Thursday, April 7, 2011

Sheep Scab

Scab is one of the most contagious of diseases sheep can suffer from and the disease arrived very early in New Zealand's history with flocks imported from Australia. It makes the poor sheep miserable, they lose weight, wool and condition.

The Provincial Councils issued fines, the sheep were branded and had to remain half a mile for the property boundary. Usually if one sheep was found with the mite, the whole flock was assumed to have it. The disease had an enormous impact on the profit of a sheep run.

John Acland and Charles Tripp were in a partnership running sheep on a pastoral lease in South Canterbury and the book 'Sheep Part 2' by P.G. Stevens has an interesting story:-

For a time in 1855-1856, Tripp and Acland ran the sheep they bought on terms from Moorhouse. Some years after that the Shepherds Bush sheep became scabby for a time, which the Mt Peel sheep never did. Sheep seldom crossed the Rangiatata unless driven over. Acland told me (Secretary of Agriculture), that very early one morning he saw a dog chase a sheep across the river on to the Mt Peel side. The sheep ran up the river-bed towards the gorge. Acland hurried back to the homestead and got several shepherds, and they rode up the run, rounding up every mob they met, to find the Shepherds Bush sheep and kill it before it could infect the Mt Peel sheep. After riding for several hours and looking through many hundred sheep, they found the straggler, caught and killed him and in half an hour he was cooking on the fire.

The author goes on to explain the movement of sheep in the South Island from the very early settlements, discusses the various breeds, their historical origins and their importation into New Zealand.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Founder of Christchurch

John Robert Godley's statue, upturned in the earthquake, had a time capsule inside which the museum is going to carefully unfurl and read. We will have to wait for the results.

He spent two and half years as Canterbury Associates Settlement Scheme head and preceded the 3500 settlers the scheme had attracted. He was against squatters and was a free marketeer.

Reading the story of the Hay's of Pigeon Bay today  in the Freelance, August 13th, 1952, Douglas Cresswell said;
John Robert Godley was determined to make Canterbury an exclusive Church of England settlement and did his utmost to have the early Scottish settlers evicted from their holdings. However, after a great deal of trouble Mr Hay obtained written assurance from Sir George Grey, the Governor at the time, that they should not be deprived of their holdings, and Godley reluctantly had to give in.

The Hay's had arrived on the Bengal Merchant and had spent two fruitless years on the beach at Petone waiting for the fledgling government to open some land up for them. Taking matters into their own hands, they and two more families (Sinclairs and Deans), moved to the Canterbury region with the blessings of Colonel Wakefield in 1842.

Some of this information came from an online article by John Nimmo, journalist. who wrote it on the 9th of February 2011.

West Coast Gold Map

If you get confused geographically when reading about the gold rushes like I do, this map will help. I found it at the Inangahua Museum. Click on the image to get a readable version.

Dunedin Museums


On my recent trip to the South Island, I had an afternoon free in Dunedin on a Saturday. The Settlers Museum was closed to the public. According to their website, it re-opens at the end of 2012. So I went instead to the Otago Museum near the university.

Sad to say, its more a children's museum and I very quickly ran out of interest there. 

Back on the street, it was a different matter. Lots of interesting stuff going on. As I supped my flat white from the excellent museum cafe and chattered to Americans off a cruise ship in port, a parade of outrageously costumed students were walking by and I assumed they were so wonderfully attired because they were to attend the rugby match that evening at Carisbrook. 

The next day as we cruised the city, we came across a scene we instantly thought was a murder scene, police, red tape, cordoned street etc.  I stopped and spoke to a gentleman riding his bike - he said it was the annual student party, traditionally held in Hyde street. Some of them were still at it. Here's a photo for you. Ah to be young again.



Saturday, April 2, 2011

Ancient remains at Whakatane

Excavation done by the Whakatane Borough Council has uncovered evidence that much of the present site of the town was once overrun by sea. Skeletons of two or three human beings, which crumbled into dust when touched, were uncovered. Obviously they were of great age. Last year other ancient human remains were discovered near the Whakatane District Hospital.

Particularly interesting about these was the shape of the head of one which sloped back sharply from the eyebrows unlike the usual Maori or European head-structures. The skull seems to have belonged to a person with distinct Negroid facial characteristics.

Similar findings in Whakatane in recent years indicate that the natural features around the town have seen tremendous change and that the district is on one of the oldest and most densely populated by the early Maori.

-New Zealand Freelance 18th July 1951 page 34.
I wonder how reliable this tale is? No author noted.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Lyttleton Museum Rescue

The building housing the museum was extensively damaged in the February 22 earthquake. It was red stickered. But unlike those buildings in the 'red zone' in the centre of Christchurch, 25% of the artefacts were rescued with the help of the local fire brigade and the air force. It is hoped that all the artefacts will eventually be recovered. One of the ways they did this was to use a steel tunnel.

Although I'm really pleased this happened, it does not explain the actions of civil defence which put safety first before material possessions on such a grand scale that central business interests are prevented from retrieving the goods and information which will enable Christchurch to recover economically.

Surely it can't be history before 'meals on the table'.

I would not be surprised if Christchurch National Archives is given all the help they need to keep their records safe. Could it be that the values CD use to assess risk are weighed in favour of non-business activities? We will have to wait and see.