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

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

Exploring our environmental history though the remarkable photos of Wildbore

Bush-whacker camp

Now that ‘Beyond Manapouri’ is safely out into the world, some of you may have been wondering what my next book project is.

Well, since you asked ;-), it is a book exploring the life and works of a man called Charles E. Wildbore, who emigrated to New Zealand as a boy in 1874, and settled in the newly-opened Pohangina Valley, in the Manawatu. Wildbore was unremarkable in many ways. Like many other settlers of this era, he and his wife Jane owned a small farm, with a small herd of dairy cows, and some chickens. He also had an apiary and produced honey for the local market.

But what does make Wildbore remarkable are his photographs. Continue reading

Environmental histories of New Zealand – Making a New Land

Making a New LandA new edition of the New Zealand environmental history classic, Environmental Histories of New Zealand, is out this month. Entitled Making a New Land, it has six new chapters with the existing ones revised. (You can read more about the book here.) I have put my order in for my copy already (and for my local library too).

This book (well, not this exact one – I haven’t got it yet!) is close to my heart. I discovered it when I was writing my Masters thesis about the Japanese treatment of nature through history (see publications page – it’s near the bottom). Continue reading

Upper Pohangina Valley farmscape

Farmscape near Piripiri in the upper Pohangina Valley East Road
Farmscape near Piripiri in the upper Pohangina Valley. Photo: C. Knight

On the same trip on which we met the “horse for sale” (see previous post), we also passed through the Pohangina Valley, travelling from north to south.

Like Apiti, the upper Pohangina Valley is characterised by small settlements which are often more evident on the map than they are in reality: places such as Utuwai, Umutoi and Komako. Looking at early survey plans, it appears that the vision for these places was somewhat more substantial than what eventuated. Continue reading

Manawatu history talk: Totara Reserve

Dr Catherine Knight will be presenting a talk on November 2nd about the history of Totara Reserve as part of this year’s Manawatu Local History Week [click here to download programme]. Entitled “Totara Reserve: a window into Manawatu’s environmental history“, the talk will explore how Totara Reserve was preserved initially for its timber, but within a few decades, when lowland forest elsewhere in the Manawatu had all but vanished, became a prized scenic and recreational reserve. By tracing the history of the reserve, we can better understand the changing attitudes and values of New Zealanders towards our natural heritage. Continue reading