History shifts as you look at it. It twists and coils into unexpected shapes: suddenly, rapidly, continuously like a snake darting through stones. –Felipe Fernandez: Armesto, Oxford Professor of Modern History

In this issue

  • Feedback on Sir Kim Workman’s talk in June
  • The upcoming July session – John Robinson on Kapiti and the Musket Wars -Tuesday 28 July
  • Confirmed sessions for the rest of 2020
  • Bastille Day

Thanks to our June speaker: Sir Kim Workman

We had a full house of forty-eight people along to hear Sir Kim speaking on being brought up with a mix of Maori and Scottish heritage – dating back to a Ngai Tara woman and whaler John Stanton Workman.

It was a fascinating talk which covered Kim’s origins and getting to know his Maori background, his early life in the Wairarapa and Kapiti, and his time in the police force and justice system. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the session.

(Thanks to the gentleman who raced home to get a laptop so we could see Kim’s visuals!)

The July speaker – John Robinson

The Musket Wars; Kapiti in New Zealand history.

Although the Musket Wars in the first four decades of the nineteenth century were turbulent, bloody and destructive, with the collapse of native society and a population reduction of around one-half, that period is almost written out of current historical accounts.

During that period, the mass organisation of allied tribes and the use of increasing numbers of muskets extended the already existing general state of war between tribes.  The Kapiti region was completely transformed.  Two great war parties from the north swept through, killing many and driving others into the hills.

The resident tribes were weakened and easy prey for a series of northern tribes who had been driven south from their homes by their more powerful enemies.

They came in a number of migrations and conquered Kapiti, and then went on to attack other groups in the South Island, destroying a number of tribes in bloodthirsty fighting followed by cannibal feasts. Subsequently over-crowding in the Kapiti area led to arguments and savage battles among those newcomers, between Otaki and Waikanae.

Tuesday 28 July at 7.30 pm
Kapiti Uniting Church, 10 Weka Road, Raumati Beach
Gold coin koha. Thanks. 
A light supper will be served following the talk.

(John’s book is available from Paper Plus for $30 or can be bought online from the Tross Publishing website.)

Confirmed speakers and topics for the rest of 2020

August 25 – Wendy Huston on Seven Oaks, the first retirement village in Paraparaumu.
September 22 – Anthony Dreaver on the former Otaki Health Camp and its historical buildings.
October 27 – Hari Jackson on his Kapiti heritage.
November 17 – Bruce Taylor will speak on “A History of the Wellington to Manawatu Railway with particular reference to the impact on Kapiti, 1870s to present.”
December 15 – David Hadfield on a topic related to his Kapiti heritage.
Suggestions for topics and speakers are always very welcome.

Bastille Day

Revolution francaise

Last Tuesday was Bastille Day, France’s national holiday. On 14 July, 231 years ago, the infamous fortress and prison in Paris, known as the Bastille, was captured by revolutionaries. This event symbolised the fall of the autocratic government of Louis XVI and the start of the bloody French Revolution.

In mid-summer 1789, rising dissatisfaction with the oppressive government, high taxes and food shortages led to an uprising in Paris. At dawn on July 14, a great crowd armed with muskets, swords, and assorted other weapons began to gather around the Bastille. They were soon joined by more angry Parisians. After holding back the mob for a short time, the Bastille’s military governor, Bernard-René Jordan de Launay, realising his situation was hopeless raised the white flag. Launay and his men were taken into custody, the Bastille’s gunpowder and cannons were seized, and the seven prisoners were freed.

Three years on from the fall of the Bastille, the country would get a new national song. With war having been declared war on Austria, the Mayor of Strasbourg in Eastern France pointed out the need of a marching song for the revolutionary armies. A captain in the engineers, Claude-Joseph Rouget de Lisle, duly obliged and on 24 April 1792 composed La Marseillaise.

If you want to hear a passionate rendition, go here 

The on-going organisation for 2020

Essentially we are continuing on the same basis as in 2019 with monthly speakers on a Tuesday evening. A gold coin koha at these sessions covers our expenses, so there are no subscriptions and no need for an AGM.

If you are on the mailing list you are a member.

Roger Childs and John Robinson, Coordinators of the Kapiti Historical Society