Further information on future meetings of the Nelson Historical Society Inc.

2018 Jeff Newport Memorial Essay Prize

Winning Essays from 2017

Congratulations to Matt Price for his essay, The Significance of Te Maatu-Iti to the people of Motueka Throughout History, which will feature in the 2018 Nelson Historical Society Journal. Matt's thorough research and well-written essay earned him a prize of $500 cash. Seirian Tranter of Nelson College for Girls was second-place winner with her essay on The History of Surf Lifesaving in Nelson, taking home a $200 cash prize.

Entries for the 2018 competition are now open. Check the website for the updated competition guidelines, entry form and checklist.
Download the poster here.
Jeff Newport Poster 2018 Jeff Newport Entry Form 2018

Further information on future meetings

April 2018.

Date: Monday, 9 April 2018, 7.30pm
Place: Nelson Masonic Hall, 109 Nile Street (next to Prince Albert Hotel)
Speakers: Hillary and John Mitchell

Topic: The New Zealand Company and Nelson’s Tenths Reserves. The New Zealand Company’s native policy was, for its time, a progressive one. But in practice, the company did not adhere to its own principles. This talk is a follow-up to a field trip about the Motueka Tenths Reserves with the Mitchells in 2017.

April 2018 - Heritage Festival event - Anzac Day

Date: Wednesday 25 April 2018, 11.00am - 3.00pm
Venue: Wall of Remembrance - Founders Heritage Park
Topic: Honouring our WW1 Nurses
60 women with ties to the Province of Nelson served as nurses in WW1. Many of them would return after the war and take prominent roles in the region as they sought to put their normal lives back together. Ten Nurses died when the "Marquette" was sunk by a German torpedo [several Nelson nurses survived] but only one NZ nurse was killed on the Western Front in WW1, and her mother was Charlotte Greenwood of Motueka.
In this Suffrage 125 year it seems a fitting opportunity to acknowledge their service and their suffering. Their names will be marked on the Wall of Remembrance at Founders Heritage Park with a special sticker and some of their stories will be highlighted in panels displayed beside the wall. A well researched book [All Guts No Glory] telling their stories and those of the Chaplains of the Province will be available for sale on the day and author and researcher Cheryl Carnahan will be on hand to help bring their stories to life. The day is being supported by the Nelson Historical Society, the Nelson Branch of the NZ Genealogical Society and Nelson National Council of Women. The day will commence at 11.00am following the commemorative services on Anzac Day.

April 2018 - Heritage Festival event

Date: Thursday 26 April 2018, 4.30pm - 6.00pm
Venue: Albion Square, Nelson (next to Queen's Gardens and Suter Art Gallery, between Bridge and Hardy Streets)
Topic: Ghosts of Albion Square: Government, Gangsters and Gadgets
Discover secrets, uncover mysteries, share stories, and re-live dramas surrounding the people, buildings and sites associated with our central city heritage precinct, Albion Square.
You'll learn about about the fate of the grand Nelson Provincial Government Buildings, the fire engine house that was used as a morgue for the Maungatapu murder victims, the oldest pillar post box still in continuous use, the former Hardy Street Girls School, the survey chain test, the trout hatchery, and much more.
Collect a map from the gazebo in front of the courthouse in Bridge Street, then walk in your own time between the sites in Albion Square. You’ll hear Nelson Historical Society members sharing 10 minute stories about these fascinating relics from the past. (Stories repeated roughly every 15 minutes from 4.30pm).
A free event (koha welcomed).
Bring your children, and spark their interest in our history.
In association with the Nelson City Council's Heritage Festival 2018.

April 2018 - Feild Trip

Date: Saturday 28 April 2018, date changed after the cyclone
Place: Feild Trip to West Golden Bay, including a stop at Golden Bay Museum to visit the Whalery
Topic: Puponga Coal and other industries

May 2018.

Date: Monday, 14 May 2018, 7.30pm
Place: Nelson Masonic Hall, 109 Nile Street (next to Prince Albert Hotel)
Speaker: Gail Collingwood

Topic: “Too hot to handle – a history of ironing”. Gail introduces us to her collection of vintage laundry and ironing implements and questions why we do it?

June 2018. Annual General Meeting

Date: Monday, 11 June 2018, 7.30pm
Place: Nelson Masonic Hall, 109 Nile Street (next to Prince Albert Hotel)
Speaker: Celia McKechnie, recently retired HOD History, Nelson College for Girls

Topic:‘Teaching history to today’s students’. Celia has recently retired from a career teaching History at Nelson College for Girls and will talk about her perspective on ways of engaging new generations to study history.

Brief summary of Past Meetings with associated Resources

12 March 2018.

Speaker: Darryl Gallagher, Curator Photographic Collection, Nelson Provincial Museum

Topic: National Treasure: The Nelson Provincial Museum Photographic Collection, conservation, digitisation, and application.

12 February 2018.

Speaker: Gordon and Penny Taylor, with other members of Histrionics

Topic: Histrionics Theatre Group – Bringing history to life through theatrical dramatisations. You may have seen Histrionics at various events around the region throughout the WWI centennial and other heritage events. We’ll hear how the group came together, be treated to a short dramatization, and view a video clip highlighting the group’s education programmes.


Speaker: Sally Burton [artist] A floor talk by Sally about her newly opened historical art installation, Pale History, which explores the opposing sides of the Wairau Incident. On 17 June 1843, 22 Europeans and four Maori were killed when an armed party of New Zealand Company settlers from Nelson clashed with Ngāti Toa over the purchase of land in the Wairau Valley. The installation showcases life-size figures and paintings depicting the major players on both sides, alongside historical artefacts, documents and artworks related to the incident. This was the first significant armed conflict between Maori and British settlers after the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi.

November 2017.

Date: Monday, 13 November 2017
Speaker: Gwyn Rees discussed the discovery of the sadly neglected Motueka memorial to South African (Boer) War soldier Len Tarrant, his research into Tarrant's life and medal, and the restoration and rededication of the memorial.

Topic: Trooper Leonard Tarrant and the rededication of the Tarrant War Memorial

14 October 2017 - SPECIAL EVENT

Place: Founders Heritage Park, Atawhai Drive, Nelson
Theme: Nelson’s Blackest Day: Passchendaele 12 October 1917

Presenters: The Nelson Historical Society and members Karen Price, Karen Stade, Peter and Myra Millward hosted a public information session and commemorative display at the Fernery (where the WWI commemorative wall is) about the Battle of Passchendaele on 12 October 1917, the day on which Nelson and New Zealand suffered the highest number of fatalities during World War I - 43 in all.

9 October 2017

Speaker: Steve Bagley

Topic: Albion Square, Nelson: the historical seat of provincial government for the Nelson region, now a historic reserve.

11 September 2017

Topic: Members Show and Tell

Speakers: Several members gave short presentations about a variety of intriquing sounding topics. We heard about: Nelson’s Money – The Hardy Street Connection; My Criminal Past – Escapades of an Irish Criminal and Whaler; Tiny Treasures – a Miniature Mobile Memorial; A Short History of the Mouse Trap; Bullseye Founders – The Centre of it All; and Old Nelson: a Postcard History.

MAY Meeting Resource


Speaker: Peter Millward described the process he used in researching WW1 veterans buried at Stoke's Marsden Valley Cemetery and what it can help to tell us about the phases of the war. What started out as a project to map the RSA area expanded to encompass an even larger number of veterans buried elsewhere in the cemetery.
Download the database here.
Marsden Valley database

JULY Meeting Resource

Speakers: Peter Millward & Karen Stade

Topic: The speakers outlined the project that saw the transcription of the war diaries of Cyril Saunderson Spear made available for researchers. Cyril was a journalist for many years with the Nelson Evening Mail.
Download the diaries here.
Cyril Spear WW1 diary