Show remembers NZ’s first magician


New Zealand singer Rachel Dawick will be performing tales of the country’s pioneer women in Oamaru this weekend.

Dawick will be performing “The Musical Tales of Rachel Dawick”, which will included a whole range of her songs tonight, before telling the tales of six strong New Zealand women on Sunday.

One of the women in the tales is the nation’s first magician Jane Whiteside, who is buried at the Old Oamaru Cemetery.

Dawick said Whiteside, who was born in Ireland but grew up in Auckland, became a tightrope dancer and gymnast at the age of 17, in the 1870s, however, she did not enjoy this and became a magician after moving to Thames.

Whiteside joined the Oxford Combination Troupe, a small group of entertainers including her singer husband, and toured through the South Island with her last performance in Oamaru.

In January 1975, as they were travelling back the Waitaki River had swollen and when Whiteside tried to cross she fell in and drowned, Dawick said.

The magician was 19 at the time and was buried in Oamaru.

Dawick said she is one of six main characters that each have at least one song about them written by her.

She is especially looking forward to performing in Oamaru because the old buildings “create something really magical”.

“I love Oamaru it’s one of the few places that’s brought back its history.”

The musician has spent the last four years completing a project, called “The Boundary Riders”, which includes a double album and accompanying 52 page fully illustrated colour book focused on a range of infamous female characters whose names largely unknown in New Zealand history.

Dawick will be embarking on a new project about women entertainers of the 1800s next February and would welcome anyone with information to contact her at

The first performance, “The Musical Tales of Rachel Dawick”, will be performed tonight at the Grainstore Gallery at 8pm. Tickets $10 at the door.

Her final performance, “The Journey of the Boundary Riders”, will be held at The Penguin Club on Sunday, November 16 at 2.30pm.



FASCINATING TALES: New Zealand singer Rachel Dawick will be performing in Oamaru this weekend.

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