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Nelson Historical Society Journal, Volume 2, Issue 5, November 1971


page 23

Collingwood —A History of the Area from the Earliest Days to 1912.
J. N. W. Newport (1971), 26 chapters, 26 illustrations, 3 local maps, many references. 297 pages. (Caxton Press, Christchurch).

That indefatigable recorder of the history of Nelson back country, Mr. Jeff Newport, and author of "Footprints" describing the southern part of the province, has now produced a companion volume describing its northern tip, the delectable area of Collingwood.

The immediate charm of this area abides in its scenery, a wide range of coastal features, rugged mountains and bush, which are derived from its unusual geological and geographical formations. Appreciation of these natural attractions pervades the writing in this book.

Early occupation by Maoris and the unfortunate visit of Tasman resulting in the original name of Massacre Bay serve as an introduction but the main theme of this history is the exploraiton and settlement of the Collingwood area—its sudden importance when gold was discovered, its long term development of mineral (including coal) and timber production, and its subsequent organisation of farming under rather discouraging conditions. Roads were few, so local shipping services were operated, requiring landing places and ports, lighthouses and other navigational aids, all of which are interestingly described.

The history is amply supplied with references, contemporary photographs and three local maps, and though primarily a factual historical record, it is enlivened with ancedotes and local legends. Since the history is taken only to 1912 we look forward to its continuation before long.

As the author states in his introduction "Naturally there will be many gaps in a history such as this and the writer does not regard it as a definitive work, but it is his wish that the reading of this record will encourage others to take an interest in local history and see that any information available is preserved for the future." Such a local history is