Saturday, December 31, 2011

The First Train to run in New Zealand

I came across this image when I was searching for something completely unrelated in the ATL Library site. According to the information that was provided with this image this is the first train to run in New Zealand.

'Pilgrim' as she was called pulled the first train in New Zealand between Christchurch and Ferrymead on 1st December 1863 with much ceremony on behalf of the people of Christchurch.

"..Going down the line we found the engine in a state of polished brass and oiliness, and apparently totally indifferent to the excitement which pervaded everything else. We were informed that it is from the workshop of Messrs Slaughter, Gunning and Co., of Bristol, that its power represented about 50 horses, that the action was reversible, so as to render turning unnecessary, that its curious inverted conical funnel was constructed so as to catch the sparks as they fly upwards, and that it could draw with ease a weight of 200 tons 

The passenger carriages, of which there are four, two first-class and two second-class, are rather comfortably than expensively fitted they are built of Australian timber, in a very substantial manner, with all the latest improvements, and are from the manufactory of W. Williams, Melbourne. Besides these there are about 30 box and ballast waggons. It is expected that the rolling stock already on hand will meet the requirements of all the traffic which will pass over the line for some time to come, but another engine is on its way from England, and other stock will be procured as soon as necessary. 

We were shown through the offices, & c., which contrast in a very favorable manner with some of the Government offices at Christchurch the Indies waiting room is very neat and chastely furnished, although as may be supposed rather small. The engine shed is a commodious building of timber and corrugated iron, the same may he said of the wool shed in short the whole of the arrangements seem eminently adapted to the purposes they are to serve..."

Depiction of the opening of New Zealand's first railway on 1st December 1863

The Ferrymead to Christchurch line according to Wikipedia became a branch line after the construction of the Lyttleton Tunnel. With the opening of the Lyttleton line (9 December 1867) Ferrymead's days were numbered. By 1868 it had become a siding with the buildings removed to Christchurch and Heathcote.

Ferrymead is now a historic heritage railway run the Canterbury Railway Society. You can view their website here

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Remembering the monument to Opo

Back in October of 2011 the iconic memorial statue to Opo the Dolphin was a victim of careless vandalism. The head of the boy was broken off and there had been hopes that it could be restored. However it seems the memorial will be replaced. Plans reported in December of 2011 have indicated that it's a possibility that the monument will be replaced with a bronze version.

The monument was created in 1960 by significant New Zealand sculptor Russell Clark from Hinuera stone. Over the years since the statue has been one of the most photographed icons in Northland. The images you see here I took in 2009, when I took a trip up to Hokianga with my two children. Then it was still intact. Opo's replacement was mooted because of the statue's fragile and weathered state. I still think it should be repaired and perhaps preserved in a more secure situation. It's far too important to vanish from the Opononi township and end up in storage somewhere. I hope that will not be one of the options being considered. The memorial was a work of  love. I was 9 when I first saw the memorial and my father told me the story of Opo the friendly dolphin who had come to play with the children in the harbour during the summer of 1955/56. Opo was later found dead on some rocks a possible victim of dynamite fishing by careless boaties. The true cause was never established. But she remains as an iconic part of Northland's history.

Let's hope that in the near future Opo is restored with her friend the boy back to their original state as best as can be possible. If a new monument is put in place then I hope it reflects the true spirit of the dolphin that captured the hearts and minds of an entire nation and the world if only for a few brief years.