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.
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.
“On 14th February 1916 the steamship Nikau ceremonially entered Port Motueka by breaking a white ribbon tied between the Motueka wharf and Jackett’s Island. It was a day of celebration for Motueka, the culmination of four years of planning and building a new harbour entrance and wharf.”
On 14th February 2016 members of Waimea South Historical Society gathered with 100-200 locals from the Motueka area beside the marina to celebrate the
publication of a history of that wharf written by Carol Dawber.
The book project is a collaboration between the Motueka and Districts Historical Association book committee who arranged funding, selected images and researched the information; writer Carol Dawber who wrote the photo captions; and Picton-based publisher River Press which co-ordinated and produced the book.
It is the fruition of over 12 months researching, fund raising, writing and proof reading.
The afternoon was a brilliantly fine one such as only Nelson can provide and those without suitable protective hats sought out the few pockets of shade available.
A folk song especially composed and sung by a member of local band Jiggery Folkery, accompanied by piano accordian and recorder, about the old wharf, aptly set the plaintive mood of a bygone era.
The occasion began with refreshments and food on tables laden with country fare, music played, speeches were made and the author provided background details to her work. Then a very long queue formed of those who had come to purchase and have their copy signed.
All credit is due to the Motueka District and Valleys’ Historical Association who had organised the event as well as working to collect the many photographs with which the book is illustrated.
It was a very pleasant and enjoyable afternoon and one which we shall remember.
On Saturday 31st October, 2015, our group travelled south to the Tophouse Hotel to meet with the St Arnaud history group led by Chris Richards.and Helen Campbell to learn more about the area and the historic hotel – now for sale.
After being treated to an excellent morning tea, Helen talked to us about the accommodation houses which had been established in the area from the earliest times of European settlement.
The current hotel is not the first and only but the fourth to serve the needs of the drovers and travellers moving between Beavertown (Blenheim) Canterbury, the West Coast and Nelson.
Helen spoke of the “master builder in cob”of Tophouse, Ned James, and described the method he used: not clay bricks or rammed earth in wooden forms but by simply piling up the wet clay from the foundation which meant that the walls had to be wider at the bottom and narrowed in at the top. It has certainly stood the “test of time” having survived both the Murchison and Inangahua earthquakes without any apparent damage.
“The hotel was completed for the Longneys in 1888 “in the middle of winter” and “dancing went on all night”. In the morning 17 inches of snow and 2 miles of downed telegraph wires to Rotoiti meant that William White and many others of the dancing party were marooned. White made temporary repairs to the lines in his party clothes and many wore William’s spare clothes – quite a sight as he was a very short man! The party went on as they were snow bound for a week with dancing every night with musicians.” (Helen Campbell from her text ‘Tophouses’)
Ned James constructed many of the accommodation houses in Nelson and Marlborough, including Tophouse, Rainbow, Tarndale and Acheron (Homestead 1862/63- built with tussock-thatched roof with beech rafters tied with flax) and the Molesworth Cob Cottage 1885.
He had been at various times a ships builder/carpenter, blacksmith, house builder, stationhand and rope maker.
The group expressed their concerns about the future of the hotel, which is currently for sale, and how it might be managed and run as a focal point for the history of the area.
Helen’s talk was followed by one from a local archivist who explained how she was gathering together and storing archival material from the area in a room which had been set aside next to the hall in the St Arnaud village.
After lunch we visited the earlier sites and an old school building where one of our members, Neil Puklowski, had attended primary school.
It was a sunny, clear and warm spring day and everyone left with a better appreciation of the history of the area and one of the oldest buildings in the district.
Helen Campbell for her information on the history of the Top Houses
Nelson Provincial Museum for the Photograph of Ned James.
On October 28th our members met at Hoddy’s Orchard in Aniseed Valley Road to view an early (1860) cob house built by members of the Busch family.
It is unclear whether it was constructed by Hans Busch who arrived in Nelson with his wife Dorothea and 5 of their children in 1844 on the German immigrant ship the Skiold or by one of his sons. It is a real gem, a typical early cob house with cellar
and dormer windows and is currently listed by Heritage New Zealand with a category B rating. After viewing the house (and for some the cellar also) we travelled over the Aniseed Valley hill to the Hans Busch Memorial Reserve
where Hans and his wife lie buried in the garden of the family farm (though where exactly is uncertain). Two of our members: Wayne Price (a direct descendant of Hans) and Maryanne Mann spoke of their connection to the Busch family.
Afternoon tea was enjoyed together and we concluded a very enjoyable afternoon before the threatening rain began.
George was the son of Robert and Sarah Kidd of Hope.
In 1894, at the age of 27 he married Chrissina Edith Newth. They had one child, Merle, who later moved to Christchurch where she died unmarried.
Jean Sutton in her book How Richmond Grew describes him as a very tall, stately gentleman. He was meticulous in dress, and sported a well-trimmed beard. The wags of Richmond called him “Billy Goat Kidd.” He worked for some time as a real-estate agent for F. & D. Edwards.
George served one term as mayor of Richmond from 1925-1927. He owned a motor car and with his wife would chaperone elderly widowed ladies on outings into Nelson to fulfil appointments. He aslo acted as an accountant for these folk.
On 10th March, 1910, he moved into a new house at 8 Edward St, Richmond. It was an elegant villa built entirely of heart rimu, probably by W.E. Wilkes. It had high panelled ceilings, ornately carved mantels, polished floors, high skirting boards and solid timber doors.
A curved carriage-way led to elegant two-storied stables at the rear. These were converted into a residence by Mr C. Wiren in 1938 who later sold to Mr Simpson. In the 1950’s Ron and Merle Craig bought the Stables and lived there with their family for 43 years.
George died in 1950 aged 83 and his wife a few years later. They are buried in Section 3, Row 5 of the Richmond cemetery and for a man who had been mayor of Richmond the inscription on their tombstone is remarkably brief. It reads: In loving memory of George Kidd and his wife Edith.
Deborah and Giles Grigg turned 8 Edward St into a B & B. They changed the name from Roseneath to Mapledurham after their village in England.
Currently, Mapledurham is owned by John and Carol Syme and The Stables by Jonathan and Jayne Watkins.
Acknowledgement: Sutton, Jean: How Richmond Grew, 1992.
Behind Mapledurham, linked by a curved carriageway, was constructed at the same time as the house a stable and coach house with living accomodation above.
This was converted into a complete residence by Mr C. Wiren in 1938 and later sold to Mr Simpson. In the 1950’s Mr Ron Craig bought the Stables and lived there with his wife Merle and their children for 43 years. Its current owners are Jayne and Jonathan Watkins. In addition to the alterations made by the Craigs, who extended the lounge and created a verandah on the western side, they have further extended the lounge, increased the size of the kitchen and added to it a pitched roof. Currently they are busy developing the gardens.
When the lounge walls were being re-gibbed, some curious tallies were discovered written on the wooden sarking (see pictures).
It was very fortunate that Mr Craig was on hand to talk about his family’s time living there and how a disasterous fire was narrowly averted. This added greatly to member’s appreciation of the building.
Wayne, our Vice President, thanked Jayne and Jonathan for their hospitality and presented them with a gift. Members were then free to wander through the house and to appreciate the additions and restored features with items sympathetic to the period. The Stables are fortunate to be in the hands of enthusiastic and dedicated owners who obviously love old houses.
Members were treated to some wonderful Kiwi hospitality on 23rd of September when they visited 8 Edward Street, Richmond – Mapledurham (formerly Roseneath), the home of John and Carol Syme.
Their house which is listed in the Tasman District Council’s District scheme as a house of “Historic Interest” presented its best face to about 20 members on a day of bright and windy sunshine.
It was built of heart rimu between 1909 and 1910 by Richmond’s well-known builder W.E.Wilkes. With over 3 metre high ceilings,
corner fireplaces and two porte-cocheres at the main entrances, it is a beautiful example of Edwardian craftsmanship using New Zealand materials and with its two long verandahs on the north-eastern and west sides of the house designed for New Zealand conditions.
Note the pressed metal sheet in the gable end and detailed wood decoration.
After the current owners had been introduced to the group, and the President had presented some background information on George Kidd
Afterwards, John and Carole treated members to a magnificent afternoon tea, very much in keeping with the house and lifestyle of the period. Later the President thanked them and made a presentation of period china.
On Saturday the 8th March 2014, at 2.00pm under a brilliantly blue sky hundreds of young men from the Nelson and Marlborough districts were remembered as their regimental badge picked out in white rocks on a hillside above their training ground was re-dedicated at Tapawera.
One of their number, Maurice Abrahams, now aged 95 sounded the Last Post and later, in an old-time variety concert, enertained with his saxaphone a small but appreciative audience – along with other locals and members of the Nelson Savage Club.
A team of young handbell ringers led by Frances Rae treated everyone present to the unusual and unique delights of handbell ringing from the collection assembled by Edward Edridge in the 1880’s and now in the care of the Nelson School of Music.
It was the beginning of our remembrance of those soldiers who 100 years ago travelled 12,000 miles from New Zealand to the battlefields of France and Gallipoli – one tenth of the population of New Zealand at that time, who became actively engaged in World War I – many of whom were never to return.