Monday, 22 January 2007

Soprano Mina Foley dies

NZ soprano Mina Foley died over the weekend, aged 77. From Newswire:
She was a protegee of acclaimed singing teacher Dame Sister Mary Leo, whose other pupils included Dame Kiri Te Kanawa and Dame Malvina Major. Foley rose to prominence as a singer in 1950 when she gained second place in the Melbourne Sun Aria competition.
As the report says, she went on to perform across New Zealand in sell-out performances, which cemented her place in NZ music history. Unfortunately there are few professional studio recordings of Foley's voice, so the great legacy of Foley's reportedly "bell-like" voice will be in the memories of those who heard her sing live.

RELATED: Music, Obituary, New Zealand


  1. I find it rather sad that there is so little information about Mina Foley, her home town, parents, siblings, ethnicity etc. For someone with such a special place in so many New Zealander's hearts, she is almost obliterated. Can it be the misunderstanding of mental health issues of the 1960s? Wilhelmina Foley seems to appear from nowhere and disappear again at her death with almost no factual details available, unlike her singing peers.

    Wilhelmina Maile Foley (9 Mar 1930-21 Jan 1987) was my first cousin. Born out of wedlock, Mina Foley's father, our uncle on our mothers side, was James Edward Rudling (23 Jun 1908 - 28 Apr 1985) He was 21.
    Mina’s mother was Ida Margory Foley ( 9 Apr 1912 -16 Jun 2003). She was 18.
    James Edward Rudling was the eldest son of Wilhelmina Luis Tava, a Tongan, and Englishman, Thomas George Rudling. James Edward Rudling was a champion boxer and swimmer.
    James Edward Rudling and Ida Margory Foley never married, but the relationship between Mina’s parents (James and Ida) was long-standing nevertheless, since there is at least a photograph of them together at a September 1932 family function (my fathers 21st birthday) some 2 years after Mina’s birth.
    You wont find it in any account of Mina Foleys’ life, but a search of ‘Ida Margaret Foley’ records that her daughter [Mina], was on her birth on 9 Mar 1930, christened Wilhelmina Maile Foley.
    As recorded in the ‘Thomas Foley’ Family Tree-

    “ Wilhelmina Maile FOLEY was born on 9 March 1930 in Auckland, New Zealand. She died on 21 Jan 2007 in the Marian Rest Home, Mission Bay, Auckland, New Zealand. She was buried on 26 Jan 2007 in the Waikaraka Cemetery, Auckland, New Zealand.”
    Mina was raised and brought up by Ida’s mother, a South African lady, ‘Grandma Foley’- Wilhelmina Petronella Foley (12 Dec 1862 - 5 Sep 1952).
    Mina attended St Mary's College, Ponsonby where she studied music, piano and played the cello in the school orchestra.She trained as a singer from the age of 14, under Sister Mary Leo.
    Plainly, ‘Wilhelmina’ comes from either or both of Mina’s grandmothers (Ida’s and James’ mother respectively) while ‘Maile’ is the Tongan name for the flower ‘Myrtle’, when in full bloom - and also was the name of Jame’s elder sister Gladys Maile Rudling.
    In 1937, at age 29, James married Hilda Gunlock, while Ida who had moved to Australia, married John Hand, at age 35, in 1947.
    It has been said that James and Ida were never married because 'James was a Tongan’, but that doesn’t tie in with the fact of their continuing long-term relationship involving both the Foley and Rudling families, which persisted well into their adulthood.
    Nor tie in with the fact of their daughter, Mina, being given a Tongan forename (Maile).
    Also, it has been said that they never married because James Rudling's staunchly Methodist father Thomas George Rudling was fiercely anti Catholic-the Foley's being Roman Catholic.
    But perhaps it stands to reason that they did not marry at the time of Mina’s birth, since both- and in particular, Ida, were relatively young.
    In any event, Mina Foley was raised by her Grandmother, Wilhelmina Petronlla Foley, and so while the Thomas Foley Family Tree records Mina Foley as the daughter of Ida Margaret Foley, there is no other public record which acknowledges Mina Foley as being the daughter of James Edward Rudling.


    1. James Rudling and Ida Foley at our fathers 21st

    2. Mina Foley

    3. 'Grandma' Foley

    4. James Rudling-Champion Boxer

    Sent from my iPhone 7 Plus


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