Road-building in the Manawatu, 1868

One of the many joys of doing historical research is reading the editorials and letters to the editor in historical newspapers (see also: Manawatu’s environmental past to be documented). People seemed to have been very free with their opinion on all kinds of things – not least of which the doings of government – and used sarcasm, dry wit and irony liberally and adeptly.

One letter I came across recently dates from 1868, and contains the correspondent’s observations on road and bridge-building around the fledgling Manawatu settlement of Palmerston. Continue reading

When is a fence not a fence?

I have been reading The Life and Times of Sir James Wilson of Bulls, by L. J. Wild recently. James Wilson, an immigrant from Scotland, was a pioneering sheep farmer in the Rangitikei in the late 1800s.

Reading his diary entries from the days when he was in the early stages of developing of Ngaio Farm, just east of Bulls, it is clear that fencing was a major consideration when establishing a farm – and the types of fences common at that time would not necessarily be familiar to us today. Continue reading