Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 9, May 1968

An Illustrated History of Everyday Things before 1865

By Alison Drummond and L. R. Drummond, 171 pp $ 2.80 PAULS.

This book is NOT a picture-book, it is a well-illustrated book of the Social history of New Zealand in its early days of settlement. With her capacity for research, and her infinite pains, Mrs. Drummond has produced a volume that could be a companion to her earlier publication of the letters of some of the women-folk of that early colonising period.

The sub-title well indicates what the book is about, and those who know the aptitude of Mrs. Drummond for extracting the essence from letters and diaries, and the ability of Mr. Drummond to make illustrative sketches, will appreciate what is in store. The book does not let us down. It is a careful compilation. No Student of pioneer history should be without it, whether it be the third former doing a Social Studies project, the scholar, or the average reader with an interest in our early history. The book will have added interest for Students with specialised interests - the architect, those interested in old furniture, or in the costumes of the period.

The first Chapter lists the requirements of the settler. The Whalers, and the earlier Missionaries had to depend on ingenuity and imagination to know what requisites would be necessary; later settlers had the benefit of their experience, and could be provided with lists. The interest in these lies in their variation, and those included in the volume make interesting reading.

Under the headings of Food, Shelter, Clothing, much use is made of quotations from letters and diaries, and references to records, and Museum collections. Both references and illustrations cover a wide range of items, and an extensive geographical distribution. And we are reminded by many examples that New Zealand's colonists consisted of peoples of differing national characteristics. We find the English well spread, the Scottish in the north and the South, the Irish in the Bay of Plenty, the French in Akaroa, the Danes in Hawkes Bay, while many settlers, following particular industries - gold, timber, gum, viticulture - came of their own accord from many European Countries.

From the text, we learn how thorough the settlers (or the colonising agency) were in their preparations for emigration to the semi-unknown - even to the extent of taking pre-fabricated houses, and pre-fabricated furniture. We are impressed with the general standard of living; although conditions may have been harsh, and the work hard, it would appear they maintained the standards of comfort to which they were accustomed. We are familiar with such houses as Waimate, KeriKeri, The Elms - but do New Zealand missionaries in the Islands or in India live as well? Even the labourer in his cob house on the wattle and dab [wattle and daub; a building technique. This from http://www.periodproperty.co.uk/article040.htm: An arrangement of small timbers (wattle) form a matrix to support a mud-based filling (daub). The wattles normally comprise of primary timbers or staves, which are held fast within the frame and the secondary timbers or withies, which are nailed to, tied to, or woven around the staves. The daub is applied simultaneously from both sides in damp hand-fulls, pressed into and around the wattle to form a homogenous mass. Historically once the daub had hardened, the surface was normally lime plastered and/or lime washed. - E] was comfortable, if a little crowded. The cottages of armed settlers, and of miners were not by any means sub-standard, as we see from illustrations and know from our travels.

Included in the volume, and scattered through the Chapters, are advertisements, either for local products, or for goods received from overseas. We read a store entry at KeriKeri for goods supplied to Miss Marsden in 1837 - materials, cottons, ribbon, handkerchiefs, a bonnet, etc. The Taranaki Herald for 4-8-52 carries an advertisement for a large variety of foodstuffs ex 'Cresswell', while on August 25th J.H. "intends to expose good fresh butter for sale - "

An additional Chapter of Extracts from the letters of the wife of the Bishop of Nelson describes life in that district from 1859 - 1864; being the letters of a housewife, they describe everyday life, as well as special occasions. Appendices give short biographical notes of persons mentioned in the book, a glossary of Maori words, and notes on some of the illustrations. A bibliography gives a very exhaustive list of material available, and lends colour to our comment that the book is the product of extensive research.


(We deeply regret to learn of Mr. Drummond's death in September last year shortly after they had moved to Kawakawa Bay. Mrs. Drummond's loss is doubly great because she and her husband shared all their creative interests.) Ed.

We are grateful to Mr. Bush for this Review of Mrs. Drummond's book. She is a member of our Society and Mr. Bush is the most competent Secretary of the Tauranga Historical Society. Be has been on the Staff of the Tauranga Boys High School for many years.