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.