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Journal of the Nelson and Marlborough Historical Societies, Volume 2, Issue 1, 1987

Book Reviews

Book Reviews

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.


Lyell: the golden past

by Margaret C. Brown. Published by the Murchison District Historical and Museum Society, 1987.

Travellers through the Buller Gorge who pause at the picnic area at Lyell Creek, are delighted by the peace and tranquillity of a place that once bustled with activity. Margaret Brown, well-known for her Difficult Country, brings the Lyell to life in this well-researched book.

Gold was instrumental in Lyell's birth, growth and decline. The inaccessibility of the place gave it a character all of its own. The author explores many aspects of this special character in an informative and very readable manner. Quotations from published and unpublished sources vividly describe the experiences of many who visited or lived there. Photographs from historical collections and some of more recent vintage illustrate the changes that have taken place. Reproductions from newspapers and directories help recapture the flavour of the times.

An index makes the information contained readily accessible.

Those who pause at Lyell will see it with new eyes after reading this illuminating book.


Available Soon

High hopes: the history of the Nelson mineral belt by Mike Johnston. To be published by Nikau Press.

Better Prospects: The Parkes Family History by Elizabeth K. Parkes.

148 pp. Indexed. References and Sources. $16.50 post-paid.

Commencing with the Notts/Hants/Sussex ancestries of the Parkes and Sutton families, page 48this book is an in-depth look at the Parkes family who settled in Eighty-eight Valley near Wakefield. Some of the aspects covered are: leaving England, land acquisition, and the family's involvement with the Wesleyan Church and Eighty-eight Valley School. Mention is made of many people the Parkes's had contact with. Also mentioned is Maitai Valley in the 1840s, Nelson Mental Hospital and teetotal pledges. Letters between the Parkes sisters provide insight into day-to-day happenings.

In places amusing (sticky bread, poorly attended wedding) and in places tragic (leg severed, manic depression, school burning down), there is much of interest. Available from the author, 211 Vanguard St, Nelson.