It seems regrettable that these three brave sea captains are all but forgotten. If their name endures in a new commercial development on State Highway 1, perhaps Norfolk pine trees could be included in the landscape.
It is appropriate to reflect on the courage of pioneer families who came to a new land with few resources and, at first, were faced with the urgency of producing food for themselves through perseverance, trial and error.
Warkworth’s early industrial sites, long abandoned, have become part of the network of reserves that add interest to the town. Best known are the ruins of the cement works in their riverside setting but the old lime kilns in Kowhai Park are also significant.
In pioneer times, good use was made of the native timber, which was once so readily available.
Early in the morning on July 28, 1931, fire destroyed a block of shops in the main street of Warkworth. With no means available to fight the flames, nothing could be done to save five business premises from total destruction.
Lord Ranfurly, Governor of New Zealand from 1897 to 1904, travelled around the country visiting small settlements where he liked to meet veterans not long returned from the South African war.
A family in Australia, while cleaning out their late mother’s house recently, were surprised to find her wedding dress packed away undisturbed for many years. Considering their mother had grown up near Warkworth, the idea came to them that the dress should be returned and so it duly arrived at the Warkworth Museum and was accepted into the care of the textile department.
Recently I was asked the question: “Do you still work?” My answer was: “Yes, I am a Wednesday Worker at the museum.”
The Great War (1914-18) took place when my mother was a girl. She grew up baking for basket socials and patriotic fetes to raise funds to send comfort parcels to the soldiers. A woman’s role was to keep the home fires burning, but for more than 600 New Zealand women the war was very different. They were actively involved in the war zones of Gallipoli and France as military nurses.
On the day George V was crowned King of the United Kingdom and the overseas dominions, the children of the Rodney district assembled at Warkworth School in Percy Street to hear speakers make clear to them the significance of the day.
In 1904 Messrs J Clayden and J Parkinson discovered a substantial deposit of kauri gum on the low tide mark at Snells Beach. For three weeks they managed to keep it to themselves, enabling them to extract some seven tons of gum. Once the word was out another 40 diggers descended on the beach, working furiously between tides and achieving good results.
The seascape around Kawau Bay contains several small islands and each has its own interesting history. Situated between Kawau and the mainland are the Mayne Islands. Edward Mayne had connections with Kawau during the copper mining era.
It was a privilege to be among descendants of Warkworth’s pioneer families recently aboard the scow Jane Gifford, enjoying a nostalgic journey up the Mahurangi River.
One of Warkworth's most distinguished citizens, the botanist Lucy Beatrice Moore, was the fifth of eight children born to Harry and Janet Moore, and was raised in the family home on the corner of Wilson and McKinney Roads. Her father, an intellectual, was the town clerk and librarian, and was a great influence in Lucy's formative years.
Working in the Warkworth & Districts Museum archives is full of surprises. Recently, while researching the history of one of Warkworth's distinctive concrete houses, I was distracted by the story of Thomas Walker, an early Warkworth citizen.
Recently rediscovered in the textile department workroom were two bodices from around 1850. They were carefully removed from their storage box to be photographed as part of the project to photograph all items in this comprehensive collection.
In the age in which we live we are presented with myriad means of connecting with friends and family. How different it was for our earliest settlers.
During a recent tour of the Warkworth Museum’s textile department, I was reminded how drastically fashion has changed over the past century.
Charles Percy Hansen, South African Veteran No 90, Taranaki Mounted Rifles, late of Moturekareka Island, fourth son of the late Captain P Hansen of Greenock Scotland.
So read an insertion in the Evening Post dated April 15, 1944, summarising in those few words the life of a man who by his hermit-like existence on a small island in the Hauraki Gulf became part of local folklore.
What’s new at the Warkworth Museum? At present most of the upstairs area is devoted to a display commemorating 100 years of the Boy Scout movement.
The resourcefulness of our pioneer forefathers is well illustrated in the life story of Edward Morrison.
The first of two Vaccination Rolls, stored in the Warkworth Museum archives, is 100 years old this year. In 1913, there was a smallpox scare when serious outbreaks occurred in several large cities overseas.
Kawau Island has long provided historians with rich material and interesting stories. The reminiscences of Thomas Harris (1854-1932) give a fascinating account of the relationship between a friendly Maori chief, the Governor of New Zealand and the children growing up on Kawau in the mid 19th century.
By 1914, motorcars had become less of a curiosity on country roads and more of an inconvenience. The Rodney County Council received a petition signed by 68 people requesting the passing of a drastic law aimed at motorists in the interest of ladies and girls driving or riding on the roads.
It is pleasant to recall childhood memories of picnic outings to Martin’s Falls. The day would always include a ramble through the bush where lycopodium fern grew profusely, and rewarewa and lancewood grew tall to find the light.
“Our native bush is a picture of beauty just now with the yellow of the kowhai on a background of green.” So wrote a Warkworth resident in the year 1912.
In the future we may never take a journey without consulting Google Earth or relying on a GPS receiver to guide us to an unfamiliar destination. By contrast, not only were there no such aids available in the 1850s but place names were rare and sign posts non-existent.
In the Warkworth Museum archives can be found three boxes labelled Wartime Warkworth. Amongst such varied items as ration books and knitting patterns for soldiers’ socks and balaclavas, there is a folder containing the records of the Warkworth committee of the Emergency Precautions Service.
“Warkworth is, after lying in a dormant state for nearly half a century, at last bestirring itself and judging by the traffic coming in from all parts of the surrounding districts and the new buildings going up, indications are that a progressive chapter has opened.” These words were written in 1901 and the report continued with a description of the large two storey store and dwelling under construction in the business street for the use of Civil Bros general storekeepers.
The clipper ship Flying Foam on her maiden voyage from London to Auckland in 1864 brought back the Maori chiefs and their wives who had journeyed to England to offer their allegiance to Queen Victoria. Also aboard were a number of immigrant families including Henry and Eliza Palmer and their children.
It was Captain Charles Ludwig Kaspar who brought the steamboat Lady Bowen up the river to Warkworth in the 1870s.
Organised picnics have long been enjoyed at this time of the year and though the mode of conveyance to such events has changed over the years, the formula of ample food and drink, sunshine and good cheer in a congenial location is tried and true. Many picnics became a part of the social calendar, eagerly awaited each year.
Travelling 1880s style
For each generation, remarkable changes take place, making travel faster and easier. We must all have remarked at some time on the travel time between home and Auckland, compared to years ago.
Time marches on
The 93rd anniversary of the signing of the Armistice between Germany and the Allied Forces, heralding the end of hostilities in World War I, will be marked on November 11.
Early road building
A hundred years ago there was hot debate about the use of catamaran sledges.
A recent request for information about Dome Valley School uncovered some interesting history.
Bridgehouse, located on the central riverside site first occupied by Warkworth’s founder John Anderson Brown, has long been one of the town’s recognisable heritage buildings.
Patriotism reigns supreme
News of the upcoming Matakana Heritage Day on Sunday, June 19, at the Matakana Hall, has been welcomed by the Warkworth & Districts Museum.
And the band played on
The Warkworth Brass Band has played the National Anthem through the reign of five monarchs and a display of band memorabilia can be viewed at the Warkworth and Districts Museum.
Early property investment
Early photographs of Warkworth show a large house standing alone on the hill overlooking the river. This was ‘High Holme’, the residence Henry Pulham had built in the 1860s for his growing family.
Learning no easy task
As a new school year begins, it is timely to reflect on the beginnings of education in this area.
A piece of Warkworth’s history is enclosed in the covers of a day book dated April 1860 to October 1862 belonging to John Baxter, first storekeeper in the town.
The stately residence of Dr John Valentine Shoesmith once stood in the centre of the present domain; it’s sweeping driveway bordered by camellias.
In the line of duty
Warkworth’s first policeman Constable Neil McLeod is believed to have been the first officer in New Zealand to lose his life in this way.
The history of the Warkworth Cottage Hospital chronicles a changing approach to maternity care through the decades.
Fortunes won and lost
Ranulph Dacre (1797-1884) was a master mariner and merchant trader who entered the Navy aged 13 years and saw service in the blockade of American ports.
In 1854 the Ahuroa/Kourawhero land purchase was made by the Crown from Te-Kawerau who were Ngati Whatua and Te Kiri of Ngati Wai.
On the 25 May 1867, The Daily Southern Cross reported that the first vehicle to cross a new bridge over the Mahurangi River, at Warkworth, was a dray laden with paintings owned by artist/settler Mr Horsley.
The Age of Timber
As Auckland City spreads north, and demands are made on the rural landscape, areas of native bush become more valued for the glimpse they give of the splendour of the forest in pre-European times.
Gold diggers have mixed fortunes
The gold fever that gripped many places in New Zealand in the late 1860s also affected the Mahurangi district.
Bulford kiwi remembered
It is now more than 90 years since 100,000 young men of the New Zealand Expeditionary Forces journeyed to distant lands to take part in the First World War. Included were many sons and grandsons of pioneer families from this district.
Tennis served on grass courts
A tennis club was formed in Warkworth 117 years ago in 1893. Instrumental in promoting the sport were Mr W. Worsley, headmaster of the school, and Miss Emily McKinney.
Early settlers in this area found an abundance of kauri gum and learned from Maori to use it as a fire starter or wrapped in flax, as a lantern. As the land was cleared, collecting gum to sell became a useful way to supplement income.
Tale of two Julias
The story of two women bearing the same name but from two different generations is worth relating.