Auckland 153 Years Ago

Today is Auckland Anniversary Day and as usual we are having a lovely summer weekend.  And as usual the weather is really hotting up before children go back to school.  I do pity the poor parents, teachers and kids trying to get back into the learning groove while the weather is so hot.  Lauren being a uni student still has another month of holiday, so I am sure she will have a fabulous few weeks.  God knows how she will ever cope when she has to work in the real world

Auckland Anniversary and I quote from Wikipedia is ..

a public holiday observed in the northern half of the North Island of New Zealand. It is observed throughout the historic Auckland Province (not just the present-day Auckland Region) even though the provinces of New Zealand were abolished in 1876. The holiday usually falls on the Monday closest to 29 January, the anniversary of the arrival of William Hobson, later the first Governor of New Zealand, in the Bay of Islands in 1840.[1]

Auckland Anniversary Day was established by Governor Hobson’s direction, over Willoughby Shortland‘s signature, in 1842. The New Zealand Government Gazette of 26 January, 1842 (Volume 2, 4th Edition) carried a notice stating

“Saturday, the 29th instant, being the SECOND ANNIVERSARY of the establishment of the Colony, His Excellency the Governor has been pleased to direct that day to be held a GENERAL HOLIDAY, on which occasion the Public Offices will be closed.”

Anyway the reason I am writing about Auckland Anniversary Day is that 153 years ago, my Great Great Grandfather William Thomson arrived in Auckland on the day of the Anniversary Regatta on board the ship the African.  I have been able to find some papers relating to his journey and the arrival in Auckland.  Which is quite interesting reading,  if you are into that sort of thing.

Details of the Voyage of the African

William Thomson first went to settle in Thames and here here is a letter he wrote to his family back in England.  Which is also fascinating, if you are into that kind of thing.

William Thomson Letter 09:1860

William went on to settle here and died at the ripe old age of 87.  He even managed to be included in the Cyclopedia of New Zealand 1905

William Thomson 1905 Cyclopedia

So I think Great Great Grand Dad you would find Auckland quite different from when you arrived.  But you would still recognise our lovely harbour, everyone wanting to get out on the water and the glorious summer weather.  I don’t know why you decided to come to New Zealand all those years ago, but I am very glad you did.


Another Birthday and a Road Trip

Having a birthday in January is both a blessing and a curse.  A blessing because the weather is generally great, but a curse because it is just after Christmas and people are either broke, on holiday, partied out or all three.  So as a consequence I never mind acknowledging I am turning a year old, and try to make sure as many people know about it as possible.  Brett refers to it as Birthday month.  But hey if it is good enough for Queen Liz it is good enough for me.

So this year I turned 47, not an especially auspicious number.  Certainly closer to 50 than 40.  But nothing too scary.  The last time I had a bit of a melt down about turning a number was when I was 29, which frankly seems ridiculous now.  I would take back my 29 body in a heart beat.  But I wouldn’t swap my 47 year old life and wisdom (some of it definitely acquired the hard way) for anything.

Anyway I had a lovely birthday celebration with my friends.  I know how lucky I am when I can also count the people I work with as my friends.  I did seem to get a lot of alcohol related presents – no idea why.  But it would be churlish of me to not enjoy them 🙂

Another highlight of my birthday weekend was going on a Road Trip with Mum down to the Te Awamutu region where her Mother’s family came from.  My navigation was absolutely appalling – sorry Mum.  But we managed to…

  • Find the location of a couple of family farms, one in Te Mawhai, one in Wharepuhunga
  • have a beer at the Alpha Tavern at Kihikihi which has a huge photo of the Thomson family coaches on the outside
  • find our Marae – that was a mission- but well worth the hunt.  Te Kopua Marae is certainly in a beautiful spot
  • drive around our Mountain Kakepuku.  Which while is not as big as Pirongia is far prettier – just saying
  • Visit cemeteries – which I know can sound a bit morbid but is actually quite fascinating
  • Visit Uncle Bill and copy some great photos
  • And get lost a few times.  Did I mention I am a crap navigator

I know it shouldn’t but it made me feel quite good to find out that my great grand father, 2 of his brothers and 1 of his sisters had let us say interesting marital situations. I am not the only naughty one in this family.

It was also amazing to see how large some of the families were, and how it would have been crucial for them all to work together to survive.  I am pretty sure I wouldn’t have lasted too long – despite being able to do well in the naughty stakes 🙂

Here are some photos I got on the road trip.  Probably of no interest to anyone who is not from my family – but some of them just so darn cute.

Kopua Marae Cemetery GatesGates to the Te Kopua Marae Cemetery


Thomson Family wearing party hats.  My great grand dad is the dark one in the middle and my great grand mother is standing behind him.  My Grand Dad Tom is there too, I don’t think he is quite so excited to be wearing his hat

Tom Fulton

My Grand Father Tom Fulton – I can see a real family resemblance with my brother Dan

Tom and Dolly Wedding Day

Tom and Rea (Dolly) on their wedding day.  They don’t look very happy do they?  Apparently Tom wasn’t happy he had to get changed out of his work clothes into a suit.  May and Dinah at a 21st

My Great Grand Parents May and Dinah at one of their Grand Daughters 21st.  May looks very happy – Dinah not so sure


Dinah – don’t think I need to say much more


My Mum rocking the Shirley Temple look

And I suppose if I was to get a bit philosophical (perish the thought) the birthday weekend brought home to me that we get older, that families and friends all over deal with the same stuff and always have, but we go on.  And that a party hat can really make a celebration.

A South Island Sojourn

Brett and I went away this weekend for a South Island mini break.  Officially to celebrate the 21st of my friend Colleen from Christchurch’s eldest daughter Brogan.  But it seemed a bit silly to come all this way and just spend all of our time in Rolleston and the Hallswell Community Centre.  So Bretty and I did a road trip.  When we arrived on Thursday morning, we were greeted by a Canterbury Nor Wester, which has to be experienced to be believed.  I tried to imagine being a good Anglican Pioneer Women in layers of clothing trying to deal with cooking over a fire and failed miserably.  How did those poor women deal with the conditions without going mad?  And I think the answer is some of them probably did go mad.

But a Nor Wester wasn’t going to slow us down, or hearing that there were torrential rains in the Alps, or even the tornado in Kaikoura.  We had places to go and people to see.  Here are some of the highlights.  Just quietly Brett and I do great holiday.  It may have something to do with the fact Brett understands that the perfect holiday needs to include the correct mixture of afternoon sleeps, sight seeing (not too much) drinking and eating (a reasonable amount)  and a little bit of shopping – just to help the local economy.  And here he is doing the important stuff, carrying the wine and getting ready to drive us to our next destination

Perfect Travel Companion

  •  One of Gary from work’s favourite brewery’s and he does appreciate a bottle or two of the Pale Ale
  •  We stopped here for lunch, but I wouldn’t recommend it.  I love their Savignon Blancs.  But the food was very average and they charged for wine tastings.  Which I think is a bit off really.  If you are getting ripped off by people tasting too much of your wine – couldn’t you at least take the tasting price off if you do purchase some wine?  And not to sound too curmudgeonly – if you are going to have teenagers being your wait staff.  Spend a little bit of time training them.  You are charging me $25 for a lamb burger so I think you might have a couple of dollars in the training budget
  • Hanmer Springs What a cute little place this is.  About an hour and a half from Christchurch with lovely outdoor hot pools.  I would love to go here in the winter and do the whole snow monkey thing in the pools.  You know sit in the hot pool with the snow all around and the frost hanging off my beard and eyebrows
  • More Waipara wineries.  I can recommend  No charge for tastings here, someone who was passionate about the wines and the area and a lovely setting.  And  This winery had a lovely look out and once again someone nice to look after us


  • Oxford – I wanted to go here because Libby from book club has a terrible Jo Seagar story.  Basically Jo took a booking for a cooking class for Libby and a group of friends to attend. Then Jo cancelled because she got a better paying offer, and was surprised that Libby and her friends wanted to be paid the difference for rebooking all their flights.  So I just had to come and see what  all the fuss was about.  All I can say I can imagine the people of Oxford are very grateful to Jo for creating a reason to visit the place.  There isn’t a lot there, and the cafe is just a cafe.  Nice enough but nothing that amazing (mind you better than food than at Mud House)  And did I think it was tacky that the menu included a page thanking the Ford Dealer in Rangiora for letting Jo drive around in a sign written Territory – why yes I did.
  • Gorgeous scenery – you realise you are not in Auckland anymore when you can use cruise control for more than 2 minutes, and are surrounded by brown baked mountains.  And the rivers are this amazing turquoise blue – until all the rain from the West Coast runs into them and then they turn into a nice recognisable northern brown 🙂
  • Halswell Community Hall – where the 21st was held.  This is a cute little hall that 100 years ago would have been the hub of a country community.  Now it is stuck on a main road with the city growed up around it.
  • Being with a group of family and friends as they celebrate a milestone.  The proud parents, the oldies getting deafened by the music, the young ones looking gorgeous, and the birthday girl beaming and enjoying her moment
  • The Photo Booth at the 21st –  Colleen told us there was a photo booth at the party and to get our photos taken.  Silly JAFA’s we are we thought she meant a photo booth, but no she meant someone would take our photo against a backdrop, with accessories. Still Brett and I can rock a Hallswell photo booth like no ones business
    • Photo BoothChristchurch rebuilding itself – there is still an incredible amount of demolition going on and they certainly have a lot to get done to get the city centre finished.  But we were really impressed with the container stores they had up around Ballentynes.  This was certainly assisted by the fabulous weather and the beautiful pair of boots I bought.
    • Rolleston – no I can’t say Rolleston is a highlight.  And if it really is the city of the future – oh dear  But the lovely Colleen and Baz do live there and they are a definitely a highlight of any visit

    So a very lovely time was had in the South but it was nice to get back home where in comparison to the South the hills seem green and rolling, the wind just a gentle breeze and that waft of sea air and humidity reminds you, you do live in the South Pacific

This article really annoyed me and then saddened me

Now I will be honest, I have not watched this documentary and I have heard it is very good, and it does sound like Ben Edwards (no relation) learned a great deal during the filming of this.  But initially this article annoyed me because I thought another person thinking I can get a hand out because I can claim some Maori ancestry.  But then I calmed down and realised that not everyone (especially Cantabs) would be as lucky as me

Because I am 1/16th Maori as well.  On my Mother’s side of the family, Grand Father – Big Grandad Dinah Thomson was Ngati Maniapoto.     

Dinah (he was called Big Grandad to distinguish him from Little Grandad) was half Maori.  He was a Boer War veteran, race horse owner, landlord, Mason and full on character.  He died when I was about 7 but I do remember him very well.  He was dark, wrinkly and loud.   He actually tried to be friendly when I saw him, but I would just burst into tears.  I remember vividly colouring in pictures (which I was always crap at – made even harder by the fact I was bawling) and him telling me my colouring in was very good.  And him also pretending there was a rat hiding in my hair – which ok I admit is probably not the nicest old person – young person bonding activity.  But it was pretty funny and I did get 20c afterwards.

Anyway I was brought up to be proud that I was part Maori (although just a smidgin)  My Father being an avid historian (which is just code for being romantic).  told us as many stories about great Maori battles, warriors and as he did Scottish ones.  We grew up knowing not to trust a Campbell or a Ngapuhi*, and that the land confiscations inflicted on the Tangata Whenua were an injustice.

But we were never brought up to think – oh you are part Maori you are entitled to a hand out. We knew we we were mostly pakeha but we could appreciate and cherish our Maori Heritage just as much as our Scottish, English and Cornish Heritage.

Handy Hint when you hear some red neck going on about how much easier it is to be Maori or Aboriginal (they get all of these free hand outs you see) is just say..  So would you like to be one?  And it seems to stop them in their traps.  And funnily enough they don’t seem that interested.  I don’t believe there are enough handouts, scholarships, or benefits to make up for being considered a second class citizen because of the your ethnicity (and while I am at it sex or sexual orientation)

* Disclaimer yes I know there are good Campbells and Ngapuhi.  But when Dad was went on a Rugby League trip from the Waikato up to Whangarei in the early 70’s.  His Maori counterparts were genuinely checking out the Ngapuhi and told him that if there were any attractive people up there it was only because they had been stolen from the Waikato last century


(Cantabs I struggle with – and no I wouldn’t want to be one)

Why Helloooo 2013

It generally takes me about 2 months to work out that we are in a New Year and to get my head around writing the date correctly, but I still enjoy January*.

Mainly for the following reasons….

  • Birthday Month – Mr Brett had never come across the concept of Birthday Month before he met me.  But I say if it is good enough for Queenie Windsor it is good enough for me.  It is also specially important to celebrate Birthday Month if your birthday is in January, because everyone is usually a bit jaded, broke, or on holiday during this time so you need to take your opportunities when you can
  • The frantic rush of end of year activities and Christmas is over and there is a nice chilled out vibe around the place – even at work.  And who knows some of your Christmas Toys and Goodies may still be useful
  • And I love the idea that by choosing carefully your activities for the 1st of January can set the whole theme for your year.  And if that is the case I am going to have a fantabulous year.  My 1st of January was spent reading, laughing, socialising, drinking good bubbles in moderation, cuddling, movie watching, pottering and ironing.  (I don’t know how ironing got there either.  But I think that just means I will have fabulous clothes that I will want to look after)

Things I kept well away from on the First of January and that I do not want to see

  • War
  • Famine
  • The abuse of the weak by the powerful, and that includes rugby boofheads bashing people up, gangs of men raping woman on a bus, the NRA, BBC presenters in dodgy tracksuits and internet bullying.  But I am still going to say Paula Bennett drives me nuts as often as I like.
  • Salt and vinegar chips and drinking to excess – this will be the real challenge for me.  It is a little known fact but I am genetically designed in such a way that once a packet of salt and vinegar chips or a bottle of wine is opened I have to finish it in that sitting, or my body thinks it will die.  I am not sure how this rare condition came about as you would not have thought  there was ready access to chippies or Sav Blanc in our original African homelands.  But there you go.  Just like my Graves Disease it is part of my genetic lottery I need to learn to manage.
  • Nagging Lauren about keeping her room tidy.  I am ever hopeful that this year she will discover the joys of putting things away when she uses them rather than just filing any items on the floor.  But just quietly I might have a better chance of ridding the world of famine

So important things that Natty Bugle wants you to be aware of for the New Year

  • You have to write 2013 at the end of the date now not 2012
  • If your idea of a good time is hurting, raping, bullying and starving people you are no friend of mine
  • A birthday isn’t just for a day it is for a whole month.  And if you have friends and whanau with birthday’s in January take good care of them – they are a bit needy
  • No matter how bad things get just be thankful your Mother didn’t dress you up in this suit and take your photo


* And bullet points I love bullet points – but you might have worked that out already