How is the River?: A Takaka Valley History: 2017

Author(s): Jane McDonald

NZ History

Family-based history covering pioneering settlement in Golden Bay. Includes farming, timber and marble industries, infrastructure development, local body politics. church and community life.


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How is the River? When pioneer settlers in the Takaka Valley met up with each other they always asked, "How is the river?" It was a vital question because there were no bridges. They crossed the Takaka, Waingaro and Anatoki rivers on horseback, on wagons and drays or in wooden canoes, and when the rivers were in flood it was wise not to attempt a crossing at all. Many travellers were drowned in the mid to late 1800s, many others sought refuge in private homes along the way and many business and community events were disrupted or cancelled because the rivers were too high. George and Harriet Sparrow bought land in Golden Bay in 1857. He was a Justice of the Peace, a veterinarian and stock inspector and a member of the Nelson Provincial Council and the Takaka Road Board. He and his family lobbied hard for roads and bridges and were prominent in the drives to get schools, churches and the tramway established. Author Jane McDonald nee Sparrow is also a Golden Bay JP and is a former collections and archives manager at the Golden Bay Museum. She has used her considerable research skills to build a comprehensive picture of the day to day lives of Takaka pioneers, drawing not only on newspaper archives but also on family letters, diaries and anecdotes passed down through the generations. Her story covers five generations, two world wars and the rise and fall of the timber, marble and sheep industries and offers an insight not only into the social and commercial worlds of Golden Bay settlers but also their ongoing exploration and appreciation of the surrounding hinterlands. This 248-page local history has a comprehensive index and bibliography and includes over 100 black and white photographs.

Jane McDonald is a sixth generation descendant of pioneer Golden Bay settlers George and Harriet Sparrow. She has been a teacher, researcher and archivist and now lives in Golden Bay.

Prologue 13 The Emigrants 15 The Journey to New Zealand 19 A Home by the River 27 Early Days in Massacre Bay 37 A Political Voice 49 George Sparrow, JP and Coroner 65 Country Vet and Stock Inspector 77 Keeping the Faith 83 The Battle with Nature 97 The Takaka Tramway 105 Life in The Valley 117 Education and Advancement 127 Charlotte's Diaries 141 The Sheep Industry 157 The Marble Industry 171 Men at War 179 The Last Years 201 In Their Footsteps 221 Epilogue 231 Endnotes 233 Bibliography 238 Index 240

General Fields

  • : 9780994123428
  • : River Press
  • : River Press
  • : November 2017
  • : 240mm X 180mm X 18mm
  • : New Zealand
  • : November 2017
  • : July 2020
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Jane McDonald
  • : Paperback
  • : 248
  • : 100 black and white photographs