Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A milky mishap

From the Auckland Star, 13 September 1884:

"A happly-looking youth, in whom his master, a well-known milk purveyor of Mount Eden, has ever confidence, met with a mishap this morning, with more favourable results than the spectators anticipated.

"The curly-headed lad was in charge of a horse and cart, the latter containing several cans of milk for the supply of customers, but when turning the corner by the store of Messrs Gladding and Son, the horse stumbled and went on his knees. The lad, who was whistling a merry tune at the moment, with thoughts far away, was suddenly shot forward over the horse's head, followed by the glittering cans.

"The little fellow was immediately on his legs, and, strange to say, neither lad nor horse were injured, but the lacteal fluid had returned to mother earth.

"In the space of two minutes the lad was again in the cart shouting, "'Tis no use crying over spilt milk," and with a pop of his whip whisked round the corner, and was soon out of sight."

Who was Rodney?

The NZ Herald today, in their editorial, asked a very good question: "Who was Rodney?" You see, Auckland Region is on the possible verge of a shakeup, both in terms of governance and also even down to the names of the parts of the region with which we identify. A Royal Commission has, among its other recommendations, come out in favour of the transfer of European place names to Maori names for the new "local councils" under the Auckland Council super-city. Tamaki-Makau-rau for Auckland isthmus, Hunua for Franklin ...

"Many will wonder why Maori placenames have acquired such importance lately, and why they need to be so correct. Tamaki-makau-rau would be a mouthful for most residents, who should be forgiven if they shorten it to Tamaki. And Waitemata seems an inadequate name for area that extends far north of the harbour, as far as the Hibiscus Coast on the commission's plan.

But there is value in recognising Maori names of localities. They are a mark of respect for the pre-colonial heritage and a symbol of social inclusion, as well as having more local meaning in most cases. Who was Rodney?"

Rodney, up in the northern part of the region, is the exception. The Royal Commission copped out, really -- they couldn't come up with a Maori name, so just said Rodney would have to sort it out for themselves. I say copped out, because if the commission can just slap Hunua on Franklin, they had a wide range of Maori names of former wards within the old Rodney County Council area to have chosen from as well.

But -- who was Rodney?

Near as I can make out, the county from 1876 was so-named from the district, which came from an electorate in the 1870s. This in turn was probably inspired from Cape or Point Rodney, still a maritime landmark today. That name goes back to beyond 1840, and so we look to Captain Cook, landmark-namer extraordinaire. He named part of Alaska Cape Rodney as well, apparently, and both Capes Rodney were in honour, so it seems, for one man: George Brydges Rodney, 1st Baron Rodney, and an admiral (pictured above. Image from Wiki.) He was a war hero to the English, and a prominent figure in the Royal Navy during Cook's time.

I've always wondered just who Rodney was. At least now, I have a good idea who he might have been.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Comparing the cost of then with now

Historic currency rate calculators can be a bit hard to find at times. A friend rang tonight, and asked me what £10, say Bishop Selwyn's subscription promise to the Avondale future parishioners in 1863, would be worth in today's money.

Thankfully, through a computer upgrade and a semi-crash, my bookmark for the Reserve Bank of New Zealand's CPI Inflation Calculator is still there where I left it. Now, a "CPI Inflation Calculator" sounds a bit mumbo jumbo, but if you click on "Go to calculator", and chose your historic amount and the year, it will give you the approximate value of goods and services in comparison with late 2008 or earlier. Unfortunately, the calculator starts at 1862. Anything earlier would still be an educated guess. But, £10 in 1863 comes out as $988.02. A sizeable sum for Bishop Selwyn in those days. Merchants often promised a fifth of that.

If anyone out there has other historic calculator sites they'd like to share -- let me know.

Signor Federli's sub-tropical dreams

Image from Wikipedia.

Another one of those history threads I picked up by having a recreational trawl through old newspaper files is the 1884 proposal by a Mr. Federli and Mr. Murphy to set up a special agricultural settlement at the Hokianga, in Northland.
“The scheme contemplates the production of grapes, raisins, figs, oranges, lemons, olives, silk, etc.”
(Auckland Star, 15 August 1884)

The first traces of Giovanni Battista Federli in Australasia come in the early 1870s, when he and Romeo Bragato “played a pivotal role in the development of the Australian wine industry and helped found viticultural colleges in Victoria and New South Wales. (“Italian migration 1850-1900”, Italian Historical Society)

By April 1876, Federli, with Carlo Turchi and an interpreter named Pietro Corrado), visited Hokitika by order of the Italian government, tasked to evaluate the area’s capacity for settlement. (Grey River Argus, 17 April 1876) The West Coast Italian settlement was likely to have been still-born, but Federli the talented agriculturalist put down his own roots in the colony, and thrived. He married Meta Theresa Willberg in Hokitika in 1880, and assured the NZ Government that year that, yes – New Zealand could indeed grow olives, vines and mulberry trees in abundance. Especially mulberries -- the food of the silk worm, which was the potential goldmine Federli was to spend the next decade promoting all over the country.

He found a good place for both mulberries and silk worms in Akaroa, and made that township and Christchurch his base of operations. (Evening Post, 14 May 1881) In response, the Government assisted by importing “a large consignment of silkworm eggs of green, orange, and white cocoon varieties, and for a quantity of white mulberry trees on which the worms feed. At the same time an order was sent to Sydney for 500 white mulberry tress two years old. The intention is to establish a silk culture m New Zealand. The idea was initiated by Mr Federli, of the Survey Department, who is stated to be an expert m that branch of industry.” (Timaru Herald, 26 May 1881)

By 1883, Federli had published a pamphlet on sericulture (Timaru Herald, 16 February 1883), and early the following year began a series of lectures around the country on the new industry. Meeting up with Josiah Clifton Firth gave him access to the Waikato districts, Firth only too enthusiastic with his support for the venture. (Waikato Times, 22 March 1884)

In April that year, Federli became acquainted with Northland, “greatly delighted with the country.” (Bay Of Plenty Times, 17 April 1884) The Hobson County Council were delighted to see him as well.
“The Hobson County Council has passed a resolution that the county, in connection with other counties north of Auckland, ask Government for 200 acres for a model farm, on which to place a small class of immigrants specially skilled in sericulture and the cultivation of sub-tropical products, for the purpose of imparting knowledge to the settlers as to the best mode of carrying on these industries; and that the Government be petitioned for Mr. Federli's removal to Auckland in order that his knowledge and advice may be available.”
(New Zealand Tablet, 13 June 1884)

The response was Federli and Murphy announcing in August 1884 that they had purchased 5,500 acres of land at Hokianga for “a special settlement for sub-tropical industries,” with plans to introduce fifty families into the area per year over the next three years. (Evening Post, 27 August 1884) The company, financed by a Christchurch-based consortium, the Hokianga Land Company, was to be called the Hokianga Sub-Tropical Company, or the Hokianga Fruit-Growing Company. The name seemed to change with each report.

By 1886, the company’s sections were selling well, and there was talk of another 4000 acres to be purchased – but the grand dreams seem to have turned out the same way the Hokitika settlement did in the 1870s. Federli’s own house in the settlement burned down during a severe bush fire in February 1890 – and from that point, his name, once all over the national press reports, vanished.

By March 1892, he was across the Tasman, living in Rutherglen, Victoria. There, he ended his days making a name for himself as a viticulturalist. Wine growing institutes remember him; there is a Federli Street in Rutherglen, perhaps named after him.

From 1895 until 1909, his wife gradually sold off their South Island real estate holdings. The previous century's Italian-Kiwi dream of New Zealand as the sericulture and sub-tropical produce capital of the South Pacific was over.

Lewis the Hangman

A chance find from August 1884 in the microfilm files of the Auckland Star at the City Library yesterday has now educated me in part of the ways of executing criminals in 19th century New Zealand. It led me on a hunt in Papers Past to try to learn more about a rather colorful criminal turned executioner-for-hire named Henry Howard Heyman or Lewis.

When he arrived here is unknown, but he was described, in an account of the earliest execution he is credited for (if “credited” is the word to use here) – that of James Walsh, 19 February 1879, in Invercargill.
“The execution of Walsh, who murdered his wife at Waikawa, the particulars of which will still be fresh in the memory of as the first execution of the kind, a good deal of morbid curiosity was manifested by the public, and about 300 persons gathered outside the walls of the gaol, from whence, however, nothing more than the upper part of the scaffolding was visible.

“The proceeding commenced shortly after seven o'clock; when the executioner, a German Jew of the type frequently to be met with in the low parts of large cities, with one or two assistants, made the final preparations at the scaffold.”
(Evening Post, 19 February 1879)

Lewis was apparently a forger, and was serving a three-year sentence when the offer of commutation in return for service as an executioner was made to him. The task was a paid position on top of the bonus of freedom – for Lewis, looked down upon by some sections of the community as a German-Jew in the days when character was increasingly measured against a person’s race and background, the notoriety of the position may also have appealed.

His next execution was that of Ah Lee, executed for a murder at the Kyeburn gold diggings, 5 November 1880.

“The last act in connection with the Kyeburn murder took place at eight o'clock this morning (says yesterday's Evening Star) when the execution of Ah Lee was effected …The executioner is a recent arrival from Southland, and at one time acted an assistant to Calcraft. He wore a white mask which completely covered his face, and a blue jacket.”
(North Otago Times, 6 November 1880)

William Calcraft was said to have been the most famous hangman in England in the 19th century. Whether any of the New Zealand executioners were assistants of his is unknown. It’s likely that Lewis wasn’t.

Wiremu Hiroki, 8 June 1882, was said to be another of his executions. Then came one which proved to be more infamous.

Winiata was executed this morning …The executioner was a convict about 24 years of age, of short stature and stout build. He is said to have executed Hiroki, Walsh, and Ah Lee in this colony, and three murderers in New South Wales.”

“The accounts given of the final scene of Winiata's execution appear to show that it was badly bungled. When Winiata disappeared from view, the executioner, running nimbly down the steps, entered by a small door below the scaffold, and the novelty of this proceeding caused a number of the spectators to approach close to the foot of the scaffold. The sounds which met their ears were horrible. The drop had failed to cause instantaneous death, and the deep and stifled breathings of the half-strangled convict were distinctly audible. Through the crevices, the executioner could be plainly seen engaged in the horrible task of tugging at the hanging man's legs for the purpose of completing the strangulation, while Winiata writhed and twisted in a sickening manner.

“Gradually, the sounds of choking and stifled breathing died away, the violent vibrations of the rope ceased, and ten minutes after the rope was pulled the executioner came forth from his ghastly hole and slipped away. The whole proceedings were of a most barbarous and scandalous character. After hanging for an hour the body was cut down. It was then found that the noose, instead of being behind the ear, was immediately under the chin, and was not drawn tightly round the neck. It is evident, from the position of the rope, that the sufferings must have been prolonged and painful. The rope which was used was far too thick and coarse for the purpose, and, altogether, the execution of the unfortunate man was a shockingly bungled and mismanaged affair. The scene enacted below the scaffold was brutal and revolting. One of the medical men who witnessed the execration remarked to another spectator, after viewing the body, "Well, I don't think this any improvement on the last hangman."
(Evening Post, 5 August 1882)

In August 1884, Lewis found himself in legal strife. He was convicted of “having secreted certain newspapers, letters, tobacco and other articles” to the prisoners employed at the construction site of Mt. Cook prison in Wellington. It appears he had been tried and found guilty for another crime at some point between the Winiata execution and June 1884, when he was released to serve as a hangman again, this time for the executions of John Donohue, 11 June 1884, at Hokitika, and Rowland Herbert Edwards, 15 July 1884, at Napier. Lewis returned to Wellington, and spent time hanging around the Wellington prison site, however. He was found guilty and sentenced to a month’s hard labour. (Evening Post, 7 August 1884)

At this point comes the Auckland Star article on “The New Zealand Hangman” which drew my attention to Lewis and his gruesome sideline.

“It will be remembered that Lewis was liberated from prison, where he was serving a sentence, on condition that he should act as public executioner, and for the last few years he has acted in the unpopular capacity of hangman for New Zealand. When he was on the West Coast, after drawing the fatal bolt, he appeared in the streets dressed up as a great “swell”, and put up at a hotel kept by a well-known Jewish Boniface. He was asked if he would take coffee, but replied that he could only drink a particular mixture, and asked for cocoa. While this was being made, a journalist well-known in Wellington entered the room. The hangman at once ranged up alongside Mr. McCarthy, or “Mac” as he is generally called, and asked him to wine.

“Mac scowled at him, and the hangman said, “You don’t appear to remember me.”

“Oh,” said Mac, “don’t I; who hung the man?”

“By this time a crowd gathered round, and in the meantime the hangman beat a retreat. Several publicans hunted for him, and at last found him sitting on an empty dray smoking a havannah. One publican, more enterprising than the rest, offered him £1 if he would stand behind his bar for an hour to draw custom, but the offer was declined with thanks.

“The next thing he did was to wait on the sheriff, and hinted to that gentleman that it was his custom to receive £5 as a professional fee. The sheriff being new to the job, handed out five £1 notes, and has since applied to the Government for a refund of the sum, but has been told that the £5 has already been paid.

“The hangman then struck out across country, and at last landed in Nelson. The first person he met there was Mr. Inspector Atcheson. “How do?” said the disciple of Calcraft.

“Halloa,” said Atcheson, “what brings you here?”

“Oh,” cried Lewis, “I’ve just run off O’Donaghue on the Coast.”

“How did he take it?” said the Inspector.

“Well, “rejoined Lewis, “while standing up on the scaffold he said ‘God, bless Ireland,’ and I said, ‘God d---n Ireland,’ and pulled the drop.”
(Auckland Star, 16 August 1884)

Having served his time of hard labour, one would have thought Lewis would have kept himself out of trouble – but no. In December, he was before the courts again, on two charges: breaking into the offices of the Brunner Coal Company in Wellington, and inciting another (a fellow crim named Pekaru Apurone) to break in and murder Chinese jeweller James Campbell. The cases ran from 5 December to the 19th of that month – eventually, Lewis was cleared of all charges. (Evening Post)

The next two executions were part of a double event in Auckland, 21 February 1887, when John Caffrey and Henry Albert Penn were hanged for an infamous murder on Great Barrier Island. Once again, Lewis was on the job.
“As the visitors entered this yard the first object that met their gaze was the executioner, who stood immediately behind the tarpaulins and midway between the gallows and the rear wall. Some of the party immediately recognised him as the man who had been employed in a similar capacity on the occasion of Winiata's execution. He is a young man of middle height and of powerful build He stood, bareheaded, with his coat off, his hands thrust deep into his trousers pockets, and a bandage of black crepe tied round his face, but not so thickly as to altogether hide his features. His preparations were evidently complete, and he was standing at his ease, exhibiting no sign of impatience or of nervousness.”
(Te Aroha News, 26 February 1887)

Soon after the double hanging, and once he was paid £40 for his time, Lewis left Auckland bound for Sydney. (Evening Post, 25 February 1887)

Now, the authorities needed to find another hangman to do an unpopular job.

“Here was a pretty state of things! — an execution fixed to take place at 8 o'clock next morning and no hangman to carry out the law. The police instituted enquiries as to where a suitable man could be found, and were successful in their efforts. A man was procured, and, for an amateur, ho carried out the execution remarkably well. He was of course disguised, and the spectators were in the dark as to his identity. The whole affair went off without a hitch, and all concerned were not sorry when Haira [Te Piri] paid the penalty of his crime. The executioner was incarcerated in the Napier gaol some time ago for an offence which was fully reported at the time. He was released after the execution, and also received a certain amount of money. "
(Evening Post, 15 May 1889)

This executioner was, according to the Poverty Bay Herald in June that year, one Frank (or William) St. Clair, “an acrobat, who was sent to gaol from Wairoa for wife desertion and cruelty, and who is known in Gisborne. On being released from custody after the execution he joined a lady who walks the tight rope, living in Woodville, but will be brought to court by his unfortunate wife.”

And so, the story continued …

Update on Lewis here.

The Aussie (?) Mokau Mine

A friend sent a clipping to me, dated earlier this year, on the Taranaki Mokau Mine. Since World War II, the now brightly painted mine has had pride of place as a memorial in Mokau, a town with 400 people, so Wikipedia tells us.

93-year-old Stan Warren says the mine wasn't German in manufacture, but rather hailed orginally from Australia. The local Tainui Museum agrees, adding that they possess a letter from Australia, written by the son of one of the mine's explosive disposal team:
"... his dad had always known the mine to be one of thousands built at the Ford Motor Company car factory at Geelong in Australia during World War II.

"Close to 1400 of them were laid by New Zealand defence forces as "friendly" mines, and it is known that a large number of them broke loose and either washed ashore or were never seen again.

"There were also thousands more of the mines laid off Australia, and many of them also broke loose and floated off in the general direction of New Zealand."

(Taranaki Daily News, 27 January 2009)

But, there are doubters. Murray Dear from Hamilton wrote in response to the Waikato Times passing on the story:

"It is highly improbable that the mine displayed at Mokau is of Australian origin as has recently been claimed ...

"It is simply not credible that a defensive mine laid off Australia could break from its moorings then drift thousands of kilometres and end up at Mokau by December 2, 1942.

"It is much more probable that the Mokau mine is one of 230 Y type mines laid by the German raider Pinguin and the minelayer Passat off the southeast coast of Australia in late October/early November 1940."

The KMS Pinguin was sunk in 1941, but not before carrying out much of its intended mission.

"Krüder and his navigator, Lieutenant Wilhelm Michaelsen, had meticulously worked out a plan to mine six Australian and Tasmanian channels with the fewest mines in the least time possible. Pinguin and the new auxiliary minelayer Passat, ex-Storstad, carried out the plan which the Seekriegsleitung (naval operational staff) deemed 'outstanding in its planning, preparation and execution'."
So, the question remains -- is the Mokau mine a genuine souvenir from Germany's attempts to cripple British imperial trade down under, or is it really just an Aussie local from across the Ditch?

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Feedback from NZ on Screen

I do like receiving feedback on stuff published here at Timespanner. This afternoon, I had the following email from Brenda Leeuwenberg, NZ On Screen's Project Director:

Hi there

Thanks for your recent posts on timespanner linking to NZ On Screen. It's great to see the site being picked up and people finding things of relevance there!

Here is a list I put together recently of Auckland-related items, not sure if it's quite what you're interested in. If it's more history or specific places, then the Search or Explore tool on the site should serve your purposes just as well.

Thanks again, and please do continue to use the site and see what's new!

Check out some of the following titles for a bit of nostalgia, a few laughs, and some celebratory wow-ness of Auckland and Aucklanders.

Town and Around: Auckland Highlights
Presenter Keith Bracey picks out the highlights for 1969 from the northern edition of magazine show Town and Around. This end of year special features two lconic turns by Barry Crump, plus a parting interview with English TV presenter (and future Pavlova Paradise author) Austin Mitchell, criticising the state of New Zealand’s media. Overall the concentration is more on comedy, with probing coverage of garden gnomes and a man who uses a carrot as a musical instrument.

Pasifika 2005

Presented by Samoan hip hop artist King Kapisi and transgender rock queen Ramon Te Wake, Pasifika 2005 documents the biggest Polynesian festival in the world. Held in Auckland every year since 1992, the Pasifika Festival is a free one-day event that celebrates Pacific Island culture, music, dance, food, arts and crafts and film. Held at Western Springs Park, and supported by Auckland City Council, Pasifika (as it's popularly known) attracts more than 140,000 people.

ASB Polyfest 2008

ASB Polyfest 2008 is an action-packed showcase of Māori and Pacific youth competing in the annual schools' cultural festival in South Auckland. Māori, Tonga, Samoa, Niue and Cook Islands performances, 100,000 people and trophies to be won make this competitive event one of the most important dates for youth in Auckland. Behind the scenes footage, colourful costumes, trials and tribulations and "the Pacific way" are captured. Made by the Tagata Pasifika team, with directors including Naked Samoans Shimpal Lelisi and Mario Gaoa.

Sione's Wedding

A feel-good comedy about four 30-something guys who must each find a girlfriend before their best friend Sione's wedding - or be left out in the cold. Through the efforts of these bumbling blokes to get the girl(s) Sione's Wedding brings to life the colour and humour of New Zealand's urban Samoan community in Auckland, the largest Polynesian city in the world.

The Road to Jerusalem

Readings from the poems of James K Baxter trace the poet's life through its various New Zealand locations, and provide a biographical voice in this film by Bruce Morrsion (co-written with Dr. Paul Millar). Baxter's family and friends discuss the man and his work, and the readings and beautifully shot landscapes fill in the gaps. The film won Best Documentary at the 1998 Film and TV Awards. The opening montage, describing "the chugging noise of masturbation from the bedrooms of the bourgeois" of Auckland, is seminal Baxter.

Lew Pryme - Welcome to My World

Lew Pryme’s life was a wild ride that took in everything from rock and roll to rugby before it was cut short by AIDS in 1990. He was discovered in the small Taranaki town of Waitara in the sixties and became one of the most popular hip-swinging music stars of the time. He later became the first executive director of Auckland Rugby Union.

A slice of life amongst the pedestrians of Auckland's Karangahape Road shot in an increasingly hilarious baton relay-style narrative. Directed by Bill Toepfer this classic New Zealand short film features both halves of musical comedy team, The Front Lawn (Harry Sinclair and Don McGlashan) playing all the roles in a range of disguises.

Clare is based on the autobiographical book Fate Cries Enough by Clare Matheson. It describes the experiences of the author, who, for 15 years, was one of the women unwittingly part of a disastrous gynaecological study at Auckland's National Women's Hospital that would become known as ‘The Unfortunate Experiment'.


A 24-hour live television spectacular aimed at securing donations from viewers for a specific charitable causes. The first, in 1975 (for St John Ambulance) was Auckland only, but subsequent Telethons were broadcast nationwide. Beneficiaries included The Child Health Foundation, the Mental Health Foundation and the Arthritis & Rheumatism Foundation. Celebrities included Basil Brush and Leeza Gibbons, as well as local identities and the perennial host, Peter Sinclair.

Hero Parade

Marching girls and boys, Camp Mother and Camp Leader, even synchronised lawnmowers, dance down Auckland’s Ponsonby Road in this celebration of gay pride. The theme was Age of Aquarius, fitting given the heavy rain, and the parade went ahead despite controversy that almost saw it cancelled. The parade was saved by sponsorship from Metro Magazine after the City Promotions Committee declined the request for funding. The parade had 70 floats, and up to 300,000 spectators.

The Magical World of Misery

Innovative director Mark Albiston (Sticky Pictures) takes viewers on a magical tour of the work of artist Tanya Thompson, aka Misery. The film explores Misery's early years as a prominent but self-conscious graffiti artist on the streets of Auckland and looks at the rise of her successful art, fashion and toy empire, culminating in a visit to the Taipei Toy Festival to showcase her collectable 3D characters.

The Mighty Civic

The Mighty Civic is a delirious and colourful celebration of Auckland's grandest old movie palace, made at a time when the building's future was under threat. The film uses a mixture of stylised sequences, archive footage and poetic narration together with interviews with "old timers" to evoke the spirit of the theatre in its heyday. Director Peter Wells' film galvanised public support, and ultimately the building was saved and refurbished to remain the crown jewel of Queen Street's cinema district.

City Life

City Life follows a group of apartment-dwelling Twenty-somethings (lawyers, bar-tenders, drug-dealers, art dealers, et al) on the emotional merry-go-round of urban living. The tight-knit group of friends are thrown into conflict when one of their own decides to marry outside the circle. The television series was a conscious effort to create popular drama relevant to contemporary Auckland ‘city life' and to appeal to a Gen X demographic - to inject Melrose Place into Mt Eden.


A talkback radio operator is forced to stand in for the regular host when he walks out because of a personal crisis. In between trying to answer calls, organize a replacement and discuss odd topics with a succession of callers, the flustered operator makes a surprising connection with another lost soul. Auckland's urban soul is captured with distinctive assurance in this neglected television short film from writer (with Geoff Chapple) and director Alison McLean.

Pictorial Parade No.185

Pictorial Parade was a long-running series produced by the National Film Unit. This duo from 1966 includes, ‘Championship Golf,’ a jaunty commentary narrates the final game of a four-match series played on Auckland’s Middlemore golf course between Arnold Palmer and Bob Charles; and ‘Sounds of Progress,’ an instructional film from the Department of Health, which draws attention to the dangers of industrial noise and offers advice on how to avoid it.

About Face: Danny and Raewyn

Gritty, award-winning drama, set in Auckland suburbia. Danny and Raewyn's relationship is skating close to the edge. And so are their finances. Though the physical attraction between them remains, Raewyn is growing tired of encouraging Danny to make more effort. Then one night alcohol and memory collide with an order of black-market meat, and everything turns on its head. One of the most acclaimed episodes of the About Face series, Danny and Raewyn won funding after another episode fell through.

About Face: Universal Drive

Sean's prize possession is a 1958 red and white Ford Fairlane. His sister Annie works in an auto paint shop. But Annie is sick of playing shotgun, while her brother drives. What she wants is Sean's trust, and the chance to use her spraypainting talents to give the Fairlane a new look. After the Fairlane is stolen, the pair find themselves caught up in an adventure which tests their relationship. Writer Debra Daley based the script partly on growing up in the ‘car culture' of West Auckland.

Anzac Day Dawn Service

A live broadcast of the Anzac Day dawn service at Waikumete Cemetery in Auckland. This is New Zealand's largest war cemetery and a service is held here each year. This service commemorates all service personnel who have served overseas for New Zealand. Waitakere Mayor Bob Harvey speaks, Returned Services Association members, politicians and the public lay tributes. Miriama Kamo provides a commentary. This programme marked the beginning of TV ONE's Anzac Day coverage, which ran on air all day.

Gladiator: The Norm Hewitt Story

Gladiator: the Norm Hewitt story is the story of former All Black hooker Norm Hewitt's battle with alcoholism and his journey to redemption. After disgracing himself, a tearful public apology became a personal "defining moment" for Hewitt: he reinvented himself as a youth worker and ambassador for Outward Bound. Directed by Michael Bennet, shot by Rewa Harre and based on the best-selling biography by Michael Laws the doco takes him to meet legendary youth worker Mama Teri on the streets of South Auckland, and chronicles Hewitt's life change.

Aotearoa Hip Hop Summit

The Aotearoa Hip Hop Summit held in Auckland 2001, was the biggest hip hop event ever staged in New Zealand. This documentary showcases the hottest names in the 4 elements of NZ hip hop: break dancers, graf artists, MCs and DJs. Featuring international acts from Germany and Australia, with Ken Swift representing old skool break dancing from New York and Tha Liks from Los Angeles. Local acts include Che Fu, Te Kupu, King Kapisi, P Money and DJ Sirvere. Presenters are Hayden Hare and Trent Helmeright.

Nesian Mystik - For The People

This documentary charts the extraordinary success of Auckland hip hop band Nesian Mystik, from their beginnings as an inner-city school band to gold albums and international acclaim. Filmed in New Zealand, London and Tonga the documentary explores the multi-cultural roots of the band members and the inspiration for their poetic lyrics. Director Makerita Urale uses the Nesian Mystik story as a micro lens to reflect the wider picture of Māori, Pacific Island and Pakeha society in New Zealand.


This animated TV comedy series is a modern day fairytale following the adventures of five kids growing up in one of Auckland’s grungier suburbs. With a fearless and un-PC wit, it also cheekily manages to be primetime and family-friendly. This popular show is made by the production house Firehorse Films, developed from the comedy of the theatre group Naked Samoans.

Otara Markets

Otara Markets documents the biggest outdoor market in New Zealand, held every Saturday in the heart of South Auckland. Presented by Samoan writer and comedian Oscar Kightley (bro'Town, Naked Samoans, Sione's Wedding) and directed by Lisa Taouma (Senior Director Tagata Pasifika), this colourful and entertaining documentary tells the stories of the multi-cultural Polynesian, Asian, Indian and Pakeha Kiwi stall-holders and market-goers at one of the country's best known community institutions.


Thanks, Brenda. Don't hesitate to contact me with anything new regarding Auckland or general NZ heritage in the future which you would like to promote.

College Hill, Ponsonby c.1909

Jan Tully from Melbourne has sent through another wonderful picture postcard sent by Herbert Smith to his friend Elizabeth, this one with a message on the back dated 9 October 1909.

The postcard refers to the road as "College Road", its old name. All the of the buildings visible in the photo are gone -- today, this bend (around 95 College Hill) has either late 20th century offices or bungalows. Some villas (possibly hidden by the tall trees at the left in the photo) may be the only remnants of the scene.

College Hill is a bit of a gut-buster to climb on foot, and even today's Link buses take it slow. The poor horse in the photo will be glad of a drink at the troughs on the top of the hill, I'd say. There's a blur in the background of someone crossing the road just downhill, after another horse and cart have just passed by heading down.

Of course, with my deep liking for trams, this part of Jan's photo is magical. Cross-bar trampoles all the way down the hill, and in the hazy distance the sea of buildings on the city-side of Freeman's Bay. Today, that view is dominated by the Skytower and other highrises.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Kopu Bridge, Coromandel Heritage Trust and the Treasury

I was looking around this morning for information of the Kopu Bridge (a favourite of mine and also of my dear friend Mad Bush). To quote the Wiki article:
"The Kopu Bridge is a single lane swing bridge that spans the Waihou River, near its emergence into the Firth of Thames in the Thames-Coromandel District of New Zealand's North Island. The bridge was completed in 1928 and is part of State Highway 25. The swinging span in the middle of the bridge is 43 metres long and with an overall length of 463 metres, the bridge is the longest and oldest single lane bridge within the state highway network. It is also the only surviving road bridge of the swing span type in the country and the New Zealand Historic Places Trust lists the bridge as a category 1 historic place. It is the first available crossing of the Waihou River and the main link between the Hauraki Plains and Coromandel Peninsula. Due to a gradual increase in the traffic between Auckland and the Coromandel Peninsula, by the early 1990s the bridge became the most heavily used single lane bridge in the country with, traffic volumes exceeding 4,000 vehicles per day. Traffic flow over the bridge is controlled by traffic lights and the bridge is notorious for queues which form during peak times such as holiday weekends."
Good news is, that while the national transport authorities will be building a new bridge,(due to start this year), they won't be wrecking the old one. Not just yet.

Anyway -- I found The Treasury while looking for old photos of the bridge. The Coromandel Heritage Trust are a new entry onto the history field, and I think their website's worth a bit of a browse through. Yes, it's also another link I'll add to the ol' left hand column.

Blockhouse Bay heritage walks brochure

Received this in the mail this week from the Blockhouse Bay Historical Society -- and thought I'd give it a bit of a plug (that, and my name was included on the inside front cover).

The latest in what Auckland City Council term their "family of brochures", this is packed with early photos of the Bay from the Society's collection, along with facts and anecdotes about places along the walks.

Should be available free from libraries within Auckland City. I'm sure if you asked Blockhouse Bay Historical Society nicely (link on the list at the left), they'd help out any out-of-towners interested.

Oh, and I'll add a plug for my Society's own brochure, brought out in 2006. That's also free, and available from the usual places, along with the Avondale Business Association and the Avondale-Waterview Historical Society.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Matamata 5: Agricultural miscellany

These are items on display at the Firth Tower Museum, Matamata.

Double furrow straight mouldboard plough. A mouldboard plough in use today.

Hay Bale Loader. How to build one.

Reid and Grey (Dunedin) Cultivator. "Used to work up the soil after ploughing, tractor drawn," according to the name tag.

Grader, used in road making. Originally horse-drawn, later adapted to be pulled by tractor.

Massey-Harris hay mower. From the tag: "Horse drawn. The cutter bar was lowered and the triangular knives moved back and forth cutting the grass and laying it in a line or 'swath' so that it could dry in the sun. Later a turner would be used to help dry the hay evenly before being put on the stack. Sharpening the mower blades was a frequent task for the farmer."

Light cultivator. "Originally horse drawn, but modified to be pulled by a tractor. Used in market gardening or for deep rooted row crops such as potatoes."

Tine harrows. "Used after ploughing instead of discs to work up the soil. The spikes (tines) break up lumps in the soil. The sections fold up for easy storage and transport. Tractor drawn."

Cultivator. "Used on rough ground for deep cultivation for planting potatoes or other deep rooted crops. The springs allow the tines to ride over obstacles such as rocks or stumps. This machine was tractor drawn. "

McEwen deep well beam water pump. "Used to pump water from a well."

Hay stacker. Here's a similar one from America, 1940s.

Whenuapai Liberator crashes, c.1943

Image from Wiki.

Jayne posted this comment to the Kaimai Crash post:

"There was another tv show called Secrets of NZ which documented a shocking plane crash of civilians classed as enemy aliens in WW2.
It was covered up for a long time (haven't been able to find anything online so far) apparently the plane crashed shortly after take off in NZ and all on board were killed, pilots, civilians, the whole lot.
From memory it was an American plane and the bodies were just taken away and buried. They spoke to a couple of witnesses who were still upset at the fate of the children."

I responded:

"The closest I can come to this is apparently the crash of a US Liberator at Whenuapai where some Japanese interned in NZ from Tonga were on board. A book was apparently written about it: here."

I called a friend and fellow researcher tonight who knows a fair bit about Whenuapai's history, and asked for more info.

Apparently, there were two Liberator crashes at Whenuapai airport c.1943 (which, during World War II, was Auckland's only main airport). One remains classified -- but the bombs on board when it crashed are said to have been heard all over Auckland. The other involved the civilian casualties.

According to the researcher, those on board included Japanese and Taiwanese, brought in from all over the Pacific, and apparently they were involved in a planned exchange for allied troops. The bodies after the crash were cremated secretly at night, then the ashes were stored, and returned to their respective countries only after the war.

All around, a sad incident.

Update, September 2010: Further post on the Whenuapai wartime accidents, here.

J. C. Firth's Matamata Tower

The tower is the centrepiece of the Firth Tower Museum at Matamata, and quite rightly so.
"Some day, as likely as not, there will be a story of adventurous New Zealand written around a certain relic of pioneering days at Matamata, the tall square tower built by the first white settler of the district, Mr. J. C. Firth. It stands in the old homestead grounds at Matamata, between the modern busy little town and the Waihou River. It is nowadays a true “ivy-mantled tower,” and I can well imagine that its thick and tangled garment of foliage harbours a moping owl that “doth to the moon complain.” It looks a place for moreporks. On the day I visited it the leafage that densely covered the concrete hold was humming with bees, busy about its sweet sticky flowerets. So luxuriously have the creepers grown that it is not easy from a distance to make out the square of the tower; it resembles a close grown grove of trees.

“Firth's Tower,” standing alongside the old station homestead, is of comparatively modern construction; it was intended as a kind of baronial keep, perhaps, by J. C. Firth when it was built in the early Eighties, for there was then no danger of attack by hostile Maoris. It replaced a timber tower built in the ‘Sixties, when there was real fear of the Hauhaus; this building was burned down. It could stand a little siege to-day. This loopholed concrete tower with walls eighteen inches thick would be safe against fire as well as firearms.

"The square tower is nearly fifty feet high and is sixteen feet square. There are two floors above the ground floor and on top there was a small watch-tower. The upper parts are pierced for rifle fire. These firing apertures are about fifteen inches long by four inches wide on the outside; they slant inward to larger dimensions, in order to give play to the defenders' rifles, after the usual design in the old military blockhouses. A stairway, now removed, gave access to the upper storeys.

"Firth's Tower seems to have been modelled somewhat after the plan of the old stone keeps and peels on the Scottish border, such towers as those to which the merry raiders retired after harrying their neighbours, and within which they were safe as long as food and water held out. Some day it may figure as a rallying place and refuge for the local farming community—in a romantic New Zealand cinema thriller."
"Firth's Tower at Matamata", The New Zealand Railways Magazine, 1 June 1935.

A view looking up at the topmost level, accessible by ladder, which I did not go up, being a scaredy-cat history buff and genuinely concerned about the effect of gravity.

They told me (those among the brave clan) that the views up there are magic, though.

Then again, the views from the level just below weren't all that bad.

Above are the steps I carefully, and not all that elegantly, made my way down. Lucky my mental block is about slopes, not heights.

And here is the standard shot of the tower, built c.1881. Almost immediately after it was finished, by 1885 Firth was selling honey from his estate's beehives bearing the "Tower" brand. I reckon that makes the Matamata Tower one of New Zealand's most enduring advertising features. One of the biggest, as well.

Railway Worker (NZ short film)

Further to my earlier post regarding NZ on Screen, here's a link to Railway Worker -- a must-see for those still caught up in the passion of rail. From the synopsis:
"This documentary follows 24 hours of work on the railways. It was directed by New Zealand’s first female film director. It shows the engines and commuter trains preparing to leave Wellington, and the overnight train arriving from Auckland. Workers toil on the railway lines above the remote Waimakariri Gorge, and the town of Otira gets ready for a dance. The final shots are of an engine coming through the dawn and back to the city."

Additional information regarding milk-bars and the Kaimai Crash

I had an email today from Phil Hanson, who very kindly gave me permission to publish it here on the blog.

Regarding the Manly Milk Bar post:
"That was a fascinating film clip at the end of your link, made more interesting when I read the credits: the camera assistant was Brian Brake who went to to international fame as a photographer with the Magnum agency, and later settled in Titirangi. And the music was credited to Douglas Lilburn, now remembered as one of our most famous composers."
Regarding the Kaimai Crash post:
"I was a teenager when the DC-3 crashed into the Kaimais and will always remember how it affected New Zealanders in general; Like Erebus years later it was the only topic of conversation. I recall that at least one person survived the impact but died by the time rescuers arrived. There was bitterness in some quarters because local topdressing pilots felt they had a good chance of finding the plane, despite poor weather; however, the air force refused to let them fly."

Thanks, Phil.

Of Eureka, Anchors, Henry Reynolds and Wesley Spragg

Image from NZETC.

I came back to Wesley Spragg (previous post) because of a sheaf of papers loaned to me by a Mr. T. J. Muir of the Matamata Historical Society over the weekend (which he gave me very kind permission to photocopy). They were notes of a speech he has given in the past on the history of the small town of Eureka, which is on the way between Hamilton and Morrinsville. This, I thought, was really cool, as I’d come through there on the bus to Matamata, and had wondered how Eureka had come by its name (a reconnaissance party looking for a site to use as a headquarters for roading and drainage operations to the Piako River “followed the high ground and arrived on the hill where Masters Road is today, famously announcing, ‘Eureka I have found it’, “according to Mr. Muir.)

Well, what really drew my attention as I read the notes in my motel room that night, brain half-dead after the day’s session at the NZ Federation of Historical Societies conference and AGM, was this bit:
“The company formed was named the New Zealand Land Company and later the Waikato Land Association. £600,000 Capital was raised in London … The Manager, Henry Reynolds, age 25 … lived at Eureka Headquarters with stables and accomodation for staff. In 1881 Reynolds as Manager of the Land Company organized the erection of the Tauwhare Cheese Factory. He resigned in 1886 to establish Reynolds and Co., the Pukekura Butter Factory and the ANCHOR brand used by the NZDCOOP Dairy CO.”
Details of Henry Reynold’s career can be found at the Cambridge Museum website, as well as the DNBZ. The published story behind Reynolds choosing the brand Anchor has two versions – either he had an anchor tattoo or an employee of his did. However, it may have been that Reynolds was following a trend of the period. There was an Anchor Shipping line then, and I also found reference to an “Anchor Preserving Company” in Nelson (1885) which made jams. (Wanganui Herald, 28 August 1885) “Anchor” brand cheese was being sold in the Waikato region in 1888 (Te Aroha News, 11 July 1888) and “Anchor” butter began to make itself known in the newspapers from around the same time.

In 1896, however, changing financial circumstances brought about his sale of his creameries and the Anchor brand to the NZ Dairy Association, managed by Wesley Spragg. So, I did a bit of digging, just out of interest, into Spragg’s background.

The Spragg family arrived on the Ullcoats at Auckland, 22 January 1864. The family at that time were: Charles and Mary Spragg and their children Elijah, Emma, Martha, Zante, Silas, Charles, and Wesley (Southern Cross 23 January 1864). 16 year old Zante died at the family home in Eden Terrace 3 August 1866. Charles Spragg junior attended the Auckland Western Academy that year. (Southern Cross, 22 December 1866)

A “Mr. Spragg” (quite likely Charles senior) occupied the chair at a meeting of the Newton Total Abstinence Society, February 1867 (Southern Cross, 8 February 1867), the start of the family’s long association with the temperance movement.

Mary Spragg died 2 May 1874, at their house in Eden Terrace, aged 61. (Southern Cross, 9 May 1874) Charles Spragg survived her until 22 August 1890, dying at Mt Eden, aged 71. (Otago Witness, 28 August 1890)

The Southern Cross of 5 May 1875 reported on a meeting of the Onehunga Band of Hope. President was John Bycroft of biscuit-making fame, one of the vice presidents was Robert Neal, and Wesley Spragg was treasurer. The names become important as Wesley Spragg’s story proceeds. Taranaki papers indicate that a Wesley Spragg ran a grocery story in New Plymouth, selling imported teas as well as other products during the 1870s. On 28 January, he married Henrietta Neal, and became closely associated in business with his new father-in-law, Robert Neal. By 1880, his business in Auckland, W. Spragg & Co, had been taken over by Robert Neal (ad, Waikato Times, 1 July 1880). Robert Neal’s prominent business was on the corner of Queen and Victoria Streets, the Theatre Royal building (today, the site of the National Bank building in Auckland, and once the site of Auckland’s first courthouse, gaol and execution spot). Neal began his business as a producer of “New Zealand’s Sauces and Pickles”. (Taranaki Herald ad, 19 August 1876)

“The commanding new corner shop between Queen and Victoria streets, and situate under the Theatre Royal, has been let to Messrs. Spragg (jun) and Neal, who intend opening it in the grocery business. Mr Spragg has been for some years located at Onehunga in a grocery store, and Mr. Neal is well known as the manufacturer of Neal's sauces.” (Southern Cross, 23 November 1876)

Fortunes for the rest of the Spraggs appears to have been mixed. Wesley’s brother Silas, originally working on staff of one of Auckland’s shortlived newspapers in the 1860s, went south to Otago and made him name as a highly skilled journalist, before joining the Hansard staff in Wellington. Meanwhile, a fire took place at Maungaturoto, Northland, in late March 1878, and completely destroyed the residence of Mr Charles Spragg (whether this was father or son is unknown). “Nothing was saved from the dwelling, and the inmates escaped with difficulty.”
(North Otago Times, 1 April 1878)

Meanwhile, the New Zealand Frozen Meat Company was inaugurated in Invercargill, on 8 June 1881, with a meeting of the promoters adopting a prospectus and declaring capital of £10,000, with the aim being to engage in the export frozen meat industry. (Waikato Times, 9 June 1881) By 1885, the Company had a butter department, and Wesley Spragg was in charge.
“Mr. Spragg, the manager appointed by the New Zealand Frozen Meat Company for the butter department, has been in Waitara the last few days, to look at a site for the erection of buildings for receiving butter. The plans are now in the hands of the architect, and may be expected here in a few days … one great advantage to settlers will be that cash will be paid as soon as brought in to the store, and the great facilities offered here, by being able to at once put it in the cooling chambers, should place the company in a position to defy competition, and show handsome profits on this much wanted industry.”
(Hawera & Normanby Star, 8 September 1885)

Things didn’t work out all that well for the Frozen Meat Company.
“At the beginning of last season (says the Auckland Star) the New Zealand Frozen Meat Company started the manufacture of butter themselves, contracting with farmers throughout the country for a regular supply of milk. Branch establishments were started in various places for receiving the milk and forwarding it to the chief depot. Everything gave promise of a continued success. It turns out, however, that these favourable anticipations have not been realised, and the company have given up the business. Fortunately for Auckland, an enterprise of so much promise is not to be abandoned— a private company, which is neither connected as a body or individually with the Frozen Meat Company, having taken the business up.”
This private company in 1886 had the financial backing of John Bycroft (Wesley Spragg’s associate from the Onehunga Band of Hope days) and called itself the NZ Dairy Association, producing “Association” brand butter. Wesley Spragg was the manager for the new firm.
“He has obtained offers of assistance from outside amounting to a capital of several thousands of pounds to carry on the work. His new principals are substantial merchants. Mr Spragg will continue to manage the new business, which will be called the New Zealand Dairy Association, and will have no connection whatever with the New Zealand Frozen Meat Company. It will, however, be carried on in the same building, and with the same appliances that the former department used. As far as possible, the proposed engagements of the Frozen Meat Company will be taken up, all the arrangements being carried on at the point where the company leave off. "
(Otago Witness, 17 August 1888)

The new venture proved successful.
“The New Zealand Dairy Association, Auckland, have during the past year made about 150 tons of butter, most of which has been sent out of the colony. They intend to pay 3d per gallon for milk next year. In an interview with a Herald reporter, the manager (Mr. Wesley Spragg) recently said: l am not wise enough to be able to say how it will be best to dispose of the butter to be made four months hence; but as it has been ascertained that the food products existing at any one time in the world never exceed six months' supplies, we hope to be able to get a market somewhere for the butter we may manufacture."
(Otago Witness, 11 July 1889)

From c.1883, Wesley Spragg was living in Mt Albert, and ran for election to the Mt Albert Road Board in 1895, losing by 9 votes. (Observer, 11 May 1895) His business venture however proved more successful. In 1896 His New Zealand Dairy Association bought out Reynolds and his creameries network, and gradually exchanged their “Association” brand for that of “Anchor”. The rest, as the cliché goes, is history.

NZ on Screen

Spotted the site today via a piece in the NZ Herald: NZ on Screen has a collection, free to view, of clips, television programmes and film shorts from NZ's yesteryears. The short which caught me eye today was Monkey Tale (1952), but there's also TV programmes on history such as Epitaph and Shipwreck on the site.

Definitely worth a browse on a rainy day ...

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Matamata 4: Kaimai crash memorial

Above is the best of three photos taken as the tour bus I was in slooowwly (thankfully!) moved forward so those of us who were lucky enough to be sitting on the left hand side got a good gander at the Kaimai crash memorial. Not sure if those on the right hand side saw anything.

There's more information to be had on the crash which happened 3 July 1963, New Zealand's worst internal air disaster (and just over a month before I was born), here, here and here.

The wording on the memorial (pity I wasn't closer, but thankfully, I have a bit of an aviation history library here ...) is:
"Douglas DC-3 Skyliner ZK-AYZ "Hastings" of N. Z. National Airways Corporation crashed into the Kaimai Range 9 km northeast from here on 3 July 1963, during a scheduled flight from Auckland to Tauranga.

"This plaque placed here in memory of the three crew and twenty passengers who died on Flight 441."
Below that is an aircraft seating plan for the ill-fated flight, giving names of the passengers and crew. The memorial was dedicated 5 July 2003. Another plaque was placed up at the actual crash site, 3 July 2003.

Quoting from Richard Waugh's 2003 book Kaimai Crash:
"The Kaimai crash of 3 July 1963 marked the end of the "pioneering era" of piston engine airliner accidents on New Zealand scheduled services. It was 25 years after the first accident, a Lockheed L10 Electra at Auckland's Mangere Aerodrome in May 1938 and, over the years prior to the 1963 crash, there had been a further seven fatal airliner accidents. The Kaimai crash was the last of its kind. The next fatal accident of a scheduled airliner on New Zealand soil was over 20 years later and it was to be more than 30 years before an airliner of similar size to the DC-3 crashed. This was the Ansett New Zealand DHC Dash 8 ZK-NEY which crashed on 9 June 1995, while on approach to Palmerston North. Sadly three passengers and the flight attendent died, but amazingly 17 people survived; very different from DC-3 ZK-AYZ. May the 1963 Kaimai crash continue to stand unchallenged as New Zealand's worst internal air disaster."

Towards a Bright Future: history of the Avondale Business Association

I had an enquiry from the Avondale Business Association while I was away, and so returned to old research grounds from 2001 to resurrect "Towards a Bright Future", dust it off, polish it up a bit, and decided to re-publish it online. (It was on an old site of mine. Might still be there, but Scribd now has the updated version.)

It's slightly weird, even though it was only just over 8 years ago now when I started pulling stuff like this together, to see how some of my style has remained the same, yet other parts have changed. Still, I think that TABF still stands on its own. Only needed a slight updating, really.

TABF is special because, even more so than Heart of the Whau, it was the reason why Duncan Macdonald, then and now Chairman of the ABA, asked me to pull something together for them -- he wanted a history of the Association. Before that day, in early February 2001, I was mainly just a collector of bits and pieces of our local history, trying to figure out where all the pieces fitted. Set on the course to putting together TABF, and Heart of the Whau which sprang from it, I was led towards what I do now -- research both on commission basis and voluntary, talking to fellow historians and researchers, involved deeply with historical societies, and putting my guff up online.

One of Timespanner's "ancestors", in a way, is TABF.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Matamata 3: Manly Milk-Bar

Thursday afternoon of my Matamata visit, I spent time taking photos of the buildings along and close to Broadway, the main street. The day was warm, I was feeling a little tired, and looked up to see what was, to me, an amazing sign -- that for the Manly Milk-Bar.

To see a surviving milk bar sign was amazing to me. Even better that, while the Matamata version didn't have seats inside where you could partake of the dairy-rich products of Tip-Top ice cream (I had this ice cream out on the footpath) -- the sign had that old 1960s/1970s look about it. A classic in my eyes, and putting me right back to childhood, growing up in the 1960s and early 1970s. I remember seeing a lot of signs like that, then. Replaced these days by boards on chains, or other stuff.

The milk bar is a true piece of Kiwiana. NZhistory.net have made some fuss over then, with a page for Vance Vivian's milk bar, Cuba Street, Wellington, and even a film clip of one. Here in Auckland, they looked like the one below (Pasadena, Pt Chevalier in the 1950s, from the Jean Jones news clippings collection, unknown source).

I go down to Matamata, three hour trip by bus (thanks to my friends from West Auckland Historical Society, I got a lift back on Sunday which was much quicker!) -- and I get excited over an old milk bar sign. Yes, I know -- there's no hope for ol' Timespanner, is there?

The ice cream was terrific, though. I thoroughly recommend the Manly Milk-Bar, in Matamata.

Matamata 2: A Walk in the Drive

Friday morning, I decided to cut loose, and have a morning's trek along Matamata's existing Heritage Trail, the Centennial Drive. The route I took was in reverse order to the way it is supposed to be walked or driven along, but -- I am nothing if not inclined to the contrary when the urge hits.

The start of the walk was at All Saints Anglican Church on Broadway (which used to be known as Tower Road in former days). The first church was built in 1908, replaced in 1962 by the present building.

Holy Angels Catholic Church began in 1909, enlarged in 1924 and 1951, and then was remodelled from 1981-1983. In one of the gardens (below) is a plaque commemorating the 1840 visit by Bishop Pompallier to the district.

A cairn of rocks composed of Kiwitahi Andesite form a memorial to John McCaw who was manager of the Josiah Clifton Firth estate. The rocks apparently came from a farm owned by a McCaw descendant and are said to be 5 million years old. The cairn marks the entrance to the John McCaw Native Block (below) and the Fernery.

Below is a rose garden and sundial in honour of the local Rose Society's silver jubilee in 1974.

The Heritage Trail in Matamata is well sign-posted and includes interpretive signage which I thought was first-class. The Tainui Street entrance rock is 13 tons of Ongatiti Ignimbrite or Hinuera Stobe (1 million years old) brought in from Taotaoroa in 1961, and unveiled in 1964. The fountain, below, was installed in the pool in 1985 to mark the 50th jubilee of the Matamata Borough Council (sadly, now a defunct local authority since amalgamations in 1989.)

This is just half of the heritage trail (and there's more to even this half than what I've covered in this post). More later.