Thursday, October 27, 2011

A new project...

It has been a while since I have felt inclined to write here, not for any negative reason, but because my writing time has been colonised by another project - one about which I am both excited and apprehensive. 

I have long believed that every idea that refuses to disappear, that remains tucked at the back of one's consciousness, will have its day. Sometimes that idea just needs a little encouragement, a shove. So it has been here. Back at the end of July I got an out-of-the-blue email from Marion... 

Hi Jane,We digitised this on the library website recently. I thought you might be interested. Ogier Content Manager Digital Library Web Team

This digitised, 1935 booklet about Governors Bay surfaced an idea that had been lurking for some time - that I might write about the communities at the head of Whakaraupo/Lyttelton Harbour - Teddington, Allandale, Ohinetahi, Governors Bay. My first thought was to interview long-standing residents of the 'Head of the Bay' and compile a digital archive. With this idea in mind I contacted David Bundy whom everyone pointed to as the authority on Bay history. In the course of a two-hour conversation, David mentioned the need for a book about the history of the Head of the Bay communities. I sat there and said "I would love to do that". 

Gulp! Here was me, someone who usually does things first and then talks about them afterwards, making a public statement, a commitment of sorts. My response was a measure of just how much the idea energised me. Later an email of encouragement from David...
Hello Jane,
Looked at the Library material sent. Remember most of those names, where they lived etc. How can i encourage you re the proposed book? Have some archive stuff here, a small no. of photos. Anything that is here will be available, would be so glad to see it contribute towards a book. Have done bits & pieces of research but only where it relates to an Historic Project, ie. the Lockup at Allandale and the TB Museum at Lyttelton.
Cheers, David.
The email from Marion, the positive response from David, have been enough to give the idea wings. The reality, of course, is fraught. It is not, as another friend put it, a commercial proposition. It is unlikely to attract a publisher for this reason. And I have to earn a living, however meagre - so it can only ever be a very part-time project. Nevertheless I want to do it - and my writing about it here is testament to that.

It is, perhaps, no coincidence that my blog is named 'Head of the Harbour'.


  1. Hi Jane,

    This is great. Local histories are gems. Have you read Elsie Locke's The end of the harbour? I will keep eyes and ears open for stuff.
    Nice to catch up the other day

  2. Thanks Marion. Very happy to have additional eyes and ears.
    Do you mean The Runaway Settlers? - or Mary Staypelton (sp?)-Smith? Yes to both.
    Was a good catch-up - and I now have the pie recipe :-)))

    Thanks for those positive vibes Niki :-)))

  3. Wahoo! Here's to a great idea having its day. I can feel your energy. It is energizing your Georgia writing friend, who is also dabbling in a creative endeavor that simply would not die. Whether or not your work be published (but I'm sure it WILL) it is worthy work on many levels---for the inherent good that comes of preserving history--because it needs to be done while your resident authority can advise (I, for one, want to know more about him--he sounds fascinating)----for the enriching connections you will make in the course of your interviews---and because it sounds like it will give you a fresh sense of purpose. I love me a daily sense of fresh purpose! (southeastern U.S.A talk) Keep us posted on the work. Cheering you on from Decatur, GA.

  4. 'I love me a daily sense of fresh purpose!' Now there's a phrase to live by! :-)

    Thank you Debby - you have totally grasped the spirit of this work. The 'enriching connections' are already emerging in quite unexpected ways and I will write more about that...

  5. I understand your apprehension. But more so, I envy you the adventure.

    Who knows what characters you'll uncover? No one. That's the beauty of it.

    Hope you'll post about your progress from time to time. I'd love to see bits and pieces through your eyes.

    Go get 'em, Jane.

  6. Kia ora Joe. That is a special koha (gift) to have your support :-)

  7. Sounds good to me :) I did look into the Manson?Gebbie stories at one stage. There are odd tid-bits in a couple of historical books. (Do you have "Banks Pen Tales" and/or Place-names of BP? The later I found especially intriguing. Happy to lend them if you're interested)
    Rex Gebbie might have some leads; Miles Warren lives in "Potts Castle" and may know it's history; there are some Mansons around, I think, still- and also a few local Blatchfords (the first Blatchford was hired as a schoolteacher by the Manson and Gebbie families, in I think, 1851. They had lots of kids- and I think he married one. It was one of the first schools in Canterbury.) You may know all this- anyway- best of luck!

    1. Hi Rob. Found your answer to Jane while scrolling the internet. I'm writing a history also . What is your connection with Mansons/Blatchfords? I'm related to Mansons thru Agnes, Blatchfords Thru William F and Gebbies thru David Gebbie. I'd love to hear from you.Linda.

  8. Thanks for your helpful response Rob - especially as you are right in the middle so to speak! I do have BP Tales and Place names of BP (incidentally Gordon Ogilvie is doing a new version of Place Names of BP). I don't know Rex Gebbie or any Blatchfords but I have recently met with a Manson descendent (must be hundreds of them!) who has written a book - which you are most welcome to borrow if interested. I am interested in following any leads so if you know Rex Gebbie (?) I might be able to follow up with him via you...

    Hope all is well in your world...

  9. Rex Gebbie lives in Gebbies Pass/Teddington. Phone: 859
    Married to Janet, Locky Griffin's daughter, so you'd have found this out anyway. Barry Blatchford used to run GB transport (after Locky). Since they went bust he may be keeping low. His dad (I think) or maybe uncle is still involved in the Teddington quarry- the big scar on the way to the Wheatsheaf, which has provided much of the 'metal' for Peninsula roading. Ra (short for Robert maybe) lived in the harbour, I think.
    Barry is a good talker, if you get him in the right mood, and he told me a bit about the ancestor who came out to be schoolmaster.
    Some info here:

  10. You're a star Rob - you should be writing this, not me!!