.15 a.m. on the 8th inst. When they had reached an elevation of 3,500 ft heavy rain came on and they were forced to take shelter under a ledge of rock for an hour and a half. The climb was then resumed and the highest peak reached at 2.30 p.m, The latter part was somewhat hazardous as the face was solid rock and very steep, necessitating the use of ropes for the last 400 ft. A good depth of snow also mantled the tops, and clouds wreathed the peaks as they were being scaled. However, by the time the ascent was accomplished the mists cleared away and a magnificent panorama of the surrounding country was obtained. Flanking it were Mts. Cook, Aspiring and Earnslaw, while many other peaks and ranges were easily picked up as the clear atmosphere intensified visibility. The huts were reached on the return by 9.15 p.m. As Cecil Peak is 5,477 ft high the climb was done in good time. The party consisted of Mr O. Balk, (who was in charge), Miss Hilda Balk, Mr and Mrs C. J. Hayward, Mr Geo. Spiers, Mr F. W. Clayton (all of Dunedin) and Mr K. Stickles, Mataura. It was the intention of the party to make the Remarkables their next climb, but their inability to land at Wye Creek, owing to a rough lake, prevented the attempt on two occasions. Bayonet Peaks were done instead. -Lake Wakatip Mail, 16/1/1923.
OTAGO TRAMPING CLUB
There was an attendance of fully sixty, including a large number of ladies, in Mr E. S. Wilson’s board room last evening, when a meeting was held for the purpose of forming the Otago Tramping Club. Mr O. Balk, who was voted to the chair, referred to the great advantages which Dunedin offered to a club of that nature. He pointed out the benefits to be derived from such healthy exercise as tramping over the hills, and the elevating effect it would have upon the mind. In the Tararua Tramping Club, of Wellington, which had now completed its fourth season, they had an excellent model to work upon as regards rules and procedure.
A motion to form the club, proposed by Mr R. Gilkison, and seconded by Mr E. W. Clayton, was carried.
The rules of the Tararua Tramping Club were then adopted, only slight alterations being made. The subscription was fixed at 10s for men, 5s for women, and 5s for boys under eighteen years of ago. The following officers were elected: — President, Mr O. Balk; vice-presidents — Messrs R. Gilkison and F. W. Clayton; secretary, Mr C. J. Hayward; treasurer, Mr E. Milleh; committee — Misses Webling and Le Brun, Messrs A. E. Gascoigne, G. Z. Bindley, P. I. Ritchie, and R. Hamel. The appointment of chief guide was left to the committee.
Mr W. B. Steel expressed his pleasure at being present on behalf of the Otago Expansion League, and mentioned some of the work done by the league, which was entirely in harmony with the objects of the club. He assured the club that it could depend upon receiving every assistance from the league, and he also trusted that this would be reciprocated by the club. He wished the club every success.
It was mentioned by the Chairman that Mr Robieson had also promised his support to the club, both personally and on behalf of the Tourist Department.
It was decided to hold the first outing over Flagstaff on September 1. -Evening Star, 24/8/1923.
Permission has been granted by the Water Committee of the City Council to Mr O. Balk to clear a track through sections on Flagstaff Hill leased to the council, for the convenience of people walking to Whare Flat. -Evening Star, 5/10/1923.
OVER THE HILLS WITH THE TRAMPING CLUB.
ACROSS THE SILVER PEAKS.
BY ONE OF THE PARTY.
When a person looks at the Silver Peaks from the Whare Flat side of Flagstaff, he gets quite a different conception of them from what he derives when actually traversing these knife-edged mountains — as they appear to be from the viewpoint mentioned — or from somewhere above Waitati. Regarded from the back of Flagstaff, they present a very picturesque appearance, dark and forbidding, in sombre contrast to the emerald green of what little of Whare Flat one can see, just as one turns down the road bending towards the sanatorium. Somewhat of the romantic seems to cling to them — at any rate they have often appealed to me as "enchanted mountains," to fit to form a background for children’s fairy tales.
When, however, on Labour Day I joined up with the Tramping Club and began to mount them from Mount Allan, many hours passed until nearing the evening the “enchanted” aspect again became predominant, and more so than ever. The first half of the walk is a toilsome trip. After leaving the railway station at Mount Allan you walk back a bit, then turn through a farmyard, cross a creek, and get on to a fairly wide path and essay a longish climb which seemed to me to grow steeper as I rose. When just about "winded,” you got on to a fairly level stretch for some distance, and then proceed to do a bit of mountaineering. It is, however, not a case of clambering over barren rocks at all, but of treading softly over sheep tracks, through healthy-looking snow tussock. But for the fact that you know your are on the Peaks, you might imagine yourself somewhere about the top of Flagstaff, only that in a little while you are compelled to notice that you are walking over narrow-edged sections, high up in the air, above grassy slopes which do not, however, look anything like dangerously precipitous while you are getting over them. In the distance they do look precipitous. Close familiarity, therefore, begets not contempt for them; rather, it creates but little awe of them. The greenish-brown colour of the garb of the Peaks is not as appealing in the glare of the sun as, when towards twilight, they stand out in bold silhouette, so lone, narrow, and lofty. With the exception of a little scrub in parts, they are barren of foliage, though, doubtless a botanist would find much to interest him in plants of smaller growth, such as the celmisia, of which I noticed a few specimens, various kinds of berried plants, etc. Geologically I do not think there is much to attract one. I noticed a fair sized birch forest lying on the western slope, as we drew towards Penguin Rock, and felt sorry that there was not time to stop and investigate it. The “father” of the Tramping Club, Mr O. Balk, will probably know something of the stretch of bush, which is reminiscent of similar growths on the mountains bordering Hawea Flat, and is rather singular, because you will probably find no other nearer Dunedin in this direction. There is none that I know of till you get to Hawea or turn off at Cromwell to go to Rere Lake, off Lake Wakatipu.
It is time for a spell and a cup of tea long ere you get this far, and billy boiling and lunch time are due when you get to Penguin Rock; but on the way the top of Saddle Hill has loomed into view while later you get a fine view of Mosgiel, the whole of Saddle Hill, and the Taieri Plains, the sea beyond Green Island, Maungatua, etc. — too far away to be beautiful, yet the scope is grander than anything you will get nearer Dunedin. After lunch, made pleasanter by the presence of the ladies of the party, we went up to the high, rocky platform above Penguin Rock, and there got a magnificent view, which took in the far away Hawkdun Ranges, the cone beyond Palmerston, the Umbrella Mountains (I never heard of them before, but they are right on the horizon looking south), the Blue Mountains (near Tapanui), and the Rock and Pillar or Lammerlaws. You also see Mount Cargill, Mihiwaka, Warrington, and the Horse Ranges. It is a bold, comprehensive view you get here, and certainly worth while enduring all the fatigue to see. Perhaps it is the finest view one will get in Otago this side of Lakes Wanaka, Hawea, and Wakatipu.
On again after lunch, this time with nothing to complain of in the nature of climbing, but it is necessary to watch one’s footing here and there, however much inclined one may be to make the most of the panoramic view ahead. There is, however nothing to make your feet tender, though now and again you have to dodge boggy patches, which later on you laugh at when you get into a fairly wide bullock track where, unless particularly nimble, you may easily get up to your ankles in mud. Night begins to fall and, looking back, you see a long, thin, black, high-peaked line — the "enchanted mountains” again —and you marvel at the distance you appear to have travelled in so short a time, wondering whether if you were young enough and there later, and alone, you would meet with genii, witches or giants. Of such fancies in the dawn of civilisation doubtless the myths were hegotten.
When the bullock track is fully negotiated you turn down hill and in a short time have reached Waitati, for the time being a thriving centre of civilisation by reason of ts many holiday visitors and the quickly crowded trains leaving one after another for Dunedin.
Tired, but at peace with the world, like the village blacksmith, you have ”something attempted, something done” well worth the doing, and have really and truly earned your night's repose after your 22-mile walk. -Otago Daily Times, 5/11/1923.
The Otago Tramping Club.
EXCURSIONS IN WAKATIPU.
A party of six young people — four ladies and two members of the sterner sex — all members of the Otago Tramping Club, have been holidaying at Wakatipu, and during their stay have been attempting the conquest of several of the peaks with which a mountainous district such as this abounds. By the courtesy of Mr J. Olsen they have made Cecil Peak Station their camping ground, and from there they have directed their several excursions.
The party, comprising Misses Hue, Wedge, Shrimpton, Tweedy, and Messrs Spears and James Knox (leader) arrived on Wednesday, 26th ult. For the first couple of days they took easy short walks over the near-by ridges, these giving them a certain amount of exercise and preparing them for the ascent of Cecil Peak, which was accomplished on the 29th in four and three-quarter hours. While on the summit they experienced a severe hail storm, which made the atmosphere intensely cold. In spite of this discomfort and the difficulties encountered they report a most enjoyable time. The descent was made via the ridge just opposite Queenstown from which eminence a very fine view was obtained of the snow-clad heights flanking Ben Lomond. On Wednesday last the party crossed the lake in the Muratai to the woolshed at Kawarau Falls, which they intended making their base for the climb of the Remarkables. Unhappily they were overtaken by a blinding snowstorm when they reached Double Cone. This compelled them to make a hurried descent without their achieving their object. Soaking wet, they arrived in the early morning at Kawarau Falls Station homestead, where Mr and Mrs Dickson Jardine afforded them warm hospitality. The Muratai embarked the mountaineers later in the day and returned them to Cecil Peak.
The party consider the climbing in this part of Wakatipu good, and that it could be undertaken by anyone of average vigour provided it is done in easy stages.
A second party arrived on Saturday under the leadership of Mr Balk, and they anticipate a happy and profitable stay in the district.
On the evening of the 3rd inst, those members of the Otago Tramping Club who have been in camp at Cecil Peak entertained Mr J. Olsen and his staff as an expression of their appreciation of the kindness they had received at the station.
Mr Jas. Knox (leader) welcomed the visitors, and then thanked Mr Olsen very heartily for the hospitality he had shown them. When they got to Cecil Peak they considered themselves in a parlous plight owing to the non-arrival of their stores, but Mr Olsen had come to their aid and bridged them over their difficulties. For this they were profoundly grateful. The dining room was cleared and a most enjoyable evening spent in dancing, song and story. After supper had been dispensed Mr Olsen made reply, thanking the party for their entertainment and wishing the Club every success. He hoped to see some of them up again next year. Such little gatherings contributed much to the amenities of life in the country. The singing of “Auld Lang Syne” brought a very pleasant evening to a close. -Lake Wakatip Mail, 8/1/1924.
OTAGO CHESS CLUB.
The “Evans Gambit” knock-out handicap tourney resulted in Mr Balk winning first prize and Mr Allen winning second prize. The thanks of the club are due to Mr W. G. Stenhouse for organising and conducting this very interesting practice in the Evans Gambit, and for his kindness in donating the prizes. -Evening Star, 5/7/1924.
OTAGO TRAMPING CLUB. (excerpt)
The fourth annual meeting of the Otago Tramping Club was held last evening in the club rooms, Castle street. Mr F. W. Clayton presided.
Mr O. Balk stressed the necessity of improving old tracks and making new ones. He said the club should approach the authorities asking that the scrub be cleared on Signal Hill, with a view to forming a new track. This route was one of the most attractive around Dunedin, and he suggested that the club should secure the assistance of the City Council and the Amenities Society. Men now on the unemployment list could be given the work, and if it was undertaken one of the most attractive tracks in New Zealand would be provided. It was decided to give Mr Balk's suggestion every consideration at the first meeting of the committee. -Otago Daily Times, 20/9/1927.
ANNIVERSARY MATCH AND SOCIAL.
The Balmacewen Bowling Club celebrated the twenty-first anniversary of the opening of the green last evening by holding a match between the foundation Members and The Rest, followed by a social gathering in the pavilion. In addition to a large contingent of club members, bowlers were present from most of the other Dunedin clubs. Between 6.30 and 8.30 p.m. the green presented an animated appearance, when elderly, middle-aged, and fairly young bowlers engaged in their favourite game. The extra period of daylight was greatly appreciated. The weather became somewhat cold shortly after 8 p.m., and the games were brougnt to a conclusion long before darkness set in.
The match, in which about a dozen foundation members of the Balmacewen Club took part, was keenly contested and very much enjoyed. The Rest, representing several clubs, had a substantial lead when the games ceased. Sixteen rinks took part, filling the green.
Mr E. A. Omand (president of the club) said that as Mr O. Balk, the actual founder, was present, it would be a graceful act if he were made chairman for the evening. — This was heartily agreed to.
Mr E. A. Omand proposed he toast of the “Foundation Members.” He said that on behalf of the younger club generation he wished to thank all those who had acquired the valuable property and founded the club 21 years ago. During the 21 years the club had been responsible for providing enjoyment and recreation for many people, both old and young. It was a grand sight for anyone to visit the green on a fine Saturday afternoon and see three sections at play — bowlers, lawn tennis, and croquet players. To the foundation members he wished long life and prosperity.
In reply, Mr O. Balk referred to the early history of the club, and also to the death of Messrs P. Duncan, S. N. Brown, and P. L. Clark. These men were among the founders. They had always taken a keen interest in the club, and every member deeply regretted their death.
Messrs E. H Allen and A. W. Martin also briefly responded to the toast.
Other toasts honoured were — “Dunedin Bowling Centre,” proposed by Mr W. Stables, and replied to by Messrs D. Pastier, J. Allen, W Millin, and R. Hanning; “The Balmacewen Club,” proposed by Mr D Pastier, and replied to by Mr O Balk; and “The Visitors,” proposed by Mr W. Millin. Items were contributed by Messrs W. Stables, J. Montague, J. Collier, A. W. Martin, and F. Jones.
When repyling to the toast of the Balmacewen Club, Mr Balk related reminiscences in connection with the eariy days of the club.
Mr R. Hanning, when speaking earlier in the evening, said the Balmacewen Club had a capital green. He congratulated the hill club on the position it held in the bowling world, and the great strides it had made during the past few years. -Otago Daily Times, 2/12/1927.
ANNUAL MEETING OF SOCIETY (excerpt)
Mr O. Balk emphasised' the necessity for some attention being given to the tracks around the city. Nowhere in the world were there so many beautiful walks in the immediate vicinity of a city as was the case in Dunedin, and it had occurred to him that the society and the Tramping Club might together commence a movement to have the tracks put in order. Both the society and the club had some money in hand, and it seemed that something might be done, especially on the Signal Hill, Flagstaff, and Mount Cargill reserves. Mr D. Tannock referred to the control of these reserves, and said that there seemed to be an opinion abroad that the people of Dunedin could not be trusted to look after them. -Otago Daily Times, 15/4/1931.
LOST IN MOUNTAINS
(By Telegraph.) (Special to "The Evening Post.") DUNEDIN, 27th April. An unenviable experience was the portion of Mr. G. Wright, of the Otago Tramping Club, during the week-end, when, accompanied by Mr. O. Balk, who is also a prominent member of that club, he found himself lost in the Blue Mountains not far from Tapanui. Advice received in Dunedin to-night states that Mr. Wright is now at the Tapanui Hospital suffering from bronchitis and pneumonia, but is progressing favourably.
Messrs. Balk and Wright made an excursion into the mountains on Saturday, intending to return to Tapanui in the afternoon. They climbed to the spur above Whisky Gully, and separated for the return journey, having arranged to meet at the foot of the mountain.
A heavy fog came down, and Mr. Balk eventually decided to try to find Mr. Wright, but by the time darkness had fallen he had failed to do so. He spent the night in the bush, and returned to Tapanui in the morning to organise a search party.
Two parties went out, and Mr. Wright was found about 2 o'clock in the afternoon, not far from the place where the men had separated. He was in an exhausted condition, and had to be carried to Tapanui. -Evening Post, 28/4/1931.
SIR CHARLES KINGSFORD SMITH
TO LEAVE TO-MORROW
When the Southern Cross takes off from the Taieri airport for Oamaru at 10 a.m. to-morrow she will carry a number of passengers, including, Mr H. Lister, Mr H. Creed, Mr O. Gilbertson, Mr O. and Miss Balk. The big plane will be accompanied by the Otago Aero Club’s planes, while the party will be met by Flight-lieutenant W. Park, who returned to Oamaru early this morning. Sir Charles Kingsford Smith was greatly impressed by the efficient ground organisation and general arrangements at the aerodrome on his arrival, and also by the splendid way in which the police handled the large crowd. He was very pleased to see such a large crowd at the aerodrome, as he realised that the club’s funds would benefit considerably from the admission fees charged at the gates. The aviator will carry away with him the most pleasant memories of his stay in Dunedin.
AT THE REGENT. The personal appearance of Sir Charles Kingsford Smith, in conjunction with the presentation of ‘Air Mail,’ attracted a very large audience to the Regent last evening. Of particular interest was the screening of a record of the famous Pacific flight in the “old bus,” in which Sir Charles had with him C. T. Ulm, James Warner, and Harry Lyons. He breezily described the eventful career of the Southern Cross from her construction by Anthony Fokker, and described (most modestly) his own association with the machine. When the film commenced Sir Charles hastily disclaimed any responsibility for the authorship of the sub-titles, especially the references to the courage and heroism displayed on the memorable flight, these references being blithely described by the famous aviator as “eyewash.” His remarks during the screening were decidedly illuminating, and gave the film an added appeal, its presentation being followed with much interest by everyone present. Sir Charles was accorded an ovation, and the audience was genuinely sorry to hear his talk conclude.
TO-DAY’S ARRANGEMENTS. As a relaxation from flying Sir Charles was the guest of Mr C. W. Sundstrum on a fishing trip aboard his launch Thetis to-day. 14/3/1933.
The funeral of the late Mrs O. Balk took place at the Northern Cemetery, yesterday afternoon. It was quite private, only old friends of the family being invited, but the large number of wreaths and floral tributes from various organisations and private friends was an indication of the esteem in which the deceased lady was held. At the meeting of the committee of the Otago Chess Club held last evening a resolution of sympathy and condolence with their patron and his family was carried and the secretary was instructed to forward a copy to Mr Balk. -Evening Star, 15/6/1933.
OTAGO CHESS CLUB
ANNUAL MEETING (excerpt)
Mr Balk mentioned that it was thought a living chess tournament should be held on June 9 to celebrate the jubilee of the club.
After several members had pointed out that such a display would require considerable thought and that it would he somewhat costly, it was decided that, the manner in which the jubilee should be celebrated be left in the hands of Messrs Gillies, Balk, and Marlow.
It was decided to open the season on Thursdav, April 12. -Evening Star, 25/3/1934.
OTAGO TRAMPING CLUB (excerpt)
Miss Edmonds said the club was greatly indebted to Mr O. Balk for his services throughout the year. Mr Balk was one of the founders of the club, and, in recognition of his work for the club, she moved that he be elected a life member.
The meeting unanimously agreed that Mr Balk be elected a life member. -Evening Star, 21/3/1936.
The German Club in Dunedin had an enjoyable evening on Friday night in the studio of Miss Dorothy Browning. The president, Mr Oscar Balk, presided over a large attendance, and extended a hearty welcome to all present. The main feature of the evening was the screening of several German films, the titles of which were: — “Spring in the Bavarian Highland,” ‘‘At the Glassmakers in the Bavarian Forest,” “Harvest Thanksgiving Day in 1933 on the Brickeberg near Hameln,” and “A Race is Growing.” Mr Hans W. Froh attended to the explanations of the films by giving translations. At the conclusion Mr O. Balk accorded thanks to Mr Sincock and Mr Gillon for their kindness in screening those instructive films, which were enjoyed by everyone. Among those present were: — The president (Mr O. Balk), Mr and Mrs Arthur MacDonald, Mr and Mrs Hans W. Froh, Mrs Napier, Misses Dorothy Browning, J. R, McKinnon, R. McKinnon, N. M. Woods, Fache (2), E. Logie, Macintosh, and B. Durward, Messrs O. O. Kraft, W. R. Brugh, F. Williams, Lawson, Sincock, Gillon, and Northy. -Otago Daily Times, 17/3/1936.
“The people of Hanover, in Germany, have recently completed a very great work,” said Mr Oscar Balk, of Dunedin, at present on a world tour, in a letter to a relative in Dunedin. “They have converted an extensive lowlying meadow into a lake, and with the spoil have built up a magnificent promenade, fully a mile and a half long, along one side of it, very wide for pedestrians, with seats, a track for cyclists, a track for horses, and a wide motor road, planted with avenues of trees. Along the whole waterfront is also a string of electric lights for night illumination. At the end of the lake is an old park, with beautiful flower-beds, and at the other ‘strandbathing,’ with a lengthy pier and spring-boards, a very extensive lawn for sun-bathing, and exceptionally large and up-to-date dressing sheds. Thousands of both sexes can be accommodated. On the top of these sheds are wide promenades and lots of deck chairs for sunbathing, and more extensive dressing rooms There is also a high tower, affording a magnificent view, and an open-air restaurant. On a recent fine Sunday afternoon there were many thousands of citizens of Hanover along the side of the lake, which was alive with small boats of all descriptions. Also overlooking the promenade and lake a new youths’ hostel has been built, which will accommodate 320 persons.” -Press, 22/10/1936.
TOUR OF CONTINENT
DUNEDIN VISITORS' IMPRESSIONS
(From Our Own Correspondent) (By Air Mail); LONDON, Sept. 26,
Mr Oscar Balk and Miss Isabel Balk (Dunedin) have been touring in Germany for two months. After visiting relatives and old friends in Hanover, Bremen, and Hamburg, they spent eight days in Berlin during the Olympic Games. The arrangements which had been made there for the conduct of the games and the accommodation and entertainment of the large number of visitors was complete in every detail. They saw polo matches, swimming and diving competitions. Needless to say, Lovelock's win thrilled the spectators tremendously, and was very popular. All Germany, of course, was elated at the signal and somewhat unexpected success of their competitors. So far as the onlooker could judge, all the competing teams had a very happy time, peace and goodwill being the prevailing note.
At Beyreuth, Mr and Miss Balk were fortunate to witness a performance of "Lohengrin," which was a musical treat of a lifetime. After Weimar, Nurnburg, and Augsburg, all most interesting cities, nearly a week was spent in Munchen — one of the chief art centres in Europe — and the New Zealanders were again fortunate to be just in time to see a very fine performance of "Living Chess" on a very large scale.
From Munchen the famous Bavarian castles were visited, and a trip was made down the Lake of Constance, where they had the luck to see the Graf Zeppelin landing and being housed. Several days in the beautiful Black Forest, in interesting old Heidelberg, and a trip down the Rhine to Cologne completed the circuit, except that Mr Balk paid another short farewell visit to Hanover and flew from there to Amsterdam.
Meantime, Miss Balk visited an old school mate of St. Hilda's near Utrecht. Altogether, the trip through Germany was most enjoyable and gratifying, as none of the sinister rumours regarding conditions in that country were realised, and the people were literally bubbling over with kindness and attention. On September 30 Mr and Miss Balk will leave Southampton by the Queen Mary for New York, and they expect to reach New Zealand by the Maunganui about November 11. -Otago Daily Times, 27/10/1936.
HITLER AND GERMANY
FRIENDSHIP TOWARDS BRITAIN
A TRAVELLER'S IMPRESSIONS
"The German people look upon Hitler as a Heaven-sent saviour and they are behind him to a man. He, himself, is absolutely sincere." These were the opinions expressed by Mr Oscar Balk, who has just returned from an extensive tour abroad, during the course of a conversation with a Daily Times reporter yesterday. Mr Balk's remarks tend to throw a slightly different light on a man who has, perhaps, been adversely criticised for certain drastic measures and changes made within the last few years. Mr Balk spent two months in Germany and spoke in high praise of what he saw there.
In the first place, he said, there was nothing to warrant the ugly and stupid rumours published with regard to general living conditions, the people being well-dressed, well fed and happy. Hitler's great policy was that as the workers were the backbone of the nation they must be given the best possible conditions. That, in short, was Nazi-ism. A wonderfully patriotic spirit of mutual help and assistance was noticeable everywhere, and the predominant feeling was for each person to help the other and work for the good of the whole nation.
"The Germans are well-disposed towards visitors and want to be on the best of terms with the British people — and, incidentally, a similar spirit is growing on the British side. I gained the impression that both countries realised their fight during the Great War had been a mistake and in the future will pull together. Hitler does not want war. He is a philosopher and a deep thinker, and has given his whole life to his country. He cannot be blamed for ordering Germany to arm herself to keep out invaders — a policy that would be adopted by any ether country."
JEWISH PERSECUTION Mr Balk also spoke of the campaign that had been, carried on against the Jews in Germany, and put forward the German side of the question. The national spirit of the Germans had been re-awakened by Hitler, he said, and the realisation was born that in finance, industry, medicine and law, the Jews were becoming predominant. Although the Jews represented only about 1 per cent. of the population, they had formerly occupied about 70 per cent. of the public positions, and were appointing members of their own race when vacancies occurred. The drastic action that was taken against them was merely a defensive one to save the nation from the dominance of a foreign race, said Mr Balk, and it was possible that the same steps might have to be taken in England in the future. The German and the Jew were not friends at any time, and the boycotting of the Jewish traders was done by the people generally of their own accord and not at the instigation of the Government.
"STRENGTH THROUGH JOY" Referring to the internal progress of Germany, Mr Balk spoke of a movement that had risen, called the "Kraft durch Freude" — "Strength through Joy." This association had been formed during the past two years, and it worked on the principle that happiness tended to develop health and strength. The objects of the association were to give holiday trips to the working class, which formerly did not receive a chance to have a proper holiday or see their own country. The association now owned several fine passenger steamers, which carried trippers to the Norwegian fiords or the Mediterranean for a week or two at a charge of approximately £2 per head per week. The passengers, however, were not permitted to land, because the money was not allowed to be spent out of Germany.
Mr Balk had an opportunity of meeting one party of holiday-makers, which had come from Hanover to Wiesbaden. It consisted of 300 or 400 people who had been brought from Hanover by special train, and trips were arranged into the surrounding country, both on foot and by bus. There was also a trip down the Rhine to Coblenz. Mr Balk joined the party on one of the trips and paid a visit to a large sekt (champagne) factory, where the whole process of the manufacture of the wine was demonstrated, the holiday-makers each receiving a glass of champagne before they left. The whole holiday cost about £2 4s, Mr Balk said. The movement was not subsidised, but efficient organisation prevented any loss.
Mr Balk also referred to the Youth Hostels scattered all over Germany. About 2000 in number, they were all up to date, comfortable, and clean. One, which Mr Balk had seen, was situated on the shores of an artificial lake outside Hanover. It could accommodate 320 people, and the tariff was ninepence a night, with meals — wholesome and well-cooked — at the same price. School children in parties were charged half-price. Thanks to careful management and efficient organisation these hostels, too, paid their way. Another instance of the organising powers of the German authorities, concluded Mr Balk, could be seen at the Nazi gathering at Nuremburg in September, when 1000 trains arrived in one day, all up to time; the people were all accommodated, fed and looked after without the slightest hitch, and were despatched the next day to their different destinations. -Otago Daily Times, 14/3/1936.
ONE DESCRIBED AS CURIO
MAORI WAR RELIC
When Oscar Balk pleaded guilty in the Police Court to-day to two charges of being in possession of unregistered firearms, it was stated by counsel for the defendant that one was a revolver which he had purchased in England over 50 years ago, and the other a muzzle-loading rifle which was a relic of the Maori War. In convicting the defendant on one charge, the magistrate (Mr H. W. Bundle) ordered that the revolver be confiscated, and the other charge was adjourned sine die, the rifle to be held by the police for the duration of the war.
Sergeant F. Johnson, who prosecuted, told the court that at 10.30 a.m on June 13 Detective McDougall, while making a search for firearms in the house of defendant, was handed a revolver by the defendant, who admitted that he had had this firearm in his possession for about 50 years and had never registered it. It was in quite good workable order. Defendant was also in possession of a muzzle-loading rifle. It was an old type of weapon, but was in quite good working order. The defendant had been in this country a long time, and he should know the regulations.
The magistrate (Mr H. W. Bundle) remarked that the rifle seemed a bit rusty.
Mr D. A. Solomon, who appeared for the defendant, said that when Balk left England for Japan before coming to New Zealand over 50 years ago, he purchased this revolver and took it with him to Japan, subsequently bringing it to New Zealand. The defendant said that when Detective McDougall found the revolver it was wrapped up in the same paper as it was when he came here over 40 years ago. Balk appreciated the fact that he should have registered it, but forgot he had it in his possession. He had no objection to the revolver being confiscated. The other weapon was a rifle which had been dug up in the North Island after the Maori War and was presented to Balk as a curio. Balk was a collector of curios. Mr Solomon suggested that in the circumstances the rifle should be held by the police for the duration of the war.
On the charge of being in possession of the unregistered revolver Balk was convicted and ordered to pay court costs (10s), the revolver to be confiscated. The other charge was adjourned sine die, a condition being that the firearm should remain in the meantime in the possession of the police. -Evening Star, 12/7/1940.
MR O. BALK
The death occurred at Wellington on Sunday of Mr Oscar Balk, who for many years was well known in commercial circles in Dunedin as a principal of the firm of Messrs Wilson, Balk and Co., Ltd. Mr Balk, who was in his seventy-sixth year, was born in Ipswich, England, and came to New Zealand as a young man, joining the firm of Messrs Kearns, Wilson, in which he subsequently became a partner. Mr Balk was closely identified with many sporting and other organisations in the city. He was a foundation member of'the Otago Tramping Club, and also of the Balmacewen Bowling Club, and until recently he was annually a prominent and active figure at the bonspiel in Central Otago. He was patron of the Maori Hill Association Football Club, and for many years was an active member of the Dunedin Orphans' Club. Mr Balk was a member of the Otago Chess Club. He was a former president of the club and also of the New Zealand Chess Association. He is survived by four daughters. -Otago Daily Times, 13/1/1942.
I try not to editorialise when compiling stories for this blog. But there is an aspect of Oscar's life that I feel should be addressed. Oscar died before the horrors of the nazi regime in Germany and Europe were known, beyond doubt, to the outside world. It was perfectly reasonable to see the Germany of 1936 and be impressed by it. It was very easy to discount the rumours of the concentration camps as the accusations of disaffected opponents of the regime. It is possible that Oscar's published admiration for what he saw in 1936, as well as having family and other contacts in Germany, led to the searching of his house in 1940. At this distance I can only speculate, but I believe that a man of Oscar's intelligence would be as horrified by the revelations of Germany in 1945 as he was impressed by the Germany of 1936.