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Nelson Historical Society Journal, Volume 1, Issue 1, November 1955



Nelson District is very rich in events of historical interest dating back to the earliest contact with both Native and European settlement.

There is some evidence that the Nelson area was visited by exploring natives well before the main Maori migrations; stone implements of pre-Maori design have been found in several localities around the coastlines of Nelson.

The first recorded settlement by Maoris occurred about the year 1400 A.D., when the Ngatitumatakokiri tribe settled in Northern Nelson; as their numbers increased they spread from Karamea on the West Coast to Kaikoura on the East Coast. They remained the dominant settlers until about 1690 when, weakened by unsuccessful battles with the southern tribes, they were overwhelmed by the Ngatiapu tribe who had descended from the North Island.

The attack on Abel Tasman's boat crews in 1642 was therefore made by members of the Ngatitumatakokiri tribe. Much further investigation into the early native settlements still remains to be done before a clear picture can emerge.

Nelson was also one of the earlier localities settled by Europeans, the foundation of Nelson City dating back to 1842, from which year the historical records are, we hope, still in comparatively full existence, even if the task of gathering the important historical material into one safe resting place has not yet been completed.

The Nelson Historical Society has as one of its chief aims the early collecting and the safe storing of the vast amount of historical material that still lies in scattered places. To accomplish this aim the Society must arouse, and in the very immediate future, a realisation among all the holders of such material that every year that material is kept in separate dwellings increases the possibility of loss through a variety of agencies. So far Nelson has been fortunate among New Zealand's provinces in that those records already stored have not suffered the fate experienced in other centres, a fate made possible by the very slow awakening of various authorities to the urgent need of preservation. Locally we have noticed several trends that indicate the need for speedy action. For example, we see in the city and in the surrounding areas numerous cases where an old dwelling has been replaced by a modern residence; we fear that much information which would have been of great value to later historians has already been lost as owners cleaned out boxes of old letters, diaries, etc., lying dust-covered in the old attics.

One aspect of the Society's work is the providing of opportunity to various enthusiastic members to deliver lectures on some event or development in our Nelson story. The present brochure is the first of what we hope will be an interesting and successful series, embodying information and viewpoints of wide general interest.

Lewis E. H. Baigent,
Chairman Management Committee.