Friday, 30 August 2013

Exploring Katikati

Guest contribution by Kathy Webb, Western Bay of Plenty District Council

Today I learnt more about history than I have learnt in many years. Western Bay of Plenty District Council’s Local History day gave Katikati’s historians the opportunity to tell their stories to an alert and avid audience. The Katikati Heritage Museum hosted a large crowd of people from Rotorua, Tauranga, Te Puke, Omokoroa, Waihi Beach and Katikati, all eager to learn more.

But alongside the local history we also learnt a large amount of technical information about completing research through a wider knowledge of the history of photos. From daguerreotypes to postcards, from cartes de visite to vernacular snapshots; the types of photos that have been long-lasting and those that have been short-lived; and how they can give valuable information and vital clues for sorting through the tangle of family history.

Visiting Waterford, the historical precinct of Katikati led to several stories about local identities, such as Doctor Joe in the 1960s who would take ownership of the whole road by parking in the middle of it, outside the shop where he needed to do his business. Regularly the population of Katikati would accept his ownership and drive around him. Original buildings, as well as the sites of some no longer standing, were identified and described with personal stories to entertain.

Authors talked about their published books and proposed biographies of original identities from the area and we heard about the forward plans for the community-owned Katikati Heritage Museum. The day was finished off with a talk about the logging industry, illustrated with an old-style slide show and a visit to the replica log tram rail complete with ENORMOUS log, now resident at the site of the old log train at the Katikati Heritage Museum.

Many thanks to our presenters:
Brett Payne – Photohistorian and author of Photo-Sleuth
Max Avery – Author and researcher
Paula Gaelic – Manager, Katikati Heritage Museum
Rosalie Smith, Joan Boggiss, Lesley Board – Waterford Historical Precinct – with acknowledgements to Val Baker
Christine Clement – Author and researcher on local history
Warren Geraghty, Dept of Conservation - Logging in the Kaimais.
Sam & Rollo Dunlop – for installing the log train.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

On this day in 1873

Spring Street, Tauranga, c.1900
Image courtesy of Tauranga City Library
28 August 1873 - First brew of beer from the Springwell Brewery.
The brewery was situated in the tall building with three windows at the centre of this photograph, on the north-west corner of Spring and Willow Streets.
The Bay of Plenty Times, 30 April 1888
Image courtesy of Papers Past

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

What's on in September

Statuette, Brain Watkins House
Monthly Meeting and Talk

Sunday 1st September 2013 2.00 p.m.
In the hall at the rear of the Brain Watkins House
Dr Peter Vickers, will talk to us about Cameron, Grey and the Invasion of the Waikato.

Friday, 23 August 2013

The Peace Monument on the summit of Mauao

The Peace Monument on Top of Mount Maunganui
Mirrielees Series 48.
The Peace Monument on the summit of Mauao marks the spot where a beacon fire was lit on July 19th 1919 to commemorate peace. On the 19th February 1920 the Bay of Plenty Times reported:
The peace memorial tablet which is to be erected on the site of the peace beacon fire on the crest of Mauao has arrived here. It is of New Zealand stone, weighing about 1cwt. and bears an inscription setting forth the object of its erection and the names of the sixteen localities which responded to the fire signal by similar beacons at elevated positions on the mainland and adjacent islands. The transport of the marble block to the summit is a laborious operation , but will not call for as much strength and vigour as the voluntary carrying of the seventy tar barrels to the top on the occasion of the beacon fire. The work of carrying the block to the summit of Mauao has been undertaken by the same enthusiastic band which so effectively carried out the work in connection with the original fire on July 19.
Detail of plaque
On this spot on July 19th 1919 a beacon fire was lit to commemorate PEACE.  Answering signals were received from:  Otanewainuku, Pawharangi, Omanawa (2), Kati Kati Heads, Whakamarama, Motiti Isd., Te Puna Point, Maketu, Omokoroa, Otamarakau, Matakana Isd., Pikowai, Athenree, Paengaroa.
The memorial stone was commissioned from Parkinson and Co. Auckland at the cost of 11 pounds and 5 shillings. It was a further 18s 4d to freight it to Mt. Maunganui.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

On this day in 1870

Ebenezer Goddard Norris
Image © and courtesy of Tauranga City Libraries
After local residents sent a request to the Superitendent of Auckland Province, the Tauranga Highways Board was gazetted and Trustees were elected at a meeting in the Masonic Hotel on 22nd August 1870.  They were John Chadwick (property owner), Samuel Clarke and John Moorom (settlers), Ebeneezer Norris (storekeeper) and James Campney (proprietor of the Masonic Hotel).  The first Board had a very short life, a new Tauranga North Highways Board being elected the following month (30 September) to look after the roads of the township's centre. Ebenezer Norris, pictured above, was on both of these Boards.


Bellamy, A C (ed.) (1982) Tauranga 1882-1982, Tauranga: Tauranga City Council [Courtesy of Stephanie Smith].

Stokes, E. (1980) A History of Tauranga County, Palmerston North: Dunmore Press.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

On this day in 1878

The Lady Jocelyn
Image courtesy of the Sailing Ships Picture Gallery
The Lady Jocelyn arrived in Auckland on 17 August 1878 with the second party of Katikati settlers. Apart from George Vesey Stewart's parents, brother Hugh and sister-in-law Adela, the No. 2 party included "two Generals, a Major, two or three Captains and Lieutenants, a Canon, a Doctor, no end of pretty girls and fine young men."


Bellamy, A C (ed.) (1982) Tauranga 1882-1982, Tauranga: Tauranga City Council [Courtesy of Stephanie Smith].

Stokes, E. (1980) A History of Tauranga County, Palmerston North: Dunmore Press.

Friday, 16 August 2013

Edwardian Undergarments

Elva Brain's chemise, Brain Watkins House Collection
Over her drawers, the Edwardian lady would slip on a chemise – a long sleeveless gown protecting the skin from the corset. Next would come the corset designed to shape the figure into the current trendy profile.  Over the corset was a corset cover to protect the outer garment, and in particular, to hide the undergarments if the dress was of a sheer fabric.  Often these undergarments were more decorated than a dress.

The cotton ‘petticoat’ photographed is an example of ‘waste not, want not.’  It appears that one petticoat has been cut down, and a top from another garment attached, with sleeves added.  The length suggests that it was made for a young Elva , as some of the many rows of fine tucks appear to have been unpulled as she grew.

Although all the stitching is machine sewn, it was probably done on a treadle machine. The garment is embellished with wide borders of commercial broderie Anglaise. A deep panel of Buckram- a stiff fabric- is stitched beneath the bottom of the skirt, and again decorated with many rows of fine tucks. This served to hold out the bottom of the dress worn over it.

An interesting feature of this garment is the ‘ribbon’ that is threaded through the insertion lace. A closer examination reveals that is a piece of jersey fabric cut to fit, and very cleverly done.  Whether this garment was made in this way because materials were hard to obtain, or whether it was that nothing that could be reused efficiently should be wasted, we will never know.

Friday, 9 August 2013

Down These Mean Streets: Street hazards of early Tauranga

Looking north along The Strand, c. 1883, showing the wooden seawall that was built to separate the roadway from the beach.
Image © and courtesy of Tauranga City Libraries Ref. 04-250
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the streets of Tauranga presented many perils to the unwary. Crime and violence, though not entirely unknown, were not the problem: it was the state of the streets themselves. Here are some of the challenges faced by citizens and visitors as they tried to go about their business.

Looking south along The Strand, c.1909, showing the concrete seawall, and the stout wooden cages protecting the palm trees from stock.
Image © and courtesy of Tauranga City Libraries Ref. 99-1308
The Sea. ‘Strand’ means ‘beach’, and Tauranga’s Strand was at first called Beach Street or simply The Beach, because that is what it was. The Strand got a wooden seawall in the 1870s, and was further buttressed by a concrete wall in 1902, but before that an easterly gale would dump sea water and sand into the shops.

Cows on Cameron Road, Tauranga c.1920s. The wide grass verges of Cameron Road being ‘mown’ by the Borough’s licensed cows.
Image © and courtesy of Tauranga City Libraries Ref. 11-109
Cows. The licensed cows of Tauranga were allowed to browse the grass verges until 1932. Unfortunately they did not restrict themselves to acting as the Borough Council’s unpaid mowing machines. They also snacked on garden blooms (an indignant householder produced half-eaten sunflowers as evidence at one Council meeting), palm trees on the Strand (in spite of the stout wooden cages around the plantings), and even cabbages at the greengrocer’s. Even when peacefully chewing the cud, they tripped people up in the dark Avenues at night, and blocked the entrances to shops.

Bulls. Where cows are, there may be bulls. The Bay of Plenty Times warned its readers of a bull wandering the streets in March 1876.

Horses. Horses roaming free were less tolerated than cattle. Faster and more skittish than cows, they regularly frightened pedestrians, and on at least one occasion a child was kicked in the head.

Dogs at The Strand, Tauranga, Undated, Loose print by unidentified photographer
Image © and courtesy of the Tauranga Heritage Collection
Dogs. On the Strand in 1915, the motley forerunners of Hairy McLary and his friends felt quite at home. ‘Yellow dogs, black and white dogs, tan dogs, and others’ allegedly barked, slept, fought, and bit people with impunity. The unknown ‘dog-poisoning fiend’ reduced the town’s canine population by killing 20 animals between the Strand and Tenth Avenue in the summer of 1917. However, only a month later a large and ferocious bulldog was said to be roaming the streets at night.

(to be continued)

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

August Meeting: A Few of My Favourite Things by Stephanie Smith

On Sunday afternoon Stephanie gave us an entertaining and visually delightful introduction to ten of her favourite items from the archives and rare books collections of Tauranga City Libraries.

The items range from the gorgeous and glamorous (Volume I of Buller's lavish History of the Birds of New Zealand, 1888, in gold-stamped green leather) to the deceptively drab (a tiny battered diary that accompanied its owner through the hardships of army life in the Middle East in 1919).

Image © and courtesy of Tauranga City Libraries Ref. 05-294
They are not all books, either. Horatio Gordon Robley's lively watercolour of a waka race on Tauranga Harbour on Boxing Day 1865 shows the people of Tauranga out enjoying themselves, after the tense times of the land wars.

The contents of one box came as a surprise to some in the audience, as you might not expect to find a collection of embroidered tablecloths in an archive which looks after the documentary heritage of the Bay of Plenty. However, it all depends on context: the tablecloths form part of a donation from the Tauranga South Women's Institute, which went into recess a few years ago and recently gave the linen, along with other material, to Research Collections.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

August 2013 Newsletter

Marquetry from cupboard in bedroom, Brain Watkins House
Monthly Society Meetings

Unless otherwise stated, all general meetings of the Society are held at 2.p.m. on the first Sunday of the month in the hall at the rear of the Brain Watkins House, followed  by afternoon tea.

4 August 2013 -  Our president Stephanie Smith will talk about “A few of my favourite things” – special items from the archives at the Tauranga Library. On this occasion the meeting will be held at the Okahukura Room on the first floor of the Library.

1 September 2013 -  Brigid Gallagher, late of the History Channel’s Time Team will tell us about her finds from below the Grumpy Mole, the site of three former Tauranga Hotels.

6 October  2013 -  Peter Vickers BDS (Defence Studies)  will speak on ‘Cameron, Grey and the Invasion of the Waikato’

3 November 2013 - to be advised.

New display cabinet in History Room, Brain Watkins House

Thanks to the generosity of a benefactor who prefers to remain anonymous, your Committee has been able to commission a display cabinet for the History Room. Some of the house's smaller treasures can now be displayed safely and attractively. Members are encouraged to come and have a look. Our very grateful thanks to the donor.

Cemetery Activities

The shorter days and colder weather have slowed the wet and forget spraying in Tauranga's historic cemeteries. Heather McLean and Fiona Kean have now completed several sprays of the Avenue's cemeteries and have begun the older section of the Pyes Pa cemetery.  They are happy to report that the 'Wet and Forget' is doing its job, and many of the inscriptions which had previously been obscured are now visible. Spraying will start again when the weather gets warmer.

The graves of Joseph and Kate Brain lie in the 17th Avenue Methodist cemetery. Their daughters Elva and Bessie are also buried in another row there.

Brain Family News

The death occurred in Hamilton in July of Arthur Joseph (Dick) McNaughton at the age of 94. He was the last surviving grandchild of Joseph and Kate Brain.  He served as a sergeant in the 2nd Expeditionary Force in WW2, and is included in the photograph with his brothers on the timeline in the History Room.

Email Newsletter Distribution

If you are continuing to receive your newsletter by snail mail, but have email, please advise the secretary at, and further contact will be by that medium. 

Monday, 5 August 2013

On this day in 1864

Surrender of the Ngaiterangi at Te Papa, Watercolour by H.G. Robley
Ref: A-033-010. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.
On 5th and 6th August 1864, Governor Grey accepted the submission of Ngaiterangi to the authority of Queen Victoria, after the battles of Gate Pa and Te Ranga.  The subsequent confiscation of land marked the opening of the Tauranga district to organised Europen settlement.
Scene at Tauranga, with Ngati Rangi bringing in their arms and the arms of British soldiers captured in battle, after the battle of Gate Pa. The White Ensign is flying on a flagpole. A large group of Maori is seated, with their leader, Hori Ngatai standing in the centre and speaking. The captured British swords are plunged into the ground close to the table where the peace agreement is being signed. A two-storied European house at upper left and another house in the background
The Alexander Turnbull Library has a date of 25th July 1864 for this water colour, so the meeting depicted may have taken place a little earlier than the formal ceremony.


Bellamy, A C (ed.) (1982) Tauranga 1882-1982, Tauranga: Tauranga City Council [Courtesy of Stephanie Smith].

Stokes, E. (1980) A History of Tauranga County, Palmerston North: Dunmore Press.

Saturday, 3 August 2013

On this day in 1835

A missionary raupo house at Te Papa Mission Station, Tauranga, March 1839.
Ref: PUBL-0098-01-05-15. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand
In August 1835, the first C.M.S. mission at Tauranga was occupied by W.R. Wade, the site on the peninsula at Te Papa having been selected by Alfred Nesbitt Brown and William Williams a year earlier. Between May 1836 and January 1838 the station was cared for by a number of missionaries who were without their families, assisted by Matiu Paratakone Tahu. Rev. Brown and his family only arrived to live at Te Papa permanently in January 1838.

A sketch of the entrance of Tauronga [Tauranga], by Capt Thomas Wing, June 1835.
Ref: MapColl-832.16aj/1835/Acc.423. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.
In the same month, Captain Thomas Wing produced the earliest known sketch of Tauranga Harbour.
A hydrographic chart sketching the entrance of the Tauranga Harbour, depicting the path of the British Navy ship 'Fanny', around Mount Maunganui and Waikouwai, with full sounding information. Identifies fortified pa site named 'Tumaitai Pa', the accompanying diagram identifies six whare or houses and two storage huts.

The Elms History Timeline, on The Elms Misson Station web site

Bellamy, A C (ed.) (1982) Tauranga 1882-1982, Tauranga: Tauranga City Council [Courtesy of Stephanie Smith].

Matheson, A. (2012) Tahu, Matiu Parakatone, from the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, updated 30-Oct-2012.

Stokes, E. (1980) A History of Tauranga County, Palmerston North: Dunmore Press.

Taylor, Richard (Rev) (1940) Making New Zealand; Pictorial surveys of a century, Wellington, Department of Internal Affairs, Ref: PUBL-0098-01-05-15.

Friday, 2 August 2013

Alf Rendell, photographer

Photo © Fiona Kean
Despite apprenticeship offers, and his father’s encouragement that he take a government job, Alf Rendell chose photography and stuck with it. It was, after all, in his blood. 

Alf’s father, Robert John Rendell was a professional photographer. Trained in Hamilton he travelled the country taking images that were often published in the Auckland Weekly News. Finding work scarce after the First World War he moved his family to Tauranga to become the town’s meter reader working with the electrical pioneer Lloyd Mandeno. In 1926 his desire to return to photography led him to purchase a photographic business from Robert Meers.

This photograph  includes a view of the Cabana Lodge on Adams Ave. It is the two storied building between Mt Maunganui Road and The Mall. Other notable buildings in this image include Adams Cottage to the right of the Lodge, the Oceanside Hotel and the Peter Pan Hall at the base of Mt Drury. Photo © Alf Rendell
Initially working from home in Edgecumbe Road the business grew and a studio was established in the Triangle Building at the bottom of Devonport Road. Downstairs Alf’s mother ran the shop while upstairs his  father took portraits. His sister Marje developed film and colour tinted photographs, something she was very good at. It was Marje who showed Alf how to work in a dark room and he clearly remembers developing his first film. The joy he felt when the image was revealed has always stayed with him.

With his father’s health failing in 1938 Alf, aged 20, took over the business only to find himself closing it in 1941 when army service in the Pacific called. Although the studio was converted into a Chinese Laundry the sympathetic  landlord promised the building would be available on Alf’s return.

On the corner of Spring and Durham Streets was Sam Snowden's Service Station, one of several stations in town. The Austin 10 to the right of the photograph was owned by Alf who took this shot in the 1950s.  Photo © Alf Rendell
After the war Rendell’s Photoservice included a Candid Studio, photo finishing and camera retail. Alf also worked as a freelance photographer trading under the name Renwood Studio. Finding himself pulled in too many directions Alf made the decision to sell, keeping only the retail side of the business which he passed on to his son Graham, also a photographer.

Over his more than 80 years of taking photographs in Tauranga Alf has captured many important moments from smiling babies to happy wedding days. He’s flown in aeroplanes to get panoramic views and recorded buildings and businesses that have long since disappeared. It is Tauranga’s history that Alf captured through his lens and continues to share with others.  

If you would like to purchase a Rendell print call Alf on 07 576 9237