Trip to Aniseed Valley & Roding River Dam a Breeze for Vintage Car Club

What members normally drive.

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Visit to Nelson’s Wakapuaka Cemetery

Our Field Trip to Wakapuaka Cemetery March 28th 2019

Feeling the “Weight of History”

We postponed our original Tuesday date for this trip to Thursday because of rain and wind. Thursday was, as forecast, sunny with a wind from the south-west. It was a bright, clear Nelson autumn day.

Three of us gathered at Miyazu Gardens for a picnic lunch and then drove on to the cemetery where our guide, Judith Fitchett, from the Nelson Genealogical Society was waiting. She has shown several groups around over the years so was well prepared. We were able to drive to the top of the hill where the earliest graves can be found. There were ten of us not counting Judith.

Judith pointed out the following graves of note and gave us some fascinating background information on each one:

Ann Bird – the first European woman to set foot in the settlement from the Fifeshire on 1st February, 1842.

Princess Laura Lubecki, daughter of Thomas Duffus, West Indian merchant and planter, and the widow of Prince Alois Konstantin Lubecki , a native of Warsaw, whom she had married in the 1830’s.

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Laura (nee Duffus) gained her title through marriage to a Polish nobleman who emigrated to NZ in 1838.

On a spur of the ridge looking back to Port Nelson lies the first Matron of Nelson Public Hospital, Susan Dalton, who had been “head-hunted” by the Provincial Council for the job from Addenbrook Hospital in Cambridgeshire. She served in this position for 25 years. A formidable-looking yet kindly and capable woman of 18 stone, it was said that she could do the work of 15 nurses. When she died of a gangrenous foot in 1893 such was her high esteem in the community that her funeral cortege consisted of 40 carriages. Her photograph is at the head of the stairs on Level 1 of the hospital.

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Susan Dalton, first Matron of Nelson Hospital for 25 years from 1865.

Graves of other well- known figures which Judith pointed out were: Samuel Kirkpatrick (jam maker),

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Headstone of John and Martha Griffin. John founded the biscuit and sweet factory in central Nelson.

John Griffin (biscuit & sweet maker), Thomas Brunner (explorer),cem a. the Richardson sisters, Bishop Suter,

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Grave of Andrew Burn Suter, Bishop of Nelson from 1865. His love of art led to the establishment of the Suter Art Gallery. (see

Mathew Campbell (educationist), George Fairweather Moonlight (goldminer and explorer), John Gully (artist) and the memorial marking the burial place of the five gold prospectors who were murdered by the Burgess gang on the Maungatapu Track.

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The memorial to those murdered by the Burgess gang on the Maugatapu Track.

All this took two hours and we had only “cherry-picked” the well-known figures of Nelson’s past. So many lie buried here that it is hard to escape the “weight of history” – even in the bright sunshine: so many hopes, dreams, unfulfilled ambitions, lives cut short – while others lie satisfied in what they managed to achieve. The headstones reach high into the bright sky, lurch at strange angles – not many are truly perpendicular – and some have fallen flat, lie cracked with pieces missing – much as in life. It is a place to “walk and wonder” as the cover page on Rosemary Venner’s book has it. I for one will need to return.

Reference: The Wakapuawaka Cemetery a place to Walk and Wonder Rosemary A. Venner 2002 ISBN 0- 473-08348-5

Roger Batt


Ageing Expo Gets Our Tick of Approval

Wayne and Roger discuss the framed chromolithographic print of Constance Shepherd (neice of the artist Robert Herrman Sauber 1868-1936) and her Berzoi titled “The Queen” 1907.

The Ageing Expo held annually at the Headingly Centre in Richmond once again successfully showcased what services and recreational clubs  were available for older people in the Waimea community.

Waimea South Historical provided a stall which displayed the publications that they have produced over the years on local history:  River to Range, The Way we Were I and II and Schools in the Valleys – their most recent production which was published in conjunction with the – the oldest school in continuous use in New Zealand.

If you would like to purchase copies of these, they can be obtained from the Tasman District Library or by contacting Roger Batt – the current Vice-President.  All sell for $10.00 each plus postage.

Our Year Begins with a “Show and Tell”

Our first meeting for 2019 was held in the Tasman District Library on Tuesday 26th at 2.00pm.

After a short business meeting members attending shared items and events of historical interest with the group.

Virginia Gray showed the T Shirt she wore at the Tribute of Honour for the 1955 “Save our Rail” Protest at Kiwi  Railway station. Virginia played the part of one of the local women who protested. This 2005 event was held in Nelson at Founders Park  and was a re-enactment of the group of women who sat on the railway line at Kiwi for a week to protest at the dismantling of the Nelson to Glenhope railway.  Among the women who protested was Sonja Davies, a local MP, and Ruth Page, a local author. Nine women were arrested.

Wayne Price  showed a 1918  monochrome oil painting of the lion in the Wellington Zoo by artist Edith Price, a relative of his. The Lion was called “King Dick” after Richard Seddon the 15th  Prime Minister of NZ from 1893-1906.

Brian Batchelor talked about the immigrant ship Fifeshire which famously struck the Arrow rock in February 1842.  He showed us a photo of the ship and a small brass cannon made from a piece of the original. Its life was ended  when it was filled with powder, nuts and bolts and was blown up at the opening of the Maitai bowls pavilion in 1907.  Brian’s great-great-grandfather was Nelson’s first harbour-master and pilot for 35 years.

Kathleen Dearnley, brought with her a book she found in her father’s belongings after his recent death. It was the Cyclopaedia of NZ, 1906, and had the history of the setting up of local councils over the Nelson- Marlborough- Westcoast areas including many photos and biographies of local dignitaries at that time.

Margaret Clark, brought with her a Westclox Big Ben clock patented in 1914 in the USA. She shared how these clocks were advertised, focusing on how they were made to appeal to the males in society using language designed to promote a solid, handsome and punctual timepiece. They sold for $2.50 ( USD).

Rodger Quinney  brought with him a Mason preserving  jar patented on November 30 1858.  It was in great condition and very sturdy.

Roger Batt,  came with a Shelley ceramic candle holder along with 2 candle snuffers in the form of Mr and Mrs Caudle – characters written about in Punch magazine in the late Nineteenth century.

The amazing range of items shown for comment and discussion is one of the reasons this activity is so popular as it allows members to talk about a subject in which they have a particular interest.

Virginia’s “Save the Railway” Tee-shirt”

Roger’s Mr and Mrs Caudle’s ceramic candle snuffers and Shelley candlestick holder.

Wayne’s “King Dick” lion.

Rodger’s Mason preserving jar.

Margaret’s “Big Ben” clock.

Kathleen’s “Cyclopaedia”


Brians photo of Fifeshires replica cannon.

A New Year with an Experienced Team

At our AGM held in the Tasman District Library on Tuesday 22nd May, 2018, the officers who have led our Society over the past two years were re-elected to serve another term.

President:  Rodger Quinney           Committee Members:  Bev Hodgkinson, Virginia Gray, Wayne Price,

Vice President:  Roger Batt

Secretary:  Arnold Clark

Treasurer:  Margaret Clark

The meeting began with a minute’s silence in memory of one of our valued members, Cathy Vaughan who recently passed away.  Cathy’s knowledge as a research librarian made her an important source of information particularly when seeking out details on family history.  We will all miss her.

A member of the public, Mr David Kemp congratulated the society on its contribution to the erection of new information boards which have been erected along Queen Street as part of the re-development of the whole area.  With so many past shops now replaced with new buildings it was good to be reminded that Richmond did have a past that so many people were unaware of.

President, Rodger Quinney, presented his report which reminded members of the year’s programme.



Firstly I wish to acknowledge the contribution by each and every one of you, the members of our Society, for your attendance at our meetings and field trips. The effort of every one is what makes our Society worthwhile.

Four members resigned at the end of the year and two new members joined. I would like to welcome Mr and Mrs Molloy.


  • 30th January, 2017.  The Committee met at 8 Franklyn Close, Wakefield to arrange the programme for the rest of the year.
  • 27 July, 2017. Rosie-Anne Pinney conducted a workshop on Book Binding at our meeting room in the TDC Library.
  • 29 August, 2017. Meredith Rimmer, from the Nelson Provincial Museum, talked about the care and storage of antiques and historical items.
  • 26 September, 2017. There was a visit to Higgins Heritage Park, Pigeon Valley. We met at the Wakefield Village Green and journeyed to the Park by Vintage Cars. We were met by Allan Palmer, Secretary of the Vintage Engine and Machinery Club. He showed us around the Park visiting the Steam Engines and Truck Museum. We had lunch in the Club Smoko room due to the wet ground conditions. We then visited the Vintage Tractors, one of which was 100 years old. We returned to Wakefield by Vintage Cars.
  • 24 October, 2017. Mary-Ann and Colin Mann gave a talk about their recent trip to World War 1 battlefields including Messines Ridge where so many gave their lives in a poorly thought out and planned campaign. Their address was wonderfully illustrated with the photos they had taken.
  • 28 November, 2017. We had our usual end of year lunch at Willow Bank. This is always an enjoyable occasion with a meeting and a shared lunch followed by the tough questions set by quizmaster, Roger. Afterwards, members were free to inspect the vintage buildings and their contents. Our thanks to Christine.
  • 30 January, 2918. The Committee met at 8 Franklyn Close to plan events through to the AGM in May.
  • 1 March, 2018.Rob Packer and Barney Brewster spoke about their recently published book about Nelson Postcards. A number of members purchased copies of the book.
  • 24 March, 2018.The Nelson Historical Society had planned a trip to Golden Bay to visit the Puponga Coal deposits. Our Society’s members were invited to go. This trip did not take place due to the Takaka Hill being closed by road washouts. A visit eventually took place a couple of weeks later. No Society members went.
  • 26 April, 2018. A Field Trip visit to St Michael’s Church at Waimea West. Diane Higgins, a long time parishioner spoke about the history of the church. The original church was built in 1843. The members viewed the replacement, built in 1866.We then inspected the adjoining cemetery.

We then travelled to Stafford House at 61 Redwood Road. The owner Diane Smith spoke on the history of the house and showed us through. The house was built by Henry Redwood, who did much to pioneer horse racing in New Zealand. Members inspected the renovated stables. The day concluded with afternoon tea on the lawn at the back of this very historic house.

  • 22 May, 2018. AGM at TDC Library. After the meeting Karen Dickerson who is a member of the Library staff gave a talk about Tracing Your New Zealand Ancestors using Papers Past and Nelson Photo News.


In conclusion I wish to acknowledge our Committee who always manage to come up with interesting speakers for our meetings and places to go to for field trips. Finally I want to thank Roger Batt and Arnold Clark for their support, always willing given. I could not do my job without them.

Rodger Quinney

Treasurer, Margaret Clark, reported that the Society’s finances were in a healthy state.

Our guest speaker for the afternoon was research librarian, Karen Dickerson, who spoke about searching online for information about family history.  She reminded us that the Nelson Photo News, published between 1960 and 1972 was now available on computer. Two other very useful sites were  Papers Past and the governments Births, Deaths and Marriages  historical records.



St Michaels and Stafford Place – two Victorian Jewels from our Colonial Past

Report on Field Trip to St Michael’s Church Waimea West and Stafford Place on Thursday 26th April, 2018

A very pleasant afternoon was spent on Thursday afternoon in Waimea West in perfect autumn conditions.

We met at 2.00pm at St Michaels Anglican Church.

Church of St Michaels. View from the north. The main road running from left to right is hidden by tall grass.

Fourteen of our members were present as well as some members of the congregation.  Diane Higgins who has been a member of the church for many years gave us an interesting and informative talk about the establishment of the first church on the site in 1843 (the earliest church in the district) and the construction of the second building which we see today. Names of prominent local settlers including John Kerr and Constantine Dillon, were mentioned and their graves in the churchyard (still in current use) were visited afterwards. (NB The Dillon mausoleum

The grave of the Hon. Constantine Dillon in the Churchyard of St Michaels, Waimea West.

is unoccupied as Constantine was drowned in the Wairau.  His wife took his body home to Ditchley, Oxfordshire, with the children to complete their education.  Some later returned to Nelson.)

A side view of the Dillon mausoleum.

St Michaels has some very special features such as the minstrels’ (choir) gallery above the west door, a beautiful stained glass window behind the altar which commemorates the sacrifice of soldiers in World War I and lozenge shaped doors.  Services are held every Sunday.  Our treasurer, Margaret Clark, thanked Diane for the time and effort she had put into preparing her talk and presented her with gift vouchers.

Shortly after 3.00pm we moved on to Stafford Place in Redwood Road where we were welcomed by Diana Smith whose family bought the property  in 2013.

Diana Smith stands at the foot of the main staircase to welcome us.

She had prepared an interesting photo display showing some very early photos of the house and one which showed the effects of the 1929 earthquake on the small peasy (clay and gravel)

Stafford Place west front.

cottage which was the Redwood’s first home and which had to be demolished.

The present house, built in 1866, is very solidly constructed of native timbers and has a particularly impressive panelled hallway containing a rather grand staircase on the western side.  Wide verandahs run along two sides.  The tall gables on the second storey are a prominent feature of the house. It is built in the Carpenter Gothic style and was called The Castle by Mrs Redwood who never lived in it as their family had grown up and moved away by the time it was finished so it was reserved for visitors and important guests – of whom there were many.

The main house at Stafford Place and the (almost) attached peasey cottage after the 1929 earthquake. The cottage had to be demolished .

We then had the opportunity to visit the Redwood Stables which have been rebuilt on the east side of the house.  It was the scene of Nelson’s first murder when two stablehands had an argument about the colour of a horse and  a firearm was discharged with fatal consequences to one of them.

We had our afternoon tea on the lawn in front of the main entrance.

A watercolour of Stafford Place by Nelson artist Christopher Vine which features in his book “Nelson Observed.”

At approximately 4.15pm, as the afternoon drew to a close, we presented gift vouchers to our very gracious hostess who had made us all feel so welcome.


The stables before restoration. Underneath an owners’ timeline.


The stables today after restoration.

Old Nelson: postcards from our past

Trafalgar St from from Church Hill: an afternoon scene looking north from the Church Steps, sometime about 1915-16. Motor cars mix with bicycles, sidecars, landaus and other horse traffic. On the corner with Hardy St (at right) can be seen the photographer’s own small car; strapped to it is the ladder used for his street views. RP F. N. Jones

Old Nelson – a postcard history 1900-1940 by Rob Packer and Barney Brewster, published by Nikau Press, became available for sale in our local bookstores just before Christmas 2017.  On March 1st, 2018 its co-authors spoke to our society’s meeting and offered some insights into its production.  The images and text reproduced on this site are with their permission and that of the publishers.

To those who have grown up in Nelson, the settings of most of the postcards will be very familiar but the clothes, modes of transport, the crowded nature or emptiness of some of the street scenes are greatly changed.  Yet if you look at the two young men crossing Bridge Street on page 13,  with their slicked- back hair, and stovepipe trousers showing a fashionable amount of ankle -( their socks might have been shocking pink or ming blue) – straight out of the late 1950’s.

To quote from the book’s blurb:  “On the edge of Empire then, the Nelson region was also on the cusp of modernity, as will be seen in this first selection from a notable private collection of postcards.  They do say that the past is another country, and how foreign this one looks, yet familiar too.  It’s surely Nelson town and country, but how very different the shoreline was then!  And not just the seafront, unsurprisingly.  Old wagons raise dust old ships and trains belch smoke – and young people play in the street.  Hatted gents and ladies go about their business (or leisure) by horse cab or bicycle, or breeze about in quaint old cars.  Not that they were quaint then – they were quite the latest.  As for the antique fashions, every six year old wonders if these long-gone people realised at the time that they were living in the olden days, but we surely know  better.”

Hardy St looking west. Note the mix of horse drawn, motorised and people pedal power.

The postcards are not solely focused on Nelson and its immediate environs.  There are cards from Murchison (the earthquake ones), Golden Bay, the Waimea and the Moutere.  Most are from the F. N. Jones collection.  Some record famous events: the first aeroplane to land in Nelson/Stoke and Motueka, the visit of the Duke and Duchess of York in 1927 (later to be King and Queen), others natural events (a hail storm in 1911) and men training for war as well as the peace celebrations which finally followed.

A striking scene at high tide about 1914. Close to A. Miller’s sawmill on Miller’s Acre, the timber scow Orakei is moored where the main street meets a ford and a footbridge (cyclists failing to dismount for this were fined). The vehicle ramp for the river crossing looks too steep and later photos show it fenced off. Behind the houses is the impressive brick edifice opened in 1906, while further on, Tattersall’s Stables advertises horses and vehicles for hire. (Hounsell series)

When asked what guided their choice from the hundreds in Rob’s collection the reply was simple, “We chose the ones we liked.” So in each case the motivation for inclusion was some personal connection – a great way to ensure that this collection is full of life, made more meaningful by Barney’s commentary on each one which often draws attention to details which he was able to see more easily on the original negatives.

This is a fascinating overview of life in the Nelson Province in the first half of the 20th Century.

The first aircraft to land in Nelson the pilot had no flight plan and the Avro540K had to land for more petrol. “Its unexpected landing in Mr Marsden’s paddock caused a sensation in Stoke and very quickly there was a large assemblage at the scene,” the Evening Mail said. The plane soon took off again to the applause of onlookers who lined Songer St. Behind them is the Methodist Church, while the Turf Hotel is at right. RP F. N. Jones

Nine divers line up at Black Hole, about 1910-15. Two dogs frolic beyond the horse and the rowboat. The bridge just visible is pedestrian only; vehicles crossed at the ford alongside. Segregated bathing is the norm; the girls have Girlies’ Hole (used for College sports), above the Nile St bridge. RP F. N. Jones.

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.

Messines to sort 2 025

Messines to sort 2 050



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.

WSHS Higgins Heritage Park Visit 26th Sept 2017 004

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 ).