Author(s): Helen Beaglehole
Lighthouses have a mystique, a romance, and an almost biblical significance about them. Elegant structures located on remote and exposed sites where the land is challenged by the sea, they beam light into the darkness and transform uncertainty into knowledge and safety. They are the subject of legends and yarns, shanties and poems, written and oral history around the world. New Zealand's lighthouses - their location, design, construction, operation and demanning - have been well documented in Helen Beaglehole's comprehensive history, Lighting the Coast. But the lives and work of the men and women behind the lights over the last 150 years deserves closer study. Why did they choose the life? What did the job entail from day to day and year to year? How did it change? How did they feel about their work? What were their fears, frustrations and rewards? In Always the Sound of the Sea, Helen Beaglehole again challenges the myths and the romance as she looks for answers to these questions in the words of the keepers themselves. Drawing on a rich and intriguing mix of letters, diary extracts, official correspondence and interviews - from an 1872 diary to interviews with the last of the lighthouse keepers - she brings together first-hand accounts of the life and work of these resourceful New Zealanders. Illustrated with family snapshots and other photographs, this book is both a sequel and a companion to her highly praised Lighting the Coast. First published April 2009.