When Colin William Mann, aged 20, No.710345, was called up to do his Compulsory Military Training in 1952 during the time of the Korean War it was with no sense of irritation or reluctance that he left his civilian life in Wellington and volunteered to join the marine section of the airforce based in Hobsonville, Auckland, because there was nothing he liked better than to be “messing about in boats.”
He joined the RNZAF Marine Section at the Hobsonville base for 3 months training in June 1952 as part of a “Motor Boat Crew Under Training.”
Following the overnight train journey from Wellington, a bus ride to the Base a medical and a clothes issue he was finally introduced to the barracks which he would share with 18 other young men for 3 months basic training followed by 2 weeks annual territorial camps from 1953 to 1958 with a final discharge in 1960.
For the first 3 weeks life was an established routine: rising at 6.00am, learning the orders to fall in, stand at attention, route marches, P.T., early barrack chores (bed making, wardrobe layout), lots of “square bashing”, marching to the mess for meals. Some nights were compulsory film nights. As Colin was a Basketball player he joined the Station Team for games on Wednesday nights in the city. An early scheduled game would allow time to take in a movie in Auckland. Rugby games were organised for Sunday afternoons as there was no weekend leave. During this time there was only one rifle shoot – the exceptional amount of rain ruling out the beach exercise under war conditions.
After 3 weeks of this basic training the group divided into their chosen sections. The Marine Section began with roll call at 8.ooam followed by learning about Air Force rules, rules of the sea, Morse Code with sound and flags, knots, splices and other small boating skills. Then there was information about things new to him: heavy moorings for aircraft and other requirements for securing seaplanes. After lunch at 12.00 some afternoons were spent in the gymn. 1700 hours was early tea time followed by an evening in the barracks washing and ironing shirts, creasing trousers, cleaning brass buttons and rifles and generally getting ready for the 0600 wake up call.
Colin decided to stay in the T.A.F./F. Force to do 2 weeks a year camps for 5 years training and became a Motor-Boat Crew Assistant.
Now, 6 decades later and after discovering that Launch No. 88 on which he had crewed all those years ago was now being held by the Airforce Museum at Wigram in Christchurch, he was encouraged to write down his recollections of that time and together with photographs, maps and other information he has now produced a booklet for his grandchildren and members of a generation who would have no idea of what CMT was all about.
We were privileged to hear Colin speak at our April meeting and enjoyed his relaxed wry humour in recounting some amusing episodes which he had experienced during that time. Here is one example: One morning as all the craft returned to the wharf after servicing a Sunderland, the 20ft launch fitted with a generator for charging the radar went to the inside of the wharf to tie up. The high tide was on the ebb so the skipper endeavoured to hold on to the pile while he passed the rope around it to tie to the cleat on the deck. Unfortunately for him, the very strong tide took the boat from under his feet, so to the highly amused onlookers he slowly slipped into the water. He (and the launch) was duly recovered – somewhat wet but O.K.
On a still, sunny autumn day in March, members of the Nelson Region’s history groups met at “The Grange”,
just outside Motueka, built 170 years ago for Motueka’s first doctor, John Danforth Greenwood, his wife Sarah and their 9 (eventually 13) children. About 42 people from Nelson, Waimea, Tapawera, Motueka and Golden Bay gathered on the lawn near the largest English oak tree in the South Island, planted in 1864 and at 33 metres one of the tallest in New Zealand.
We were treated to an interesting, fluent and very knowledge talk about the Greenwoods and the house by the current owner, Martyn Whittaker,
after which we were able to wander around the property and the house which, as you can see from the photographs, is really two houses linked by an enclosed passageway – the first a typical settlers’ cottage and the second a two-storey addition built in the front. This allows the smaller house to be let for holiday accommodation.
After lunch members of each group shared their more recent activities and concerns. Waimea South were particularly dissatisfied with the attitude of the local authority towards the celebration of Nelson’s Anniversary Day on 1st February and expressed the view that recognising this event should not be solely the responsibility of Nelson city. The whole district should celebrate in some way the arrival of the first settlers and that this should be planned for each year well in advance. It should be a yearly on-going activity and not just reserved for special anniversaries.
It was a most enjoyable day – a perfect venue to showcase and appreciate our colonial heritage. Coralie Smith and the Motueka and Districts’ Historical Association deserve our thanks for organising this event.
Waimea South members held their first meeting of 2017 in a house built in 1876 on land purchased by Jacob Watson who, together with his wife Alice, arrived in Nelson on the Clifford in May 1842.
This was particularly appropriate in a province which, this year, celebrates 175 years of European settlement.
The two storey wooden structure built of pit-sawn timber and more recently added to by
American boat builder Brian Bennett, is the second house on this block of land. The first (site not yet discovered) was built of cob by Jacob who at 23 was extremely competent in this medium as well as stone. He constructed the first Wakefield School, part of which lasted until the 1970’s.
The house was first called The Pines but in the 1960’s the named changed to Whitefriars.
Jacob and Alice had 5 children. The youngest, Violet, married Thomas Wadsworth some time in the 1890’s.
Jacob died in 1888 and after Violet’s marriage, Alice moved into a house on a terrace across the main road overlooking the Wai-iti Church of Christ. She had been acting as a midwife for the local women and had passed these skills on to her daughter who, as well as bringing up 5 children of her own, continued in her mother’s profession.
Bryan and Susie Houston from Fife, Scotland, are now the proud and energetic owners of Whitefriars. They are lovers of old houses and have plans to develop the lifestyle block with heritage plants and trees: roses, fruit trees and possibly (if conditions are right) a truffle woodlot. Animals, cats, dogs (one a Leonberger), and peacocks are also part of the picture.
Our group enjoyed their friendly hospitality on a sunny and warm autumn afternoon. It was a wonderful way to begin a heritage year in Nelson.
On the 1st February, 2017, it will be 175 years since the first four emigrant ships: Fifeshire, Mary Ann, Lloyds and Lord Auckland arrived in Nelson Haven, carrying our pioneer ancestors from Britain. Over the course of the year 15 more would follow.
We would like to encourage all families clubs, societies and organisations in the Nelson Province to recognise this in some way during the year.
We would also like to publish in Window on Wakefield photographs of any houses in and around Wakefield which were built before 1920. We may have a photo of your house on file, but if you think we haven’t please feel free to send us one (the most interesting side) in jpg format. Include the name of the family who first owned it and (if possible) the year of construction as well as your address.
Send your e-mail to the address printed in the magazine
With the title: Nelson’s 175th Birthday
A key group of Waimea South’s members enjoyed an end-of-year shared lunch at Willowbank on Tuesday 22nd November.
The event followed the traditional format of general meeting, lunch, followed by a quiz and the sharing of gifts with three chances of changing your present.
Afterwards, Christine showed us around Willowbank and described some new developments which include a new street and frontages which she plans to implement in the new year.
It was a typical Nelson early summer’s day and we felt privileged to be able to enjoy our final function of the year in such appropriate surroundings for a history group.
Our speaker for April, 2016, was Rosie-Anne Pinney, the new owner of Cambria Craft Bindery in Nelson.
Rosie-Anne’s talk covered the history of books and book-binding from Medieval times, the development in the use of materials: parchment, vellum, paper; illustration and decoration: illuminated manuscripts, up to Gutenberg and the use of moveable type. With this invention there were more books produced in 50 years than in the preceeding 1,000 years. His first printed work was a Latin grammar book.
Then came Caxton in 1476 who set up the first printing press in London. Gold was used around the edges to protect the surface of the book. In the 17th and 18th centuries pictures were painted over the edges that were not related to the contents. Marbeling was also used. The books were stored on shelves with the page edges pointing outwards to show these effects.
Mechanisation of book production came in the 19th century and then the Arts and Crafts movement followed as a reaction to this.
Rosie-Anne used a power point presentation to very effectively illustrate her talk.
We plan to invite Rosie-Anne to pay us a return visit next year to demonstrate the techniques she uses in her work.
Early spring rain had turned to a bright, sunny afternoon when about 12 of our members visited George Harvey’s hop kiln in Mahana on 27th September.
Our guide, Eileen Thawley is a third generation descendant of George who had build the kiln on land granted to him by the Crown in 1913. When that kiln was destroyed by fire in 1938, it was quickly rebuilt according to the original plans and on the original footprint the following year. It therefore still qualifies to be registered as an historic building with the local council and Heritage New Zealand.
Since hop growing is no longer carried out on the farm, it is set up as a small museum with original tools and equipment together with historical items connected with the Harvey family. Many photos copied and enlarged from family albums adorn the walls, illustrating how this cottage industry worked.
Eileen is a mine of information and we greatly appreciated her easy recall of facts and incidents relating to the workings of the hop garden and apple orchard over three generations. It was satisfying to think that her knowledge will not be lost but will continue to be told by other members of the Harvey family in the future.
Later that same afternoon we visited the Moutere Hills Public Cemetery in Gardeners Valley Road where Eileen was also able to be our guide as her family had been the guardians of this public amenity over the years.
A very informative and enjoyable afternoon concluded with afternoon tea at the Upper Moutere Cafe.
When James Gibbs left his native Alton/Chawton area in Hampshire on 2 November 1841 to embark on a 13,000 miles journey on the Bolton to the other side of the world (arriving in Nelson on 15 March 1842), he could only have dreamed that today, 174 years later, one of his great grandsons would be enjoying life on the farm which he originally purchased.
There are few people who in their seventh decade can say “This is the only house I have (permanently) lived in.” Colin Gibbs can say that. The house in question is a substantially renovated version of the third house at Lone Oak Farm named after the farm in England called Lonely Oak where James and his brother Isaac, who accompanied him, worked as agricultural labourers. Colin is a fourth generation descendent of James and inherited the farm from his father Philip. In a departure from tradition, the farm has never been passed down to the eldest son.
James settled first on section 34 suburban north Nelson (Wakapuaka) with his wife Anne and had two children George and Martha. When Ann died in 1848 James decided to move south and purchased a block of 68 acres which formed the basis of today’s farm in Gibbs Valley. However, following a land compensation grant in 1862 for the failure of the New Zealand Company to provide sufficient land promised to the settlers in England, he eventually became the owner of 911 acres (today’s holding is 530) of fern-covered rugged hills and swampy flats which in 1882 was valued at 3,100 pounds. Not bad for a farm worker from Chawton!
In 1849 he had married Charlotte Verry with whom he had 18 children,14 of whom survived to adulthood. Charlotte was aged 17 and 26 years younger than James. Their wedding was one of the first to be celebrated in St Johns Church in Wakefield. By the time the first generation of Gibbs had passed on they had produced 124 grandchildren.
However, James’ good fortune was not solely due to the failures and inadequacies of the New Zealand Company. He was an astute farmer and a very hard worker. An article in the Auckland Weekly of May 1950 details how James earned his first real money since coming to the valley. “From the unpromising hills covered with fern, scrub and tutu, steers which he had raised himself were broken into a team of working bullocks. With these he ploughed the hill slopes which faced the sun. Then he sowed wheat which grew well in the ashes of the fern. Harvesting was a tremendous task. The wheat was cut with a sickle and thrashed with a flail. It yielded 1,000 bushels which sold for 500 pounds.”
When hop growing began in the Motueka area, manuka poles were used to train up the vines. Having an abundant supply of manuka, James would cut and prepare a load of poles, load up the bullock dray and with his team drive through the night to deliver them to farms in the Moutere.
Gradually bullocks gave way to horses and horses to tractors. But it was aerial top-dressing of the farm with superphosphate in the sixties which brought the farm into full production. Today sheep and beef cattle are the main income earners.
For James Gibbs and other pioneer settlers like him the dream of a better life, owning your own farm and being your own master, did become a reality. New Zealand provided him with the opportunity to do well but without his strength and consistency of purpose it just as easily might have come to nothing. I am sure he would be very proud to know that his descendants have treasured his legacy and built on it. Today they are reaping the benefits of his past labours.
Colin and Marilyn Gibbs for notes and photographs.
Marion J. Stringer, “Just Another Row of Spuds” 1999.
Members found plenty to “show and tell” at their meeting on 26th July 2016.
The following selection tell their own story.
Proposed Pamphlet showing places of historical interest in Nelson District
Karen Stade from Nelson Historical spoke to the meeting of her proposal to create a pamphlet for Nelson and Tasman highlighting the places of historical interest that tourists might visit. She asked our group to draw up a list of “must see” places in Richmond and Waimea South.
Election of a new Treasurer
Margaret Clark, who had earlier indicated her willingness to take on this role was elected unopposed to this position and wasted no time in examining the accounts.
At the recent AGM of Waimea South Historical Society held in the Tasman Distric Library on the 24th May 2016, the outgoing President, Roger Batt, gave a resume of the balanced programme that members had enjoyed over the past year.
WAIMEA SOUTH HISTORICAL SOCIETY INC.
President’s Report 2015-16
The past year has again been a very successful one with a satisfying balance in our programme between outdoor trips and guest speakers. Three of our meetings have centred around the launch of books with historical themes written by local authors. We have visited sites in Appleby, Nelson, Motueka and Lake Rotoiti and our speakers have presented us with topics ranging from nursing services in World War I, to Italian immigrants, local archaeology, and genealogy.
We have also been proactive in presenting our local history to the wider community by having stalls at the recent Apple Fair in Wakefield, and the Ageing Expo in Richmond. I also had the opportunity to speak to the Nelson Institute about the activities of our society and our past and future projects. Contributions have continued to be made each month to Window on Wakefield on a diverse range of topics which have served to remind the local community of our continuing presence in the area. We anticipate producing a second volume of The Way we Were at the end of this year.
The Year in Brief
July Karen Stade and Karen Price spoke on their new book: Pasta, Prayer and Promise – a history of the Italian community in Nelson
August Amanda Young, Nelson’s resident archaeologist, spoke of her work exploring the background to any historic buildings or Maori sites which may be being altered, renovated or disturbed in some way.
September Members visited Walker Engineering at Appleby to view a fascinating collection of vintage farm machinery and vehicles followed by afternoon tea at the Grape Escape.
October Members travelled to the Tophouse Hotel to meet with the St. Arnaud historical group followed by a visit to earlier sites of the hotel, the Nelson/Marlborough boundary and the home of Helen Campbell for afternoon tea.
November Our final meeting for 2015 saw us gathered at Willow Bank to enjoy Christmas fare and festivities.
February We began 2016 with a visit to Motueka at the invitation of the Motueka and Districts Historical Association to participate in the launch of Carol Dawber’s new book: Motueka Wharf 100 Years.
March This meeting also centred on a new publication: All Guts No Glory by Cheryl Carnahan – the role of nurses and chaplains in World War I. Cheryl was assisted in her presentation by Bob McFadden from the Nelson Genealogical Society who concentrated on the work of the NZ hospital ships.
April A small group of members visited the Nelson Provincial Museum where the main collection provided new insights to all. Upstairs, the Nelson Mail’s 150th Birthday exhibition focused on the technological changes involved in presenting the news since the papers inception.
May Our guest speaker for this AGM meeting, Judith Fitchett, spoke of the role of the Nelson Genealogical Society and its value in helping anyone researching their family history.
Articles for Window on Wakefield
These have continued to be produced each month and will at the end of this year be able to be reproduced in a second volume of The Way We Were. Topics have included:
Upper Wakefield (Wai-iti) School Pigeon Valley School
Post Offices of the Past – Wakefield Post Offices of the Past – Wai-iti
Post Offices of the Past – Belgrove Spring Grove Church of Christ is 150 Pt I
Part II Sowing & Reaping Part III a Century of Witness
George Lawrence the Quiet Hero Part II a Gentleman of Leisure
Our website – www.waisouth.wordpress.com continues to be added to each month with an update of the most recent speaker or fieldtrip. It forms a useful record of our activities and helps to advertise our presence and purpose to everyone. My thanks to Colin Mann for taking on the role of official photographer for the society. His photographs form an essential part of our presentation
Obituary We were saddened to lose one of our members during March. Shona Barber was a member of the society for a relatively short time but her wisdom and capacity for considered judgment marked her out as an excellent candidate for an executive position. She had suffered from a longstanding medical condition which eventually took its toll. Maryann and I attended the funeral and a sympathy card was sent to the family.
This year for a number of different reasons we find ourselves in a position where all the executive positions have become vacant. Members have already been sent a letter outlining the situation and some steps which can be taken to ensure the society can continue to function. I am attaching it to this report.
- Secretary – Jeanine Price has given us 10 years of continuous, loyal service. She has been the voice of wisdom and moderation at all times and I have relied on her for knowledge about the society and how things were done before I became a member. She has contributed much and deserves a well-earned retirement.
- Vice-President – Wayne Price has held the position of President and Vice-President during that same period and can always be relied on to fill in and offer advice when required.
- Treasurer – Maryann Mann. Following the death of Laurie Dale, Maryann willingly and enthusiastically took on this position although she had only been a member for a short time. We thank her for that and wish both her and Colin success with their house building project and their trip to Messines next year. We will expect a full report on their return.
I would also like to thank the other members of the committee: Virginia Gray and Barbara Harris who have served on our committee for many years. Their support enables us to continue to function.
21 May 2016