The church that moved: Wildbore cache no. 4

St Aidans Church Awahou.jpgThe fourth cache in the now “Wildly-Famous-in-Pohangina” Wildbore geocaching series is at the top of Church Hill, near the site of the eponymous church.

By the end of the 19th century, the  population of Awahou, on the eastern side of Pohangina River, had grown to a healthy number, and the community felt it was high time for a church to service the Awahou community.

St. Aidan’s Church was opened in November 1902, a modest but attractive timber church accommodating 74 people. Continue reading

Hauling logs across Te Awaoteatua Stream: Wildbore cache no. 3

Hauling log Te Awaoteatua Stream.jpg
Horses pulling a milled log across the Te Awaoteatua Stream bridge at the bottom of Church Hill, Awahou. The man sitting on the front of the log is Mat Mai, Wildbore’s brother-in-law. The brakeman at the back is Trevor Madson. Date unknown. Palmerston North Library.

The third cache in the Wildbore geocache series is hidden near the site of this photograph, taken by Charles E. Wildbore, showing two Valley men  pulling a milled log across the Te Awaoteatua Stream bridge at the bottom of Church Hill, Awahou.

The road down to the stream was realigned in the late 1960s/early 1970s, but it can still be seen in the face of the hill when looking north from the bridge (it is also visible as a contour in Google maps). Continue reading

“Ghost bridge” – Wildbore cache no. 2

Old and new Raumai Bridge 1973.jpg
The old and new Raumai Bridges in 1973, before the old bridge was demolished. This view is looking north-west from No.4 Line. Palmerston North Library courtesy Manawatu Evening Standard

Those who have travelled up the eastern side of Pohangina Valley, to visit Totara Reserve, for example, will have crossed the Raumai Bridge. Those with more life experience may also the old Raumai Bridge, a bridge with a troubled past. Continue reading

The school that moved: Wildbore geocache no. 1

Awahou South School 1909
Teacher and pupils at Awahou South School, No. 4 Line, 1909. Palmerston North Library. Left to right: Norah Callesen, Annie Millen, Eileen Lynch, Kate Henson, Agnes Spelman, Kathleen (Gay) Spelman, Adelia (Delia) Spelman, Olive Hunt, Mary Leamy, Eileen Spelman, Mary Wellock, Albery Henson, Oscar (Tui) Callesen, Bernard Spelman, Unknown (Delph Spelman?), Tom Leamy, Cliff Spelman, Unknown x2, Henry Hunt. Teacher: Mr Lewis.

In 1977, an entire school house moved from its existing location on a country road in the shadow of the Ruahine Range in the Manawatu to the main street of Palmerston North City, nearly 30 kilometres away. To be fair, it was just a one-room school house, one of just over 40 square metres. The school was built in 1902, to take pupils within a 10-mile radius, who travelled to school by foot or pony. When it opened, it had a roll of 20, and by 1907, the number had increased to 32. Continue reading

Reading the landscape via photographs of the past

In a post last week I talked about my next book project, a book entitled WILDBORE: A photographic legacy, showcasing the photographs of pioneering farmer and bee-keeper of the Pohangina Valley.

One of Charles E. Wildbore’s most evocative images (in a desolate kind of way) is this one of men getting ready to cart sleepers from Crown-owned reserve land in Pohangina Valley to the nearby railway station at Ashhurst. This road borders what is today known as Totara Reserve (originally set aside by the government for its timber), and is in fact not far from where I live. The other day, I drove up to the road in an effort to find the exact place he took the photograph – and was excited to locate it with relative ease. Well almost – judging from the terrain, the alignment of the road today is just to the south of its original route, on slightly higher ground.

Opawe Road 1904 Continue reading

‘A vision to restore the environment’: how history helps us make sense of the present

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Minister for the Environment, David Parker, speaking about his passion – the environment – at last month’s launch of “Beyond Manapouri”

Earlier this month, the Minister for the Environment David Parker made an address to the Forest & Bird annual conference entitled “A vision to restore the environment”. I was delighted to see he made reference to my book Beyond Manapouri, and how history helps us put events today into context.  Here is an excerpt of his speech, which can be read in full on the Beehive website:

Last week I had the privilege of speaking at the launch of Catherine Knight’s new book Beyond Manapouri – 50 years of environmental politics in New Zealand. Continue reading