Storyteller weaves a lasting legacy

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    The late Elizabeth Miller.

    NO longer will we see Dreamweaver Elizabeth Miller in her barefeet with dogs at her feet or in her arms. Nor will we hear the jangling bells around her ankles, which announced her arrival wherever she went.

    The woman who brought so much magic with her storytelling to children and adults, died in Southland Hospital last week aged 84.

    Many a child will remember her as a storyteller from those who knew her when she held Friday night storytelling sessions at the Invercargill Library in Don St, to those who witnessed the magical craft she performed as Dreamweaver.

    She worked as children’s librarian from June 1962 until she resigned in 1990.

    It was then she became a professional storyteller and captivated audiences throughout the world but most importantly she was an advocate for ensuring children learned a love of literature and storytelling from an early age.

    She was awarded a MBE in 1987 in the New Year’s Honours List for services to children and the community. She was also an Associate of the NZ Library Association, the highest library honour, and Life Member of the NZ Literacy Association and the NZ Reading Association.

    She received a Celebrate Literacy Award from the NZ Reading Association in 1987 for her outstanding services to literacy.

    For niece Corazon Miller, having Miss Miller as an aunty was extra special.

    When Miss Miller travelled to Auckland to visit her and her family there was an extra special occasion when she was 5 or 6 years old.

    “I remember being so proud that my aunty was going to tell stories at the library when my class was visiting.”

    Corazon said Miss Miller would always remember the birthdays of family members and a card would be sent.

    It took a while before her niece would realise the ever-changing hairstyles were, in fact, wigs.

    “It was super cool because she always had this really long hair.”

    Miss Miller never married, but there was always constant companions in her life

    First it was chihuahuas but more recently papillons with Candy, the last of her dogs present with her in hospital, when she died.

    Miss Miller had been unsettled the morning Candy visited but as soon as she knew he was there, she settled.

    “She was completely calm after that,” Corazon said.

    “When she took her last breath, he whimpered as well.”

    There was a belief Miss Miller had been born in a cave at the time her father was gold panning in Central Otago during the depression.

    However Miss Miller would always confirm she was conceived in one, not born there, she said.

    Her parents Frederick Gascoigne (“The Poet” and Ngaire Miller later settled in Invercargill and it was there Miss Miller would settle for life, bringing joy, magic and a love of stories to thousands.

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