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Motueka and Districts Historical Association

Purchase journals

For some interesting summer reading or a novel Motueka Christmas or birthday present, why not consider one of the journals of Motueka's past produced by the Historical Association? Read how to purchase one here.

The Association dates back many years, but was 'reinvigorated' in 1981. We have several parts to our activities:

  • Our mission is to preserve and make available historic records relating to the Motueka area. A large collection of material is held in the Crozier Research Room at the Motueka Museum and is constantly being added to.
  • We hold monthly meetings at which we have a variety of speakers on topics of local interest. In the summer months, our meeting are often trips to sites of historic importance or interest, usually with a relevant speaker.
  • A historical journal is produced from time to time, featuring articles on local families, places and incidents. Find out more about them here.

Monthly meetings are held on the 4th Saturday of the month, in most cases at Community House, Decks Reserve at 1.30pm.

Research Room

Research Room hours:  Open to the public for use during hours of museum operation. Association members available to assist with queries Tuesdays 10am to 3pm.
Enquiries to Coralie Smith 528 8241, email

Association details:


John Drummond

03 543 3730

Vice president

Coralie Smith

528 8241



Kevin York

528 7942


Jennie Askew

528 7309



Maureen Dabinett
Neil Bowdler
Wendy McGregor
Tim Rich
Allan Winslade



Subscription:   $15 per year

Meeting reports:

September 24, 2016:   John Drummond. From Dehra Doon to Buckingham Palace and home again. Like many he never thought he would come back to this district to live but fate has brought him almost full circle.   Read a report of this meeting here »

August 27, 2016:   The Maungatapu Murders. Trevor Squires spoke about the Maungatapu Murders in 1866, and his ancestor Dr William Squire's involvement as Coroner. Dr Squires was the youngest person at twenty five to be Coroner at that time.   Read a report of this meeting here »

July 23, 2016:   David Ogilvie, Community Board member. David spoke on the Motueka Borough Council over the period 1971 to 1989. David spoke about the Amalgamation timeline changes and the Local Government.   Read a report of this meeting here »

May 28, 2016:   Les Stanton, Motueka RSA Welfare Officer. Les' time in the army after being called up for CMT (Compulsory Military Training) in 1954 gave him skills that would be useful in his day to day life, his welfare work and even later his Civil Defence work.   Read a report of this meeting here »

April 16, 2016:   Antiques and Collectables in Richmond. The Packer family have a long association with Nelson being one of the first European families to arrive here. This has guided Rob Packer to collect items to do with Nelson and surrounding districts.   Read a report of this meeting here »

March 26, 2016:   Paul Sangster and a Trip to Takaka. Paul Sangster, TDC councillor, is a great advocate for heritage whether it is preserving and fixing old wharves in Golden Bay and Motueka or serving on committees that run the Golden Bay museums.   Read a report of this meeting here »

November 28, 2015:   End of year lunch. The Riwaka Hotel was once again the venue for the Motueka and Districts Historical Association to celebrate another busy and successful year.   Read a report of this occasion here »

October 24, 2015:   Tom Rowling - a life at sea. Over forty people came to the Historical Association to hear Tom Rowling talk about his life at sea. This was another in a series of talks relating to the history of the Motueka Wharf.   Read a report of this meeting here »

September 26, 2015:   Visit to the WOW Museum. Just for a change we went for an outing in September. It was very timely as Peter Wakeman, a Motueka man, had been announced the night before as winner of the new Art Deco Architecture section and overall winner of the 2015 WOW event in Wellington.   Read a report of this meeting here »

August 22nd, 2015:   History of the Roil family. We were entertained by David Kemp, landscape artist from Mahana. Born at Haumoana in the Hawkes Bay, David is descended from one of Nelson's earliest families. The Roil family emigrated from Alton, Worcestershire arriving in Nelson on the "Bolton" in March 1842.   Read a report of this meeting here »

July 25th, 2015:   Canada's Indian Residential Schools. David MacDonald returned to tell us more on his work with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada set up by the survivors of Canada's Indian Residential Schools. David talked to us last June on his work where he was comparing New Zealand with Canada as far as indigenous peoples were concerned.   Read a report of this meeting here »

June 27th, 2015:   Old Wharf the main concern at AGM. Getting the Old Wharf fixed was a big agenda item at the AGM of the Motueka and District Historical Association, held at Community House on 27 June at 1.30pm.   Read a report of this meeting here »

May 23rd, 2015:   Robbie Williams on Port Motueka. When Tom Rowlings introduced his good friend Robbie Williams to an audience of over 40 people at the Motueka and District Historical Association meeting as the "real Robbie Williams" it was met with laughter and this set the tone of Robbie's talk. The monthly meeting of the Association was aligned with the month-long Motueka 2030 programme of events, reflecting on not only the future of Motueka but also recognising and celebrating its past.   Read a report of this meeting here »

April 25th, 2015:   Ngatimoti Anzac Day. With our monthly meeting falling on Anzac Day the Motueka and District Historical Association decided to join the people of Ngatimoti at their Anzac Day service at 10.30am held in St James Church and then proceeding out to the War Memorial on the same site.   Read a report of this meeting here »

March 28th, 2015:   Visit to Golden Bay Museum. Our members were struck by how many of the Golden Bay community contribute to the museum in the way of building models, researching the exhibitions, adding artistic touches to exhibitions and volunteering for the front desk.   Read a report of this meeting here »

February 15th, 2015:   Combined Historical Groups meeting. All historical type groups from the Nelson Province met on 15th February 2015 at the property of Christine Grieder called Willow Bank. Christine and her husband have put together an eclectic collection of historical buildings into a village like setting lovingly restoring them as well.   Read a report of this meeting here »

October 25th, 2014:   Moves to restore the Tarrant Memorial. When Gwyn Rees settled in Motueka in 2009 he chose to live by the Motueka Estuary. No surprise there as he is a former Royal New Zealand Navy captain. Interested in military history, Gwyn was horrified at the state of the Tarrant Memorial which is close by the Old Wharf. So he set about researching the memorial and the man that it was erected for.   Read a report of this meeting here »

September 27th, 2014:   History of the Salvation Army in Motueka. Best known publicly for her quilting work Bev Dyke will be known by many for the Christmas service held in the stable at the farm run by her husband Eric Dyke on the farm that was formerly run by Bev's father Ray Cresswell and before him his uncles.   Read a report of this meeting here »

August 30th, 2014:   Commemorating the Beginning of World War I. The July meeting was very entertaining with one of the best attendances for some months. The topic was a lead in to the beginning of a series of events to commemorate the beginning of World War One 100 years ago.  Read a report of this meeting here »

July 26th, 2014:   Research by Karen Slade. Karen Stade is a journalist who has worked in radio and newspaper but in more recent times has taken up writing freelance and in particular local history books.   Read a report of this meeting here »

June 24th, 2014:   First Nations: Canada and New Zealand. David MacDonald spoke on his work with First Nations people in Canada and how he is comparing their history and lifestyle to the indigenous people of New Zealand.  Read a report of this meeting here »

May 24th, 2014:   Jim Scott's time on the Motueka Harbour Board. In 1916 Port Motueka had a new wharf built specifically as a fruit port. The former Old Wharf on the estuary just wasn't suitable for the bigger ships.   Read a report of this meeting here »

April 26th, 2014:   Marchwood Park and The Motueka A & P Association. The acting President Raymond Goodall told us the history of the association which was a bit slow off the mark with Takaka and Nelson having run shows since 1897. It was 1935 before Motueka decided it was time to run a local show.   Read a report of this meeting here »

March 22nd, 2014:   Baton River trip. The noise hit us as we got out of our cars just a few kilometres up the Baton River road - the noise of bird song. The bell birds in particular were very loud and clear. The best start for a day learning about the people and history of the Baton Valley.   Read a report of this meeting here »

February 22nd, 2014:   Historic Neudorf. Rain was forecast as we set out for a day at Neudorf. Not far away - just a pleasant 20 minutes away in the hills between Sarau and Rosedale. Settled by mostly German families with names so familiar to us now- Bensemann, Stade, Ewers, Beuke.   Read a report of this meeting here »

October 26th, 2013:   Toys and games of yesteryear. When our speaker had to postpone, it gave the small group of members who turned up on Saturday 26th October 2013 a chance to talk about Toys, Books and Games from their childhood.   Read a report of this meeting here »

September 22nd, 2013:   Motueka's Unilever factory. What surprised me was how long the factory had been there and the number of changes it had gone through from being a dehydration plant supplying American troops during WW2 to apple canning after the war which led into processing vegetables, especially peas.   Read a report of this meeting here »

August 24th, 2013:   George Fairweather Moonlight. Arch Barclay got interested in Moonlight after befriending the Borcovsky family who mined a gold claim in the area Moonlight worked in. The stories they told spurred Arch to find out more about the man and although one booklet had been written by Paton-Boyd most articles just repeated the errors that the first article made.   Read a report of this meeting here »

July 27th, 2013:   Writing local history and family history. The Motueka and District Historical Association were given some tips on writing up their local history from a young, vibrant speaker who prefers personal names are not put online for privacy reasons. The tips are worth sharing so they are included in this article.   Read the meeting tips here »

June 22nd, 2013:   Tasman's apple industry history featured at AGM. The AGM of the Motueka and District Historical Association took place on Saturday 22nd June, when guest speaker Colin Rush told of his family involvement with the apple industry at Tasman.   Read a report of this meeting here »

May 25th, 2013:   York family history in Wairarapa and Motueka. Kevin York has already written the book about his family and presented it to the Motueka and District Historical Association for selling. Called "From Horsepower to Horsepower" it sums up the results of Kevin's research into William Francis York and his descendants and the business William established in Greenwood Street in 1906.   Read a report of this meeting here »

April 27th, 2013:   Ngatimoti visit. Historical guru of the Motueka Valley, Ed Stevens, had invited fellow members of the Motueka Historical Association to come to Ngatimoti and learn more about some of the history there. The people of Ngatimoti will be celebrating 100 years since the Peninsula Bridge was built later this year but we were there to see some other historical places.   Read a report of this meeting here »

March 23rd, 2013:   Upper Moutere visit. Eileen Thawley met the 11 members of the Motueka and District Historical Association who ventured out to hear her talk about two places that are important parts of her and husband Graham's lives - Somerset Cottage and the Moutere Hills Cemetery.   Read a report of this meeting here »

February 23rd, 2013:   History of Brightwater. Twelve members sallied forth on a beautiful February morning to drive to Brightwater and be met by John Dearing ex-drug squad policeman now turned historian. John loves piecing together the coincidences that occur when studying history.   Read a report of this meeting here »

October 27th:   History of Rothmans factory. A big crowd of about 30 people attended the Motueka Historical Association's October meeting last Saturday to hear Geoff Tillson's recount the history of the Rothmans Tobacco Company factory.   Read a report of this meeting here »

September 22nd:   Potted History of Murchison. Most people see Murchison as a place you have your first loo stop at on the way to Christchurch or the last break and cuppa on the way home again. Although you can now travel by car to Murchsion from Motueka in an hour and a half this has only come about in the last few years.   Read a report of this meeting here »

May 26th:   Ex-Drug Squad detective John Deering spoke about how he has carried over his detective work to the history of the NZ Postal Service and one of his more in depth researches was on the Dovedale Post Office.   Read a report of this meeting here »

April 28th:   If you've never been to Dovedale then it's well worth making the effort and going for a drive. On a recent autumn Saturday the Motueka and District Historical Association travelled via Neudorf to the peaceful valley named for the bird of peace.   Read a report of this meeting here »

February 25th 2012:   Hops and apples are ready for harvest once again and as the growers strive to bring in their crops and make a living the Motueka and District Historical Association visited two private properties where the history of these industries are being preserved by two stalwarts who have worked in both of them most of their lives.   Read a report of this meeting here »

November 26th:   When Harry and Bertha Hart opened their modern bakery in 1925 behind Bedford House at 191 High Street which housed their residence, cake and tea shop, little would they know that 87 years later there would be a lane named for them and that the bake house would be a community bar popular with locals after being in operation for only a year.   Read a report of this meeting here »

October 8th:   Tucked away in a very large shed at the back of a residential property is a piece of Motueka history and on Saturday October 8th the Historical Association went to see it. More to the point, we went to the movies - shown on the projectors saved from the fire that destroyed the Majestic Theatre in Motueka in 1983.   Read a report of this meeting here »

August 23rd:   Brian Hickmott took us down memory lane on Saturday when he talked to the Motueka and District Historical Association about the business of McNabb & Co Ltd of which he was the last proprietor.   Read a report of this meeting here »

June 25th:   After the business activity of the Annual General Meeting, Peter Millward, director of the Nelson Provincial Museum, talked about the latest project they have taken on and need help with. The Nelson Provincial Museum has in its care one of the most important photographic collections in New Zealand.   Read a report of this meeting here »

May 28th:   Launch of our new Journal, Volume 7 in the series " ... and so it began, The Continuing story of Motueka" followed by a talk from Trevor Lummis on Lummis Brothers, butchers and Old Motueka.   Read a report of this meeting here »

April:   The upgraded Tasman District Library in Richmond is usually closed on Saturday afternoons but two of the staff, Cathy Vaughn and Karen Dickenson, gave up their day in the garden to give the Motueka Historical Association a guided tour.   Read a report of this meeting here »

March:   The sun wasn't shining as we left Decks Reserve for our day out in Tapawera. Viv Barker was there to greet us as we called in first at the old Stanley Brook School building, which we whizz past on the way to the West Coast or Christchurch but never stop to look at closely.   Read a report plus photos from this meeting here »

February 2011:   An area of our district that is lacking in any sort of comprehensive study is the Lower Moutere area. We addressed this problem when we met at George and Gwen Bunn's property on the top of the hill above the Lower Moutere school.   News report from this meeting here »

November 27th:   What better way could the Motueka and District Historical Association celebrate 30 years since its formation than a picnic lunch in the spacious grounds of a local historical house that was built for a leading settler family 160 years ago.   News report from this meeting here »

October 30th:  We are still celebrating 30 years since the Association began, this month with a slide show of scanned photos from photographs taken by Rana McGlashen over the 30 years. Coralie had scanned the photos into her computer and used the Windows slide show programme through a data projector so that they could be viewed on the wall.   News report from this meeting here »

September 25th:  Many of the members who talked at the September Historical Association meeting were born just as the depression started to make itself felt and only one or two had actual personal memories of that time. Most had to draw on what was passed down through family stories and the lasting attitudes of their parents to money, savings and caring for their families and neighbours.   Full report from this meeting here »

August 28th:  Diana Clark, a descendant of Appo Hocton, researched her great grandfather and although a book has been written about him considers the book as a work in progress. Diana talked very enthusiastically and with great feeling about her forebear.   Full report from this meeting here »

July 24th:  Frosty Goodall talked not only about his latest book "Melody Fingers and Dancing Feet" but also his previous three publications pointing out some of the do's and don't's of publishing. He related some of the things that happened at dances and the local people involved in dance bands.   Full report from this meeting here »

June 26th:  The latest AGM was held and many of those attending were there at the first meeting 30 years ago. They must get an award for commitment and tenacity!! Eileen Thawley and Sydney Daughtrey then gave us an informative talk on the war memorial project.   Photos and report from this meeting here »

May 22nd:  Gold on the Tablelands: Mining has taken place in several places in the Nelson region, the most unusual or remote being the tablelands between Mt Arthur and the Cobb and the ranges further south and west.  Photos and report from this meeting here »

April 24th:  Anzac topic - members presented recollections relating to war experiences at home or abroad.  Read a report of this meeting here »

March 27th:  Visit to Speargrass Station, St Arnaud.  Read a report of this trip here »

February 2010:  Trip to McKee Domain - speaker Fred McKee on history of the domain and the McKee family. Then to Grossi Point - background paper on history of Grossi family.

December 2009:  Christmas function - speaker Tom Rowling on history of Rowlings of Kaiteriteri.