Author(s): Carol Dawber
The waterside town of Motueka has always been heavily dependent on its port. Over the years passenger services have operated between Riwaka, Motueka and Nelson, fishing fleets have worked the tides, fertiliser has come in shiploads and hops, tobacco, timber and livestock have gone out over the wharf. In 1955, when shipping was at its height, 276 vessels entered the harbour. There have been two wharves at Motueka and their history involves not only extremes of weather and tide but also intense local politics and a petition to Parliament to enable the formation of the Motueka Harbour Board. This book was commissioned to celebrate the centennial of the present Motueka wharf built in 1916, rebuilt and extended in ferro-cement in 1924 and now owned by Talley's Group Ltd. It records the ships that worked the Tasman Bay port, the people who provisioned, loaded and went to sea in them and the families whose lives were bound up with the wharf.
Last February I helped at a wonderful Motueka community event to mark the centenary of the Motueka wharf. The book, Motueka Wharf: 100 Years by Carol Dawber with the Motueka and Districts Historical Association, was launched before a large crowd on a sunny afternoon with a sparkling sea in the background. In 1916 photos the day looks rather dull, but 'a white ribbon was stretched across the channel and as it was broken a bomb went off to announce that the harbour had been entered.' It was broken by the ship Nikau, which had 'brought dignitaries from Nelson for the event and had stopped outside Motueka to pick up local settlers before coming in.' Not quite that level of excitement on our day, but the book is full of fascinating photographs accompanied by interesting and informative text, which we have come to expect from Carol Dawber. Two of my favourite images are of the horse teams used to build the road across the mudflats - the work 'proceeded slowly because of a shortage of suitable horses and carts.' No Fulton Hogan in those days! A must-have book for anyone interested in local and nautical history. - Jan
Carol Dawber has written a number of top of the South local histories.
The old wharf 1885-1916; The new wharf 1916-1946; Changing times 1947-1977; Private enterprise 1977-2016