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Nelson Historical Society Journal, Volume 7, Issue 3, 2011

The Takaka Pioneers’ Memorial: Part I

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Takaka Pioneers’ Memorial - idle moments, 1913. J.J. Cameron photo, Golden Bay Museum.

Takaka Pioneers’ Memorial - idle moments, 1913. J.J. Cameron photo, Golden Bay Museum.

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The Takaka Pioneers’ Memorial
Part I

“Friday 18th February 1910, will long be remembered by young and old in Takaka as a real red letter day. ... The decorating committee was astir very early, and by 9 a.m. the township was gaily decorated with strings of flags at intervals across the road, the business places all be flagged, and nikau palms everywhere.” On Commercial Street, Takaka, at the intersection with Reilly Street, is Pioneer Park, which was gazetted as a local purpose reserve “site for museum” on 8 June 1990. In the Park is a monument to the European pioneer settlers of the Takaka District. The monument is unusual in the fact that it features 69 individual pioneers’ names, rather than a collective statement for all settlers, as seen on other such monuments in our province. This is the second site of the Pioneers’ Memorial, as it was originally installed at the junction of Commercial, Motupipi and Willow Streets, at the South end of Commercial Street.

The Takaka district was first settled at Motupipi by white settlers James and Ann Lovell, in the latter part of 1842, near the 200-300 strong Maori pa at the mouth of the Motupipi river. In 1843 their second daughter, Mercy Ann, was the first pakeha baby to be born in Golden Bay. In those days Golden Bay was known as Murderers Bay. James, who also initially had land in Motueka, had the early company of his brother, Benjamin Lovell, his wife Esther and their children. Benjamin and Esther moved back to Motueka in later years. While in Motueka, James had met Joseph Packard and had talked him into coming to Motupipi with his wife Eliza and their children.1 This is why the two Lovells and Packard appear as the first three names on the central panel of the monument.

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It was a year or two before these first settlers were joined by a few others, men who had been attracted by the possibilities of coal seams and lime deposits found at Motupipi. Now and again, a sailing vessel would call there to pick up coal or lime, and the occasional consignment of flax which had been dressed by Maori. All other communications with Nelson and other local towns was undertaken by whale-boats, cutters and Maori waka. The first inland route over the Takaka Hill to Riwaka was a horse track built in 1856, and it was not until 1870 that a decent road was formed.

An increasing number of settlers arrived between 1855 and 1865, as the possibilities of the district became more widely known. The Takaka Valley, with its great areas of heavy forest, drew the sawmills, which were soon producing vast quantities of sawn timber. This was taken down to the coast for shipping to Canterbury, Wanganui, Nelson and elsewhere in New Zealand. Soils in the first area settled are some of the best in New Zealand, especially at Motupipi and Clifton, and settlers grew crops such as cereals and potatoes.

In February 1857 the Aorere gold rush began, with many miners arriving from other parts of New Zealand, and a large number from the Australian gold fields. Further gold was discovered in the Takaka Valley, at Anatoki, Waingaro, Upper Takaka and Waitui, in September 1857. This attracted miners from the Aorere gold fields and further afield.

In the middle of this period two wharves were built, at Motupipi and Waitapu, which survived because of the Takaka Valley timber resource. The Takaka Tramway ran between Waitapu wharf and East Takaka from 1882 to 1905. Once the timber had been cut out, the sawmills closed and so did the tramway. The Motupipi wharf fell into disuse due to silting, and it initially appeared that it would become a thriving boat building centre. This possibility ended when a large shed which served the boat building industry was all but swept away in a flood.2

Settlers used the half-yearly meetings of their Motupipi and Takaka Association to lobby the Provincial Government for facilities such as schools and roads, and for general representation of their interests.3 This was important in ensuring the development of such a geographically isolated community.

The idea of erecting some lasting memorial to the pioneer settlers of the Takaka Valley was first mooted by John Joshua Langridge. A committee of locals was formed in May 1906 to raise the necessary funds to erect a memorial. Committee members were John Joshua Langridge (Secretary), John Frederick Rose (Chairman), Maurice Hunter, William Charles Baigent, James Packard, John William Moulder, page 51
John Joshua Langridge. Photo courtesy John William Mudgeway, Otani web page history.

John Joshua Langridge. Photo courtesy John William Mudgeway, Otani web page history.

James Page, Owen Keoghan, Alex Haldane, Samuel Fittall, Robert Cann and Ray Bensemann.4

In June 1906 The Colonist newspaper office announced the receipt of a circular from Mr Moulder intimating the intention to erect a memorial, in commemoration of the early settlers of the Takaka District. Subscriptions were being sought, and their Nelson office had a subscription list that would be forwarded to the committee. When sufficient subscriptions had been received, the subscribers were to be asked to decide on the form the memorial was to take and its site.5

John Langridge’s father, also John Langridge, had been born in Sussex in 1834, where he served an apprenticeship in the building trade. He emigrated with his wife in 1858 by the ship Indiana and landed in Lyttelton. He followed his trade in Christchurch until 1864, when he moved to Temuka where he combined building with farming for many years.

John Joshua Langridge was born in Temuka in 1864 and, at the age of 14, began working at Mr J. Mendelson’s general store in the town. He moved to the West Coast after Mendelson’s death and, after a year or two, set up a retail store at Brunnerton with Lees and Masters. After Mr Lees retired, Langridge and Masters carried on the business for a further seven years. The business did well until the Brunner Miners’ strike of 1890 which hit it very hard.

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John Joshua Langridge married 18 year old Elizabeth Ruth Heley in 1890 and the couple moved to Takaka in December 1892.

Langridge had been held in high esteem at Brunnerton, where he had been Captain of the Brunner Rifles and a Justice of Peace. He had also been active in music, football, swimming and the church, and was well respected for his business acumen. He was heralded as a most desirable resident on his arrival in Takaka, where he took over the 30 year old business of Mr T. A. Cook. Three years later James Sadd joined him in what was the largest general store in the district, known as J.J. Langridge and Co.

Gatherings were held in May 1908 to farewell Mr and Mrs Langridge, at which he was praised as a promoter and hard worker in all things for the good of Takaka and the surrounding districts. It was said that he would be much missed, as he had probably done more for the place than any other one man in it.

The Colonist of 13 May 1908 reported a description of him as being possessed of unbounded energy and taking an active and leading part in almost everything that was going. It listed a few of his honorary positions, such as Arch Druid, Worshipful Master of Masonic Lodge, Past District President and Senior Trustee of the Druids, Superintendent of the Sunday School, Choirmaster at the Church of England, Secretary of the Library, Secretary of the Miners’ Association, founder of the Sovereign Butter company, Treasurer, director and founder of the Golden Bay Bacon Company, member of the Lower Takaka School Committee, Vice-President of the Athletic and Cycling Club, Justice of Peace, Secretary to the Pioneer Memorial Fund, Captain of the Takaka Mounted Rifles, and other offices too numerous to particularise. He was also a member of the Nelson Chamber of Commerce6. Langridge admitted that he could not lead an idle life, and always felt on better terms with himself when pushing forward any undertakings likely to benefit the district and community.

The Langridges left the district because of Mrs Langridge’s ill health.7 They moved to Stoke where he was active in church life and music. In November 1909 John Langridge moved to Kaikora North in Hawkes Bay, now known as Otane, where he bought another general store business, in partnership with Mr J W Barrie. He served on the Otane Town Board and the Napier Harbour Board in 1910 and was also involved in farming. In 1922 he unsuccessfully contested the Waipawa seat for the Liberal-Labour party.

He died in Otane on 20 February 1931 at the age of 67.

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So where did John Langridge get the idea of a Pioneers’ Memorial? It appears that the whole project was a copy of a similar undertaking proposed in June 1897 in Temuka, his home town. The monument there had been unveiled in December 1897, with settlers, including his father, being individually named. Settlers were listed under settlement dates, which would have been a most useful inclusion on the Takaka Memorial.8 The unveiling coincided with Queen Victoria’s Jubilee and the 50th anniversary of Temuka’s settlement. The names on the monument covered the years from 1847 to 1867. In February 1868 a flood caused considerable loss and damage in Temuka.

By July 1908, £27:10s had been raised from the proceeds of entertainment promoted by John Langridge. It was deposited in the Post Office Savings Bank on trust, in the names of Mr Rose and Mr Moulder. Having been the moving spirit in this enterprise, Langridge was now about to leave Takaka. He intended to canvass Takaka, asking for donations from relatives of pioneer settlers, friends and sympathisers in person or by post. Contributions needed to reach him at Takaka within the following 14 days. He pointed out that the Memorial was a worthy project, and £100 was required to obtain a really good monument.9 Langridge returned to Takaka at the end of July to make a house to house canvass for funds, having £70 in hand from all sources, with the target still £100.10

I came across a postcard from the time showing a spoof memorial in the form of a cairn of rocks with a wooden cross supporting a bottle of beer and a cup. It appears to have been mounted at the junction of the East Takaka and Glenview roads, with the main road from Takaka to Riwaka. It has a sign on it which, as I can best read with enhancement, states:


Mr Moulder, Secretary of the Takaka Pioneers’ Memorial Committee, requested assistance from the Takaka County Council in a letter received on 19 September 1908. He asked permission for the Committee to erect the memorial at the junction of roads near Otto Haase’s Hotel (Telegraph Hotel). In addition, he asked the Council to purchase a piece of land at Mrs Prebble’s corner, near the Church, and hand it over to the Committee for the site. It was resolved, on the motion of Crs Reilly and Frank Page, that the Council give up to £5 towards the purchase of sufficient land at Prebble’s corner for the purpose of improving the road and providing a site for the memorial. The Chairman, Cr William James Reilly, Crs Frank Page and John George Page, voted for the resolution and Cr George Winter Jnr was opposed.11

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The spoof Pioneers’ Memorial, Takaka, located at the Junction of East Takaka and Glenview roads. Ken Wright Postcard Collection.

The spoof Pioneers’ Memorial, Takaka, located at the Junction of East Takaka and Glenview roads. Ken Wright Postcard Collection.

A further request was received on 1 November 1908, asking if the Council would give a site opposite Haase’s hotel for the proposed memorial. The Committee had had a quotation from Mr George Miller, Nelson, for a stone erected on a site, 18ft high with a 5ft base, with a drinking fount attached and a lamp fixed on top for £50. The lamp would show along the three roads from the site. The letter also asked for a donation towards the memorial.

It was resolved, on the motion of Crs Frank Page and George Winter Jnr, that the site be granted, subject to the overseer marking off and approving it. On the motion of Crs John G. Page and William C. Baigent, however, it was resolved that the Council could not see its way, under existing financial circumstances, to contribute towards the cost of the erection of the monument.12

It is interesting that Mr Moulder noted that the lamp would provide light along the three streets. It would appear that there was no substantial street lighting in the Takaka township at that time. The Council was asked to consider lighting the town of Takaka in May 1909. Its response was that it was prepared to do its bit to light the town, if the residents were prepared to do theirs.13

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In early December 1908, the Pioneers’ Memorial subscribers met and came to a definite decision about the form the memorial should take. It was stated that the fund now amounted to some £41, with a further £29 having been promised. The monument, designed by Mr Miller of Nelson, was to be erected at the junction corner, opposite Haase’s Hotel, and was to cost £60.14

On 27 March 1909, at a special meeting of the Takaka County Council, an invitation to Council members to be present at the unveiling of the memorial was received from the Memorial Committee. It was received by the Council with thanks.15

The important function at which the much talked of Pioneers’ Memorial was unveiled took place on the afternoon of Friday 31 March 1909.

The Nelson Evening Mail reported: “The monument is about 7ft square at the base, and 19ft high overall. It is erected at the junction of three roads near the Takaka Recreation Ground, and it is constructed with reinforced concrete, cement plastered. It consists of three bases from which a horse drinking trough projects, supplied with water by means of a pump. The die has three large marble tablets let in on the front, and two sides, containing the inscription and names, cut in and leaded as follows: “Erected in commemoration of the Early Pioneers of Takaka....” Surmounting the die is a circular fluted column with a massive Corinthic cap, and plinth, upon which stands a large ornamental lamp supplied with acetylene gas.”16

The Mail also reported that the work had been carried out by Mr G. Miller of Hardy Street, Nelson, who had turned out an excellent piece of work and deserved to be complimented on it. The memorial had cost about £70, which was being raised by public subscription.17 The water for the drinking trough attached to the memorial was provided by a pump supplied by the County Council, and the lamp was lit by acetylene gas supplied gratis by Mr Haase, and laid on from his generator across the street.

In the unavoidable absence of Mr Langridge, the duty of unveiling the Pioneers’ Memorial devolved onto Mr W. J. Reilly, Chairman of the County Council. The proceedings commenced with a parade of the old settlers of the district, headed by the Brass Band and with the High School cadets bringing up the rear. Owing to the showery, unsettled weather, the attendance was nothing to what a fine day would have seen, but on the whole everything passed off well. Mr Rose, Chairman of the Memorial Committee, was Master of Ceremonies, ably seconded by the Secretary, Mr Moulder. Among the speakers were the ministers of each of the three local churches, and several old residents. After the proceedings were over, the pioneers present and their friends were regaled at a solid tea provided by the ladies page 56
Takaka Pioneers’ Memorial shortly after construction 1909. Ken Wright Postcard Collection.

Takaka Pioneers’ Memorial shortly after construction 1909. Ken Wright Postcard Collection.

page 57 of Takaka, served in Mr Haase’s sample room. Everyone was pleased to see the bright, sturdy personality of Mr Joseph Packard leading the procession of pioneers. He was the oldest settler and stepped along briskly behind the band in spite of his eighty odd years (83 yrs).18

When the Governor General, Lord Plunket, reached the end of his five year term, he undertook a farewell tour of New Zealand, including a visit to the district of Nelson. His wife, Lady Plunket, is remembered for her patronage of the Plunket Society, which was named for her. She had sailed for England ahead of her husband. Lord Plunket left Wellington on 14 February 1910 for Nelson. On the 15th he proceeded by coach to Motueka, where he stayed overnight, continuing the next day via Takaka to Collingwood. On the following day he was driven round the Collingwood district, before being entertained at a conversazione in the evening. On the 18th he returned to Motueka, stopping at Takaka for a short time, where he was presented with an address. At Motueka he was entertained by the residents at an evening banquet, and on the following day he continued his journey to Nelson. He stopped at Richmond to receive an address from the Borough Council, and arrived in Nelson in the evening. After visiting various parts of Nelson on the 21st and 22nd, he departed for Wellington on Wednesday the 23rd.

This was the first time Takaka had ever been visited by the Governor General of New Zealand. The new Pioneers’ Memorial provided a focal point at the south end of Commercial Street, and this was where the Governor General was received. The following is an account from the Colonist of what happened when Lord Plunket came to Takaka, and the cover photograph depicting the reception, was taken at the Pioneers’ Memorial by Mr Darcy L. Manson. The camera was probably set up on the balcony of the Telegraph Hotel:

“Friday 18th February 1910, will long be remembered by young and old in Takaka as a real red letter day. The day broke fine and clear, and bright sunshine prevailed throughout the day. The decorating committee was astir very early, and by 9 a.m. the township was gaily decorated with strings of flags at intervals across the road, the business places all beflagged, and nikau palms everywhere. The platform at the Pioneers’ Memorial was covered in palms, and surmounted by a staff bearing the British ensign, while a triangle of flags crossed the two streets facing the platform, all together a very creditable display for a town of our size.

“The Chairman and County Councillors set out early in a conveyance to meet his Excellency at the county boundary on the Collingwood road (at McArtney’s Hill), and the escort of Takaka Mounted Rifles soon followed.

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“By 10.30 a.m. the main street was lined from end to end with an immense crowd of sightseers, the gay summer costumes and hats of the ladies making a great show among the more sombre garbed men. The school children from all the side districts were drawn up in order along the route, each beneath its own school banner, and the High School Cadets, armed and in uniform, completed the line. The Takaka County Band, resplendent in their new uniforms, looked really well as they marched through the lines and took up their stand on the right of the reception dais. At 10.30 a.m. a cloud of dust heralded the approach of the Vice-Regal party. The coach a fourin- hand containing the Governor, and the two succeeding, containing the Hon. R. McKenzie (Minister for Public Works and member for Motueka), and the County Councillors, accompanied by the mounted escort, came along through the lines of children and citizens, and pulled up at the platform.

“As the Governor and party ascended the dais the band played the National Anthem, and excitement was then intense. Takaka does not entertain a real live lord every day, and this is the first occasion the public have been asked to turn out and welcome a Governor of New Zealand. Mr J. G. Page, the County Chairman, in a few well chosen words introduced Lord Plunket to the inhabitants of Takaka, and then called on the County Clerk, Mr William Baird, to read the address of welcome, which was done by him clearly and distinctly. The address was as follows :

“To His Excellency the right Honourable Baron Plunket, Knight Commander of the Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George, Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order, Governor and Commander-in-Chief in and over his Majesty’s Dominion of New Zealand and its Dependencies.” May it please your Excellency on behalf of the inhabitants of the County of Takaka, we, the undersigned, Chairman and Councillors, desire to tender you a hearty welcome to our County.

“Wishing you a safe journey home, and every happiness and prosperity in your future life.

“We beg to subscribe ourselves your Excellency’s most obedient servants, “J. G. Page, Chairman. W. C. Baigent, A H Barnett, Frank Page, George Page Junior, W. C. Reilly, Councillors. Clerk. William Baird.”

The County Clerk then handed the address to the Chairman, and he presented it to Lord Plunket.

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“We are pleased to have had the opportunity of seeing your Excellency once before you leave New Zealand, and thank you for the honour you have conferred upon us by your visit. We regret the shortness of your stay will prevent us from showing your Excellency some of the many beauty spots of Takaka, but trust you may have a pleasant drive through our little valley, and carry away pleasant recollections of this remote portion of, his Majesty’s dominions. We beg to assure your Excellency of the sincere loyalty of the inhabitants of Takaka to their most gracious Majesties the King and Queen and on our great love for the mighty empire over which they reign”.

Lord Plunket, in reply, thanked the people of Takaka for their very hearty welcome and for their expression of loyalty to their Majesties the King and Queen. Concluding his formal reply, Lord Plunket spoke on his own behalf, regretting the shortness of his stay, preventing him from seeing more of the place. He thanked the people for the heartiness of his reception, and for the very evident trouble they had taken in his honour. He stated that, he was at the moment a sort of wandering Jew, going hither and thither through the country, seeing all he could of New Zealand during the short time at his disposal ere leaving for the Old Country.

He made special mention of the great number and sturdy qualities of the array of children then before him, and expressed a wonder as to where they all came from, adding that apparently the people of Takaka were like himself and Lady Plunket, possessors of at least eight children apiece. His Excellency then stepped down and was introduced to Mr W. H. Boyes, the head master of the Takaka District School, and was by him conducted through the entire line of children, making kindly remarks here and there to the children and their teachers. The children then sang the National Anthem, accompanied by Bandmaster Bensemann on the cornet.

The Vice-Regal party were then conducted to the Junction Hotel, where a splendid cold luncheon was prepared for the distinguished visitor. The room seated some sixty people, and was filled to overflowing, every district being well represented. The chair was taken by Mr J. G. Page, County Chairman, he having Lord Plunket on his right and the Hon. R. McKenzie, member for the district, on his left. Mr Thomas J. Baigent occupied the vice chair. The tables were tastefully laid out, and altogether the rooms looked very nice in every way. Grace was pronounced by the Rev. H. Pepper, minister of the Church of England, and then full justice was done to the many good things set out on the menu. During luncheon the band played several selections outside the hotel, which helped to the general success of the function. When the sweets were disposed of the chairman proposed the toast of the King, and those present sang the National Anthem. The second toast came from Mr T. J. Baigent, the vice-chairman, that of the guest, Lord Plunket. Mr Baigent spoke of the page 60 honour his Excellence had conferred on Takaka by his visit to such a small unit in the composition of this Dominion, and said that Takaka was very proud that it had not been overlooked by the Governor in his travels through New Zealand, and regretted that time would not permit of a sight of the Bubu springs and other notable spots in the neighbourhood of Takaka. Concluding, Mr Baigent drew attention to the crowd and display they had just witnessed outside, as proving the pleasure of the people at the Governor’s visit, and loyalty to the King and Empire. The Governor’s health was then honoured.

Lord Plunket replied in a very happily chosen speech, that at once made him popular with his hearers. Alluding to the expressions of loyalty made use of in the address and by Mr Baigent, he expressed the opinion that loyalty was hardly the word to use, but rather, the highest and most noble common sense and gratitude of the people. His Excellency spoke of the noble and spontaneous gift of a Dreadnought (HMS New Zealand) by New Zealand to the Mother Country, and the effect it had on English speaking people all over the world, and on rival nations. He said that England was at all times capable of defending herself, but the task of doing so to her many scattered colonies, was a far bigger undertaking, and it was right that these colonies should share the burden of general defence. His Excellency asked pardon if he trespassed into the realm of politics by touching on the system of universal service (Territorial Volunteers) now to be introduced by the New Zealand Government. He called this the most noble act of self sacrifice and patriotism ever done by New Zealand, and likely to be productive of great good. Lord Plunket facetiously remarked in passing that he was from his position, perhaps, one of the very few who always agreed with every-thing done by Parliament in this country. His Excellency, in conclusion, made feeling reference to the heartfelt and sincere expressions of the very highest loyalty to sovereign and country that he met with on all sides.

His Excellency’s speech was listened to most attentively by all present, and made a profound impression on every man in the room. The toast following was in the hands of the Rev W. A. Kyd, Presbyterian minister, “Imperial Unity.” This gentleman alluded to the late Mr R. J. Seddon’s prompt action during the late South African war in offering and despatching with such promptitude, contingent after contingent to the help of the Home Country, and said that Sir J.C. Ward was following faithfully in his predecessor’s footsteps by his gift of a Dreadnought, and a promise of more if required. Mr Kyd concluded by quoting from a speech recently delivered in Wellington, and finally wound up a stirring appeal for increased Bible teaching as an incentive to loyalty and patriotism by singing a verse of Robbie Burns’ “For a that.” Lord Plunket then briefly proposed the chairman’s health, and all then rose from the table. His Excellency spent half an hour in conversation with various of the page 61 guests, going from one to the other, and being introduced to each in turn by the County Chairman, and finding a pleasant word for each.

Lord Plunket took special interest in chatting to a number of our very old settlers who were present, and a Crimean war veteran who was brought to him gave him special interest. The coach then drew up, and his Excellency and party drove off at 1 p.m. on their journey to Motueka amidst hearty and continued cheers from the, immense crowd gathered at the starting place. The band again played the National Anthem, and the children lined along the route, gave but cheer upon cheer. The Mounted Rifles again escorted the party out of the township.

During the luncheon the school children, who numbered in all some 540, were marched to the orchard adjoining the hotel, where luncheon on a large and generous scale was provided, by the parents and by public subscription. A goodly collection of silver coin was taken up among the crowd assembled, and the committee in charge, assisted by a number of parents, got off a lot of races and amusements for the children, lasting the best part of the afternoon. All the business places closed for the day, and after the Governor had gone, bowls was the order of the day, the local green being crowded till dark. All Takakaites were thoroughly satisfied with the proceedings throughout. All arrangements were well made, and well carried out, and the various members of the local committees are to be heartily congratulated on the great success that crowned their efforts”.19

In the various early photos of Takaka from 1909 till the 1960s, the memorial is prominent in street vistas. In 1942, student Beryl Hitchcock (Rodgers) completed a school project on the history of Takaka. The project included a photo of the monument in 1942 and shows that the monument has a circular white glass globe, instead of the original gas lantern.

In September 1977, Takaka’s new square face town clock was installed on top of the old settlers’ memorial. Its installation was the idea of the Deputy Chairman of the Golden Bay County Council, Cr Pat R. Reilly. He had made enquiries of an Auckland firm in December 1976 and ascertained that a suitable clock would be available at a cost of $438. Cr Reilly canvassed the descendants of the early pioneers named on the memorial and the full amount was subscribed, with no other charges needing to be met to have the amenity installed and working. The clock had a built-in system of batteries which took over if there was a power failure. It was erected by Jim and Tom Bickley of Takaka, who offered to look after its maintenance. There were plans for a concrete base to be placed around the memorial.20 The clock was later damaged irreparably by a vandal and was replaced by an ornamental lamp similar to the one that had originally been on the monument.21

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Takaka’s new town clock on the old Pioneers’ Memorial with Councillor P. R. Reilly.

Takaka’s new town clock on the old Pioneers’ Memorial with Councillor P. R. Reilly.

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At the Golden Bay County Council Meeting on 15 February 1984, Cr Bob Taylor expressed concern about the Settlers’ Memorial and suggested that it be removed. It was resolved to remove it to the triangular section owned by Council at the corner of Reilly Street and Commercial Street. Proposed by Cr Taylor seconded by Cr Pat R. Riley.22 The Memorial needed to be removed to allow access from Motupipi Street to a proposed bypass road between Willow and Reilly Streets.23 On 23 February 1984 the Takaka Pioneers’ Memorial was successfully shifted to its new site at Pioneer Park, without a hitch. The monument was now one month short of its 75th year in Takaka. The Golden Bay County Engineer, David Miller, explained that the base had been excavated around and underneath, and a crane had lifted the entire nine tonne structure onto a truck. It was then driven down Commercial Street and carefully lifted into a prepared hole at Pioneer Park.

The removal stirred up unexpected controversy, with County Clerk, Warwick Bennett, receiving a call about every ten minutes on the afternoon of the move. The first couple of hours on the following day were just as busy, and he received about 30 calls in all, berating the Council for moving the memorial. No one gave a reason for their objection, but Mr Bennett felt a petition on the matter may have been in the offing. The Golden Bay Promotion Association also had its say on the issue at their Monday night meeting. Members commented favourably on the new position of the memorial and voted to congratulate the Council on moving it to a more suitable site.24

Vandals smashed the glass globe on top of the monument in December 1988, leaving the structure chipped and pitted. Some of the damage appeared to have been the result of some fairly determined missile throwing. A concrete corner was broken off right at the top of the tall structure, which indicated a considerable amount of force had been used, and the monument was chipped on all four sides. Acting County Clerk, Noel Riley, appeared in a photograph with the damaged monument. He felt the damage reflected badly on the community at large and the matter had been reported to the police for investigation. The light at the top of the memorial was replaced at some cost, but those responsible for prising the lettering away had caused irreparable damage. Initial inquiries had indicated that repairing the marble plaques might not be financially possible.25 The ornate broken glass globe was replaced with a lamp of modern design, as a similar one could not be sourced.26, 27

On 11 September 1990, at a meeting of the Golden Bay Community Board, Mrs Castle of the Golden Bay Historical Society asked whether the lettering on the monument could be restored. Cr Lewis said that the possibility had already been looked into, but the cost was prohibitive. The Area Manager said that the Takaka Lions were looking at it as a possible future project. Mrs Castle said that some page 64 explanation of the monument could be added to the blank face. Some discussion followed as to whether a plaque would be more suitable, and Mrs Castle said the Historical Society would be happy to contribute in any way.

The Golden Bay Community Board meeting on 13 February 1996 was told that prices were to be sought for new lettering for the Pioneer Park Memorial. In late June 1996, Henk Visker, Builder, Brick and Blocklayer, replaced some of the lead letters of the names on the memorial. About half of the 400 letters on the marble plaques needed replacing, with each letter taking about half an hour to do. Weathering had caused the letters to deteriorate over time, with moss growing behind them contributing to the displacement. Little human hands had completed nature’s work, with a quantity of lead having been picked out of the holes. The $1,300 restoration was funded by the Tasman District Council. Mr Visker put a seal over the letters, which it was hoped would protect the names for another 40 years.

On 20 May 1997 Golden Bay County Councillor Leetch asked the County Clerk to further pursue the matter of getting power to the Pioneers’ Memorial, so that the light at its top could be operated.28 At a meeting on 10 June 1997, a member of the Community Board asked when the painting and cleaning of the Settlers Memorial would be done. The Area Manager was to follow the matter up with Community Services.29

In April 2005 Brian Petterson wrote to the Tasman District Council requesting that some research to be done on the Pioneers’ Memorial. It appeared that the names of some early settlers were missing, which could be included on the fourth side of the monument.30 Mr Petterson offered to liaise with Pat Timings about appropriate additional names. Mr Timings had published Golden Bay grab bag a miscellany of local history in December 2002, which contained biographical information on each of the 69 names on the Memorial. In June 2005 the Golden Bay Community Board advised Mr Petterson that it supported his request in principle. It suggested that he research and verify the names from three different sources, before coming back with the proposed additions. The Board would then undertake public consultation on the matter.31

From my research, I conclude that people paid a subscription to have their names appear on the monument. The cut off date for arrival/settlement in Takaka may have been the mid 1860s, with 1867 being the 25th anniversary of settlement. There are certainly settlers who are not listed who fit the dates and remained in the district. A complication is that some settlers arrived with teenage sons, who were pioneers in their own right, but who probably deferred to their family patriarch ahead of themselves.

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Barry Cashman described the Pioneers’ Memorial as being run down at a Community Board meeting on 11 April 2006. He asked that a small fund for refurbishing monuments be used for cleaning, painting and replacement of missing lead letters. The Council’s Kathie Tohill was to investigate the matter.32 In July 2006 Barry Cashman reported that the approximate cost of replacing lettering on the Pioneers’ Memorial would be $275.33 In October 2006 Patrick Day, of G. Miller and Sons, was contracted by Tasman District Council to complete further lead lettering repairs on the monument.34

Similar styles of monument exist in the Main Street of Havelock and at the old Motueka wharf. They both still have an original style of lamp on top of them, in contrast to the modern, cream, squat, cylindrical glass light, that appears on the Takaka Pioneers’ Memorial today.

Part II of this article, tables detailing research on the names listed on the Pioneers’ Memorial, will run in the next issue.


1 Millar, J.H. (1949). Beyond the Marble Mountain: Tales of early Golden Bay, Motueka and Nelson. Nelson: R. Lucas. pp. 7-8.
2 Ibid. pp. 61-62.
3 The Colonist, 15 March 1859, p. 2.
4 The Colonist, 12 May 1906, p. 2. Personal.
5 The Colonist, 7 June 1906, p. 2.
6 Nelson Evening Mail, 2 December 1898, p. 2.
7 Newport, J.N.W. (1977). Sovereign butter 1902-1977: Seventy-five years of production. Golden Bay Dairy Factory Co., p. 18.
8 Timaru Herald. 20 December 1897, p. 4.
9 Nelson Evening Mail, July 11, 1908, p. 2. Local and general; Colonist, 13 July 1908, p. 2.
10 The Colonist, 1 August 1908, p. 4. Country news. Takaka.
11 Takaka County Council. Minute Book. 19 September 1906 – 5 March 1910, p. 353, 19 September 1908.
12 bid., p. 373, 1 November 1908.
13 Ibid., p. 455, p. 468, 29 May 1909.
14 The Colonist, 1908, December 9, p. 4. Country news.
15 Takaka County Council. Minute Book. 19 September 1906 – 5 March 1910, p. 429, 27 March 1909.
16 Nelson Evening Mail, 31 March 1909. Unveiling the memorial.
17 Nelson Evening Mail, 23 March 1909, p. 2. Takaka’s pioneers.
18 The Colonist, 7 April 1909, p. 4. Country news.
19 The Colonist, 22 February 1910, p. 3. Lord Plunket in Takaka.
20 Nelson Evening Mail, 21 September 1977, p. 1.
21 Pers. Comm. Noel Riley, Golden Bay County Council employee and Tasman District Councillor.
22 Golden Bay County Council Minutes 15 February 1984, p. 7.
23 Pers. Comm. Paul Sangster, former Golden Bay County Councillor Takaka, author, 23 September 2010.
24 Nelson Evening Mail, Motueka Golden Bay News Supplement. 29 February 1984. Citizens react to big shift.
25 Nelson Evening Mail, 7 December 1988.
26 Pers. Comm. Noel Riley, as above.
27The Guardian, 6 May 1996, p. 5. Facelift for Takaka pioneer memorial.
28 Golden Bay County Council. Minutes. 20 May 1987, p. 22 11.2. Pioneer Memorial.
29 Tasman District Council. Golden Bay Community Board. Minutes. 10 June 1997, p. 9.
30 Tasman District Council. File Number 11474PR. Pioneer Park.
31 Tasman District Council. Golden Bay Community Board. Minutes. 14 June 2005. 4.2. Pioneer Memorial.
32 Tasman District Council. Golden Bay Community Board. Minutes. 11 April 2006.
33 Tasman District Council. Golden Bay Community Board. Minutes. 11 July 2006. Historic Plaques.
34 Tasman District Council. File Number 11474PR. Pioneer Park.