Monday, 10 December 2012

Industrial Northland

On Saturday I went on a road trip with a couple of friends up to Kaitaia. It is the most northern town before the cape and, technically, then end of urban civilisation in New Zealand. Safe to say, there was not an awful lot worth seeing. However, on the way back we did stop by this old timber mill (we are all archaeologists.....)

It was originally driven by steam and is thought to be the oldest surviving industrial building of its kind.

Located in Totora North, it is assumed that the construction date is around the turn of the century, possibly just before. The oldest part of the building is below, I think (the site was cordoned off and it was at my own risk to go and inspect - we were in flipflops/jandals and thought it safer for our feet to stay the right side of the law) and apparently, the original wooden floor boards are still in situ along with parts of the machinery.

The remains bridge used to transport goods can still be seen at the bottom of this picture.

As you can see it was rather a hot day, so as a little treat, we stopped off at Matauri bay for a little paddle.....absolutely stunning and not a person in sight!

Hope your weekend was just as fun!

Monday, 5 November 2012

Rawene, Hokianga Harbour

I had to go over to Hokianga Harbour on Sunday for work purposes. While I was there I had a nosy around the town of Rawene (pronounced Row..en...ay). 

The landscape is stunning and there is a real mixture of buildings.


This is an art gallery, made me believe I was in the Caribbean!

Fruit and veg anyone? 

I was a bit early for work, so I went down to the sea and had a coffee and muffin overlooking the view in the sun!

If you are ever over this way, then do check out the Boatshed Cafe, there cakes really are worth the travel! 

Friday, 2 November 2012

Mangungu Mission House

This is possibly the remotest Mission house in the country, but boy does it have some views! 

Overlooking the Hokianga Harbour, Mangungu (pronounced Mung..nunu, the 'g' is a very guttural sound but my pronunciation is shocking) was established in 1828 as the second Wesleyan Mission in New Zealand, under the protection of the Ngapuhi chief, Eruera Maihi Patuone. 

The house was built in 1838-39 for the Rev. Nathaniel Turner, who, I think came from Scotland, but don't take my word on it. 

Mangnungu saw the introduction of the honey bee to New Zealand and also played it's part in the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840; an agreement between the English Crown and 540 Maori tribes on the distribution and power of land. The day it was signed, 6 February, is now a national holiday in New Zealand. 

Indeed, within the house is the actual table in which the Treaty was signed by the above in front of 3000 people, both Pakeha (Europeans) and Maori. 

The house itself follows the symmetrical Georgian style that was popular within Britain during the first half of the 1800s and is made from local kauri. The Kauri tree is one of the largest and, now, most sacred within NZ. Many are named and preserved through the Department of Conservation as they were cut down to near extinction due to their strength and size. 

The building is architecturally significant for depicting early 19th C timber-framed construction techniques, and is one of only a few surviving structures in the country that pre-dates New Zealand's establishment as a British colony.  However, it is in rather a bad state. The house is suffering badly from damp and daylight can be seen through both the floorboards and roof throughout the house. A lot of work is needed to bring it back to its former self. 

The house was actually moved, as a whole, in the 1970s down to Auckland and back again. A round trip of about 700km, so maybe on second-thoughts it is doing quite well! 

It's position certainly makes you wonder how those coming over on the ships from Europe would have found life in New Zealand in the early years, despite the easy access to the best fishing grounds in the north.  My boss told me a story concerning inter-tribal wars between the Maori, and I have to say I do not envy the first Pakeha who came over: 

Land disputes were common between Maori and there is one story of a new tribe who came up from the south and sheltered in a cave at the top of a mountain not far from here. The resident tribe, understandably, did not like the idea of new-comers and, knowing the land better than them, smoked them out of the cave in the darkness and slaughtered them and.........ate them. 

I can promise you, this does not happen any more and the residents are extremely nice and friendly!!

If you are up this way, it is certainly worth a look to take in the views and the history of the place. There is even an excellent pub 1km away that does cold beer and hot coffee. What more could you want?

Friday, 26 October 2012

Cape Reinga

Last weekend I went on a trip up to the most northern point of New Zealand, Cape Reinga. 

The weather was absolutely fantastic. 

This is not my usual sort of post, however, as a country NZ's history is far older than the 1830s and the mythology surrounding it is so interesting that I just have to share it with you. 

Maori culture is very spiritual and the upper half of the Northland, the peninsula from Kaitaia to Cape Reinga in particular, holds very strong Maori symbolisms. 

The name of the cape comes from the Maori word 'Reinga' or 'Underworld'. It is also known as 'Te Rerenga Wairua', meaning the 'leaping place of spirits'. 

According to Maori myth, it is believed that when someone passes away their spirit travels up the country on the 'Te Ara Wairua' or the 'Spirits Pathway'. 

The route the spirit travels takes them up through the North Island and onto Ninety Mile beach 

It is not actually 90 miles, but is so named after a group of sheep herders who used to migrate up and down this beach throughout the year. By their calculations it took them one day to do 30 miles. It took them 3 days to get from one end of the beach to the other.........90 mile beach! 

After soaring up 90 mile beach the spirits carry on over the land 

until they come to Cape Reinga where they would climb the roots of the 800 year old Kauri tree and then dive into the swirling waters of where the Tasman Sea (left) meets the Pacific Ocean (right)

For Maori, these turbulent waters are where the male sea 'Te Moana Tapokopoko a Tawhaki' meets the female sea 'Te Tai o Whitirela'. The whirlpools where the currents clash are thought to represent those that dance in the wake of the a waka (war canoe). They represent the coming together of male and female – and the creation of life. 

Here, the spirits would carry on swimming northwards until they reached the islands of the Three Kings, turn around, take one last look at their country and then dive down into the sea and continue on their journey to their traditional homeland, Hawaiki

It was an absolutely amazing day and to leave you, here is an oh-so-un-glamorous picture of me sand-boarding

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Stone Store, Kerikeri

So last week, on one of my days off work I went sightseeing round the local town and, you guessed it, I ended up at an historical building. Honestly, you really cannot keep me away. 

The Stone Store is NZ's oldest stone building. 

It was built between 1832 and 1836 and was meant to house all the produce and grain grown at Te Waimate Mission (last post). It is predominantly built of Volcanic Basalt, a durable, fire resistant material. Fire was a real risk at the mission stations and this is one of the reasons why the Store was built of stone, so that all their valuable produce would not go up in flames. 
The window surrounds, keystones, and quoins (corner stones) are of sandstone imported from New South Wales, Australia. The stonemason, William Parrot, was an ex-convict from NSW which is where he learnt his art. The building was designed by John Hobbs who was a Weslyan Missionary

It is free to get inside the ground floor, and the second and third floor displays are included in the price (NZ$10) to enter Kemp House next door (you'll have to wait for this post). The displays upstairs show an interesting and detailed account of European contact and development on NZ soil, and with the local indigenous population. The story of Hongi Hika, the chief of a local Maori tribe who came to England and took back 700 muskets after meeting King George IV, is particularly interesting. 

On the third floor it describes how the building was built and the roof itself still holds the original (there wasn't anything to tell me they aren't) timbers with the numbers written on in order for the construction team to match the correct cross beam with the correct roof truss!!!

However, as discussed in the last post, Te Waimate Mission was not as successful in cultivating crops as it was originally thought it would be, so it was predominantly used as a Kauri tree gum trading store. From 1929 is was used mainly as a trading store for general items until it was bought by NZHPT in 1976. 

Holding national and international heritage significance, the Stone Store is NZ's oldest commercial building and provides a valuable insight into the country's connection with international and national trade, as well as illustrating early colonial adaptation of local materials. Maori's who worked with the missionaries were known to have helped with the making of this building, many became fine stonemasons and carvers. 

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Waimate Mission, Northland, NZ

Kia Ora from downunder!

I have now been in NZ for nearly three weeks! Apologies for my lack of blogging, but I have had so much to see, do and get used to.

I am now up in Kerikeri, the country's most northern town, where I will be working for the New Zealand Historic Places Trust at Te Waimate Mission House on the property's collections and mill remains.

Te Waimate was built in 1832 when the first European Settlers landed in NZ to set up a Christian Mission house in order to educate the local Maori population.

It is the only one of three surviving missions to survive and I have to say, it is in relatively good condition. It was severly worked on by conservators in the 1960s and there are three main phases to the site. 

The first was from 1831 - 40 when the Clarke family travelled from the UK and set up the first residence here. It took a long time to construct and the surrounding land was not as good for farming as originally thought. In 1842, the Selwyns came over, again from the UK. It took 109 days by boat. For the first 10 days they were  allowed to get used to sea sickness and the living conditions, then it was a full day's work and study. George Selwyn became the first Bishop of NZ, however, on arrival, his wife, Sarah, complained of the unfinished and drafty house that had become her home.

The Mission was not as successful as originally hoped and by the end of the 1800s, the once flourishing community which had a church, school, village houses and mill had dwindled. However, throughout its successful years, the mission did receive famous visitors such as Charles Darwin who commented on the wide range of vegtables that were able to be grown here due to the more pleasant climate.

The church is a later addition to what originally stood here. This one was built around 1880 and is very much of the English Gothic style.

In the work done in the 1960s it's internal appearance was taken back to the time of the Clarke's inhabitants, walls were stripped of wall paper and are not predominantly unpainted wooden slats. The upstairs originally had one main 6 pane Georgian sash window in the centre, instead of the three that exist today.

Though by English standards it is not very old, this building records some of the first steps that Europeans took on NZ soil, their contact with the land, the Maori indigenous and their attempts to survive so far from home and everything that was familiar. It holds a very important part in the history of NZ as part of the Western World and for that reason, it is absolutely stunning. If not rather chilly.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Auckland, New Zealand

So I have arrived in New Zealand. Here is a preview of Auckland's neo-gothic buildings.....

The last one is Auckland's museum and war memorial.