Art and area re­mem­bered

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By JIM CHIPP

A bloody bat­tle raged where Pau­ata­hanui’s St Al­ban’s Church now stands, as de­scribed in a new book about Welling­ton’s sig­nif­i­cant build­ings.

Paekakariki au­thor David McGill de­scribes how Ngati Toa set up a mil­i­tary pa where the church now stands in his book The Com­pleat Cityscape, a com­pi­la­tion of col­umns that McGill wrote for The Evening Post.

Each col­umn tells the story of a his­toric build­ing that con­trib­uted to the Welling­ton re­gion’s cul­tural his­tory.

‘‘Most of it has never been pub­lished, apart from in the news­pa­per,’’ McGill said.

‘‘It had dis­ap­peared as a record ex­cept in old, curly news­pa­per files.’’

The orig­i­nal il­lus­tra­tions were sketches by the late Grant Tilly. They have been scanned from fad­ing yel­low newsprint and care­fully dig­i­tally re­stored.

Among the tales in the book are ac­counts of the early Euro­pean set­tle­ment at Pau­ata­hanui, the re­sult­ing build­ings and the in­evitable con­flicts with Maori – the Bat­tle of Pau­ata­hanui.

Set­tlers were mov­ing into the area to take up land they had pur­chased from the New Zealand Com­pany but Maori were not keen to give it up.

‘‘There wasn’t a lot avail­able to Gover­nor Grey,’’ McGill said.

A re­source­ful Royal Navy of­fi­cer, Mid­ship­man McKil­lop had a 12- pound cast- iron can­non mounted on the bow of a small whale boat.

It was the flag­ship of a small flotilla of three row­ing boats, which were heav­ily out­num­bered by Te Rau­paraha’s and Te Rangi­haeata’s larger waka.

To even the odds, McKil­lock pro­tected the sides of his craft by lin­ing them with the crew’s bed- ding, which proved ef­fec­tive pro­tec­tion from the Maori mus­ket balls.

One no­table ex­cep­tion to the book’s fo­cus on build­ings is a col­umn ded­i­cated to Kapiti leg­end Len South­ward. In his book McGill called South­ward the ‘‘ liv­ing his­tory of Welling­ton mo­tor­ing’’.

The in­dus­tri­al­ist and car mu­seum founder was a bit of a hoon at heart.

One of the mu­seum ex­hibits is a Brough Su­pe­rior, ‘‘the Rolls Royce of mo­tor­bikes, which Len wound up to 180kmh at Otaki Beach years ago’’.

Kapiti is home to an­other ex­cep­tion to the sto­ries of build­ings, Welling­ton’s last trams.

Trams oc­cupy no less than four of the col­umns and a fifth is ded­i­cated to trol­ley buses, the other mo­bile ten­ant of Queen El­iz­a­beth Park.

The col­umns and later the book have their ori­gins in the Welling­ton mo­tor­way de­vel­op­ment.

McGill re­turned from a spell

A com­mem­o­ra­tive two mil­lionth Model A Ford at South­wards Car Mu­seum brings back mem­o­ries for au­thor David McGill. Mu­seum founder Len South­ward fea­tured in McGill’s book work­ing as a jour­nal­ist over­seas, to find that the mo­tor­way had ex­tended down Shell Gully in his ab­sence. ‘‘I was shocked to see the mo­tor­way had cut through the old Bolton Street Ceme­tery,’’ he said.

McGill had ear­lier cut his jour­nal­is­tic teeth as a cadet at The Lis­tener and it had been staff prac­tice to take a bot­tle of bub­bly to the ceme­tery for lunch.

‘‘Things were more re­laxed in those days,’’ he said.

He went to work at The Evening Post as in­ves­ti­ga­tions ed­i­tor, in or­der to ex­pe­ri­ence what daily jour­nal­ism was like.

Ed­i­tor Mike Rob­son wanted more from him, so he agreed to write two col­umns a week and as a con­di­tion he de­manded the ser­vices of Tilly to il­lus­trate them.

‘‘When I found a sub­ject that I re­ally en­joyed like the trams, I did as many ar­ti­cles as I could.’’

When McGill re­tired, he moved to Paekakariki to write books, but said he has been busier than ever.

Grant Tilly died in April this year, but McGill was able to take an ad­vance copy of the book to him be­fore he died.

Rich his­tory: Grant Tilly’s re­stored sketch of St Al­ban’s Church.

Mo­tor­ing man:

The Com­pleat Cityscape.

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