Off The Beaten Track in Aotearoa

It’s a road trip – day two

Over our morning cuppa I watched those clouds build up and huddled into my jacket.

The view from our bach at Makorori

The view from our bach at Makorori

Let’s check out Gisborne, I said. It’s only ten minutes drive back along Highway 35. We could wander around the shops, look at the river, and check out Tairawhiti Museum.

The history of early European settlement here, as with many parts of the country, is fraught. I didn’t learn this at school or at Uni. I learned it from a novel – a trilogy actually: The Season of The Jew. Maurice Shadbolt turned me on to my own history. His novels helped me see things with different eyes; from both sides. From reading them I know that every bay, each bend in the rivers, and every street corner has a story to tell.

And they tell those stories well here. So well, we never quite made it to the museum. We got close. Very close, but we got side-tracked, twice.

This cottage, which is next to Tairawhiti museum, was built for Kate Wyllie.

Kate Wyllie's Cottage, Gisborne

Kate Wyllie’s Cottage, Gisborne

It was the first European style cottage on this particular side of the Taruhera river.

The banks of the Turanganui River

The Taruhera River, Gisborne city

The cottage is small; they didn’t have much room to stretch their legs in those days. The stairs are narrow, not the sort anyone would take two at a time.

On display are a range of artefacts from Kate Wyllie’s life, including a Bible with her signature on the fly leaf. She was born in 1840, the year Te Tiriti O Waitangi (The Treaty of Waitangi)  was signed, and was of  European and Rongowhakaata descent. She married James Wyllie, a Scotsman. These circumstances meant she had a foot in both worlds, which can’t always have been easy.

And she knew Te Kooti! The Te Kooti Maurice Shadbolt brought alive for me in his novels.

It was Kate who tried to warn the early settlers that Te Kooti was planning a raid on the tiny settlement of Matawhero.  No-one listened. Fifty-four Maori and European were killed. And Kate’s son, William, was killed a month or so later in a skirmish with Te Kooti.

There are several photos of Kate on display in the cottage. She was rather short. I like that! She may have been a small woman but she was a woman who stood up for what she thought was right. I like that, too.

Actually, she sounds formidable. The younger, more timid me, might have been wary of her, perhaps even intimidated. But this older me would love to sit down with her, to get her talking. I think I’d learn a lot from her. About sticking up for what you believe in. About walking in two worlds. I reckon she’d be a great gossip – wouldn’t it be fun to get the inside low down on all those historical figures she knew.

Oh, for time travel! Too bad that Stephen Hawkins says it not very likely. Otherwise where are all the time travelling tourists – people like me with a yen to know what it was really like, back then?

If you believe places like this might be haunted then I should tell you, despite all the tales of Kate’s formidable character, her home has a friendly atmosphere.

On the other side of the museum is a different sort of house, entirely.

C Company house. The story of our experience there deserves a post of it’s own. Watch out for that on Monday. For now, I’ll tell you that by the time we left it was too late to visit the museum. Maybe tomorrow we said.

We wandered along Gisborne’s main street. The cafe at Muirs, a vey well-known bookshop, was closed. I did buy a book, though, the first actual book in more than a year.

Gisborne, the main street

Gisborne, the main street

Like my home town, Gisborne is quiet outside of the tourist season. It’s easy to imagine Kate Wyllie arguing the toss with one of her opponents not far from this street corner.

Do you enjoy historical novels? What have you learned from them?

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Forces of Nature.”

I’ve submitted this post to Photo101 Rehab, the photos in this post are amongst the first I have shot in RAW format.

65 replies »

  1. Jill, thanks for this wonderful trip back into history. I didn’t know much about it, so it was a great opportunity to learn.
    The photos are gorgeous, and shot raw! Wow, you are up to something. Curious to se more photos.
    Thank much for bringing them to the Photo Rehab. Feel home and welcome! The Clinic is yours.
    Cheers,
    Lucile

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    • Hi Lucile, I’m learning a lot from shooting in RAW. The images do seem to be sharper for one thing. But, I have to watch out for over processing! Thank You for organising and hosting the Photo Rehab – I’m learning a lot from looking at the other’s photos 🙂

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  2. I could certainly have spent a whole day there, and probably not seen half of what I wanted to see. Great story Jill, and I agree about the photography. It is looking very good and sharp.

    Shame that cottage was not haunted. Would you have gone in if told it was haunted?

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  3. This is a fascinating look at history. What an amazing woman Kate was and I think she sounds quite feisty. As I looked at your photos I thought they looked much sharper, maybe I should try raw…, really good composition too with the table top reflecting the blue of the ocean and the pattern on the cup mimicking the clouds in the sky and the last photo is it taken late afternoon? The shadows really take the eye down the street. Look forward to the next post…

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  4. And gorgeous photos they are! I need to increase my comfort level with RAW. I’d never heard of the book ‘The Seaon of The Jew’ so I looked it up and it sounds very interesting! Cheers!

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    • I’m just begging with RAW. So far, I’d have to say I like the increased control it gives … but really when it comes to editing I’m a total newbie. The book is a very interesting read – I found it gripping.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Hey Jill – I have not read historical novels, but it sounds like the trilogy you read was awesome – and the raw format was interesting (going to check that link next) – and liked this

    “She may have been a small woman but she was a woman who stood up for what she thought was right. I like that, too.”

    me too

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  6. I also started RAW a couple of weeks ago, for our trip to Korea, and think it is really fun to play with the editing. I like the shadows in the last imagine! You could have submitted that one for the Tech of the Month too, it’s a perfect example for using the best light of the day!

    Like

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