The Prow Newsletter, Issue 5, Summer/Autumn 2011

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It's Our Second Anniversary!

In the two years since the Prow went live, there have been 91,029 visitors (Feb 15 2009  - Jan 31 2011) from more than 90 countries viewing a total of 221,645 pages. More than 67,000 of the  visitors were from New Zealand, followed by the U.S. (6753 visitors), Australia (5318 visitors), and U.K. (3504). Germany was the top non-English speaking country with 707 visits. The website continues to grow, with a total of 226 stories at last count, with  more than 70 stories contributed by members of the public. See below for the 10 most popular Prow stories in 2010.

Dig Deep

School is back for another year and the Prow has many layers of resources for teachers and students alike. The stories and photographs on each page of the Prow are just the beginning of the voyage.

As you scroll to the end of each story, you will see the reference or source notes. To keep the stories short and sharp, plenty of interesting information didn't make the cut - but you can read more in the source books and materials used in writing the stories. Further down the Prow page, Further Resources on the topic are listed. Grouped into type of resource, you may find a list of additional books with a link to the WorldCat which will show you libraries around the world where the book is kept. As they are on local subjects, it is likely most of the books will be held in a library near you - in Nelson, Tasman or Marlborough. The list also includes articles which can be requested from your local library. Last, but most definitely not least, are the web resources which at the click of a mouse will take you to digitised historic photographs and information from websites such as Te Ara (New Zealand's online encyclopedia) and Papers Past where you can read first hand reportage from a wide range of New Zealand newspapers published between 1839 and 1945.

The online Journals of the Nelson and Marlborough Historical Societies are searchable from the Prow's homepage and are full of informative articles about the top of the South written by history buffs and enthusiasts over many years.

And there's more. Armed with a list of books you can head down to your local library and, in some cases, borrow books. The Nelson, Richmond and Blenheim libraries all  have their research-only local collections which you can use for your research but not take home.

The Tasman District Library in Richmond holds a special collection of books, genealogical material and family histories compiled by the Waimea South Historical society.  The Tasman Kete is an ongoing digitisation project to preserve and make accessible photographs mainly from this collection, but other sources as well. In  future we plan to develop "Community Baskets" where other groups from within our region can digitally store documents or photographs.

Nelson Public Libraries have a Research Room at the Elma Turner Library, Nelson which houses a comprehensive reference collection of published items about the Nelson region. Some items date from early European settlement times. The Research Room also has a large collection of New Zealand and Nelson government publications, including the official documents of the  Nelson Provincial Council 1853 to 1876. The Library also holds early and current newspapers of the region including a complete run of the Nelson Mail from 1866 through to today's paper. Most issues of the main papers are on microfilm which can be scanned and saved to digital format.

The Marlborough District Library in Blenheim has the Marlborough Collection, a cabinet of local history resources (mainly books). If you have an urgent project to complete and lending copies of these titles are on loan, you have ready access to Reference copies to use within the library. The Marlborough  .info is also an ongoing project with an ever-expanding list of links to useful local history resources.

Local museums also have primary resources such as photographs, research papers and material, letters, journals and artefacts.

Finding Women in HIStory

Rosalina Frank. Nelson Provincial Museum

Nelson's Tyree Photographic studio was opened in 1878 by William Tyree. He moved to Sydney in 1895 and left the business in the management of Rosaline (Rose) Frank, who bought the studio in 1914 and continued to operate it until 1947. She gifted more than 110,000 negatives to the Nelson Historical Society, which became the region's pre-eminent photograph collection - the Tyree collection.  

Miss Frank was unusual for her time, a single career woman who carved out her own niche in society, and yet the collection she was custodian of, carries the name of her former employer.

The Tyree/Frank story illustrates the difficulty of assessing the contribution of women when researching history- finding them is another challenge.  By and large women's letters and diaries were not kept as were those of many of their male contemporaries, however a few women's ‘voices' have managed to shine through.  

Richmond-born Constance Barnicoat  was a foreign correspondent based in Europe during WW1. She was a keen mountaineer and one of the first women to walk  between Mt Cook and Westland via the Copeland Pass. Her exploits were written about in newspapers of the day and we can get a sense of her through her articles and letters as in this letter to her husband, Julian Grande: " Switzerland will be either the battlefield or the plotting ground of Europe; let us go there and we shall be at the centre of things." And yet, her obituary describes Madame Julian Grande in relation to the men in her life.

Constance Barnicoat obituary. Papers Past

Voices of the earliest European  women can be found in letters and diaries- the first hand observations and words of  these settlers are few and far between, but they provide a small window into their lives.

John (Danforth) and Sarah Greenwood arrived in Nelson in 1842. They built a successful, happy life in Nelson and no doubt, Sarah's indomitable cheerfulness and ‘can do' attitude was a key factor in their success. We have letters, journal entries and paintings from Sarah: " I am now quite expert in household work, which I like well enough, and in cooking which I really enjoy. I only wish you could taste my stewed pigeons, my pea soup, and my light plain puddings; and then Danforth is such a good admirer, he finds all so well done. In truth....I never was happier or better in my life,"  she wrote in August 1843.

Sarah Greenwood. Nelson Provincial Museum

Con Dillon, a younger son of the 13th Viscount Dillon of Ditchley, Oxfordshire, served in the Royal Navy, working as aide-de-camp to key military figures.  He and his wife, Fanny wrote warm and affectionate letters to each other during his absences from home. In June, 1851, Fanny wrote to Lady Dillon (her mother in law) from Government House, Wellington: " Conny was obliged to come over here to the Legislative Council and as I have only just got him home after a five months' absence, I did not like the idea of being separated again so soon for an indefinite period."

Like John Danforth and Con Dillon, John Saxton and Samuel Stephens were both leading lights in the new settlement of Nelson, they were both observant journal keepers but their wives barely feature in the letters and journals which remain today. On 10 July, 1842, Saxton noted: "Had a pigeon pie baked in our camp oven being the first time of using it. After dinner went with P. and the three boys to see our land and though P. was much fatigued, she returned much pleased with what she had seen." (P. was his wife Priscilla).

Samuel and Sarah Stephens' house at Riwaka (Knowle Wood) burnt down and soon after on 7 October 1853, he wrote in a letter: "Although Mrs S. had no interest in New Zealand life, and has striven little to reconcile herself to it, she was evidently more comfortable at Knowle Wood than at Nelson."

We know about the majority of our foremothers in relation to their marriages and children. However there can be tantalising glimpses such as the  newspaper reports of George Moonlight's 18 year old daughter, Totty, riding from Murchison  to Nelson and back in a day to organise a police search when her father went missing while out prospecting.

Of course, there were exceptions. Huria Matenga's involvement in the rescue of the Delaware was reported far and wide and she was regarded as a heroine for the rest of her life.  Effie and Ralphine Richardson were significant landowners and Perrine Moncrieff was instrumental in the creation of Abel Tasman National Park- although in another era - the park was opened in 1942.

Digital Storehouse

Rod Dixon

The top of the South is teeming with great historical and heritage stories - some of them already written. Local newspapers write and publish them and they are written for newsletters, brochures and public information panels. One of the Prow's goals is to be a repository for these stories so they don't disappear and so that people can find them on one website - a kind of online one stop historical story shop. We already feature stories which have been published in Wild Tomato (eg Rod Dixon), Nelson City Council heritage panels and publications (eg Pioneers Park) and Port Nelson publications (eg making  the Cut).

In 2011, we will be liaising with more local bodies and publications to offer them a  well-used storehouse for their hard work. The Prow would also appreciate it if good quality stories produced for  community publications were actively contributed to the site. For more information, contact Nicola:, phone (03) 5468100.

Follow us on Twitter

History meets social media. From time to time we will tweet tantalizing story teasers and news from  Stay up to date and pass them on, so your friends and followers can read some of our great top of the South stories. Follow us @theProwstories


Top Ten Stories for 2010

(based on page views from 1 Jan to 31 Dec 2010)

Perano Bros. Whaling. Nelson Provincial Museum
  1. Myths and Legends of Te Tau Ihu              2065
  2. First meeting of Maori and Abel Tasman     1711
  3. Maungatapu Murders                                 1561
  4. Nelson Railway                                           1358
  5. Pottery                                                        1332
  6. First game of rugby                                     1204
  7. German Settlement                                     1197
  8. Ship Cove and Captain Cook                      1194
  9. World of WearableArt                                 1179 
  10. Marlborough Sounds Whaling                     1155


This newsletter was prepared by WordPower Communications,


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