Firstly I must thank you, our members for renewing your membership for the previous year and your on-going support. We are a small Society but I like to think we punch above our weight. The Waimea South is rich in history and it is the people who make history. I believe we can learn from previous generations from pioneers on down, who worked so hard to lay the foundations for the lifestyle we enjoy today.
MEETINGS AND FIELD TRIPS
22 May 2018 37th AGM.
27 June 2018 Committee Planning Meeting.
24 July Field Trip to Rob Packer’s Museum.
15 August Field Trip to Roding Dam in association with Vintage Car Club.
22 August Committee Meeting to discuss the Wakefield School’s 175th Anniversary.
27 September Meeting at Tasman District Library. Darryl Gallagher, Senior Curator of Photography at Nelson Provincial Museum spoke about their glass plate negative collection.
23 October Meeting at Tasman District Library. Gail Collingwood spoke about the history of ironing and displayed her extensive collection of vintage irons.
27 November Christmas meeting at Willow Bank.
29 January 2019 Committee Planning Meeting at home of Margaret Clark
26 February Meeting at Tasman District Library. A “Show & Tell” meeting where members spoke about “An Object of Historical Interest.”
28 March. Field trip to Wakapuaka Cemetery.
23 April. Meeting at Tasman District Library. Brad Cadwallader spoke about his work with the NZ Notable Trees Trust.
A total of 82 members attended 8 General Meetings and Field Trips which is an average attendance of 10 members who are mostly the same people each time. At the end of April 2019 the Society’s total membership was 26 with some members still to pay subscriptions for 2019-2020.
My term as President comes to an end with this meeting. I intend to continue as an active member and attend meetings and go on field trips.
As you know I had a stroke in October 2014 so I apologise for any shortcomings due to my stroke that you may have noticed.
Over the past year two of our members, John Ward and Colin Mann passed away.Our condolences go to John and Colin’s families. Colin was a very skilled photographer and we will miss his photos. As a mark of respect please stand for a minute to remember them.
We will have our first Committee Meeting in June. I would suggest that after the meeting, which can be held at my place, we have a viewing of a table of historic items prepared by Marjorie. This viewing would be open to all members. I would hope members would see the items on display as better than mere bric- a- brac. A cup of tea will be available.
In conclusion I thank Arnold for doing the Secretary’s job so well and Margaret for looking after the finances. Roger has helped in so many ways and I thank him for his wise counsel willingly given.
To all members I ask that you put forward ideas for interesting speakers or historic places we could visit. So don’t be shy.
28 May, 2019
Paul Bensemann Speaks on 175 years of German Settlement in Nelson’s Upper Moutere.
We had the good fortune this week to hear Paul Bensemann speak about Nelson’s German settlers who first arrived in 1843 on the St. Pauli. He illustrated his talk with historical and contemporary photographs of his family on a trip back to their roots in Hamburg.
Why did they emigrate? Paul believes that although there was a shortage of paid employment in the 1830’s the main reason was the tension between the German states at this time. Unification under one political system did not
come about until late January 1871 when Prussia under Bismarck defeated France after persuading all the German states to fight together against a common enemy. The Germans were also attracted by the stability of the British Empire at that time.
When the first emigrant ship the St. Pauli arrived, however, they discovered to their dismay few signs of European settlement. Contrary to the expectations of some, there was no town or any kind of settlement. The land which they had purchased (obviously sight unseen) was either swampy or bush covered and so their first task was to clear it and drain the land before any cultivation could be achieved. Their diet at first was mainly native birds and eels – of which there were many. Mice and rats were also abundant and with a reliance on rice it was difficult to avoid contamination of this vital food source. For some time they lived on a diet of eels and native birds. Many were so disillusioned that over 50% of the first settlers left New Zealand for South Australia.
Cordt Bensemann who arrived with his family on the Skiold in September 1844 eventually built a house at Upper Moutere Village in 1850 and in 1857 after adding a two-storey wing it became a popular inn. It is now the oldest pub in New Zealand to be operating in its original building.
The strength and stamina of some of these German settlers became legendary. Paul recounted a pub fight in which it took several broken chairs and tables to subdue one of the brawlers.
The role of women for the period was clear and conventional: to be child bearers and child minders, to organise the household and provide food for the men and to attend church regularly. Being a skilful seamstress was also an obvious attribute.
“The Filthy Hun”
The First World War produced some unwarranted prejudice against German settlers. Julius B. Lemmer, Principal of the Nelson School of Music, suffered from a campaign waged against him by the “NZ Truth” newspaper even though his son died fighting for the Allies in Gallipoli. An indication of the tone that paper adopted in discussing this issue can best be gained by making the following link to Papers Past of 1918: (https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/NZTR19180309.2.13?query=Lemmer&snippet=true&title=NZTR&type=ARTICLE)
Nelson itself was also not exempt from “Truth’s” snide remarks: (https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/NZTR19180216.2.39?query=Lemmer&snippet=true&title=NZTR&type=ARTICLE) and as the war progressed so did the anti-German sentiment but the board of the NSM remained loyal to their Principal. A vote for establishing a new board was resoundingly defeated. Lemmer worked for 45 years in Nelson, finally retiring in 1944.
There were a surprising number of those present who had family links to these first settlers from Germany, only distinguishable now by their surnames.
(NB All images from presentation by P. Bensemann)
…And we just listened to him with considerable interest, Mr Brad Cadwallader, that is, who was our guest speaker on Tuesday 23rd April, 2019. Brad is the Manager of the New Zealand Tree Register which records notable trees all over the country.
Trees live much longer than people. While the Biblical Methuselah may have lived for 969 years, the oldest known tree in the world is a bristle cone pine which is calculated to be 4,848 years old. It is located in the White Mountains of California together with one other said to be over 5,000 years old. By comparison, New Zealand’s Tane Mahuta in the Waipoua Forest is middle-aged at 1,250 to 2,500 years old.
There are 1,416 trees on the Register: 53 in Tasman (12 in Wakefield) and 83 in Nelson. It is interesting to note that although Edward Baigent selected Wakefield as the area which was “suitable for his purposes” ie., timber milling, there are still so many notable trees in the area.
Because the New Zealand’s climate is ideal for growing trees, we have some of the largest in the world and some of these are growing in our local area:
- Victoria Blue Gum (outside Waimea College)
- Silvertop Ash (Church Hill)
- Smooth-barked Apple (Hobsonville)
- Poplar (Frimley Park)
- Norfolk Island Pine (Hawkes Bay)
- Tasmanian Blue Gum (largest recorded in NZ)
- Mountain Ash – 73.5 metres
- English Oak planted by Sarah Greenwood at The Grange (Motueka)
- Barrington Gum (Richmond)
- English Oak (Wakefield)
Of historical interest, of course) is the totara tree under which Edward Baigent slept when he visited Wakefield for the first time.
Anyone can apply to have a notable tree listed on the register – just consult the website on how to go about it.
(*With apologies to Lerner and Loewe)
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.
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.
Graves of other well- known figures which Judith pointed out were: Samuel Kirkpatrick (jam maker),
John Griffin (biscuit & sweet maker), Thomas Brunner (explorer), the Richardson sisters, Bishop Suter,
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.
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
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 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.
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,
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.
PRESIDENT’S REPORT FOR AGM, 22 MAY, 2018
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.
MEETINGS AND FIELD TRIPS
- 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.
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.
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.
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
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.)
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.