His­tory comes alive

Set­tlers from Scan­di­navia have left their mark on the Mau­riceville area north- east of Master­ton… as Mur­ray Tay­lor found out on a re­cent fund- rais­ing taga­long in the area.

NZ4WD - - NEWS - Story and pho­tos by Mur­ray Tay­lor.

You don’t have to go far ei­ther side of a main road to find some hid­den his­tor­i­cal gems… as Mur­ray Tay­lor did on a re­cent fundraiser north-east of Master­ton. His story on Mau­riceville and en­vi­rons starts

The Far­ri­ers Bar and Eatery car park in Master­ton was my des­ti­na­tion un­der an over­cast sky on Sun­day April 17, my mis­sion to sup­port the Wairarapa divi­sion of the Parkin­son’s So­ci­ety’s an­nual 4WD cross-coun­try fundraiser. Or­gan­ised by the Wairarapa 4WD Club the event of­fers a taga­long-style day trip through farms north-east of Master­ton and at­tracts a wide cross-sec­tion of the low range trans­fer-box-equipped 4WD-driv­ing mem­bers of the pub­lic from near and far. I ar­rived just af­ter 8.00am and af­ter reg­is­ter­ing, and a quick chat with those I knew, we were wel­comed by the pres­i­dent of the Parkin­son’s So­ci­ety Wairarapa Divi­sion Inc. then bid on our way. It was then a case of fol­low-the-leader as we all headed north along State High­way 2, be­fore turn­ing right just af­ter Opake as we headed for Mt Munro Road and our first 4WD sec­tion up through farm land be­hind Mount Bruce.

Barn find

Mt Munro Road took us past an old barn called Schou’s Barn, which was built in the 1870s, by one of the pi­o­neers of the Scan­di­na­vian set­tle­ment of the area, Lars An­der­sen Schou, and is the last sur­viv­ing ex­am­ple of slab hut con­struc­tion in the area. There was also a col­lec­tion of farm equip­ment and a small cot­tage in the fenced off area con­tain­ing the barn. Once back on the road, still on gravel for the most part, we drove past the Methodist Church built by the Nor­we­gians who set­tled in Mau­riceville North as part of the im­mi­gra­tion pro­gramme set in place by Julius Vo­gel’s govern­ment to clear what was then known and the Forty Mile Bush. Orig­i­nal Luther­ans, but en­cour­aged by a vis­it­ing Methodist min­is­ter from Nor­way, Ed­ward Neil­son , they em­braced Method­ism and on July 9 1881 the Nor­we­gian Methodist church was opened. Over 130 years later it is still very much in use as well, with ser­vices held on the fifth Sun­day of any month which has five Sun­days.

Pleas­ant Sun­day drive

The trip was turn­ing into a very pleas­ant Sun­day drive with a lot of the area’s his­tory thrown in along the way. Fur­ther down North Road be­fore we turned right, for in­stance, was a me­mo­rial to the pi­o­neers from Den­mark, Nor­way and Swe­den who first set­tled the Mau­riceville area. Just as we hit the main road into Mau­riceville we turned right across the rail­way line and headed up­hill to­ward the lime works ( lime be­ing a ma­jor ex­port from the area) which has been go­ing since the early days and is still go­ing to­day. We didn’t get to the ac­tual face, but turned right up a 4WD farm track head­ing for the ridge top. The view from the track was back to­wards Mau­riceville and south to­wards Ran­gi­tu­mau, Master­ton and the Wairarapa as a whole and was ex­pan­sive to say the least. Be­fore we hit Dorsets Road ( site of a pop­u­lar lo­cal car club hill climb), a brief stop for morn­ing tea was had, with the com­ment be­ing made that there was a

nat­u­ral cave not far down the hill which ran back un­der­neath the parked ve­hi­cles and came out above the creek be­hind us.

Hold that thought

Nat­u­rally I pricked up my ears when I heard that, though it’s a ref­er­ence to hold for an­other day, as I had not come pre­pared to walk a dark cave, plus time was against us… Af­ter morn­ing tea we headed back onto the gravel road for a short dis­tance as the track turned once again into a 4WD track, fi­nally pass­ing through a gate back onto a gravel road, this time head­ing for the en­trance to Ran­gi­tu­mau’s track and the hill climb ahead. Start­ing at 220 me­tres and climb­ing 600 me­tres in just un­der three km of road, this is a great track to the mi­crowave tower and sta­tion etc, at the top. The tower is used for telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions and ra­dio coms, Civil De­fence and such­like and the hill­top site of­fers a great view of the Wairarapa flats and sur­round­ing ar­eas. Af­ter a rea­son­able time we headed down then back up­hill to a pad­dock for a latish lunch, and time to chat…

Life’s a drag!

Af­ter lunch we headed fur­ther into the farm down a good track which had a few foot­ball sized puff balls, in un­der a line of pine trees, the largest I have ever seen. The track fi­nally ex­isted onto a nor­mal road, our next stop Master­ton’s new Mo­tor­plex In­ter­na­tional Dragstrip via a longish scenic drive. Once we got there we had an on­site pre­sen­ta­tion about the drag strip and its his­tory, along with the pro­pos­als for its fur­ther de­vel­op­ment. A great day out, more of a his­tory/ Sun­day drive than a full-on 4WD trip, but still went and got places one nor­mally would not, so a great thanks to the or­gan­is­ers and prop­erty own­ers for ac­cess.

High above the Wairarapa they climbed...

His­toric Nor­we­gian Methodist Church dates back to 1870s.

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