Discovering More New Zealand History

One of the reasons Barry often quotes his love of England and the UK is its long history. He’d often ask me, when we initially lived there for six months, about the history of places we visited. I admit I rarely had a clue! It’s never been my ‘thing’ history, it was so flipping boring at school! New Zealand history, however, fascinates me. And there lies one of the balancing points in our relationship.

We’re a week behind with the blog now, due to time pressures. So today’s post relates to where we were on Saturday 3rd October discovering more about NZ’s past. To see where we currently are, check out ‘our location‘ page.

St James’ Church KeriKeri

Re-built and opened on 5th December 1878, St James’ Church was made of kauri batten boards. This was our first stop. It’s a gorgeously quaint building, with a serene feeling inside, including superb stained glass windows. Neither of us is religious, but we both enjoy visiting churches – and graveyards. It’s as if you can sense the wairua of departed souls. I loved the explanations of the marrying up of the two cultures through the artwork. The graveyard is packed with famous names of some of the early settlers and their families.

There’s an abundance of scallop shells to be found on the beaches around here. If anyone knows about the ‘Camino De Santiago‘ pilgrim’s route, the scallop shell is iconic of that. I really want to walk the route slowly one day in the future – I suspect alone as Barry isn’t in the least keen. Does anyone want to join me?

The Oldest (European) Buildings In New Zealand

At Kemp House and The Stone Store, I was thrilled to discover there are actually many almost 200-year-old stories in New Zealand neither of us was previously aware of. Of course, we knew snippets, but not in the level of details we listened to on our excellent paid tour.

Also known as Kerikeri Mission House, is the oldest documented house in New Zealand. It was built 1821-1822 by the London-based Church Missionary Society for the Reverend John Butler (1871-1841) by missionary carpenters and Maori sawyers, the two-storey structure is of simple Georgian design, with a hipped roof and symmetrical facade. Used by other missionaries after Butler left in 1823, the house was occupied by CMS storekeeper and blacksmith James Kemp (1797-1872) and his wife Charlotte Kemp (1790-1860) when the adjacent Stone Store was built from 1832. The Kemp family continued to live in the house after the mission station folded in 1848, operating a kauri gum business from the Stone Store. The dwelling and gardens passed down the family until it was gifted to the New Zealand Historic Places Trust in 1974.”

The first family to live at Kemp house were the ‘Clarkes’. As Barry was the only member of the tour group we were on with a descendant of that surname, he got to unlock the door. Hannah-Rose was our friendly, knowledgeable guide and storyteller who helped conjure up images of what it would’ve been like living there.

The first school room educating children was here, and it was the first place to use slate. Inspirationally, it was felt essential that British and Maori children learnt together – male AND female. When doing some work at the house, they discovered some original slates, complete with writing.

In 1820, Samuel Marsden travelled to see King George IV in England, with two Maori Chiefs. From there they helped write the first Maori dictionary. It was imperative the language was learned in order to communicate and survive in New Zealand.

For the early missionaries to New Zealand to be successful they had to master te reo Māori (the Māori language). Samuel Marsden hosted Māori guests at his farm at Parramatta and may have gained some knowledge of the language there, the first missionaries were really required to gain this knowledge on the job. This was especially the case for Thomas Kendall, the best educated of the missionaries who was to take on the role of schoolteacher. 

“In 1820 when Kendall, accompanied by Ngā Puhi chiefs Hongi and Waikato, went to Cambridge University where they worked with the renowned linguist, Professor Samuel Lee, to produce a workable orthography for te reo Māori and A Grammar and Vocabulary of the Language of New Zealand. While their writing system was not perfect and would undergo subsequent modifications, it was sufficient to allow a new crop of missionaries to translate the Scriptures effectively, which in turn spurred Māori interest in literacy and Christianity from the late 1820s.”

It’s a fascinating language, with only 15 letters in the alphabet. Ten consonants and five vowels. The five vowels are: a, e, i, o, u; and ten consonants: h, k, m, n, ng, p, r, t, w, wh. Two of the consonants are ‘digraphs’ (two letters that combine to form one sound): wh, ng. The ‘wh’ can be a ‘fuh’ sound or a ‘wuh’. though that may not make sense! So Whakatane, a place, is pronounced ‘fah-ka-tarn-ey’.

The Stone Store

Having paid $15 each for the tour, I realised we could join Heritage New Zealand. Similar to The National Trust in the UK, we got our fee refunded and added to the annual membership. Just $50 for the two of us at the senior citizen’s rate for over 60s. How marvellous. Not that we want to be ‘old’, but it does start bringing advantages!

The Stone Store boasts it’s been trading since 1836. I doubt many shops in the UK could claim that? But I could be wrong. Please feel free to correct me!

Kororipo Pa

Kororipo Pa overlooks the estuary where Kemp House and The Stone Store sit. It was an important landing place in the nineteenth century, due to its great location anyone coming close could be easily spotted. And probably killed if their intentions didn’t look too friendly!

Rainbow Falls

Last Saturday night we chose to stay in the NZMCA camp at Rainbow Falls. We didn’t realise quite how close to the falls we’d be! It was an incredible spot. To be able to see the falls in the evening, and then the following morning when the sun shone and the rainbows appeared, was magical.

This is how close we were. The feet/ footwear cleaning stations are to reduce the chance of kauri die back.

To stay here was just $6 – about £3! There’s nothing there apart from a big field, a place to sign in, and somewhere for rubbish and recycling. We’re loving the no-frills campervanning opportunities here.

The next place we visited included more history – a little later than Kerikeri when relationships between Maori and the British was formalised. It seems we were the best of a bad bunch!

Barry is doing a brilliant job getting his images edited for the blog – check out below:

(Click on an image to view as a slideshow)

3 thoughts on “Discovering More New Zealand History

  1. Pingback: Amigos & Ancestors In Auckland ~ Barry & Sandra's Adventures

  2. Hi there Barry & Sandra
    Great to see you smiling Sandra what a great trip. Terry and I feel much the same about
    life and on one of our travels I saw this sign
    New Zealand for you maybe UK for Barry
    We wish you love

    Mary & Terry – Trigger

    • Hi Mary & Terry. It’s splendid here. Even more so now we know that the country is to continue in Jacinda’s safe and caring hands.
      Barry and I love both countries. It’s just that I ha e more fondness for NZ as I discovered it late in life, and Barry the UK. We’re still hoping to find a way to have the best of both worlds 😍

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