Tuesday, 26 February 2019

Tauranga Hospital's Roof Garden

Roof Garden, from rear, 1994: puka trees: pond area, to right beyond box hedging: hebes, a variety of pittosporums, Teucrium fruticans (germander) (large grey green plant). Lower right: mixed conifers. Next to path, ground cover junipers. Bottom right corner: Australian frangipanis. Photo: Vivien Edwards
When the Clinical Services building at Tauranga Hospital was planned, Hamilton architects Gillman, Garry, Clapp and Sayers’ suggestion to use soil for roof insulation and create a garden, met with controversy. There was no other roof garden completely covering a roof in the Southern Hemisphere, let alone one on top of a hospital building. After reassurance from the architects a garden could be created without the roof leaking, and approval came from Wellington, it was decided to proceed. The therapeutic value of plants and the important role gardens play in creating optimum conditions for people to heal, was recognised. Such a garden would create an environment where patients, relatives and staff could retreat from stressful events, find beauty and solace, and be restored. When patients’ health and the weather conditions allowed, those confined to bed, could be wheeled out into the garden, along with supporting equipment such as intravenous drips. Mobile patients would make their own way.

In 1994, I had the opportunity to investigate the story of what was then Western Bay Health’s roof garden, as GP Weekly, a publication I wrote for, which now no longer exists, regularly published a page on doctors’ gardens. Ron Benfell, one of two gardeners employed at the time, showed me around the garden. His fellow gardener was Frank Thompson. The two men spent two to three days a month, maintaining the roof garden. They also cared for the other hospital gardens. Unfortunately, some gardens had to make way for new hospital buildings, to service Tauranga’s burgeoning population.

Puka tree (Meryta sinclairii), 1994. Photo: Vivien Edwards
Alyson Howell, customer services manager for Western Bay Health at the time, told me the roof garden was developed in 1971. The garden had been carefully planned. The roof was waterproofed with polybutanol, and the piped drainage system had control valves. There were layers of chaff, straw and pumice, then soil, only a spade-end deep, except where mounded to create raised areas. Despite minimum soil depth, some conifers were 20 to 25 feet high. The flowering cherries had recently been topped. A large variety of perennial species were chosen for their particular qualities, and with regard to their rooting system. “We couldn’t plant a tree with tap roots on the roof.”

Those on the upper floors of what was then the main hospital building, look down onto the garden. Cameron Road is on one side of the garden. Below, on the other side, are secluded courtyards, accessed through the clinical departments. In 1994, the courtyard nearest to the main building had a white camellia, and the central courtyard, a large Japanese maple Shin deshobo, which hung over the courtyards on either side. The furthest, more shaded courtyard grew pongas and other ferns. The railing near the entrance to the roof garden was covered with maroon-coloured jasmine and fatshedera. Bouganvilleas were being established. A cobblestone path and dwarf box hedging divided the garden into separate feature areas of conifers, small perennial shrubs and natives. A waterfall (out of sight in the photo) was set in a grassed area. It had a long run to the bottom, before the water was pumped back. Walking through the garden, which is around a quarter of an acre in size, there were weeping silver birches, pittosporums, three flowering prunus trees, surrounded by several smaller crepe myrtles, followed by mixed conifers, and a dwarf kowhai next to small perennials.

Pond area of the roof garden, 1994. Photo: Vivien Edwards
The pond had a backdrop of Leptospermums, azaleas, Choysia and Pittosporums. Before the large pukas (Meryta sinclairii) were two wide-leafed Australian cabbage trees. Pink proteas and Ceanothus behind a seat created shelter and privacy. Beyond the native shrub area was a stand of large conifers and Australian frangipanis. Along the meandering, cobblestone path, wisteria clinging to the pergola, helped to offset the hospital’s large ventilation cooling towers. At night the garden was strategically lit. Those unable to sleep, could look down on the trees.

Since 1994, the roof garden has undergone change. The pond was fenced to comply with health and safety legislation and I don’t remember seeing the waterfall when I was last there. But the roof garden is still a beautiful and restful place, worth a visit next time you are at Tauranga Hospital.

Friday, 22 February 2019

The Kaimai Road (Part I)

In the 1880s settlers in the new borough of Tauranga wanted progress. They wanted a freezing works, more land for settlement, bridges, the railway. Above all, they wanted a coach road across the Kaimai range, to link the Bay of Plenty to the Waikato. They would have to wait a long time.

Workers on Kaimai road. These men were working on the Kaimai road some time between 1906 and 1915. They would have faced just as much mud and hard work as the group in 1883, but it is to be hoped that they were better fed. Photo: Tauranga City Libraries. Ref. 02-196
Everyone recognised that a road was necessary, but there were strong and differing opinions as to where it should go. Captain A. C. Turner, in his capacity as district surveyor and county engineer, had recommended the Kaimai track to Cambridge as the most cost-effective option – the present Cambridge Road is a remnant of its original route. Accordingly, money was spent on the Kaimai track. Bush was cleared and bridges were built. Working on those remote roads was no picnic, especially when the food ran out:
[The workers] were left about a week ago with half a bag of potatoes and a small pig, and when that ran out they had to do the best they could with baked meal, and not even a drop of tea or coffee to wash it down. Bay of Plenty Times, 3 March 1883, page 2.
But there was fierce competition for roading funds, and the Tauranga to Cambridge route was not the only candidate. A strong push for Thompson’s Track, from Katikati to Te Aroha, was made by notable Katikati residents such as George Vesey Stewart and John Killen. A petition for Government funding for the Thompson’s Track option circulated in 1892, and was signed by many Tauranga people.

Mr David Lundon, Katikati, 1899, five years after Mr Lundon's heroic crossing of the Kaimai road in a one-horse sulky, Emily Surtees' Photographic Collection, Tauranga City Libraries, Ref. 13-206
Emily Surtees (nee Stewart) made a visit to Katikati around 1899-1900 and photographed many of the early settlers living there as well as the local points of interest. These images courtesy of Elizabeth Smith and Ellen McCormack in 2012.
Tauranga public opinion shifted away from Thompson’s Track towards the Kaimai Road option in May 1894 after Mr David Lundon, chairman of the Tauranga County Council at the time, successfully negotiated the road in a one-horse sulky. Not that it was a quick trip. He met with no fewer than fourteen big trees lying across the track, which meant that fourteen times he had to unharness the horse and lift the sulky over the tree. It took him twelve hours to get to Cambridge. When he arrived he was met by the Mayor and Councillors and received a well-deserved ovation.

Public meetings were held, the Government was petitioned, the Premier made the right noises, and everything looked hopeful for the completion of the road. But then came an unexpected setback:
Much public surprise and disappointment was felt here when it became known that a sum of £1500 had been put on the Estimates for Thompson's track, between Katikati and Te Aroha; and that the Kaimai road, between Tauranga and Cambridge, had been left out in the cold, and no money voted for it at all, after all the promises that had been made. New Zealand Herald, 19 October 1894, page 5.
(To be continued.)

Friday, 15 February 2019

The Crabbe Store

Crabbe Store in Cameron Road
Courtesy of Helen Borell, Hardy Collection, Tauranga Heritage Collection
George Alfred Crabbe established a grocery and drapery store in Cameron Road near the corner of Sixth Avenue in 1867 and replaced it in 1877 with the building that survives today at the Boys’ College. He built a house next door in the 1890s that has since be relocated to Pyes Pa. Crabbe had arrived in Tauranga in 1864 as a soldier in the 1st Waikato Militia and lived at The Camp, the area around today’s cricket pitch in the Domain and Brown Street. He was born in London and his gravestone in the Tauranga Presbyterian cemetery includes the words “Edgeware Road, London”. His position during the Battle of Gate Pa or Pukehinahina was at the rear but he took an active role in the Battle of Te Ranga making him eligible for the New Zealand Medal. His land allocation for his service included a quarter acre in the town of Opotiki and 50 acres near McLaren Falls. He obtained half an acre in Cameron Road from an officer who wished to dispose of his section and sold his country acres. When George Crabbe died in 1905 his coffin was covered by the Union Flag that flew at the Battle of Gate Pa and is now in the Tauranga Heritage Collection.

George A Crabbe, founder of the store (1840 - 1905)
Courtesy of N. Wilson, Crabbe Collection, Tauranga Heritage Collection
John Conway, a well-known builder in Tauranga constructed the two storey shop for £600. The room at the front included the retail area while there were two rooms upstairs and living accommodation at the back.  Conway later built the adjacent house. The shop and outside beneath the verandah was a popular meeting place for the people in the neighbourhood. A man on horseback delivered the daily newspapers for distribution from the offices of the Bay of Plenty Times in town and posters were shown in the shop windows when war broke out in 1914.

Maria S Crabbe (1824- 1923)
Courtesy of N. Wilson, Crabbe Collection, Tauranga Heritage Collection
While living in a bell tent at The Camp, George Crabbe and wife Maria had a son Charles in 1866 and he was christened by Archdeacon Brown at the Mission Chapel. A daughter Annie Frances followed in 1870. In 1899 Charles married Rebecca Johnston a daughter of Noble Johnston of Katikati. Crabbe was a direct descendant of Sir Christopher Wren and was able to pass down some of his famous ancestor’s possessions to his son Charles. Charles and Rebecca were to have a daughter Rebecca Violet, later well-known by her married name Vi Simons. They also had three sons, Charles who died as a child and is buried with his grandparents, Reginald and Selwyn. Vi was a nurse and midwife in Tauranga and an active member of the Tauranga Historical Society.

Hillsdene Store
Courtesy of Tauranga Boys' College
While the property remained in the Crabbe family until 2002 the premises were used by other businesses for many years.  In that year Peter Cooney gifted the building to Tauranga Boys’ College and it was moved further down Cameron Road. At this stage the old stairs were replaced and the building relined. However, the original wide floor boards are visible on the ground floor and the exterior retains most of its original appearance with rusticated weatherboards, double hung sashes in the upper windows and the iron hip roof. The large front windows on the ground floor can be seen in the early photograph of the building.  Today the store functions as a school uniform shop on the ground floor and office space upstairs.  The building is on the Register of Heritage New Zealand in their Category 2 level and is included in the Tauranga City Council Heritage section of the District Plan.

Friday, 8 February 2019

Mary Wharton Christian (nee Parkinson)

Mary Wharton Christian
Photo collection and courtesy of Julie Green
Born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in England in 1879, the eldest of 16 children, she could "simultaneously read a book propped on the mantle, knit a stocking and rock the baby’s cradle with my foot" when she was about nine years of age.

Molly became a teacher and also toured the world with the Sheffield Choir around 1912. She had previously met Mr Christian from New Zealand whilst he was working and studying Marine Engineering near her family home and they had an ‘understanding’.

From 1911 Frederick Christian ran an engineering and plumbing business in Lower Devonport Rd and later became the Ford agent for this area. Molly and he married in Wellington in 1913 when she emigrated after a 3 year courtship by letter.

Photo collection and courtesy of Julie Green
They purchased “Fairlight”, a 6-bedroom house in the early avenues and had four children (one of whom was Lyn Harpham, benefactor of the Tauranga Historical Society in 2011)

Once her family were older Molly was ‘a leading light’ in the Tauranga Borough with involvement in Country Women’s Institute, Maori Women’s Welfare League, Girl Guides (Fred was in the Scouting movement) and other community organisations. She was involved in many activities at the Methodist Church and supported many musical and drama events. Their two-acre property was extensively used for hospitality and accommodation needs for many of these groups.

Lyn Harpham, Molly Christian and Isobel Christian at Government House, 1975
Photo collection and courtesy of Julie Green

In 1975 Mary was awarded the MBE for services to the community and passed on one month short of her 100th birthday about 3 years later.

Friday, 1 February 2019

Heather McLean 1937-2019

Heather and a young helper at a cemetery working bee, Tauranga Methodist and Children’s Cemetery, 2011. Photo: Fiona Kean, Private Collection
Members of the Tauranga Historical Society will be saddened to learn that Heather McLean died yesterday, 31 January 2019, at Waipuna Hospice.

Born in Tauranga in 1937, Heather’s childhood was spent playing in and around the Te Papa Peninsula, a place and time she always remembered as idyllic. Heather attended Tauranga Primary School in 5th Avenue which was a short walk from her home in Cameron Road. In 1951 Heather started at Tauranga College and after leaving school she joined the New Zealand Post Office as a telephone operator. In 1954 this work took her to live in Wellington. Heather returned to Tauranga in 1964 and met her future husband Bill McLean at an Orange Festival dance.

Settled back in Tauranga, and with two young children, Heather's interest in genealogy began. In 1972 she joined the Tauranga Branch of the New Zealand Society of Genealogists and the New Zealand Society of Genealogists in 1973.

Heather and the Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy at a special ceremony where Heather received her QSM, Sunday 27 January 2019. Photo: Fiona Kean, Private Collection
Her research skills and sincere desire to help others would lead Heather to volunteer her time to many groups and organisations, including the Tauranga Historical Society.  Within the Society her knowledge of local history, and in particular her expertise on Tauranga’s cemeteries, was well respected. Heather’s transcriptions of headstones, completed over more than 40 years, continues to be an invaluable resource.

Recently Heather’s work was officially recognised, first with the Tauranga Heritage Award and then in the 2019 New Year Honours List, a Queen’s Service Medal for her services to genealogy and historical research.

Heather will be greatly missed by her friends in the Society, who offer their condolences to her family.

The Matakana Island Incident, November 1842

By the 1830s, European mariners who seriously transgressed tikanga Maori were increasingly subjected taua muru rather than taua ito.
Angus McBride: ‘Natives and Captain Cook,’ Look and Learn, Issue 813, 13 August, 1977
Between Abel Tasman’s visit in 1642 and the attack on the cutter Jane at Turakina in 1840, there were 112 recorded taua ito (blood vengeance) and taua muru (ritualised plundering) raids against European ship’s crews who transgressed tikanga Maori (customary laws). Serious offences included killing, kidnapping, assaulting and insulting Maori and plundering crops and tapu sites. Before the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, vessels like the Waterloo, John Dunscombe, Harlequin, Byron, David, Active and Lucy Ann were plundered by taua muru. Their crews were released minus their clothing and personal effects after being harangued, and in some cases beaten, as the tribes, over time, and in the interests of trade, moderated their responses to European transgressions.

One of the last incidents involving the stripping and plundering of offending Europeans in the Bay of Plenty region, occurred near Katikati in November 1842. Sailing their cutter Nimble from Maketu to the fledgling Auckland settlement with a cargo of pigs, the traders Charles Joy and Peter Lowrie were obliged to anchor inside the northern entrance to Tauranga Harbour due to contrary winds. Encouraged by their three Arawa passengers, the traders went ashore at Katikati and began plundering a crop of potatoes to sell in Auckland. They were seen by the local Waitaha people on Matakana Island, who immediately launched a large waka. Swarming aboard the Nimble, the warriors slashed the sails before stripping the traders and towing the cutter with the naked prisoners, pigs and potatoes aboard, back to Matakana. The three Maori passengers fled into the forest.

The senior Ngaiterangi rangatira Tomika Te Mutu negotiated the release of Charles Joy and Peter Lowrie on Matakana Island in 1842.
John Nicol Crombie: ‘Tomika Te Mutu,’ PA2-2893, Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, NZ.
The utu extracted for the theft of tapu crops, whether by Maori or Pakeha plunderers was always severe. Waitaha tracked the Arawa passengers and killed one of them. After being held captive for some days, Charles Joy was freed at the instigation of the senior Ngaiterangi rangatira Tomika Te Mutu to travel overland to the fledgling Auckland settlement, clad only in a shirt, where he arrived ten days later. Thomas Lowrie was freed to proceed to the Tauranga settlement.

Waitaha kept the cutter Nimble and its cargo as compensation. The two surviving Arawa passengers were rescued and fed by the Tauranga trader James Farrar and a companion aboard their cutter George, which passed by two days after the attack. The rescued men promptly repaid their saviours by stealing their boat. Arawa at Maketu, subsequently used the 16 ton George to launch a successful taua ito against the inhabitants of Mayor Island (Tuhua), before returning it to Farrar.


Best, Abel, The Journal of Ensign Best, Wellington, Government Printer, 1966.
Brown, A.N. The Journals of A.N. Brown, Gisborne, The Elms Trust,1990.
The New Zealander, 18 November, 1848.
Thomson, Arthur, The Story of New Zealand, Vol 1I, London, John Murray, 1859.