Journal of the Nelson and Marlborough Historical Societies, Volume 2, Issue 1, 1987
More Footprints by J.N.W. (Jeff) Newport
More Footprints by J.N.W. (Jeff) Newport .
This publication is the third in Mr Newport's Footprints series, dealing with the history of the hinterland of the Nelson province. Throughout the series the author has performed an outstanding service in documenting the early development of the back-country districts.
Mr Newport has divided the book into four sections, the first of which deals with his research into the pioneering history of the Upper Motueka Valley, Tadmor and Tapawera areas, together with his own reminiscences of boyhood days in the austere farming life of the 1920s. A notable feature of this section is the publication of letters, written by Emma Barnard between the years 1865–1873, to her cousin Kate. The Barnard family eked out an isolated existence, in spartan conditions, on an area of land in the Stanley Brook district, and Emma's letters give a vivid insight into the frugal life that the family led.
The second section deals with the recollections of John Edward (Jack) Tomlinson at Woodbank Station (Hanmer), Tarndale, Tophouse, Lake Station and Kikiwa. His con-page 47tacts with the families and personalities, particularly at Tophouse, make most interesting reading. He traces the history of the Kerr family of Blue Glen and Lake Station from the arrival in Nelson of John Kerr in the Fifeshire in 1842, and outlines the part played by his descendants in developing land in the district.
Jeff Newport returns in Part III, where he deals with the Howard Valley, Maggie and Maud goldfields, particularly during the depression of the early 1930s, when unemployed men were subsidised to dig for gold. Most of the men were totally inexperienced but, in spite of the harsh economic and climatic conditions, a spirit of camaraderie was developed.
The formation of cricket and rugby teams and the appointment of a school teacher, did much to give the Maggie Creek goldfield an identity of its own. The establishment of a branch of a general store, with Jeff Newport's cousin, the late S.W. (Stan) Newport, as resident storekeeper and postmaster at Maggie Creek, helped to alleviate the sense of isolation.
The final section recalls the story of Jessie and Ned Russ, who took up land in a land settlement ballot in 1913, in an area between the Buller and hope Rivers known as "The Grips". This chapter has been edited by Jeff Newport, from material gathered by the late Stan Newport.
One notable feature of the publication is the inclusion of no fewer than 109 photographs and 5 maps. Although many of the photographic illustrations must necessarily be small, to fit into a volume of 122 pages, they do much to provide a visual contribution to the value of the book.
As was the case with previous volumes in the series, readers will continue to appreciate the accuracy of the detail which Mr Newport applies to his research, in recording the history of the areas which he knows so well.