Porirua history comes alive
Linda Fordyce has been talking about Porirua’s history for a long time, but it never gets boring.
Pataka’s education officer is in the busy period of her popular Porirua history First Footprints tour with schools. She recently took a group of school principals on the tour as well.
‘‘ They [ the principals] really enjoyed it. I don’t think you can ever know too much about the history of where you’re from, or where you work. Doing these tours is the best part of my job.’’
Last week, Fordyce took Class SJ from Discovery School, year 7 and 8 on the First Footprints tour.
The bus tour began at the school in Whitby, went to the site of a whaling station in Titahi Bay, near the wastewater treatment plant, stopped off at the Paremata Barracks on Ngatitoa Domain, then Plimmerton, before ending at St Alban’s Church in Pauatahanui.
Fordyce asked the pupils, parents and staff to use their ‘‘eyes of the past’’ to imagine what life was like in Porirua from the 1830s till the 1860s.
She supplemented imagination with some sketches and maps of the times, including wonderful pictures of a bare Ngatitoa Domain and Te Rauparaha in his famous British naval uniform.
‘‘You have to make it interactive and interesting or you can bore the pants off the kids,’’ she said.
‘‘What I’m trying to get across is that with the whaling and the Maori population here, Porirua was of huge strategic importance, much more so than Wellington.
‘‘Out there [Mana and Kapiti islands and Cook Strait] was the State Highway 1 of travel in those days, and whaling led to those first European/Maori contacts.’’
Having a boys versus girls parade competition near the Paremata Barracks was fun for the Discovery pupils – with the girls the resounding winners.
Emma Waine said Fordyce made learning about the past fun and interesting. ‘‘It’s really cool imagining what it was like then.’’
Ben Ainsley and Chris Scheepers said the tour was a valuable experience.
‘‘ I loved hearing about Te Rauparaha being held hostage and the whaling,’’ Ben said.
Some of the most interesting facts that pupils noted included:
The bush line coming down Colonial Knob was one of the earliest map lines, from 1841.
High tide in Porirua used to come up to where the library is now.
On very low tides you could walk from the mainland to Mana Island.
Cook Strait whaling was New Zealand’s first industry.
Ngatitoa Domain is Wellington’s oldest settled site.
Attenshun!: Linda Fordyce leads the parade at Ngatitoa Domain.
Historical site: A little cove in Titahi Bay, near the wastewater treatment plant, where whales were brought ashore by whalers.
Ngatitoa: Linda Fordyce gives Discovery School students a rundown on the
history of Paremata Barracks.
Making notes: Emma Waine, left, and Jemma Bezuidenhout make notes after one of the tour stops.
Talking history: Linda Fordyce in full flow on the bus.