Thursday, August 25, 2016

Howick Historic Village

Guest post by Stephen Connellan in Howick.

A favourite place to visit and sketch is the Howick Historical Village. It serves as a ‘living history museum’ reflecting Auckland’s colonial period between 1840 -1880. The local iwi of that area were the Ngai Tai people of Tainui descent and had lived there for around 300 years.

The missionary, William Fairburn, bought 40,000 acres of land from Maori with his life savings and in 1840 the government took 36,000 acres for use as ‘Fencible’ settlements and sold most of the remaining land to settlers. Retired soldiers were given land with the understanding that they would act as defence forces should the need arise. The word ‘Fencible’ comes from the word ‘defensible’. They were to serve for seven years in exchange for a cottage and an acre of land. Maori recognised the advantage of such cooperation and trade and Maori labourers built the settlers cottages under Royal Engineers supervision. A total of 721 men along with their families comprised a final total of 2,500 new settlers (many were from Ireland at the time of the famine).

The subject of this sketch at the Historical Village is a ‘sod cottage’ which was built for settlers as semi-permanent accommodation on Fencible farm allotments. The walls were turf block and the roof constructed from kahikatea rafters and nikau palm fronds.

Stephan Connellan is a retired Consultant Physician and now a permanent resident of NZ based in Auckland. He has kept a sketchbook for the last 9 years with a mix of urban, rural and coastal sketches in both UK and NZ and discovered the Urban Sketchers site while reading a book in the local library!

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