Some people are embarrassed to report sightings
of things that flash or glow in the night but the
establishment of the UFOcus group in New Zealand
has one Gisborne woman recalling an episode a
quarter-century ago that she will never
Beverlea Parsons was a nurse in her late 20s
when Gisborne was the centre of a high-profile
wave of UFO sightings centred around the Waimata
Mrs Parsons was one of many people who
experienced what was known as the Gisborne UFO
At the time, The Gisborne Herald received more
than 200 reports of sightings of objects in the
sky, of lit-up hillsides and valleys, and flashing
Reports ranged from personal accounts of
encounters with fast-moving objects and lights in
the night sky, by a wide cross-section of the
Gisborne community, to associated rumours of the
"little green men" variety.
But there was little doubt that some of the
many Gisborne people who spoke to The Herald over
those months had strange and often frightening
In January 1978, a large patch of seared grass
appeared on a hillside, where two farm workers had
earlier reported sightings of weird lights.
Sightings continued from about 1977 until the
end of 1979, by which time residents in the
Waimata area were being kept awake by the noise of
traffic generated by sightseers.
One of them was Mrs Parsons, who says the
sightings were so common at one stage that
patients could see them from the maternity
hospital in back Ormond Rd and other parts of the
She and a few friends would beat a regular
track to the Waimata Valley at night, for a spot
of UFO watching.
The whole episode was somehow addictively
compelling, and she and her friends were never
They had numerous sightings of strange
On one occasion, something flew over the car
they were in, across the road and up the side of
These episodes remain vivid with her still.
"It has always been there — it does not go
away. I am 56 now and should get on with life, but
I will never get those things out of my
Some of their experiences were so close that
they felt a similar feeling to that of being
almost sucked in by a truck passing by, she
She describes her first sighting as little
lights flashing — like camera flashes —around her
and her two friends.
"We got these prickly feelings up our legs,"
The next time they took with them a friend who
was Christian, thinking that people would be more
inclined to believe her.
That night they saw a huge light, similar to an
enlarged falling star, which went into reverse
after falling then split into three lights, which
each veered off at great speed in different
On another occasion they heard what they
thought was the low monotonous sound of a truck
coming up the valley road, except that the sound
was monotonous and they could not hear any gear
"It went right over the top of us," she
"We saw a big brilliant light passing in front
On that occasion, a farmer further up the
valley reported a similar sound and light across
Some of the lights they saw were rotating and
flashing. On one occasion there was a green ring
of light flashing over another one that was red
Mrs Parsons was just one of many who reported
incidents at the time, some from as far away as
Tawhareparae and Tokomaru Bay, but all centred
around the Waimata Hills.
A station manager reported at one stage that he
and his family had seen a glowing orange egg
shape, giving off a beam of white light.
It hovered around the sky for more than an
hour, so they called in their neighbours to
Many people in the district reported seeing
A man driving along the Waerenga-a-Hika
straight at night, reported a brilliant orange
glow lighting up the inside of his car.
"I looked out the window and got the shock of
my life. Outside, just 50 feet away, was a large
oval object, floating alongside my car.
It looked to be huge, rising in the sky about
300 feet, orange with thousands of small flashing
lights on its side.
He told a Herald journalist he had never seen
anything like it before, and never wanted to
The flap episode tapered away that year and has
never been explained.
UFO groups believed at the time that the
Waimata Valley could be an "anchoring point" used
by aerial phenomena orbiting the Earth. Sceptics
put it down to tomfoolery with laser lights.
Mrs Parsons has since seen laser lights in
action, and says they would never in a million
years have come anywhere near what she and others
had seen and experienced.