Newsletter November 2022

Welcome to this November 2022 newsletter and BUMPER Journal.

You will notice that this November 2022 Journal is considerably fatter than normal and “yes” there is a good reason for that. The Whakatane and District Historical
Society has been operating for 70 years. At our next AGM we will be celebrating our 70 th AGM so it is certainly exciting times for such a significant birthday. Many regional historic societies have unfortunately closed but the combined Whakatane and Tauranga societies are very much still strong and in evidence. However as with all such societies their strength does rely upon membership and a few key committee people so please continue to support; maybe be proactive and encourage your friends to become active financial members. Think about joining the
committee to use the strengths I am certain you have; share your knowledge of Bay of Plenty history by writing articles for the Journal. A huge and most sincere thanks to those who do much of the work for us – trip organisation, arranging meetings and venues, gaining guest speakers, coordinating and editing written articles, proof reading, keeping the index uptodate, keeping the finances straight, selling publications, answering requests, editing our biannual Journal, working with other local interest groups, sending emails, posting Journals to both New Zealand and
overseas addresses, working with our website provider, keeping social media uptodate, keeping our constitution and corresponding with national agencies. Yes your society is certainly a big and busy organisation.


Over the last six months we have been somewhat restricted but a number of very
exciting events come quickly to mind. Over some months we have linked with EPIC (Events Promotion Initiatives and Community), Whakatane to feature a considerable number of sites of historical significance within the CBD aiming to encourage visitors into the CBD as well as informing people about some of our history.

The committee is now discussing the success of this venture to plan for future initiatives.

On Sunday 18 September we combined with a number of members of Whakatane U3A History group to visit the Tauarau Marae in Ruatoki and attend their Sunday church service. What a fantastic small Anglican church. Our hosts were most generous with lunch and their stories about the history and significance of the church to their marae. The group then went on to visit the nearby Mission House. A fantastic field trip and thanks to Robert for arranging it.

On 5 October we held another “Picnic like Grandma’s Day” ably assisted by  Whakatane Blue Light and some of the Whakatane High School Interact Club. Dozens of young children with associated parents, grandmas, older siblings
had a fun filled few hours of egg and spoon, sack, three legged and skipping races. Thanks to Allandale Primary School for the use of their grounds, to The Bean Café for supply of hessian sacks and thanks to the other helpers mentioned.

Local events of historical significance

Recently the extended Francis family had a reunion and unveiling of the family grave in the Domain Rd, Whakatane Cemetery. John and Emma Jane Francis settled in Whakatane in 1874 after marrying in Auckland. John had emigrated from England and Emma had been born in Australia. John set up a farrier and blacksmith business near Pohaturoa Rock, CBD, Whakatane. Later his two sons, Thomas and John, set up a carriage building and painting shop in George St. When the renovations of the George St Linen’s warehouse were being undertaken some very large horseshoes were discovered. They also have developed part of the old corrugated iron Francis Bros workshop as their tea room. It is great to see some history retained. On a less pleasant note locals may have noticed the removal of the two mature jacaranda trees from the road verge near the corner of Domain Rd and Commerce St. Research  indicates that these trees must have been close to 100 years old and planted at the time when a number of doctor residences were built in this area. A professional arborist has publically claimed that these two trees were reasonably healthy and not in a condition to be necessarily cut down. Perhaps more of this local history should be retained. It is with sadness that we record the death of Barbara Comiskey (nee Brabant). Barbara was certainly very well
known for her detailed and extensive knowledge of early Whakatane people and her fun filled and generous nature.
The Brabant family have played a long and significant part in the history of the Eastern Bay of Plenty.

Coming Events

On Sunday 20 th November we will visit both the Waimana and Taneatua Cemeteries to learn about some of the early local settlers. This is another of the cemetery visit series that have been arranged by Robert over recent years.
Many will have received an email detailing this fieldtrip. (brief details) . Thanks to those locals and further away relatives who recently came together to restore grave sites at the Taneatua Cemetery – an initiative by the Hughes Place Community Project and the Taneatua Lions Club.

For those who are financial members of the Whakatane and District Historical Society you are welcome to the Summer Garden Party to be held on Sunday 4 th December at 128 Harbour Road starting at 2;00pm

The 70th AGM will be held on Saturday 18 March 2023 in the Knox Church Hall. We are excited to announce that Professor Dame Anne Salmond, the Whakatane and District Historical Society Patron, will be the guest speaker. Please keep this date clear and come and celebrate our birthday with friendly chat, food and birthday
cake. You will not be pressured to join the committee but volunteers welcome!

An important request – please can you check that we have correct details for you regarding postal address as well as maybe phone number and email address. This will mean we can correspond with you!

Have a great end of year break. Hope to see you soon at our various events.

Morley West