Friday, 26 April 2019

Tauranga Jazz Festival Beginnings

With the 57th Tauranga Jazz Festival coming up this Easter I began to wonder how and when it all started. I contacted an old friend, David Proud, who has been actively involved in all things Jazz since he was a teenager. I asked him how it all came about, and this is the story he told me.

The Jazz Festival wouldn’t have happened without the Bay Big Band and people like Ken Hayman whose family were instrumental in its earliest days. The town needed a rehearsal band which it developed - when Kerridge Odeon put on a film “Jazz on a Summer’s Day” that band played on the stage in front of the screen while the film rolled. The film combined the Newport Yacht Race with jazz music. After the screening, the guys were talking and someone said, “Wouldn’t it be neat to have our own jazz festival?” David Hall, the drummer from the Big band, said he’d organise it. Someone said “You’ll never get it off the ground”. That comment proved to be the catalyst. Hall got an overdraft of 50 pounds from the bank to start it off, and contacted big names in the Auckland music scene to come on board.

Remember the Haymans? Ken Hayman played trumpet in the Tauranga Boy’s College Swing Band and later the Big band. His father built a hall across from the Boy’s college for dances and bands. Hayman’s Hall (now the site of the Tauranga Citizen’s Club) then became the first HQ for the Jazz society and Festival.

The first Jazz Festival was held at the Memorial Park Sound Shell during the Auckland Anniversary Weekend in 1963.

To read more about its history than this space would allow I refer you to Jocelyn Buchanan’s (former Tauranga Jazz Society president) superb overview of the Jazz Society, and The Tauranga Jazz Festival on the Library's Kete website.

Friday, 19 April 2019

Kaimai Road (Part 2)

Thompson's Track, Bush road with woman and dog (1900)
Photo: Emily Surtees Photographic Collection, Tauranga City Libraries. Photographer: Emily Surtees (nee Stewart) (eldest child of George Vesey and Margaret Stewart). Courtesy of Elizabeth Smith and Ellen McCormack (Ref: Page 50, 003) Image ref. 16-348
 It is clear from this 1900 photograph that Thompson’s Track (named after assistant surveyor Thomas Kirkpatrick Thompson) did not get the 1500 pounds promised by Government in the 1890s. The funding was withdrawn because it was conditional on substantial contributions from impoverished local authorities. Stories tell about the track being upgraded during World War II (1939-1945) so it could be used as an alternative escape route should Tauranga be invaded.
It was not just Tauranga’s Pakeha settlers who wanted a road to the Waikato. A petition from local Māori, 'aboriginal Natives of New Zealand, living in the County of Tauranga in the Provincial district of Auckland’, implored the Government to finish the Kaimai road (Bay of Plenty Times 18 May 1894 p4). As the end of the nineteenth century approached, both Māori and Pakeha could be forgiven for thinking that the Government was tying itself in knots to avoid spending money on the Kaimai road,  or indeed any road in the area: the offer of funding for Thompson’s Track was withdrawn after local bodies could not pledge enough to support it. In 1896 the Minister of Lands refused to fund the Kaimai road because it went through land owned by the Estates Company which the Government might be expected to buy. Putting a road through it would increase its value and the price the Government would have to pay; therefore, the road was not funded, because the land was (potentially) worth too much. Later, it was announced that the Government would not want to buy that land because there was Crown land in the area of equal value for which there was no demand; therefore, the road was not funded, because the land wasn’t worth enough! This tortuous logic upset the good people of Tauranga, as well it might, and their road seemed further off than ever.
‘[T]he public is beginning to ask itself once more, "What about the Kaimai road, are we going to get it after all?" And echo just answers, "After all! After all!" till the sound dies away in distant futurity’ (Poverty Bay Herald 30 November 1899 p4). 
Ivy Bridge, Ruahihi, Kaimai Road (built by Mr McNaughton), 1903
Photo: Tauranga City Libraries Ref. 02-067
But a little help was at hand. In 1900 the Rev. Charles Jordan was despatched to Wellington to boost local representative Mr Herries’ request for £2,500 from the Government to complete the Kaimai road. In October a grant of £350 for the road appeared in the supplementary estimates. Mr Jordan’s report made the best of this limited success.
‘We have now, so to speak, got in the thin end of the wedge, and we must keep on driving it home, year after year, until this road is formed’ (Bay of Plenty Times 7 November 1900 p2).
And that is more or less what happened. Although the big lump sum to complete the whole project never eventuated, smaller grants trickled in, and the Kaimai road gradually improved. Provided you didn’t expect too much, you could be positive about it, like the Bay of Plenty Times in 1901: the track was ‘in capital order for bridle traffic in fine weather’ (my italics; 23 September 1901 p2), and two years later it was ‘in much better order than in the past and much more generally used’ as a stock route (7 August 1903 p2). It was also being widened for wheeled traffic. There was still, however, a long way to go…

To be continued.

Friday, 12 April 2019

Frederick Newnham Christian

Frederick Newnham Christian in his 70s
Collection of Julie Green
Fred was born in 1884 in Christchurch, he was the youngest of seven children. Apprenticed to machinery suppliers Andrews and Beaven for 5 years, he also studied electrical and mechanical engineering at Canterbury University and worked at his trade in England. Once qualified as a Marine Engineer he worked for the Northern Steamship Company on coastal boats including ‘Wave’ and ‘Victory.’ In 1911 he purchased Davies Bros business in Devonport Rd and renamed it Tauranga Plumbing and Engineering Works. He resided at ‘Dilston,’ a boarding establishment run by the Norris Family (near present day Elizabeth Heights.)

The garage in 1955 on western side of Devonport rd, Tauranga
Collection of Julie Green
In December 1913 he married Mary Parkinson whom he had met in the UK. They later purchased ‘Fairlight' overlooking the Waikareo Estuary, and raised their family there. During the first war he began to sell cars and became Tauranga’s Ford agent, continuing in business until the mid 1950s. By then he employed 30 staff including painters, panel beaters and upholsterers but due to failing heath he sold to Tappenden’s.

Advertising Souvenir
Collection of Julie Green
Many of the mechanics trained at the Devonport Rd garage went on to have successful businesses in other parts of the district. Some of these were:
  • Phil Prime — agent for Humber, Commer and De Soto in Grey Street,
  • Erle Prier — garage at Warner Rd for many years,
  • Wally Brockway — Bethlehem Motors for 30+ years ,
  • Johnny Phillips — Fraser Street and his daughter is still in business,
  • Charlie Dinsdale — Birch Ave
  • Doug Hayward — Omokoroa
  • Frank Olsen — Eleventh Ave
and several others in other districts.

Some of F.N. Christian’s achievements in the Tauranga District:
  • Lay preacher and member of the Guild of Wesley Methodist Church,
  • School and Liquor licensing committee,
  • Debating and Literary Society,  a prominent Rotarian,
  • Commissioner of Scouts for 7 years,
  • Chamber of Commerce for 6 years,
  • Deputy Mayor and at his death in November 1957
  • Member of the Harbour Board and a Borough Councillor

Friday, 5 April 2019

Early European Vessels and Visitors to Tauranga: The Herald and the Rev. Henry Williams, June 1826

During morning walks over Mount Maunganui, I sometimes imagine the little missionary schooner Herald clearing the harbor entrance below, exactly 193 years ago. With a final tack and audible crack of its main sails, the vessel, according to missionary accounts, would first sail east, as far as Whakaari (White Island) before turning north for the Bay of Islands and home.

The missionary schooner Herald, 1826-1828
Vintage Transport - Sailing Ships, New Zealand Post, 1975
The 55 ton Herald was among the first sailing vessels to enter Tauranga Harbour. Built on the beach at Paihia in the Bay of Islands by the missionary leader Henry Williams and the merchant sea captain Gilbert Mair, the vessel was launched in January 1826. Henry Williams and the Herald visited Tauranga on three occasions in June and December 1826 and again in 1828, with two objectives. The first was to spread the gospel among the resident Maori tribes. The second was to obtain pigs and potatoes for the northern mission stations which were plagued by food shortages. As the intertribal Musket Wars escalated, Ngapuhi would only exchange their pigs, potatoes and other introduced crops for muskets and powder with the shipping at the Bay of Islands.

The Anglican missionary leader and former Royal Navy Lieutenant Henry Williams
Lithograph, Charles Baugniet, C-0120-005 Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington
The missionary journals of Henry Williams and George Clarke reveal that their visit to Tauranga  was a success. After anchoring in Pilot Bay, the missionaries and mixed crew of Maori and Pakeha, were well received by Ngai Te Rangi. For four nights they were fed, entertained and housed at Otamataha Pa (Te Papa), now the site of the mission cemetery. Having noted the large quantities of potatoes and herds of pigs available, they returned by ship’s boat to Pilot Bay.

During three days of brisk trading, the Herald was surrounded by up to 50 canoes and 700 Ngai Te Rangi, who competed to exchange their cargoes of potatoes, primarily for axes. Why the missionaries were unable to obtain pigs is not made clear. During the excitement, George Clarke’s voice became hoarse from shouting and he became frustrated when Ngapuhi sailors aboard the Herald informed the local Maori traders that they were selling too cheaply. After loading the vessel with potatoes ‘as deep as she could swim,’ distributing fruit trees and vegetable seeds, and promising to establish a missionary in Tauranga when the intertribal wars abated, Henry Williams and Captain Gilbert Mair took the Herald through the harbor entrance on the ebb tide of Thursday 29th June.
It is often claimed that the Herald was first vessel to enter Tauranga Harbour. That honour or dishonour lies with one of the many small whaler-gun trading vessels out of Hobart and Sydney like the Trial, Caroline and  Brothers, that haunted the east coast between Cape Colville and East Cape from the 1810s. Additionally, Ngai Te Rangi visitors to the Bay of Islands in the winter of 1825 told Henry Williams that Pakeha vessels had already called to sell them muskets and how they had assisted ‘to hoist casks up out of the ships.'

Though it proved invaluable in spreading the gospel and ending missionary dependence on Ngapuhi for provisions, the Herald had a short life. After also visiting Sydney and trading around New Zealand, it was wrecked at Hokianga in 1828. Though no lives were lost, when the passengers and crew were forced to swim ashore at 2 a.m. they and the Herald were plundered, which, in accordance with traditional Maori salvage law, was tika or the perfectly correct response.

Clarke, George, Journal, 19-29 June, 1826, Journal of the Tauranga Historical Society, Vol 50, April 1974: 20-29.
Marsden, Samuel, The Letters and Journals of Samuel Marsden, 1765- 1838, Elder, J. (ed.), Dunedin, Coulls, Somerville, Wilkie and Reid, Dunedin, 1932.
Williams, Henry. The Early Journals of Henry Williams 1826-1840, Rogers, L. M. (comp.), Christchurch: Pegasus Press, 1961.