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Information sought to fill gaps in Lower Moutere history

March 2nd, 2011
[by Coralie Smith]

Several books have been written about the Upper Moutere area of our district involving the Germans settling at Sarau, Neudorf, Sunrise and Sunset Valleys and the flats north to about the Braeburn area. George McMurtry and Gilly Kemp were the authors of three of these books.

The Motueka Valley has also had intensive study mainly by Ed Stevens but also by many of the families who lived the length of the Motueka River. But there is an area of our district that is lacking in any sort of comprehensive study and that is the Lower Moutere area.

The Motueka and District Historical Association addressed this problem when they met at George and Gwen Bunn's property on the top of the hill above the Lower Moutere school for their February meeting.

A history of the school has been written following three reunions. Families associated with the area have put together bits and pieces about the contribution their members made. The association itself has some newspaper articles, photographs of houses and landscape scenes, a few land records, information on two hotels in the area of the Jubilee Bridge, a scrapbook of a wide variety of items to do with the Lower Moutere as well as memories oral and written from people who have lived there.

We learned from Gerald and Betty Rangi who farmed by the Jubilee bridge and the Moutere stream that there was once a hotel in a corner of their paddock. Rooting up old hop poles and wires was a common occurrence and hop plants still flourish near the stream.

The old well was discovered when the cultivators dug into the edge and the tractor nearly stood on its end. Bits of bottle, glass and crockery confirmed where the Bridge Inn stood before it burnt down about 1886. Its replacement was built across the road and called the Junction Hotel. Nothing remains of it today.

The old Lower Moutere shop across another paddock toward Motueka became a home for Betty's family in 1945. Owned originally by the McGaveston family, it was left with biscuit tins and other grocery items including all the advertising posters for the young Betty to peruse as she lay awake at night fearful of things falling on her if there was an earthquake.

Behind the shop was the McGaveston house. Was this the Mr McGaveston who Betty remembers drove his horse and cart round with his dogs tied to the cart with binder twine? He was the local vet I understand and she can still see him trotting past. Does anyone have a photo of the shop and house?

Even closer to town were the stables and remains of a brewery that had belonged to John Staples. Later the Holland family shifted their house from its flood prone site nearer the stream to this site incorporating some of the tack room into the new shed that was built.

The Harford family and the Brougham family both have strong associations with this part of the Moutere. We have excerpts from the family books to tell us where they lived. The Broughams gateway was in what is now Robinson Road, marked by oak trees. It is thought there were originally palm trees there. Who can tell us or better still has anyone a photograph of them?

The Guy family is another early family who built a house they called Moutere House - but where was it? Can you tell us? Lilian Funnell nee Krammer, who was a descendant of Walter Guy, has written some notes but we need someone to pinpoint exactly where she is talking about. Boats came up the Moutere Stream loaded with goods and in return took farmers goods to Nelson. How far up did they come?

Later in the year we hope to learn more about the history of Mariri to the east and the rest of the Lower Moutere west to Chamberlain Street, along Central Road, along the side roads of Drummonds, Holdaways, Starnes and McBrydies roads and further south along the main highway. We need to find the information before it disappears.

If you can help with any information be it photos, diaries, letters, family histories, newspapers or memories of any period then we would like to hear from you. Contact secretary Coralie Smith, 7 Wakatu Place, Motueka, 03 528 8241.

We would like to know more about these two photos. They were taken in Lower Moutere, but where, and whose were they?

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