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.