Plim­mer­ton past scan­dals re­vealed


Plim­mer­ton peo­ple may think they know their past inside out, but even his­tory buffs may find new and sur­pris­ing sto­ries at an ex­hi­bi­tion open­ing at Pataka on Satur­day.

Plim­mer­ton: A Colour­ful His­tory will ex­plore the vil­lage’s past up to the 1950s.

The last 60 years have been well recorded, so cu­ra­tor Bob Maysmor re­searched ear­lier sto­ries, many of them shock­ing but for­got­ten, he says.

Take the Plim­mer­ton Mys­tery of 1896, when two bul­let-rid­den skele­tons were found next to a rusty re­volver in the hills above Kare­hana Bay.

A Tawa farmer dis­cov­ered the male and fe­male re­mains with a note that read: ‘‘Who we are it mat­ters not, suf­fice it say we are weary of the world’’, along­side £4 for their burial.

The mys­tery be­came a na­tional sen­sa­tion, with daily up­dates in news­pa­pers, Maysmor says.

It turned out the man was a bank­rupt busi­ness­man who had left his wife and chil­dren for the woman, a bar­maid.

‘‘Ev­ery­thing just be­came too much for him so they de­cided to end their lives to­gether.’’

A more re­cent mys­tery is the iden­tity of an al­leged Ger­man spy who lived in Hon­goeka Bay.

‘‘There’s a lo­cal leg­end, a lo­cal myth, call it what you will, that there was a re­tired Ger­man sea cap­tain liv­ing there.

‘‘He had a pow­er­ful tele­scope and used to spend many hours in a hut on the hill and look out at the sea,’’ Maysmor says.

The man’s hut was closed down in both world wars for fear of spy­ing, but no­body can put a name to him, he says.

A glossy book ac­com­pa­ny­ing the ex­hi­bi­tion, which was re­searched and writ­ten by Maysmor, will be on sale.

Gath­er­ing sto­ries from the Plim­mer­ton Res­i­dents’ As­so­ci­a­tion and from recorded oral his­to­ries was vi­tal in mak­ing the past come alive, Maysmor says.

‘‘For me, his­tory is all about telling sto­ries.

‘‘It’s not about facts and fig­ures and de­tails,’’ he says.

An ex­am­ple is a story un­earthed about a prank some boys played on the night cart man, who col­lected peo­ple’s sewage by horse and cart. The boys un­hitched the cart and it tipped ef­flu­ent all over the street.

‘‘That brings alive the story of the night cart. They didn’t have flush­ing loos, they didn’t have plumb­ing,’’ Maysmor says.

‘‘As a result you get a re­ally in­ter­est­ing, vi­brant ac­count of the past.’’

Plim­mer­ton: A Colour­ful His­tory runs from July 7 till Novem­ber 11 at Pataka. A Plim­mer­ton Day fair will be held on July 7 from 10am till 3pm at Pataka to launch the ex­hi­bi­tion.

Colour­ful his­tory: Old post­cards like this one ad­ver­tis­ing then-scan­dalous mixed-sex swimming will help Pataka tell a vi­brant story of Plim­mer­ton’s past.

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