Timely his­toric tale

Per­sonal sto­ries en­rich Pau­ata­hanui book


Pau­ata­hanui’s long-awaited his­tory book is near­ing com­ple­tion and not a mo­ment too soon as the area en­ters a pe­riod of up­heaval with Trans­mis­sion Gully loom­ing and many farm­ers sub­di­vid­ing their land.

Whitby public his­to­rian He­len Reilly is putting her fin­ish­ing touches on the glossy cof­fee ta­ble book, which will be pub­lished next year.

It has been a long road since 2009, when an idea for the book was floated, says Alan Gray, one of the key per­son­al­i­ties be­hind the project.

‘‘I think if we’d known the size of it we wouldn’t have started but it’s re­ally gone ev­ery bit as well as we could have hoped.’’

Up to $40,000 will need to be fundraised to pub­lish the as-yet un­named book, on top of the $50,000 al­ready raised in 2010 to get the book writ­ten.

Smat­ter­ings of the area’s his­tory had pre­vi­ously been recorded in news­pa­per ar­ti­cles and mem­oirs but now seemed an ap­pro­pri­ate time to col­late the in­for­ma­tion, Mr Gray says.

‘‘Of course we’re very con­scious the whole area is in flux. The big farms are al­most gone and it’s go­ing to be a very dif­fer­ent place in 10 to 20 years’ time, and we felt it was a good time to record,’’ he says.

Au­thor Ms Reilly says the book will cover the wider Pau­ata­hanui area’s his­tory – in­clud­ing Whitby – from its pre­his­tory, through the mus­ket wars on Bat­tle Hill, right through to mod­ern times. The heart of the book, how­ever, will be the vil­lage’s hey­day in the 1890s, when Welling­ton’s main road north passed through the vil­lage and sawmilling and fish­ing were boom in­dus­tries.

Be­ing able to draw on oral his­to­ries from es­tab­lished Pau­ata­hanui fam­i­lies has been a real boost along the jour­ney. Ms Reilly says.

‘‘I’ve loved get­ting to know about the lo­cal his­tory all round here. It’s been fab­u­lous,’’ she says. ‘‘It’s en­riched my life.’’

To reg­is­ter in­ter­est in pre-or­der­ing the book, email christines­tanley@xtra.co.nz

Picture this: Pau­ata­hanui’s his­tory book is near­ing com­ple­tion. Au­thor He­len Reilly and project in­sti­ga­tor Alan Gray, with paint­ings of the Kakaho Val­ley in the 1870s and 1890s, painted by Mr Gray’s an­ces­tors.

Early days: A paint­ing of Pau­ata­hanui vil­lage in 1865 is the kind of im­age readers can ex­pect in the glossy cof­fee-ta­ble his­tory book, to be pub­lished next year.

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