Tuesday, 5 November 2019

Waikato Hounds in Tauranga

Waikato Hounds in Tauranga. Postcard by Talma Studios (41), c. 1910-1914
Image courtesy of Tauranga Heritage Collection, Ref. N4F4D5

At the beginning of the 20th century the Waikato Hounds were regular visitors to Tauranga and were hosted by the Tauranga Hunt Club, which was formed in 1897. Hunt Club members were from well-known Tauranga families and many of the hunts ranged across Otumoetai farms owned by Tollemache, Matheson, Baigent and Darragh.

Unfortunately the exact date of this photograph is not known although it is thought to have been taken between 1910 and 1914. The group appear in front of the Tauranga Hotel on the corner of Harington Street and The Strand.

Saturday, 2 November 2019

Alf Rendell turns 102

Local legend and historical society member Alf Rendell turned 102 today.  Alf started his day in style with a tour of the city in this vintage beauty. Happy birthday Alf.

Photos by Fiona Kean

Friday, 1 November 2019

Ceramic Water Filter

This ceramic water filter from the late 1860s-1870s and donated to the museum collection by Elva Brain, is currently housed with the museum collection. It was used by the Brain family to provide clean safe drinking water for their needs. There are two handles and a hole at the base where a tap would have been located. Flowers in relief over the surface and a coat of arms/crest in the centre above the tap. The name J. Carder is imprinted above the crest.

Joshua Carder operated major clay works at Limeburners Bay, Hobsonville, Auckland, from 1863 to 1929. According to a Archaeological Report completed by Clough & Associates in 2008:

“Joshua Carder arrived in New Zealand in September 1863 and soon after he was producing pottery at Hobsonville, his wife and sons arriving to join him in 1865. The skills he had gained in Staffordshire set him up well for production in his new country. He had plaster moulds for press moulding ornamental pieces including sporting scenes and sheaves of wheat. He no doubt made use of these moulds as well as producing more functional wares. Joshua Carder’s sons, Walter and George, set up their own pottery in 1872.”

The filter when in use, had a layer of soft cotton in the base. If available, another layer of charcoal covered the cotton, with a layer of fine clean sand on top. Water poured into the top of the jar would filter down through these layers and when the tap at the bottom was turned on, clean water emerged. This method of purifying water is still a practical alternative in certain areas where water quality is doubtful.

Friday, 25 October 2019

SO 424 of 1865

Left of centre, near the bottom of this beautiful, poignant old map, in letters too small to be seen in the image, is the word, MILL. The map was made in 1865 and endorsed by an eminent surveyor, Theophilus Heal: “I certify that all the inland lines coloured red on this map have been properly cut, all corners marked with circles properly pegged and lockspitted, and all the map accurately represents all the work done.”

A half-size colour copy of the original document is in the Tauranga Library. The map itself is in the public domain, obtainable from Land Information New Zealand if you care to penetrate its arcane and frustrating file systems (I used a professional search agency). SO 424 is the first map of Te Puna, Peterehema (modern Bethlehem) and Otumoetai to be made after the raupatu that followed the battles of Gate Pa and Te Ranga. It is the landscape we know, drawn after a war. Elsewhere, in similarly tiny letters, are place names we also know, and still use: Epeha, Waikaraka, Oikimoke.  There are more, and they are all Maori. Perhaps influenced by Crown Commissioner H T Clarke, surveyors did not invent names for an already well-populated geography.

Names of landowning families appear. Roha Borel survived the sack of Rangiaowhia and married Emile, who twice [1]  persuaded the Crown to make a grant of land to her. The “Nicholls children” are perhaps the Nicholas family whose marae is Tawhitinui. The one pākeha name, R C Fraser, requires further research into some tantalising leads.

Beside those already noted, ‘MILL’ is the only other pākeha word. How did such modern technology - a water-wheel, alongside a substantial building housing the shafts, chutes and stones that ground wheat into flour – come to be alongside a riverbank in the valley of the Wairoa? Who built it, and when? How long was it used?

The Wairoa River near Tauranga, circa 1918
Photograph by Frederick George Radcliffe
Courtesy of the F G Radcliffe Collection, Alexander Turnbull Library (G-6933-1/2)
This much later image of the riverbank offers no clues. A horse drinks from the river alongside a reed-thatched hut. Something that looks like a cooking pot sits alongside something that looks like a cookstand. There is nothing to indicate what might be cooked.

Nevertheless, in the mid-1860s, there was a flour mill at Pukekonui. And mills were very much the thing for entrepreneurs: Te Ara tells us [2] that “between 1846 and 1860, 37 flour mills were built for Maori owners in the Auckland province alone.” Ours stood almost exactly where the boat ramp is now, just upstream from the road bridge, south-west across the river from Potariwhi on the Bethlehem bank. (Colonists mangled the name into “Point Relief”.)  Maori and pākeha alike moored their river scows there. 

Ngati Kahu owned the mill. The New Zealander newspaper of 31 May 1864 described it, admittedly as a site recently abandoned to the oncoming Colonial Defence Corps, as “an extensive corn mill worked by water… the whole neighbourhood is covered with plantations of potatoes, corn [ie, wheat], pumpkins and melons… [the natives’] retreat must have been a hurried one, to have sacrificed so much food.”

The loss of such abundantly fertile land after 1865 must have been especially grievous. But the mill survived in Maori ownership, possibly because the status of the river and its bed were, until the passage of the Coal Mines Act 1903, debatable; at a less abstract level, post-confiscation native reserves were mainly in the vicinity of the river mouth. [3] Theophilus Heal’s 1865 field book notes the hapu of Matehaere residing at the Mill, Wairoa. [4] It was too valuable an investment to be abandoned for long.

And its value was well-understood. In 1872 Commisioner Clarke was reported in the Waikato Times as hearing an “important native case [that] has lasted two days. It was concerning the ownership of the mill at Wairoa. The litigants are leading chiefs of the district. The decision of the Court may lead to bloodshed.”

Bloodshed was fortunately avoided, and by 1888 [5] our old friend Mr Lundon was involved in some kind of partnership deal between one Mr Blundell and the native owners:

The parochial hopes of the editor of the Bay of Plenty Times were not to be borne out. David Borell blamed the sparrows. [6]  Perhaps an imported shipment of Australian seed, or just a prevalence of strong north-westerly winds [7], meant that local wheat crops succumbed to rust. Or maybe it was simple economics: the wide dry plains of Canterbury were much better suited to producing flour for even North Island bakers. Mr Blundell turned his attention to a new project, the flour mill at Waimapu, and the Wairoa mill’s grindstones were taken there in 1893. [8]

And the mill building? During the early 1880s it may have been, briefly, repurposed.  Longtime Wairoa Road farmer Doug Harrison provides this reminiscence: “… there was a Flour Mill built near the end of the Wairoa River Bridge.  This had a very checkered career, standing idle for most of its life, eventually being used as a school for a few years. When the Bethlehem school opened about 1900 the pupils from the Mill transferred to the Bethlehem school.”

This sits tantalisingly alongside Antoine Coffin’s remark that “some schools were initially set up on temporary sites, for example the Paeroa Native School [the original name for Bethlehem School] started out in an old mill and moved several years later once attendances had been confirmed.” [9] Paeroa Native School officially opened in 1884, but before that had been operating “as a half-time school along with that at Huria.” [10] It is just possible that, before Mr Blundell got the grindstones moving again, the mill had been a makeshift classroom.


[1] The first allocation, around today’s Snodgrass Road/Wallace Road area, met with resistance from settler neighbours and was replaced with a grant on the other side of the Waikaraka estuary, where Borells still live.
[2] https://teara.govt.nz/en/agricultural-processing-industries/page-5
[3] https://forms.justice.govt.nz/search/Documents/WT/wt_DOC_93499720/Wai%20215%2C%20A033.pdf , p.28
[4] https://forms.justice.govt.nz/search/Documents/WT/wt_DOC_93406645/Wai%20215%2C%20A076.pdf, Appendix 6
[5] https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/BOPT18880406.2.6
[6] https://forms.justice.govt.nz/search/Documents/WT/wt_DOC_93406645/Wai%20215%2C%20A076.pdf, p.35
[7] For a mid-twentieth century account of rust infections in wheat, see  https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/00288233.1966.10431548
[8] https://forms.justice.govt.nz/search/Documents/WT/wt_DOC_93406645/Wai%20215%2C%20A076.pdf, citing Bellamy, A.C. 1982. Tauranga 1882-1982. Flour Mills, ed A.C. Bellamy. Tauranga County Council. pp204-207
[9] https://forms.justice.govt.nz/search/Documents/WT/wt_DOC_93406645/Wai%20215%2C%20A076.pdf, citing Nightingale, Tony.March 1996.History of the Economic and Social Conditions Affecting Tauranga Maori.Crown Forestry Rental Trust. p81
[10] https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/parliamentary/AJHR1885-I.

Tuesday, 22 October 2019

Infants School

Image courtesy of Tauranga Heritage Collection, Ref. 0597/08

This photograph is recorded as having been taken outside the Good Templars Hall in Wharf Street, and is of pupils who attended an Infants School run by Miss Roberts (on the left) and Miss Smith (on the right). It is likely to have been taken in the early 1900s.

The following names are handwritten on the back of the photograph:

Seated on ground (left to right): Salt, Alf Smith or Stewart, Doug McKenzie
Front row: Elsie Wrigley, May Stewart, unknown, Esther Salt, Elsie Copeland, unknown, Millie Copeland
Second row Ida Hine, Hazel Bickers, Tilly Bennett, Emily Thom, Doris Stewart, Connie Humphreys, Lena Thom
Third row: Simpson, Arch Hardy, Ossie Daines, unknown, McDowell, unknown, Charlie Robinson
Fourth row: Baker, Ken Commons, Jack Berridge, George Saveron, Fred Stewart, Percy Thom, Fred Trigg, George Asher

While many of the children would become well known members of our community at least one was killed while serving in the First World War. Kenneth Commons was born in Tauranga 19 September 1894 and enlisted while underage and an engineering student at Auckland University. He was reported missing believed dead at Gallipoli on 8 May 1915.

Saturday, 19 October 2019

Peter Densem 1917-2019

Peter in a Fleet Air Arm dive-bomber cockpit. Densem Private Collection
Peter Alex Densem was born in Tauranga on 9 May 1917 in The Palms, a nursing home on the east side of Cameron Road between 8th and 9th Avenues. The parents of Peter and his two siblings, Rod and May, were Mary and Peter Densem, who had a confectionery and tearooms on The Strand. The Densem family lived at No.28 Durham Street and in that house, Peter grew up and from it he went to his first teaching jobs and then to war.

Alongside his lifelong friend Alf Rendell, Peter began his education at the Tauranga District High School (now Tauranga Primary School) in Cameron Road between Arundel Street and Fifth Avenue in February 1923. Peter chose a professional course when he entered the standards, gained the highest educational standard, matriculation, in the fifth form and planned to leave school, uncertain of what career to pursue. To earn money immediately, he managed, in late 1937, to get a job with the Bay of Plenty Times. While engaged in this work he met his teacher, Mrs Mackle, who enquired what he was doing. On being told she advised Peter that teacher training colleges were being re-opened and suggested he return to school for another year and study for the “D” teaching certificate. This he did, and in 1939 he entered the Auckland Teachers’ Training College.

Peter’s first permanent job was at a new one-room sole-charge school at Pehiri, 50 kilometres west of Gisborne in the Urewera hinterland. While teaching during the early World War Two years Peter also completed Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) courses. The roll at Pehiri School had grown to 19 pupils when he entered the RNZAF in 1941. After completing a basic training course with the RNZAF in New Zealand with the intention of becoming a pilot, Peter had a change of course. The service had discovered that he was a good mathematician, and at that time the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm (FAA) was desperately short of competent navigators.

Peter flew first in a Swordfish open-cockpit biplane torpedo-bomber and then in the Barracuda, a monoplane torpedo/dive-bomber, from which he progressed to the more powerful and faster American-built torpedo-carrying Grumann Avenger, equipped with a power-operated gun turret. His service included a tour in Trinidad flying cover over convoys far out into the Atlantic Ocean. A forced landing in an Albacore at Trinidad’s Piarco airport wiped the wings off his aircraft and left Peter with a badly-injured leg. After recovering in a London hospital, he served in the aircraft carriers HMS Furious, Indefatigable and Formidable. Peter was among the Barracuda crews whose mission it was to sink the mighty German battleship Tirpitz. So great was the sudden change in air pressure as the Barracudas dived almost vertically on their target, he suffered permanent damage to one ear-drum.

After the war Peter married Christine, a Scots girl he met while overseas, and bought a house at the east end of First Avenue, planting out the land around it with native trees. The situation appealed particularly because it overlooked a beach, the harbour and his boat mooring. After Christine died in 1959 he lived there with his mother and sister May.

Home from the war, Peter with his Tauranga Primary School class. Densem Private Collection
Returning to his teaching career Peter attended a short course at the teachers’ training college, completed a B.Sc. degree in biology and began work at Tauranga Primary School and then as deputy headmaster at Tauranga Intermediate when that school opened in February 1958. He was appointed first headmaster of Arataki Primary School at Mount Maunganui when it opened in February 1963 and was the second headmaster at Otumoetai Intermediate School in 1967, a year after it opened. Peter retired from Otumoetai Intermediate in 1975.

It was in the 1930s that Peter became interested in boats. Peter’s first craft, in association with his brother, Rod, was the 12ft 6ins centre-boarder Koa, with a flat bottom and clinker sides. In 1934 they bought the 16ft Doreen. An open clinker boat, they put a cabin on Doreen and sailed her all around the Tauranga Harbour. After the war Peter had a variety of craft. He had Sanda, a 28ft motor-sailer of English design, built by Percy McIntosh in Fraser Street, Tauranga, in the late 1940s. Peter bought Jeanette from Phyllis Dumbleton and sold her to Captain George Carter, later Tauranga harbourmaster.

He obtained the 30ft launch Anne-Michelle in exchange for Whangaroa, a 34ft sloop-rigged motor-sailer, and next owned the 24ft launch Tauhara, the last launch built by Henry Geros (later of Tauranga) in W.G. Lowe’s Auckland yard. Then came Peter’s last yacht, the 30ft Koanui, built by Barwick Harding at Pyes Pa. His last boat was Ngako, a 16ft clinker launch built by Percy Vos in Auckland, bought in 1979 and kept on the foreshore beneath his house at the east end of First Avenue. Peter used his boats to good effect when he was appointed an honorary wildlife ranger for the coastal islands, thereby continuing an interest in fauna and flora established with Bernard Sladden over many years. He and Sladden had cruised regularly from White Island to Great Barrier, monitoring the Raurimus, Plate, Mayor and Cuvier Islands, the Mercuries and the Aldermen.

Lifelong friends Peter Densem and Alf Rendell, January 2016. Fiona Kean Private Collection
In 2003 Peter moved to Althorpe Village where he and his tabby cat Katie had a much-loved townhouse with a view of Mauao. In 2017 Peter celebrated his 100th birthday and was surrounded by many family, friends and formers students who gathered to acknowledge the significant impact he had had on their lives.

Peter will be greatly missed by all who knew him.

Taken from Max Avery’s article on Peter Densem and Alf Rendell which featured in the November 2017 edition of the Bay of Plenty Historical Review

Friday, 18 October 2019

Alf Baikie

Alf Baikie, c. 1970s
Photograph courtesy of Tauranga City Library, Ref. 06-145
Born in the Orkney Islands, Alf Baikie came to Tauranga in 1909 with his family when he was four years of age. He had five brothers, Peter, George, Tom, Jim and Bob, plus one sister. Apparently there was also an older brother John who passed away aged eighteen back in the Orkneys, and two sisters who remained there - perhaps they married locals.

Possibly the first Baikie home in New Zealand. Alf (behind) and youngest brother Tom are the blonde boys in the gig.
Photograph courtesy of Bils Family Collection
Their first New Zealand home was on the corner of 9th Avenue and Edgecumbe Road. It was originally built around 1869 for John Butler, who had joined the 1st Waikato Militia in Melbourne, arrived in Auckland in 1863, and settled in Tauranga after the Wars. Butler died in 1902 and it became the Baikie home from 1911. They had a large block of land that included a home orchard and grazing for the house cow. Some of the land had belonged to a foreign unmarried neighbour who left it to them in gratitude for Mrs Baikie’s kind care for him.

When Alf left school he worked for the  New Zealand Post Office but later trained as a blacksmith and worked for Sam Snowden among others.

In 1923 his brother George gave him a Model T truck and he entered the cartage business. Changing tyres was no problem, he would just lift the side after asking a local lad - Alf Rendell - to place the prop under the axle. He also carried full wool bales on his back from the landing of some wool sheds to the truck. During the depression from 1929, he earned better money working in a quarry and assisting brother Tom in his Elizabeth Street bakery.

Jack Heaton and his Diamond T truck beside the 8th Avenue house, c. 1940
Photograph courtesy of Tauranga City Library, Ref. 09-008
Alf joined the firm of Heaton’s Transport in 1932 as a driver, became a shareholder in 1948, Managing Director in 1955 and continued to live in the next family home built by his father and brothers with homemade concrete blocks in Eighth Avenue until his death in 1990 aged 85. At one stage the company employed 150 people, and he was known to be extremely generous to many people, especially his employees.

Alf Baikie in front of his daughter's 9th Avenue cottage
Photograph courtesy of Bils Family Collection
He married his housekeeper Eva later in life and had a step-daughter June, step-son Bob and two grandsons. One of them, Julian, still lives in a cottage nearby.


Tauranga 1882-1982, Centennial of Gazetting of Tauranga as a Borough.
Alf Rendell — former neighbour
John Green — employee for 18 years
Julian Bils — grandson

Saturday, 12 October 2019

The Karere (Messenger) and the Paihia Missionaries

Early Vessels and Visitors to Tauranga,  Part V:
The Karere (Messenger) and the Paihia Missionaries

A schooner rigged cutter ‘of 30 feet keel,’ Karere was constructed and launched at Paihia in the Bay of Islands by the sea captain and merchant Gilbert Mair (Snr) in 1831. ‘Of light draught,’ the vessel was built for securing provisions for the local mission stations from Maori coastal settlements, rather than for deep sea crossings. [1] Described by the missionary leader Henry Williams as ‘riding over the seas like a duck, scarcely shipping a drop of water,’ in moderate conditions, the little vessel was notorious for ‘kicking her heels’ in rough conditions and laying low with seasickness, every Maori and Pakeha who sailed as a passenger. [2]

The Karere accompanying Titore Takire’s fleet to Tauranga
Accompanied by Rev. Thomas Chapman and a Maori crew, Henry Williams sailed Karere to Maketu in October 1831, before travelling overland to Rotorua, where Chapman subsequently established a new Anglican mission station. The voyage south, however, was not without its challenges and after entering the Bay of Plenty, Williams recalled:
At four o’clock every appearance of bad weather, and being close to Tauranga, we decided to run in. Came on to blow very hard; could scarcely see Maunganui, though close to it. As we drew near we obs’d the breakers high and nearly across the entrance with a very considerable swell. However, by the good providence of God, we entered safely at 5.20 and found ourselves immediately in still water, to our no small joy. [3] 
Rev. Henry Williams
Rev. Thomas Chapman
In February 1832, the Karere and the missionaries Henry Williams, James Kemp and William Fairburn accompanied a Ngapuhi amphibious artillery expedition to Tauranga in the hope of making peace and to ‘terminate the horrors of war.’ Led by Titore Takiri, the leading war chief at the Bay of Islands following the death of Hongi Hika, the invading force comprised 80 waka taua and several Maori-owned sailing cutters carrying some 800 warriors and a siege train of ten ships’ cannon. [4]

The great fleet voyaged slowly south in three divisions, raiding the plantations of both enemy and allied iwi as it went. The voyage south was not without incident. Some rangatira were accompanied by their turbulent Pakeha-Maori fighting men. Outside Tauranga Harbour, Williams was compelled to remonstrate with a group of these heavily armed renegades aboard the Maori owned sailing cutter Taeopa. Having just returned from a raid against Maori on Mayor Island (Tuhua) during which they fired on the inhabitants with the Taeopa’s bow cannon, and supremely confident in their fighting skills and firepower, these men were acting as a tribe within the tribe. Drawing alongside on the Karere, Williams explained that their reckless manoeuvering among the fleet was endangering the unity of the expedition. How the Pakeha-Maori responded is not stated. [5]
On 6th March, Titore’s fleet entered Tauranga Harbour through the Katikati entrance and camped first on Matakana and then Rangiwaea Island. Williams, a former Royal Navy officer recalled that on Matakana he was approached by a group of Ngapuhi rangatira. ‘My opinion required respecting the proper charge for their great guns, declined the honour.’ [6]
Titore Takiri
Hone Heke
Aboard the Karere now anchored in the Otumoetai channel, the missionaries watched the Ngapuhi infantry launch successive attacks against Otumoetai Pa, only to be driven off by bands of Ngai Te Rangi musketeers who emerged from the pa to meet them. The Ngapuhi rangitira Hone Heke Pokai, who was to achieve fame as an anti-British ‘rebel’ before and during the Northern or Flagstaff War of 1845, was seriously wounded in the fighting and ordered home by the senior chiefs.

During the siege, the missionaries watched the Maketu-based Arawa trader Phillip (Hans) Tapsell sail his cutter Fairy into the harbour. Tapsell, whose wife Karuhi was Ngapuhi, delivered six additional cannon and munitions to Titore’s warriors. During the transfer of ordnance to the Ngapuhi waka, the Otumoetai defenders who had at least two cannon installed in their defences, bombarded, but did not strike the Fairy, Williams observing drily how ‘the shot fell short.’ [7]

‘Dejected in mind’ at being unable to negotiate peace between the two warring tribes, the missionaries left Tauranga for the Bay of Islands on the 15th March and did not witness Ngapuhi’s extraordinary day long artillery bombardment of Otumoetai Pa the following day and eventual withdrawal from Tauranga. [8]

If entering Tauranga Harbour through the Maunganui entrance in October 1831 had proved difficult for Karere and the missionaries, exiting the harbour in March 1832, proved a near fatal experience. Williams recorded later,
In the evening, being high water, weighed and made sail. The wind directly in. Passed safely over the various banks, but when close to the great hill which forms the south head, the vessel missed stays owing to the swell caused by the ebbing tide and there appeared every chance of going on the rocks, which was prevented by letting go the anchor, and taking in the sail. Everyone was much alarmed and the sea breaking on all sides, but as the tide was setting to windward, there was no strain upon the cable. In about an hour the sea subsided. We again weighed and in a short time were out of difficulties. [9]
Encountering foul weather and rough waters during the homeward voyage, Karere rounded Cape Brett three days later and at 8 am. the three missionaries landed at Paihia ‘unperceived’ by their families and resident Maori. [10]  Three years later, in 1835, Karere was put up for sale. There was great interest among local rangatira who were competing to acquire their own cutters at this time, but details of the sale price and the name or names of the purchaser/s are yet to be located. [11] 

[1] Williams, W and J; The Turanga Journals, Wellington, 1974: 44.
[2] Williams, H. The Early Journals of Henry Williams, 1826-1840, L. M. Rogers (comp.), Christchurch, 1961: 411.
[3] Carleton, H; The Life of Henry Williams, Archdeacon of Waimate, Vol. 1, Auckland, 1874: 94.
[4] Bentley, T; Tribal Guns and Tribal Gunners,  Christchurch, 2013:  69-71.
[5] Williams, 1961: 228.
[6] Ibid: 231.
[7] Ibid: 234.
[8] Bentley, 2013: 76-78.
[9] Williams, 1961: 212.
[10] Ibid: 213.
[11] Ibid: 406, 409.

1 Artist, Henry Williams, The Karere, Yate, W; An Account of New Zealand, London, 1835: 184.
2 Henry Williams, Sherrin, R. A. A; Leys, T W; Early History of New Zealand, Auckland, 1890: 263.
3 Unidentified photographer, ‘Thomas Chapman ½-025274-F Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, from Philip Andrews. Chapman, Anne Maria and Chapman, Thomas, Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, first published in 1990, updated November, 2001. Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand (accessed 12 October 2019)
4 Titore Takiri, Sherrin, R. A. A; Leys, T W; Early History of New Zealand, Auckland, 1890: 487.
5 Attributed artist John Gilifillan ‘Honi Heke [about 1846] A-114-003, National Library of New Zealand, Wellington.

Tuesday, 8 October 2019

A Game of Croquet

Group playing croquet. Photograph attributed to Mary Humphreys
Postcard, Image courtesy of Tauranga Heritage Collection, Ref 0213/08
This postcard was donated to the Tauranga Heritage Collection by Mrs Kay of Mount Maunganui in 1982. It shows a group of women and two girls enjoying a game of croquet at the Tauranga Domain. A croquet club was established at the domain on 8 November 1902 under the umbrella of the Bay of Plenty Lawn Tennis Club. The clothing suggests that this photograph could have been taken around that time period.

While the photographer is not known, it seems likely to have been local photographer Mrs Mary Humphreys. Her daughter, Miss Connie Humphreys, is recorded in the Bay of Plenty Times as being a member of the club.

Friday, 4 October 2019

Mount Maunganui Hot Pools

Mount Maunganui. The warm salt water baths which are so popular with both visitors and local residents alike
Undated postcard. Photograph by Carl Perham. Printed by Batley Offset Printers. Published by Dow Productions, No. 116
Collection of Justine Neal
Through the 1960s Mt. Maunganui’s hot salt water pools at the base of Mauao were believed to be unique in the Southern Hemisphere as they were said to be the only natural hot salt water pool in existence. Their history goes back to the 1950s when Mt. Maunganui township began to grow and the need for fresh water supplies became urgent.

A water diviner, Mr. Claris, persuaded the council he would be able to find sufficient water for the town supply. Instead he found hot salt water. For some years nothing was done about the discovery. Requests for commercial operators to develop the resource attracted little attention. Eventually, during the 1960’s, the council decided to go ahead with the swimming pool development themselves.

Mount Maunganui Domain Natural Hot Salt Water Pool
Postcard published by Logan Print, 150. Postmarked August 1973
Collection of Justine Neal
The pool was sited mid-way between the harbour and ocean beaches in Adams Avenue. It opened on January 2, 1966, and approximately 8,000 gallons of water are pumped through the pool every hour.
  • The 1973 statistics for the pool were: Length 50’, width 20’, average depth 4’, depth of bore 350’, 4” diameter deep well pump positioned at 130’, borehead temperature 112 degrees, average bathing temperature 103 degrees.
  • A 1989 report states that the temperature of the water at the surface is 42 degrees C but it is cooled to 38 degrees for the main pool and 40 – 42 degrees in the private pools.
  • In 1989 a tender was accepted from Miden Construction for a $1.8 million upgrade of the complex which would see a larger main pool, children’s pool and soak pools. The total upgrade was to include the changing sheds and the redesign of the exterior, to bring the complex more in line with modern architecture.
Since the printing of these postcards the pools have gone through several upgrades and after 53 years are still bringing enjoyment to locals and tourists alike (Mount Hot Pools web site).


A History of Mont Maunganui, by Bruce Cunningham and Ken Musgrave

Friday, 27 September 2019

The Brain Watkins Garden Flora: Bougainvillea

Bougainvillea, Brain Watkins House, c.1966
Image from the Brain Watkins House Collection
The bougainvillea needs little introduction in Tauranga as it grows well in our temperate climate. Its brightly coloured branches scramble through many an archway, trellis and fence throughout the city.

A fine old specimen of bougainvillea grows in the backyard at Brain Watkins House. It has a multi-leadered trunk and the ever lengthening stems are kept under control by an annual trim. The date of planting is unknown but a photograph taken in 1966, when Elva Brain was in residence, shows it as a mature specimen with flowering stems arching over the now demolished outside laundry. The shrub has a similar appearance today, some 53 years later.

Photograph by Anne Marquand
The distinguishing brightly coloured ‘flower’ is not a petal but a modified leaf or bract. The Treasury of Botany published 1876 by Longmans, Green and Co. provides a description rich in floriferous Victorian prose….. ‘The flowers are almost concealed by large membranous or leafy bracts, which grow in triplets and form magnificent masses of paniculate inflorescence. The bracts are large and of a rich rose colour ; hence the inflorescence is singularly handsome.’

Bougainvillea was first collected in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil by the French botanist Dr. Philibert Commerson (1727 - 1773) during his voyage of circumnavigation (1766-1769) on board the frigate La Boudeuse. He named the plant for his friend and commander of the ship, Louis Antoine de Bougainville (1729-1811). Introduction to gardens in France and England quickly followed its discovery and by 1834 bougainvillea was growing in the large conservatory in Chatsworth, England, the home of plant collector the Duke of Devonshire. The species further migrated to Asia and Australia and by the mid nineteenth century it was available for sale in New Zealand. The Mason Bros of  Auckland listed the plant in their 1873 nursery catalogue. At 2/6d it was amongst the more expensive plants on sale.

Photograph by Anne Marquand
Growing near the Elizabeth Street gate, our bougainvillea certainly is the ‘right plant in the right place’ as in days gone by it was often planted by an entrance way as a sign of welcome to visitors.

Friday, 20 September 2019

Tauranga Boy Scouts

Tauranga Boy Scouts, Harington Street, 1910
Postcard, Image courtesy of Tauranga Heritage Collection, Ref. 0143/19

The first Tauranga Boy Scout Troop was formed on 27 May 1909 at a meeting that was led by Mayor Canon Jordan and Methodist Minister Rev. A.B. Chappell.  However, according to Alan Bellamy in Tauranga 1882-1982 almost immediately a difference in opinion led to the emergence of rival groups. The split appears to have been short lived as Mr. Pascoe who formed one of the groups left town a few months later.

It is recorded that this photograph, printed as a postcard, was taken in 1910 in Harrington Street. While the name of the Scout Master, just visible to the right, is not noted it seems likely to be Mr Seddon Hills, the leader of second troop.

Friday, 13 September 2019

Charles Spencer (1854-1933) – Part III – Serving the Community

S.S. Taupo, as she lies on the Rocks at Stoney Point, Tauranga Harbour
Photographed at low water on the afternoon of April 9th [1879], by Charles Spencer
Albumen print mounted on printed card, Tauranga City Library, Ref. 05-445

The s.s. Taupo ran aground on Stoney Point Reef in the entrance to Tauranga Harbour on 18 February 1879. Several attempts were made to raise her off the rocks over the next two years, eventually succeeding on 2 March 1881, although she sank a few weeks later off Tuhua while being towed to Auckland. This large format photograph by Charles Spencer was supposedly taken on 9 April – although the year wasn’t specified, it is likely to have been in 1879, three weeks after the accident, and only a week after Spencer’s arrival in Tauranga.

Portrait of (back row) Edward Ker Mulgan and Everard F. Buckworth,
(front row) William Tuthill and George Noble Gair
Carte de visite by Charles Spencer, Tauranga, April-June 1879, with annotations on verso
Alexander Turnbull Library, Ref. PA2-1686
G.N. Gair arrived from Wellington on 25 May 1878 to take up the position of manager of the local Bank of New Zealand branch. Having purchased a farm and an allotment in the Quarter Acres, he quickly became involved in the local scene, being appointed to several committees, engaging in amateur dramatics, and endearing himself by playing a prominent role in fighting a fire which broke out in a shed on the Town Wharf in late September. He was Treasurer of the Tauranga Cricket Club, and no doubt a frequent player. He participated in Tauranga’s annual St Patrick’s Day Regatta in March 1879. Sadly, he took his own life on 26 June 1879. The names of Mulgan, Buckworth and Tuthill appear frequently in the newspapers of that period in connection with cricket, boating and horse racing, and it seems likely that the carte de visite above celebrates one such event. It was taken by Spencer soon after his arrival in Tauranga, probably in his tent adjacent to Wrigley’s Brewery. Other carte de visite portraits in an identical format by Spencer held at the Alexander Turnbull Library depict other Tauranga personalities, including John E Grace and Fred Clarke, and were probably also taken c.1879-1880.

Lake at White Island, partially dry, c.1882-1884
Glass plate positive by Charles Spencer (Series # 107)
Auckland Library Sir George Grey Collection, Ref. 1285_09999

In November 1882, March 1883 and again in February 1884 Spencer made trips to Whakaari (White Island), partly to take photographs, but also to evaluate the prospects of extracting sulphur, to be used in the manufacture of fertilizer and sulphuric acid. In May 1883 he accompanied a survey party to Karewa Island, and brought back not only some exposed glass plates but some specimens of tuatara which he displayed in his shop window.

Children at a Maypole Dance, probably at the Temperance Hall, Tauranga
Cabinet card albumen print attributed to Charles Spencer, 25 February 1886
Tauranga Heritage Collection, Ref. 0569-08

In March 1884, when the Governor visited, he captured both the reception given him at Whareroa Marae and the subsequent speeches celebrations along the Strand from an upstairs window. During a Maypole Dance conducted on 25 February 1886:
“Mr Charles Spencer succeeded in taking a couple of photographs of the group, which we doubt not will appear in due course with the impress of this gentleman’s well known finish and prove to many a pleasant souvenir of the Wesleyan Gift Auction.”
It is almost certain that the cabinet card illustrated above is one of these photographs, even though it does not have Spencer’s name on it. At the same event there was a magic lantern show, “at which will be shewn a number of well-known views,” probably also conducted by Spencer.

Sailing Regatta in Tauranga Harbour, c. mid- to late 1880s
Carte de visite albumen print attributed to Charles Spencer
Tauranga Heritage Collection, Ref. 0572-08

Likewise this carte visite photograph of small yachts competing in a regatta on Tauranga Harbour, with the Papamoa Hills visible on the skyline, was almost certainly by Spencer. A regatta was held annually in Tauranga in mid-March, although there were smaller meets as well. Spencer donated prizes for the regatta comprising sets of his photographs of the Hot Lakes in 1887 and 1889, and it is possible that the above view was taken on one of those two occasions.

Charles Spencer was elected to the Borough Council in May 1887, but failed in his bid for the Mayoralty in December that year.

(to be continued)

Friday, 6 September 2019


John C. Adams, September 4 1923
Mounted silver gelatin print by Elliott and Fry, Baker Street, London
Image courtesy of Tauranga Heritage Collection, Ref. 25560
This large house lies on the east side of the Te Papa peninsular at the end of Fifth Avenue. There had been a Maori pa in the area called Taiparoro, but it was long gone before John Cuthbert Adams built his house. He was born in Kettering in Northamptonshire the son of John Watts Adams, a merchant and his wife Sarah (nee Cocker) and arrived in New Zealand in September 1874 on the City of Auckland, with his first wife who unfortunately died within a year.

He married Helen Edwards the daughter of John Edwards, an English storekeeper in Raglan in 1882 the year he built the house. Her mother was Rakapa Ngawai of Te Awamutu. This marriage produced ten children. Agnes Graham, who married John Cuthbert Adams’ brother in law John H Edwards, was the sister of Margaret Graham, Mrs. Henry Brabant, linking the Adams and Brabant families and the historic places Taiparoro (Heritage NZ register no.4564, the Adams Cottage (register no.4570), Maungawhare (register no.4571), and Woodhill (register no. 795). John Adam’s interests in Maori artefacts and culture were expressed in his collection which is now part of the Tauranga Museum collection, and included paintings by Horatio Gordon Robley. Adams and Robley corresponded for many years after the latter’s return to England.

Taipororo, undated photograph
Courtesy of Tauranga City Library, Ref. 02-515
The Carpenter Gothic house is built of kauri in a gabled style with verandahs on two sides. Due to the size of his family Adams added extra bedrooms and extended the living room to thirty feet, and the kitchen was enlarged. By 1905 corrugated iron had replaced the original shingle roof. On the right was a small sitting room and to the left were two bedrooms and a short straight staircase to the small upstairs rooms with their sloping ceilings and dormer windows. Next to the sitting room was the big living room with a parquet floor made of native timbers, with two more bedrooms at the far end. Curtains hung from brass rods over the doors and the wallpaper had a bold Victorian pattern. The original kitchen design included a kauri bench top and a wood burning stove. The original holding was of two acres which included gardens with kauri, titoki, karaka, and a copper beech tree, a tennis court, and a horse and cow paddock. The stables had a fodder loft and accommodation for a gig and a spring cart. Ownership of the house by a well off family was obvious by the quality of the decorative fittings of the house with coloured glass windows and doors, a rose fretwork centre piece in the sitting room ceiling, finely decorated barge boards on the gable ends, and the trusses in the hall archway. Etched into the transom light above the front door is the name ‘Taiparoro.’

Taipororo, 1997
Courtesy of Tauranga City Library, Ref. 00-587
The house was busy with the activities and social life of the large Adams family who held tennis parties, and dances in the long living room. Taiparoro provided an example of the way social life in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century revolved around the homes of the people rather than in community provided facilities. The living room was large enough for the wedding reception for Evelyn Alberta (Eva) Adams to Archibald Ernest Clark in 1911. The last members of the family to live in the house were Miss Bertha Adams and her brother Lionel who had returned to join her after retiring from his teaching career. Family ownership ended in 1973. Since then Taiparoro has provided bed and breakfast accommodation.

Tuesday, 3 September 2019

Bodell’s Bellevue Private Hotel

Belle Vue House, opposite the Town Wharf, Tauranga, New Zealand. Superior Accommodation. Suites of Rooms. Baths. Stables. Royal Mail Coach leaves daily for Hot Lakes and Terraces. Telegrams attended to. J. Bodell, Proprietor.
Photograph attributed to Charles Spencer, c. 1882
Image courtesy of Tauranga Heritage Collection, Ref. 0134/10

The Bellevue Private Hotel was established in 1882 by James Bodell on the corner of Wharf Street and Cameron Road. It was a temperance hotel which, according to newspaper advertisements, offered commodious accommodation to tourists, visitors, boarders and the travelling public. Baths and pianos were available on the first floor and good stabling was offered. Guests could enjoy extensive views of the sea, harbour and surrounding country from upstairs rooms and balcony.

Bodell was quite the entrepreneur and in this photograph one of his other businesses an Auction Mart is visible on the opposite side of Cameron Road. However, more importantly, Bodell himself can be seen standing outside his establishment – Bodell is the taller of the two men with very distinctive pork chop sideburns.

Friday, 30 August 2019

Claudia Jarman (1908-1986)

Claudia Jarman
Image courtesy of the Jarman family
Claudia was a celebrated Art and Art History teacher. She arrived in Tauranga in 1939, and first taught at Tauranga District High School (Hillsdene), and from 1958 at Tauranga Girls College. Claudia was also involved in the Tauranga Repertory Society, and, with her husband Reg, she was a foundation member of the Tauranga Chamber of Music Society and the Tauranga Art Society.

But it was at school where I encountered her, and I still remember my first Art History lesson. We discussed a painting by Wassily Kandinsky – ‘The Battle’. Her passion for Art inspired two generations in the Bay of Plenty to practice and to appreciate art, and my siblings and I were just a few of them. She enjoyed young people and encouraged her students to express their own style and to extend it.

In discussing Claudia with my family, one said “She epitomised all that was great about that era – 1940’s-1970’s -where the emphases were more about art, music and culture. It was more about bringing together the most interesting people rather than those with money and high-status jobs”. In that era Tauranga had a strong dramatic and Arts culture.

Claudia was tiny in stature but she made a huge impression on the community. She campaigned for decades for an Art Gallery here in Tauranga and she sowed her dream seeds into the community through the pupils she taught and the people she encountered. She would be thrilled to know Tauranga now has its own Public Art Gallery.

Friday, 23 August 2019

Mayor Lundon, auctioneer, and the Judea Sale Yards

The buying and selling of stock has been a significant enterprise in Tauranga well into the twentieth century.  The writer clearly remembers the excitement of sale day at the Judea stockyards, and is now grateful for the commuters’ corridor (Route J) created, in part, from stock paddocks where weary herds browsed overnight before the short push up and over the hill to be sorted and penned in wooden stockades at the corner of Waihi and Robins Road. Buyers and auctioneers had perches – narrow walkways, really – built as part of the fences so they could view the stock safely from above.  An elaborate system of gates and races, including sloped access ways (“loading races”) funnelled the sold yearlings, steers, heifers, milch cows and sheep into backed-up stock trucks. Unsold stock was the last to leave.

One of the last sales was caught on camera in 1982 [1] by my mother, Shirley Sparks. There was still keen interest in assessing quality, in noting prices, and in talking it over at the tea-table provided by the Women’s Division of Federated Farmers. The nearest pub was miles away, right in town, on the corner of Devonport Road and Spring Street.

A hundred years or so earlier, the Judea Sale Yards were new. Built about 1878 by the enterprising Jordan brothers, this important part of settler infrastructure went through a number of owners, including Messrs Paget and Hulme (1883) and W T Raymond (1899).  In 1889 they were being described proprietorially – “The undersigned will hold his next cattle sale at the Judea Sale Yards....” [2] - by Mr David Lundon, Auctioneer.

David Lundon (and here I am indebted to Debbie McCauley’s account of his life and multifarious activities [3]) had established himself as an auctioneer in 1888. Crucially to our story, he had been elected for the first time as Mayor of Tauranga in 1887, an office he held across three further elections, the last-occurring in 1892. In 1893 he successfully stood as County Chairman [4].

Not only were the Judea Sale Yards still quite new at the time of Mayor Lundon’s assumptions of high office. They were also outside the borough. He himself had business interests within the town as well as beyond it.  In the court case shortly to be described, the hapless County Clerk attested  that letters to the County Chairman were addressed, simply, “D. Lundon, Tauranga” and that Mr Lundon lived about  one and a half miles from the post office, in the County of Tauranga.

In the same case, the Tauranga Town Clerk deposed that, to his knowledge, Mr Lundon had a place of business in the borough, in a place then called the Haymarket, in Devonport Road. Since December 1892, Mr Lundon’s status as a licensed auctioneer [5] had been granted by the Borough Council. This happy arrangement had continued until 1894. But, in 1895, Mr Lundon – now Mayor of the County - sought to renew his auctioneer’s licence with the County Council. The fee for the licence, naturally, would therefore be lost to the Borough and payable to the County. The Borough sued.

The claim was substantial: £40; and was heard on 3 March 1896 before Lieutenant-Colonel Roberts, S.M. The question, which turned on where the would-be auctioneer had his place of business, was complicated not only by the fact that he ran sales at both the Haymarket, at Judea, and elsewhere in the Bay of Plenty; also, the Borough and County Council Chambers were at that time situated under the same roof. The Bay of Plenty Times reported at one stage that “Counsel [Mr Cotter, for the defendant County] and witness [J H McCaw, Town Clerk of Tauranga Borough] here had a long wrangle on the meaning of various words.”  [6]

There were other fine wrangles. Witnesses described more frequent sales at the Haymarket than at other places (Judea, occasionally Katikati and Te Puke), but larger monetary settlements at the Judea sales. Mr J Maxwell, storekeeper, also attested that if he wanted to do business with Mr Lundon he “generally found” him at the Haymarket. Wily Mr Cotter then elicited the information that Mr Maxwell “knew nothing of Mr Lundon’s business in the country as an auctioneer”.

This closed the case for the Borough. Mr Cotter, for the defendant County, took one last throw of the dice. He called Mr Lundon himself to the stand. David Lundon, practised as an auctioneer and politician, gave a dazzling display of portable efficiency: “always carried with him [his] auction book, cheque books, account forms and stamps for the purpose of carrying out the conditions of sale... always cleared up on the day of the sale”; a grasp of figures and percentages; and some special pleading: “[My] residence is in the County of Tauranga... [My] time when not employed as an auctioneer was devoted to other business at the Haymarket.” [Emphasis mine.]

Under cross-examination by the Borough’s counsel Mr Moss, he started well. “Considered Judea his principal place of business for four years and the business had grown enormously.  Took out his licence in 1892-3 and 4 in the Borough because he had not given it sufficient thought, had done wrong in that.”

But Mr Moss pursued the matter. Lundon’s story expanded. “Until [I] left the Mayoralty [of Tauranga Borough] never gave it sufficient thought, took the licence in the Borough as a matter of course.”  (We imagine Mr Cotter’s face falling.)  “In 1895 had no office in Judea, used the hedge as an office, at the other place[s] had an office in the hotels. Took [my] books always to Te Puke or Katikati for sales and afterwards took them back to the Haymarket. At a sale in Judea ... it is quite possible that a dozen [of about 50 purchasers] settled up on the ground but most of the purchasers would send their money by post to the Haymarket... ordinary billheads were marked Devonport Road and Grey Street.” (We imagine Mr Cotter’s face dropping into his hands.)

In a reserved decision, delivered at 10.30 am the following day, the Stipendiary Magistrate found that the usual place of business of the licensee David Lundon was at his auction mart in Devonport Road, Tauranga, and that the Borough Council was the proper authority to receive the license fee.  The County, in addition, had to pay costs of £7 19s 6d.

All photographs by and courtesy of Shirley Sparks.


[1]  Friday, 22 January 1982
[2]  https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/BOPT18891107.2.16.
[3]  http://tauranga.kete.net.nz/katikati_history/images/show/3481-david-lundon-1844-1931
[4]  For an example of the Chairman’s vigourous promotional gestures, see Stokes, A History of  Tauranga County, Dunmore Press 1980, p. 216
[5] The Auctioneers Act 1891 introduced the licensing system
[6]  https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/BOPT18960304.2.7  All following quotes are from the same source.

Monday, 19 August 2019

Tauranga Firemen

Postcard by unknown photographer, November 1916
Image courtesy of Tauranga Heritage Collection, Ref. 0308/10

In November 1916 a devastating fire swept The Strand destroying eleven shops and the Commercial Hotel (today St. Amand and Cobb & Co are on the site). This photograph taken at the time of the fire and was turned into a postcard. It includes men from Tauranga’s Fire Brigade who battled the blaze. Names associated with the Brigade at this time included, F. Stewart, C. Guinness, J. E. Kelly, C. P. Hine, H. Wright, A. Stewart, J. Murphy and C. F. Washer.

In 2011 Helen Borrell, nee Hardy, shared her copy of this postcard with me. I was excited to see it had the following names recorded on the back:
Back Row: J. Padlie, C. Adams, Foster, A. Sorenson, V. Clark, Molly Hardy, Harnett, L. Norris, Rebecca Crabbe, Teasey, Teasey, Len Anquitil.
Front Row: A. Stewart, G. Faulkner, Eric Hammond, Unknown, Fred Stewart, P. Carter, Les Hamilton, Kitty Hardy, Laddie Hardy, Charles Clarence, Charles Hardy, Unknown, Dog

Friday, 16 August 2019

Robert (Bob) Arthur Owens

R.A. (Bob) Owens, Mayor of Tauranga 1968-71 and Mayor of both Tauranga and Mount Maunganui 1971-77
Image courtesy of Tauranga City Library, Ref. 99-710
For those who have resided in Tauranga over the past 50 years or so, the name of this man is synonymous with business success, public service and the phenomenal development of this city in these past few decades. Robert Arthur Owens (1921-1999) was born and educated in Manchester, United Kingdom, served in the Merchant Navy from 1937-1946, and in the Royal Navy from 1942-1944.

Historic Village locomotive on Owens Transport vehicle c late-1990s
Image courtesy of Tauranga City Library, Ref. 14-0118

He emigrated to New Zealand and in 1953 came to Tauranga with his wife and young family. They lived in Parkvale (Merivale, to the locals) and had the “flashest car in the area. In '58 or '59 they moved closer to town.”* He began a shipping and stevedoring business which eventually grew to become the Owens Group involving over 30 companies. These included not only shipping and stevedoring but also road transport, travel and insurance. Late in the 1990s this was taken over by Mainfreight.

Tauranga mayor Bob Owens and Auckland mayor "Robbie" (Dove-Myer Robinson) racing tricycles at the Tauranga Orange Festival, 27 August 1977
Image courtesy of Tauranga City Library, Ref. 03-061
In 1962 he was elected to the BOP Harbour Board, and was still Chairman in the 1980s. Elected as Mayor of Tauranga in 1968 he served 3 terms, and from 1971-1974 was also Mayor of Mount Maunganui, the first dual mayor in New Zealand. For 20 years he dreamed of, and campaigned for, our harbour bridge to connect those two communities. In 1981 he was chairman of Air New Zealand, helping to pull it out of financial difficulty, and he was knighted in 1997, two years prior to his death.  The large Ryman Healthcare Facility in Bethlehem has been named in his memory.


Biographical Sketches of The Centennial Mural, editor Ernest E. Bush
* Personal account by writer’s husband John Green

Thursday, 15 August 2019

Blog News

Tauranga Waterfront from Victoria Wharf
Panorama carbon print by Charles Spencer, c. 1884-1887
Tauranga Heritage Collection, Ref. 0609/08
It is now six years since the first article on the Society's blog was published, and now is probably an opportune moment to thank the many contributors who have helped in no small way to preserve Tauranga's historical record. In June 2013, we wrote:
"Our new Blog has been created to provide news and articles relating to Tauranga and the Western Bay of Plenty's history, which we hope will encourage a returning readership of both members and non-members alike.  In the coming weeks and months, you can look forward to contributions on a wide variety of historical topics written by society members, each of whom have their own varied interests and strengths."
Although we did experience a hiatus in 2016-2018, the resumption of a steady flow of articles over the last twelve months has demonstrated that we still have a wealth of stories to share. Over the next year the following contributers will include:

Shirley Arabin - tales and history of old Tauranga buildings
Trevor Bentley - Early Maori-Pakeha Relations
Beth Bowden - a variety of topics relating to early Tauranga
Julie Green – People who Shaped Tauranga
Lois Hembrow - talks about items in the Brain Watkins House Collection
Fiona Kean - notes of recent events of historical interest
Anne Marquand - items of interest from the garden at Brain Watkins House
Justine Neal - continues to share her collection of Tauranga postcards
Brett Payne - profiles of Tauranga photographers and examples of their work
Tauranga Heritage Collection - brief notes about items in the collection
Jane Waldegrave - stories from the Art and Culture scene in Tauranga

There’s an simple way to keep up to date - to receive notifications when something new is published on the blog, simply insert your email address in the “Follow by Email” box on the right of the blog page, and click “Submit.” Each article will be sent to you by email as soon as it is published.

Many people have contributed items for the blog since 2013 and these remain archived on the web site for your perusal. They can be browsed using the “Blog Archive” drop-down menu by date (Year and Month), or the “Labels” list, on the right of the main blog page. A list of past contributors is also available on the right of the page – click on the name for further information.

Further articles, some of which are expected to have a more topical bias, will be published from time to time on an ad hoc basis. We also intend to publish notifications of Society events, such as the Monthly Meetings/Talks, Garden Party, AGM, etc. An online version of the latest Society Newsletter will also be provided on the web site.

Considerable time and effort have been put into writing the articles and sourcing images, and both the writers and the Society would welcome your feedback, either through the Comments section on the blog or via email. It’s always nice to know that your articles are being read and appreciated, so please do leave us a quick note to let us know you’ve dropped by. We’ve introduced a security step in the Commenting procedure to alleviate problems with inappropriate spam – it may be a little tedious to have to go through this step, but please bear with us.

The Society welcomes further contributions to the blog in the form of short articles from members
and non-members. If you hear of a forthcoming historically related event that you think might
interest members, please feel free to let us know and we’ll do our best to find out more and
publicize it on the blog. Or alternatively, if you’ve been to such a place or event and would like to
send us a brief report on it, with at least one photograph, we’d be happy to publish it on your behalf.
Contact Julie Green by email (tauranga.historical@gmail.com) with such material or to request our
Blog Article Submission Guidelines.

Brett Payne
Web Editor

Saturday, 10 August 2019

Submission on the Gifting of 11 Mission St to the Otamataha Trust

View of Mauao, the Tauranga Harbour and part of Otamataha Pa from the C.M.S. Mission Station
Pen-and-ink sketch by John Kinder, Christmas 1857
Glass plate copy negative by J.D. Richardson, c.1910s-1920s
Courtesy of Auckland Libraries, Sir George Grey Collection, Ref. 4-1218
The following submission was made by Beth Bowden on behalf of the Society during the Tauranga City Council's hearing on 1 August 2019. Thank you, Beth.

It is a rare thing, in history, to find an opportunity to put matters right. Most of the work of historians involves working out what changed – at worst, what went wrong - in the past, and how, and why; most of us try to do so with an honest appreciation of the biases of hindsight. The burden of the present - contemporary prejudices and preferences - is inescapable.

The Tauranga Historical Society, which exists, among other things, to “foster and maintain a public appreciation of places and things of historic interest.... in the Bay of Plenty area” therefore has some sympathy with the various points of view being put forward concerning the process of making the property at 11 Mission Street available for use by The Elms Foundation. Everyone concerned is wrestling with the past – of just over a decade on the one hand; and nearly two centuries, on the other.

History teaches us that ‘public appreciation’ shifts and changes. In our submission, the story of 11 Mission Street aptly illustrates that lesson. And, in our submission, the right thing to do, given the history of the site, is to return it to the Otamataha Trust. We therefore stand alongside those who take the longer view, rather than those who base their arguments on expectations and intentions framed during the last thirteen years.

A straightforward gift to the Elms Foundation does seem to have been the eventual intention when the TCC purchased the property in 2006.

Alongside that, the Society balances the even clearer intention of the Church Missionary Society, expressed in 1855:
“Land... was acquired... solely for the purposes of the Mission, and the possession of it intended to promote through the Mission, the spiritual welfare... and permanent benefit to the Natives...”
Thanks to the careful research of Dr Evelyn Stokes and  Dr Alistair Reese, who has traced [Naboth’s Vineyard] the eventual and total alienation of CMS lands to the Crown, we know exactly how Te Papa became “no place for native settlements.”

Similarly, the Society takes note of the force of the 2004 finding of the Waitangi Tribunal that the award of the Te Papa block to the CMS in 1852 was in breach of the Treaty of Waitangi.  History, especially modern history and international relations practice, is full of ways and means to remedy treaty breaches. We are not surprised to see that the Council’s efforts to meet the spirit of the Tribunal’s decision have been complex and involve compromise.  We commend the sense of mutual respect and dignity accorded to the parties concerned in this restitution process.  Not all such efforts have gone so well.

It is a well-worn truism that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.  Since opportunities to break the repetitive pattern of pakeha occupation and control of land in Te Papa are rare, the Society encourages Council to depart from the worthy but narrow intentions that lay behind the purchase decision of 2006. We promote a wider, more inclusive view of the history of this peninsula. We see strong symbolic and, eventually, historic value in making 11 Mission Street over to the Otamataha Trust so that they may, in conjunction with the Elms Foundation, give expression to some of the hopes and ideals expressed at the time of the original missionary occupation.

Nothing, now, will restore to the descendants of Ngati Tapu, Ngai Tamarawaho, and Ngai Tukairangi the 240 hectares of the Te Papa peninsula that Deacon Brown traded for goods worth ‘near L200’ in 1839. His recorded motives expressed an intention to prevent settlement, sly-grogging and trading, which only goes to show how original intentions suffer alteration. The intentions of the tangata whenua are best described by reference to the Waitangi Tribunal [WAI 215, Te Raupatu o Tauranga Moana, 2004]: original permission to occupy nineteenth-century Te Papa, by anyone, Maori or pakeha, was of a shared and conditional nature.

It is not unusual for historians to propose, from studying an area’s past, that uses and boundaries have been fluid rather than mutually exclusive.  And historians also find that private, exclusive, use can change. It is as well to acknowledge here that the family home bequeathed to the Tauranga Historical Society, Brain Watkins House, was built on confiscated land and is now open to the public as a House Museum.

The Society has therefore formed the considered view that the best way to deal with the current question of who is best placed to own and control the land at 11 Mission Street is
  • to take the steps outlined in Council’s proposal to transfer 11 Mission Street to the Otamataha Trust and
  • for that Trust, in conjunction with the Elms Foundation, to use the property for further development of the Mission House as a place of historical experience and understanding of the past.
Far from over-complicating the matter, such a process upholds and exemplifies the history and function of the original Mission Station as a negotiated space, in place as well as time.

Further drawing from the Waitangi Tribunal report: the Council does not have to behave in typically pakeha terms: over-simplifying motives and consequences and ignoring inconvenient truths. The current position, as we understand it, is that neither the Otamataha Trust nor The Elms Foundation has any objections to the course Council now proposes to follow. We also cannot see anything but good coming from a long-term, considered and deliberate development of 11 Mission Street under the care of the two institutions.

At the very least, the transfer to the Otamataha Trust and subsequent perpetual lease at a peppercorn rental to The Elms Foundation allows a semblance of the original relationship between the tangata whenua and the Church Mission Society to be represented in modern terms. We endorse the proposal.