The Manns at Messines

Following their visit to Messines Ridge in June  to commemmorate the battle 100 years ago in World War I, Colin and MaryAnn gave us a powerpoint presentation on the 24th October 2017  in the Tasman District Library.

Here is a selection of photos recording that experience.

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Our Visit to the Wakefield Steam Museum – now Higgins Heritage Park

On a rather unpromising Tuesday in September several of our members travelled to Wakefield to visit the Steam Museum in Pigeon Valley.

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The three vintage cars used to transport members to the Heritage Park from Wakefield. The one in the centre sports a petrol cap of a “Flying Quail”.

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Our tour guide, Allan Palmer, has a wealth of knowledge to impart without which the visit would have been much less valuable.

Our host,  Allan Palmer,  treated us to a very interesting and informative tour of the complex providing us with information that he had acquired over the years he has been associated with developing it.WSHS Higgins Heritage Park Visit 26th Sept 2017 006WSHS Higgins Heritage Park Visit 26th Sept 2017 008

The Park hopes to be able to establish on the railway reserve beside the Wakefield Pharmacy on the corner of Edward Street and Clifford Road  with Council approval,  a replica of one of the steam engines as an advertising signpost to the site in Pigeon Valley.


If you haven’t been to the Park, the best time to pay a visit is when some of the machinery is working which is on the first Sunday of the month from September to March.  This is also the time that the heritage village of ‘Willow Bank’ (see article on this site) owned by Christine Grieder (just up the main road over the Jimmy Lee Bridge) is also open to the public – another “must see” venue in Wakefield – a settlement planned by Edward Gibbon Wakefield and the New Zealand Company 175 years ago this year.



Bookbinder Reveals the “Tricks of the Trade”

Rosie-Anne Pinney from Cambria Craft Bindery in Nelson conducted a bookmaking workshop in the Tasman District Library last week.

But that was not all.  She also explained the steps she would take to restore a bound book which was in need of repair.  Trained by a master bookbinder in Oxford, Rosie Anne who lives in Nelson, can now offer her skills to us in New Zealand.

She showed us how the pages were folded and stitched and  an example of a book she had restored with traditional book cloth.  She  even uses the older organic glues to match the original product.   In her workshop she also has available lead type which is matched to the original font when reprinting a title on the front cover.

The small group which attended were appreciative and were soon involved in making their own booklets using simple implements and following straightforward steps.

A simple A5 booklet with stitched pages using a template, an awl (not shown) to make holes, a diagram showing the direction of sewn thread and a printed cover (supplied ).


Are there any Wratts in your Family Tree?

We have been looking up my husband’s family.  George Ratt came to NZ in 1841 on the “Clifford” to Nelson.  He died in Spring Grove  on the 30th April 1873.

His son George Wratt came as well aged 20.  He was given 12 acres plus five acres of Section  34 in the Spring Grove, Waimea West area.

William farmed the land as the Georges were carpenters known as Waimea West Carpenters and Undertakers.  George and with Hannah moved to Canvastown,  Marlborough.


Any more information about this family would be welcomed.  Contact Brenda directly at the address below.


Brenda Wratt




The recent AGM of our Society held on Thursday 25th May resulted in the existing executive being elected unopposed for a further 12 months.  Members confirmed are:

President              Rodger Quinney

Vice President     Roger Batt

Secretary              Arnold Clark

Treasurer             Margaret Clark

Committee           Wayne Price,  Virginia Gray,  Bev Hodgkinson.

Following formal business, members were invited to speak on an incident in their early childhood or a book that had influenced them in an important way.

Stephen Eagar showed us the 100 million year old fossil which came into his possession that sparked his interest in collecting more of the same, many of which came from a clay pit that was being dug for bricks.  This  led eventually to his obtaining a science degree at Reading University followed by work at the Natural History Museum in London.  Later he emigrated to New Zealand where he continued working in Geology.

The sea urchin fossil which led to a degree in geology for Stephen

Members listing to Stephen’s explanation of how he became interested in fossils. Wayne examines the one which started it all











Firstly I wish to thank all members for attending our meetings and turning out for the field trips. Without your participation there would be no society. Nelson Province has many sites of historic interest and your membership of our society enables you to visit and enjoy these sites.

At our 2016 July Meeting we had Show and Tell and members displayed and spoke about the fascinating items they owned from the past. Karen Stade spoke about the idea of producing a pamphlet depicting places of historic interest in the Nelson areas.

In August 2016, Colin Gibbs assisted by Marilyn spoke on the history of his family farm Lone Oak which had been in the same family since the early settlement of New Zealand.

Our September Field Trip was a visit to the Harvey Hop Kiln. It was good to learn the history of hops as this industry is unique to Nelson. After the Hop Kiln we went to the Moutere Cemetery which was in a very clean tidy condition and kept that way by working bees by the local community.

Our October Meeting was addressed by Rosie-Anne Pinney. She spoke on the history of Book Binding and showed examples using photos screened overhead. She has been invited to our July 2017 meeting where she will hold a workshop and members can bring books that need repairing.

In November for our final meeting of the year we went to Willow Bank, just south of Wakefield. We enjoyed a shared lunch and then Christine told us about Willow Bank. Members were then free to explore the various historic buildings most of which had been located from other areas around Nelson Province. The visit to Willow Bank was an excellent way to end the year.

Our first field trip for 2017 was in February to the historic property known as Whitefriars located south of Wakefield. The owners Bryan and Suzie made us very welcome. This property was originally settled by Jacob Watson. The original house has been extended in more recent times. Our members were free to walk through and inspect the house. The paint job was outstanding. Suzie and Bryan are developing a plan to run a wide variety of animals on the farm so Whitefriars could be worth another visit in the future.

Our field trip in March was to The Grange near Motueka. Also attending were other societies from around Nelson. This house is a wonderful example of a large house built in the 1800’s. Its builder was Motueka’s first GP, Dr Greenwood. The present owner spoke on the history of The Grange after which members were able to inspect the house. This was followed by a representative from each society present giving a short talk on the activities of their particular group.

Our speaker for our April, 2017 meeting was Colin Mann who spoke on his experiences in 1952 when he was serving in Compulsory Military Training. He served in the Marine section of the RNZAF. You didn’t know the Airforce had a Marine section? Neither did I until Colin told us about it. He gave us a very informative and entertaining address.

We have decided to tighten up on the speaking time allocated to invited speakers. If we allow 30 minutes for the talk and 10 minutes for questions, this makes 40 minutes. There may be an occasion when a member may move an extension of time. If the meeting agrees the speaker may be granted an extension of 5 or 10 minutes.

Mention has been made of the 175 years of settlement of Nelson. If members have any ideas how to mark this milestone please bring that idea forward.

The settlement of 175 years also happens to coincide with the development of photography. You think that is a long time? Really it is only 17 and a half decades. Could it be an idea to collect an iconic photo from each decade of the settlement and development since of Nelson and do a publication and make a small profit for our society?

Our present format of alternating meetings with field trips I think works well. Also I wish to thank those members for providing me with transport when I have not been able to drive.

Finally it has been my privilege to serve as your President for the past year.


Rodger Quinney


Waimea South’s Committee for 2017. Front row left to right: Arnold Clark (Secretary), Rodger Quinney (President), Margaret Clark (Treasurer). Back row (L to R): Bev. Hodgkinson (Committee member), Virginia Gray (Committee Member), Roger Batt (Vice-President), Wayne Price (Committee Member)





Never a Reluctant Sailor

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.Scan

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.Route march

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.

Boat at moorings

Colin on board No. 313 – a Bilge Cabin Launch about 25ft. Good for towing and training trips for coastal navigation.

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.


Sunderland preparing to land

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.

Boat in museum

Colin and his wife, MaryAnn, with Safety Launch No. 88 used to clear landing zones and lay light buoys for night landings. A twin screw vessel capable of 25 knots.

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.


Colin demonstrates a manoeuvre with one of his flying boat models during his talk.










“The Grange” Hosts History Groups of the Nelson Region

On a still, sunny autumn day in March, members of the Nelson Region’s history groups met at “The Grange”,

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History group members gathered in front of the main house. The oak tree is behind the camera.

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,

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Our host, Martyn Whittaker, whose passion is to share this historic house with others.

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.

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The original house facing north. Window near chimney shows position of the linking passageway

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The original house facing west. This is the back entrance.

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The kitchen and dining area in the cottage looking towards the back door.

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The sitting room in the cottage.

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The south end of the main front lounge.


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The north end of the main front lounge.

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.


Whitefriars Enjoys 141 years of History

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

Whitefriars about 1915. A young Gordon Wadsworth being held in the arms of his father.

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Whitefriars – view of the north-eastern side.

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All the way from Fife. A grandfather clock stands proudly in the sitting room

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.

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Susie, Bryan and their pet dog.

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.Whitefriars - Colin Mann 035 It was a wonderful way to begin a heritage year in Nelson.


Nelson’s 175th Anniversary Year of European Settlement

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


Christmas Lunch at Willowbank Ends the Year’s Activities

Members enjoying lunch at Willowbank on their last meeting of the year, November 2016

Members enjoying lunch at Willowbank on their last meeting of the year, November 2016

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.