Craggy Range winery

Coachlines - February 2021

21.02.21 Liveryman Paul Kennerley

From our overseas correspondent: Hawkes Bay, New Zealand

Liveryman Paul Kennerley provides a taste of the history of his local area of Hawkes Bay, New Zealand – the only Coachmaker in the country and indeed perhaps the Southern Hemisphere. Every year Paul organises a NZ Livery members’ dinner which will go ahead this year, if a little low on numbers.

The Hawkes Bay region covers an area of 14,111 sq. km on the east coast of the North Island. In Maori it is known as Te Matau-a-Maui.

On 12th October 1769 Captain Cook sailed into Hawke’s Bay on HMS ENDEAVOUR. On the 15th, after some hydrographic survey work, he named it Hawke’s Bay, after the First Lord of the Admiralty, Sir Edward Hawke of Quiberon Bay. Later, he described it as being some 13 leagues across (40 miles). The Bay is located on the eastern side of the North Island stretching from the Mahia Peninsula to the north and to Cape Kidnappers to the south.

Cook’s local concern were the Maoris, and the level of aggression shown on his arrival, which was heightened when on approaching the Bay the wind had decreased to nothing and canoes came alongside. The men were invited on board and later left the ship, leaving three people behind. The next morning they returned, the crew presumed to collect them, but this did not happen until assurances had been given that, as Cook noted, “we did not eat men”. Another situation later developed on the 15th. Cook recounts that “one of the boats came alongside and offered us some more fish. The boy Tiata, being over the side, they seized him, pulled him into the boat and endeavoured to carry him off: this obliged us to fire upon them, which gave the boy an opportunity to jump overboard. We brought the ship to, lowered a boat into the water and took him up unhurt. This affair occasioned my giving this point of land the name Cape Kidnappers”. It is so called today.

What happened, though, 162 years later was a great tragedy. Hawke’s Bay is seismically one of the most active earthquake areas of New Zealand. Since 1843 there have been six earthquakes with a record of 7.0 or higher on the Richter scale. The Napier earthquake of 7.8 on 3rd February 1931 at a depth of 20km nearly destroyed the city and at least 256 people were killed. There were three other earthquakes on 3rd February as well, ranging from 5.8 to 7.3 in the Napier locality and 525 aftershocks in the following two weeks. It is still New Zealand’s deadliest disaster.

Art Deco exterior in Napier, New Zealand

Art Deco exterior in Napier, New Zealand

This devastated the city but the resulting opportunity to rebuild created an Art Deco icon of many buildings. To rebuild, four rival architectural practices came together to share ideas and the American architect Frank Lloyd Wright influenced the style of rebuild, bringing clean lines and geometric motifs. The designs of E. A. Williams gave some of the most striking buildings, and all contrasted sharply with the ornate style which had preceded them. In January 1933, during the New Napier Carnival the city was declared officially ‘reborn’. The rebuild was funded entirely from within New Zealand. Offers of loans were received from San Francisco and the Bank of England but refused

Not only were so many buildings destroyed but also the landscape changed. As the land rose in the earthquake the sea water was drained, resulting in more than 2,000 hectares of new land being created. Today this is very fertile and productive, the salt water having been flushed out by decades of rain since.

Eskdale Memorial Church

Eskdale Memorial Church

A little north of Napier is the village of Eskdale near the well known Esk Valley winery, on the road to Taupo. Here stands the Eskdale Memorial Church, which was dedicated on 3rd December 1920 in memory of Lt. Beattie, who was killed in action on 4th November 1918 at Le Quesnoy, France. The land for the church was donated by his father and widow and is a fitting memorial to someone killed so close to the Armistice and also to the many other local people killed in WWI.

Le Quesnoy was captured the same day by the New Zealand Division and is of great significance in New Zealand’s history. Not only was it the last action by New Zealand troops in WWI but the method of its capture was different from what might have been expected.

outer walls Le Quesnoy

Part of the outer walls of Le Quesnoy climbed by ladder

The town was an old fortress in a strategic position in north eastern France and had been occupied by German troops since 1914. The New Zealanders had every intention of taking the town on a drive north eastwards – both were achieved. Advancing under considerable fire, they scaled the sheer outer walls by ladder but the inner walls were much higher. The riflemen could only position a ladder on a narrow ledge atop a sluice gate. Led by Lt. Averill, a group climbed to the top, exchanged fire and the garrison surrendered. The town was liberated but also intact because of the medieval tactic used so successfully. Later a military band played suitable “freedom” music.

The significance was that no civilian was killed or injured in the town’s liberation. In abiding recognition and memory of this feat, a strong bond was forged between Le Quesnoy and New Zealand, remaining to this day. ANZAC Day is commemorated in the town each 25th April, the town features New Zealand street and place names with a preschool named after the first man over the ladder, Lt. Leslie Averill.

The three pictures above show Mayor’s residence now owned by the NZ Memorial Museum Trust, part of the outer walls of Le Quesnoy climbed by ladder and poppies growing outside the walls.

Mairie, Le Quesnoy

Mayor’s residence now owned by the NZ Memorial Museum Trust

Today New Zealand is the only Commonwealth country not to have its own visitor centre on the Western Front. The New Zealand Memorial Trust chaired by Sir Don McKinnon has purchased the former Mayor’s residence in Le Quesnoy and now funds are being raised to create a permanent museum and memorial to all New Zealanders who died in both World Wars in Europe. It is hoped that the venue will be opened in mid 2023.
The total population of New Zealand in 1914 had been only some 1 million and the loss of 12,483 lives plus the many severely injured in WWI was a major loss of young people, creating a significant impact on the country’s future development and economy. Recovery had hardly begun when WW2 was declared and again a significant New Zealand contribution was given to the war effort.


Today’s local economy – aerospace, agriculture and wine

Founded in June 2006, Rocket Lab claimed to be the first to launch successfully from the Southern Hemisphere (the Mahia Peninsula) in November 2009 with its ATEA-1 rocket. The industry has grown since the first successful commercial flight by Rocket Lab of its Electron rocket on 11th November 2018 with a launch price quoted of US$5.7m. On 16th December 2018 Rocket Lab launched its first mission for NASA’s ELaNa programme. There are now two launchpads. In 2018 the beginning of the development of reusable first stage technology was made and in December 2019 the reentry systems were tested using a Rocket Lab proprietary aerothermal decelerator on Electron flight 10. The Electron provides launches for small satellites and CubeSats. The Company is now US owned with funding from both the US and New Zealand.

The area is well known for its horticulture (44,200 acres); vineyards on the plains; and on the hills sheep and cattle farming dominate plus some forestry. The largest crops are apples, wine grapes, squash, peas and beans. Apricots and strawberries are also grown and the latter are superb. It is the third largest growing area in New Zealand.

With a dry, temperate climate, long hot summers and cool winters, conditions are ideal for growing grapes. The wine area covers 11,570 acres with 91 operating wineries in 2018 producing some 10% of New Zealand’s wine. The two main vine growing areas are Esk Valley and Gimblett Gravels. The latter terroir has been formed over centuries by the changing course of the Ngaruroro River. Merlot is the main grape grown with Syrah, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris. Many of the wineries provide excellent accommodation with fine restaurants. Craggy Range winery with its restaurant and accommodation in out buildings is pictured at the top of the page.

A little north of Napier is Gisborne, the first place to welcome in a New Year, being approximately two degrees east of Napier and four degrees east of Auckland.

Hawke’s Bay is a marvellous area to visit with long open beaches such as Ocean Beach. Local towns such as Havelock North are very picturesque with good local hotels and restaurants serving local produce.