East Cape 7: More small town ghosts and picking up the family trail
We were on the downhill run now to Gisborne but the car detoured off again, this time to Tokomaru Bay. Originally named for sandflies, there’s a bit more going for it these days – in the East Cape sense at least.
Sorry for the big interruption in this series – work has been relentless the last few weeks.
Driving through the small quiet township, we carried on a few more minutes, over a one lane bridge with an extremely vicious speed hump, and out to the old wharf.
Short on time (not to mention disinclined to navigate around drunk people) we gave a wharf walk a miss and explored the freezing works instead.
Fantastic place. This was it back in the day.
There’s an abundance of history at this end of Tokomaru Bay as just along from the freezing works is The NZ Shipping Company building, former home of the Harbour Board. It’s far from being an abandoned ruin based on the reasonably good exterior and the equipment being stored inside, though the weathertightness leaves a lot to be desired.
Driving back through town, I couldn’t resist a few quick snaps of derelict buildings.
Pointed back toward Gisborne again we stayed on course until half an hour out, where one final deviation was planned. Down this side road we picked up the family trail again, with two more places of interest from Dad’s childhood.
We reached Gisborne where the family gathering part of the weekend began. I’ll cover that next time, but there’s one final part to the heritage trail to round out this post.
On the drive back to Wellington a couple of days later we passed through the blink-and-miss-it settlement of Bartletts where the family moved to in 1954. It was a little bigger back then, certainly big enough to require a postmistress which became Nana’s occupation. Here in Bartletts the last of the 10 children was born.
My grandfather died in 1964 (a young 57, and eight years before my arrival into the world) and within a few months Nana moved into Gisborne along with the last of her children still at home. Eight years after my arrival into the world, she passed away. Yesterday was the 34th anniversary of her death.
They are buried together in Gisborne’s Taruheru Cemetery.
hi Hayley, got on to your blog and enjoyed it immensely. what great trip you all had. I will get Ian to have a look at it. Great to have insight, to the Grace family,and their earlier lives . Thanks for thatXX
Tawai, thanks very much – I really appreciate it! Mum and I would like to produce a Grace heritage trail leaflet to send out to family, so that everyone has the info if they ever feel inclined to drive the East Cape. Hopefully we can get onto that in the next few months. x
Hayley, love the photos of the derelict buildings (and Wool Store sign), as well as the nikau tree – is that a local term for palm? Nice to see you back in the blogosphere 😉
Thanks Amit! Good question – the nikau is NZ’s only native palm. I hate letting a week go by without doing something constructive on the blog but I just had to put it on the backburner. I also have a massive backlog of blog reading to do, including yours – hopefully August will have better work-life balance!
Really interesting Hayley loved learning about your family even if I am going backwards with the blogs but couldn’t resist to start reading this one. I know what it’s like when work takes over these things. Loved the Caution sign. I can see the family likeness with your Grandfather. The Nikau Palm is brilliant and all those old buildings not in use! These towns were such busy places and now so empty.
Will continue reading now.
Thank you Janice! Dad looks the most like his dad than any of his brothers (and I think I got my grandfather’s chin/jawline!). The East Cape has so many interesting things and places – it was fun uncovering them and I can’t wait to return with a bit more time. x
It has been such fun going on your family adventure with you – I’m fascinated by the landscape, the plants and THAT tree – The nikau palm, what a beauty. Your pictures ooze atmosphere, really making it real for us, the reader. Fantastic job, Hayley, thank you! I especially love the old buildings with the graffiti paintings. 10 children, can you imagine? 😀
No I cannot imagine having 10 children! 🙂 Especially seeing how mischievous those brothers are when they get together even now. Thanks so much Lottie for your support and comments.
Another great post. Love your photos. Shame that work has been interrupting your blogging. I don’t know how people find the time to blog daily (or even weekly, for that matter!)
Gawd I know, some people are blogging machines. I’m a blogging tortoise :). Many thanks Ali. Your recent posts are in my big backlog to catch up on.
A real ghost town. And I think it’s very quaint in its own way. I am astounded to see there is no trash aong the roads. People there clearly don’t throw our their trash. In my town there is trash along the streets and out on the highways. It is disgusting.
The sign that said, “SLOW” for children ,stock, and old people made me smile. I don’t think one would ever find a sign like that in the US. Great to see that New Zealand cares.
Hi Yvonne, lovely to get your comment. The Tokomaru Bay township does still have a pulse, albeit a slow one, but is most definitely a shadow of its former self. You do get people littering and whatnot here (I’ll never be able to understand what compels this behaviour), but on the whole it’s not too bad. What has been getting a bit of media attention in the past few years are the freedom campers: tourists in their cars or campervans who rock up to places which aren’t sanctioned camping grounds, and hence don’t have any facilities, but where they’re usually able to park overnight free of charge. However, if their vehicles don’t have toilets, they do their business outside in nearby bush or whatever, leaving behind their waste and toilet paper. Now that is disgusting.
Oh gee that is not good with the illegal campers. Trashy folks for sure. I supppose it is happening world wide.
I’ve missed your posts! Hope work slows down for you … eventually. 🙂
That image of the less-than-steady friends was priceless. I hope the bridge wharf stopped spinning for them! 😉
The slow down because of “Children — Stock — Old People” made me almost spray my laptop screen with coffee.
As always, I really enjoyed traveling through your family’s history with you!
Hi Cindi, great to hear from you and I’m sorry I’ve not yet been able to catch up with your posts. I was actually amazed those blokes on the wharf managed to stay on the wharf, given it’s not especially wide. Next weekend we have four days down in Queenstown where I Shall Not Be Taking Any Work – can’t wait!
I love those shots of the weathered buildings, especially that door (9419)
Thanks Tim, it’s a marvellous part of the world for that sort of thing.