Friday, 29 March 2019

Monmouth Redoubt

Te Redoubt, Tauranga Harbour, showing the Mount in the distance
Undated postcard by unknown publisher. Collection of Justine Neal
The Monmouth Redoubt was built on the Tauranga foreshore early in 1864 by British troops, including the 43rd Monmouth Light Infantry after whom it was named, when a 600 strong force was sent to the mission settlement. Its task was to block the flow of reinforcements and supplies from the Maori tribes in the Bay of Plenty and further east to the Waikato where the Kingitanga was resisting the occupation of land declared confiscated by the settler government in 1863.

The redoubt was erected on an early pa site overlooking the harbour as this excerpt from J W Stack’s book Early Maoriland Adventures shows. He was living in Tauranga pre 1842 and during this time was taken by his father to see a fort which Maori were building under the direction of the missionaries as a place of refuge. It was close to their houses and on the edge of a cliff. A wide and deep ditch was being dug, and the earth taken out of it was formed into a wall. To prevent the soil, as it was being heaped up, falling back into the ditch, alternate layers of fern and soil were placed one above the other, till the wall reached the desired height.

Tauranga, from the Redoubt
Undated postcard by Mary Humphreys. Collection of Justine Neal
This was actually the rebuilding of the fortifications of the old Taumatakahawai Pa (abandoned in 1828) on the site where the Monmouth Redoubt now stands. The following excerpts from the Bay of Plenty Times give some idea of its subsequent history.
  • 14 Sept 1872. A new and lofty flagstaff was erected from which the New Zealand ensign fluttered proudly in the breeze. The redoubt has been largely reconstructed with its commodious barracks occupied by the Armed Constabulary.
  • 6 Sept 1873. The cells within the redoubt have been lined and altered to prevent the escape of prisoners.
  • 6 Aug 1874. Members of the town board thought it would be desirable to take some steps to endeavour to obtain the service of prisoners confined in the Monmouth Redoubt upon roadworks within the township.
  • 17 Nov 1875. A lightning conductor to be installed on the magazine in the Monmouth Redoubt. This should have been done long since.
  • In 1882 a large corner lot near the old Redoubt allotment in Monmouth St would have set you back 200 pounds.
  • Jan 1896. His Excellency the Governor came to visit and a salute of 17 guns was fired from the Monmouth Redoubt as His Excellency stepped from the wharf platform onto The Strand and the Band played a selection of Scottish airs.
  • Nov 1877. The Justice Department closed the local gaol which stood in the Redoubt.
  • Jul 1898. There was disagreement between the Government and the Borough Council over the ownership of the Monmouth Redoubt, caused by the gaol being situated in the Redoubt and the Government’s wish to keep it in reserve for future use at some time, but a considerable part of the Redoubt stood on the public streets of the Borough.
  • Nov 1898. There were hopes that the Redoubt may at length be able to be thrown open to the public and the gaol re-established elsewhere.
  • Dec 1898. Monmouth Redoubt is secured as a reserve and handed over the Borough. The Redoubt contained a tumble down old barracks building, almost valueless, the gaol and its offices and the powder magazine. There was some suggestion to utilize one of the buildings as a morgue! Not one of their better ideas.
Monmouth Redoubt, Tauranga
Undated postcard by RJ Rendell. Collection of Justine Neal
In 2013 the story came full circle, when, in recognition of the history of the area and the old pa site, carvings were commissioned for the new Tauranga Police Station. These hang on the wall facing Taumatakahawai Pa/ Monmouth Redoubt.

Papers Past
A Centennial History of Tauranga, by W.H. Gifford & H.B. Williams, published 1940
Tauranga Memories Kete

Friday, 22 March 2019

A Short History of Warming Pans

Bed Warmer
Image courtesy of Brain Watkins House Collection, Ref. 2004/0566
One of the treasures that we have at Brain Watkins House is the ancient bed warmer. A china contraption that is presently displayed on the bed in the master bedroom. Arousing my interest I researched the method that ancient people used to warm their beds before the advent of the modern rubber water bottle – or more recently the marvellous electric blankets that can be programmed to provide the maximum comfort desired by its owner.

Image courtesy of Lois Hembrow
In the dim dark past,  a hot brick or stone which had been heating by the fire was wrapped and slipped between the bed clothes. By the sixteenth century, brass or copper warming pans with a handle were available. It was a valuable family possession, handed down from generation to generation, but it was also affordable by the ‘common man.’ A very rich person might have a silver one, or a copper one richly ornamented.

Some warming pans had air holes, which meant that the embers kept smouldering for longer, but the bed would smell of fumes and there was the increased risk of scorching sheets. Warming pans on a handle were designed for moving up and down the bed before somebody got into it.

If you didn’t want to stand in a cold bedroom moving the warming pan up and down, you might have a ‘bed wagon’ The photo above shows an odd-looking contrivance, generally used on farms, and in a large bed This particular one is three foot long, but they were often larger. The timber is oak, light and strong. Hot embers  are dropped on to the trivet, which stands on a sheet-iron tray. Anther sheet of iron is fixed to the woodwork above the fire, so there is no danger of burning the bed.

The sample of the bed warmer in the B_W Collection is a china one, and would have contained hot water. (as shown) It has no manufacturers mark, and possibly began to replace the metal ones in the mid-19th century.

Bed Warmers
Image courtesy of Julie Green
Just think of this primitive manner of warming your bed when you cuddle down with your rubber hot water bottle; or more likely a cosy Electric blanket set to the temperature that suits you and requires no attention from you except to keep it smooth and unwrinkled!

Friday, 15 March 2019

The Battle for Rangataua Bay

Maungatapu, c.1960
Image courtesy of Tauranga City Library, Ref. 00-152
Our home in Welcome Bay looked out over beautiful Rangataua Bay and after I had heard the following story recalled by Carole Gordon I would often feel a wave of gratitude to those earlier settlers who put up a brave fight to prevent sewage being pumped into the bay.

In Carole’s words “I can’t remember the year when the fuss about the state houses actually began.  I think Jim Keam’s little subdivision had been put in when the Housing Corporation bought the low-lying tidal swamp below for a housing site.  The town was growing rapidly and there wasn’t enough housing so they were looking for cheap land.  When the swamp site at Welcome Bay was announced as a state housing site, local people were shocked.  We all knew that it filled up with water after storms or when there were high tides.

The Bay itself at the very end of Waitaha Road was very open and there was a real beach down in front or slightly to the left of the hall where a culvert went under the road; it took natural drainage from the swampy lower-lying land at the end of the road.  Children played there when they got off the school bus or kids from around the district would play down there on the beach.  As local people, we were very honest when we said that that was the children’s beach and that they were going to foul it by putting a sewage outlet there, from the proposed state housing subdivision.

The Demonstration
Image courtesy of Carole Gordon
This was the beginning of a long legal and heartfelt journey, people versus the state, to save Welcome Bay and the great harbour environment. The outcome was that the people prevailed and the city won an amenable government loan to the city sewage system that would replace septic tanks and avoid the leaching into the harbour.  Welcome Bay got a system of filter tanks and pumping stations that lead to Chapel Street.”

But in case the battle should appear easy this was far from the reality.  The fight went right through to the Environment Appeal Court but it began as “a spontaneous, organically erupting process.  It was totally the people, Maori and Pakeha, old and young, farmers and professionals, scientists and mothers, step by step, one challenge after another, learning as we went.  The issue of sewage disposal catalysed the Welcome Bay community.  A loosely connected action group formed in order to object to environmental effects.  Simply put we had to build a case that there was insufficient water flow.

Officials Discussing the Problem
Image courtesy of Carole Gordon
The scope of building the case grew as the process went through various legal processes.  The successful outcomes from the project are due to the many community volunteer hours, to the legal profession of Tauranga who gave services including Environment Court hearings and the DSIR scientists who freely gave advice as we undertook regular scientific testing such as coliform counts on the harbour perimeters. Over time testing revealed alarming levels of seepage from septic tanks. The houses on Waitaha Road sat empty while the process went on and on.”

George Gair, Minister of Housing, Addressing the Crowd
Image courtesy of Carole Gordon
The culmination of the project came when Bob Owens, the Mayor at the time, invited George Gair, The Minister of Housing to view the march and speak to the people.  The Bay of Plenty Times had been very supportive, carrying the story through to its conclusion.  Local bus companies offered free buses for all who wanted to be part of the event.  St Mary’s Catholic School was involved because they were feeling the effects of pollution on their foreshore.  They closed the school for the day and teachers, parents and children made a great sight as they walked across the harbour to Welcome Bay.

The march went from Maungatapu to Welcome Bay and in the end the decision was made on the day. George Gair came with a solution which he and Bob Owens must have worked out, which was to offer the council a low interest loan for sewage reticulation.  A victory for Welcome Bay and for the harbour.


A History of Welcome Bay, by Peg Cummins, 2015, ISBN 978-0-473-31165-0

Friday, 8 March 2019

High Trees and the Te Papa Peninsula, 1860-1910

The Native Institution, Te Papa, Tauranga, January 1865
High Trees, the former home of Rev. E.B. Clarke can be seen in the background

Albumen print by John Kinder,The Elms Collection, Ref. 1972.0129
In early 1860 the Church Missionary Society (CMS) decided that Tauranga needed a more substantial school at Tauranga than the rudimentary tuition facilities that Archdeacon Brown had been able to provide at the Te Papa Mission Station since his first wife had died in 1855. The CMS appointed Reverends Charles Baker and Edward Blomfield Clarke to “manage an Industrial Institution about to be established at Tauranga.” Clarke arrived in early June that year, Baker in August, and they commenced building and recruiting pupils straight away, the first lessons being held in the Mission Chapel. Clarke’s residence was finished by the end of the year, named High Trees for obvious reasons, Baker’s house was completed shortly afterwards, and they moved in with their families. The building for the Native Institution, as it came to be called, was erected in 1861.

Sketch Map of Te Papa Peninsula, drawn by Major H. Morant in 1864
showing, from left to right (in pink), Rev Clarke’s House, the Institute and Rev Baker’s house

Adapted from Bilcliffe (1995)

Samuel Ludbrooke Clarke, Edward’s elder brother, also arrived in Tauranga in 1860. He farmed on land leased from the CMS, and built a homestead to the south of his brothers. Another brother, Henry Tacy Clarke, was appointed Resident Magistrate at Tauranga in 1860, but he may not have moved his family permanently from Prospect (Waimate, Bay of Islands) to Tauranga until 1868. Stokes (1980) suggests that in 1864 he was occupying a house to the south-east of the Durham Redoubt.

Watercolour of Te Papa Peninsula by an unidentified soldier, c.1864
showing (L to R) Col. Greer's house, Hospital and Col. Harington's house

Art Works Box 2, Ngā Wāhi Rangahau Research Collections, Tauranga City Library
Around 1863, as a consequence of the unrest in Taranaki, Captain Daniel Sellars moved from his original home which he had built on Rangiwaea Island to the peninsula to a new house constructed at the southern end of what is now The Strand. By early 1864 these were the principal residences on the Te Papa peninsula, but after the arrival of Imperial Troops, the landscape was swiftly altered with the building of the Durham and Monmouth Redoubts and the erection of numerous soldiers’ tents.

After the outbreak of hostilities in the Waikato the Institute was disbanded in July 1863, and Charles Baker took his family to the relative safety of Auckland by April 1864. After the arrival of the military in Tauranga on 22 January 1864, the commander of the troops, Colonel George Carey, 18th Royal Irish, occupied High Trees while the Durham Redoubt was being erected immediately to the west, and until his departure in early March. Colonel Greer (68th Regiment) assumed command on his arrival later that month, and shortly after his family joined him at High Trees. Colonel Harington of the 1st Waikato Militia took over Baker’s residence some time after August 1864. The Institute was used initially as the Commissariat, a centre for the administration of troops and stores, and after the Battle of Gate Pa in April 1864, as a hospital for wounded and sick troops. Presumably the occupation of these buildings was included in the lease of land at Te Papa to the Crown for £200 per year, arranged by Rev Burrows without the consent of the other members of the CMS Land Committee.

The family of Colonel Greer on the lawn in front of High Trees, Te Papa, c. 1865
Mounted albumen print, photograph attributed to Hartley Webster

Collection and courtesy of Tony Rackstraw
The group standing, seated and mounted on horses on the lawn in front of High Trees in the above photograph has been identified with a fair degree of certainty as that of Colonel Henry Harpur Greer. It comprises Greer himself, his wife and three children, a lady visitor (possibly Miss Sidney Goring), a soldier and a groom, and must have been taken prior to the 68th Regiment’s departure for Auckland (and England) in early 1866.

Surrender of Maori at Te Papa, 25 July 1864
showing High Trees (left), the Native Institute (centre) and the gable of Baker’s house (right)
Engraving from the Illustrated London News, 29 Oct 1864, after a watercolour by H.G. Robley

Image courtesy of University of Waikato
In July 1864 the ceremony for the “surrender” of Tauranga Maori took place on the front lawn of High Trees, the front façade and veranda of which can be seen in Robley’s watercolour painting of the event and the Illustrated London News engraving which was derived from it.

Captain Ebenezer Norris, a cousin to the Clarkes, was the next to occupy High Trees with his wife Amelia after their marriage in 1868, having arrived in Tauranga in 1866 when he opened a store on the waterfront and took command of the Volunteer Rifle Militia. Amelia is reputed to have been the first to release English sparrows from the gable windows of High Trees, sent by the Auckland Acclimatization Society. Norris built a second house, Barbreck, on Second Avenue and the family moved there in 1874 or 1875.

An advertisement for a general servant suggests that a Mrs Crump was living at High Trees in June 1889, but the Norris family moved back to High Trees not long after Ebenezer’s death in August 1890. Certainly by March 1897 Mrs Norris, now widowed, was in residence there again and appears to have operated a boarding house from the premises until at least February 1902. By December 1907 Mrs Norris had moved to Selwyn House, probably the property in Devonport Road where she was again running a boarding house in October 1910.

By 1933, when Mrs Norris’ was interviewed on the occasion of her 87th birthday, High Trees had been demolished, making way for the residence of Mr. E.T. Baker. Mr. E.T. Baker’s “flats” were still in existence in 1972, when they were referred to by Captain Norris’s granddaughter in an address to the Historical Society. These buildings were, in turn, replaced by the Commercial Travellers’ Club car park, where the Kingsview apartment complex was built.

Grateful acknowledgements to the staff at Tauranga City Library Ngā Wāhi Rangahau and the Tauranga Heritage Collection for assistance over numerous visits in researching the material for this article.


Anon (1864) A Cruise to Tauranga, New Zealand Herald, Vol 1, Issue 7, 5 Mar 1864, Papers Past.
Bilcliffe, John (1995) Well Done the 68th: the Durhams in the Crimea and New Zealand 1854-1866, Picton Publishing
Ellott, Gerald (2017) The 68th Durham Light Infantry (The Faithful Durhams), October 2017, Accessed 25 Feb 2019
McCauley, Debbie (2017) High Trees: Tauranga Residence of Henry Harpur Greer, Tauranga Memories: Historical Buildings & Places, Tauranga City Library Kete, Accessed 25 Feb 2019
McKenzie, Mrs. A.A. (1972) The Life and Times of Captain Ebenezer Norris, Journal of the Tauranga Historical Society, No. 45, June 1972, p.12-16.
Matheson, Alister (1991) Captain Fred Norris and the Bay of Plenty Coastal Trade, 1907-1924, Historical review: Bay of Plenty Journal of History, Vol. 39, No. 1, p.1-21.
Rorke, Jinty (1990) Brown, Alfred Nesbit and Brown, Charlotte, Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand,  Accessed 22 February 2019
Stokes, Evelyn (1980) A History of Tauranga County, Dunmore Press.
Willan, Rachael (1997) Otamataha (Wai 580), Report commissioned by the Waitangi tribunal for Wai 580.
Letters of Rev. E.B. Clarke from  the Waimate and Tauranga 1856-68, MS 22, Ngā Wāhi Rangahau Research Collections, Tauranga City Library
Clarke Family of Te Waimate, Accessed 22 February 2019
Sadness in Home’s Passing (1974), Newspaper cutting in Vertical Files, Ngā Wāhi Rangahau Research Collections, Tauranga City Library
The War in New Zealand, Illustrated London News, Vol XLV, page 429, University of Waikato Digital Collections
Archives New Zealand, Archway Record AD1 CD1864/3007
A Visit to the Cemetery at Te Papa, The New Zealander, Vol XX, Issue 2132, 4 Jun 1864, Papers Past
Old Memories: Mrs A.H. Norris’s Birthday Celebration, Bay of Plenty Times, Vol LX, Issue 11118, 19 May 1933, Papers Past
Various other newspaper extracts from the Bay of Plenty Times, Papers Past

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

Tauranga Historical Society’s Vintage Garden Party 2019

Talented dancers perform moves from the 1950’s at the Tauranga Historical Society’s Vintage Garden Party, Sunday 3 March 2019. Image: Lee Switzer, Private Collection
A fun and festive vintage garden party, celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Society’s custodianship of the Brain Watkins House, was enjoyed by a large and colourful crowd on Sunday. A highlight of the afternoon was a fashion show co-ordinated by Amy Turner. It featured clothing from her own vintage collection, while inside the house visitors were able to enjoy a display of garments, dating from the 1930s, that once belonged to sisters Elva and Bessie Brain.

Fashion parade model wearing a vintage dress is admired by the crowd.
Image: Lee Switzer, Private Collection
Society members received many positive comments about the afternoon, including this email:
Well done to the Historical Society team for how this afternoon flowed (from a first time attendee.) The music was great and that Welsh fiddle player really complimented Marion Art’s guitar and voice. I loved the fashion parade and the dances between runway walks. The models were great, their clothes wonderful, hairstyles astonishing, hats, shoes etc. - very professional. I appreciated my tour of the house and talked to each of the guides (Shirley, Lois, Susan and Justine) and learned something from each of them. I loved the timeline and even noted the first jazz festival was included! I seemed to be the only person reading the timeline but other people in the room were responding to the artefacts. Thanks for having such a wonderful celebration!
Tauranga Historical Society President, Julie Green, opening the garden party.
Image: Lee Switzer, Private Collection

Stall organiser Beth Bowden (far right wearing hat) admires garments for sale with Society member Justine Neal. Image: Lee Switzer, Private Collection

Friday, 1 March 2019

Undine Clarke (1902-1986)

Undine Clarke as a young woman
One of the most remarkable people who contributed to Tauranga art and culture during the 20th century was the colourful Undine Clarke, a renowned dance teacher. Even if you didn’t learn ballet or other forms of dance, you still knew who she was. She was hard to miss with her hair drawn back by a Spanish comb, her jangling bracelets, and her Spanish dancing shoes. She didn’t look like the other mothers.

For decades she locally trained and encouraged the art of dancing be it ballet, Spanish, musical comedy, ballroom, or tradition highland. On top of all that, her numerous qualifications acknowledged her to be the highest qualified teacher of dancing in New Zealand in her time. And she belonged to Tauranga.

She came from Auckland, where she had a career as a solo dancer, to Tauranga when she married local farmer Hector Clarke. With him she raised a family of five children. As if this wasn’t busy enough during this time, she went to Australia for a year’s study and examinations to obtain Advanced Teacher’s Certificate (Royal Academy of Dancing). Once her family had grown, she furthered her career by going to London for personal, expert tuition in ballet, Latin American, Spanish and Greek dancing.

All this knowledge and experience benefitted Tauranga’s aspiring young dancers at the Undine Clarke School of Dance. Some of her pupils attained the ‘Solo Seal’, the highest degree of Ballet, notably Yvonne Edwards (nee Parnell).

Local performing societies benefitted from her skilled services as a choreographer and teacher. She received the British Empire Medal for cultural and community services in the 1969 New Year’s Honours List.

This remarkable woman pioneered the art of dance in Tauranga, and her legacy is the many dance schools led by those who learned their art under her tutelage.

Reference: Tauranga 1882- 1982: The Centennial of Gazetting Tauranga as a borough. Edited by A.C. Bellamy, published by Tauranga City Council .