Library gets verse about early HB
A collection of verse about early Hawke’s Bay has been given by its author, Mrs Elizabeth M. Nelson, to the Hastings and Havelock North Public Libraries.
Under the title of “The Ghost of Danvers Paddock” Mrs Nelson recounts many glimpses of Hawke’s Bay’s early years.
Mrs Nelson, herself, is a member of a well-known family in Hawke’s Bay.
Her husband, Mr George Nelson, was a civil engineer and authority on river control, and also the surveyor of Napier South. He gave Keirunga Garden to Havelock North.
His father was William Nelson, founder of Nelson’s Freezing Works.
Danvers Paddock itself has a long history. It was owned by the Danvers brothers, who were listed as owning property adjoining Te Mata Rd in 1860.
Mrs I. E. Nolan in her book “Our Village, Our Story,” written for the Havelock North Borough Council, says in the early days of the Town Board the Karituwhenua Creek was known as Danver’s Creek, especially where it crosses Te Mata Rd to run under St Hill’s Lane.
Danvers Paddock, now the domai,n was the site of the first Hawke’s Bay show, held on October 14, 1863.
Mrs Nolan records B. D. Danvers gave the paddock for a “nominal fee.”
Alfred Thornton Danvers, the other brother, was a veterinary surgeon, who moved from Havelock North in 1880 and had his surgery and home at Southland Rd, Hastings.
He was secretary of the Napier Park Racing Club for many years and handicapper for the Gisborne and Wairoa clubs.
Mrs Nelson describes this first show:
“And near the tents
The exhibits and implements
And the sole mechanical device,
A trolly – that in a trice
Could lift right up on to a dray
A bale of wool or truss of hay;
The people saw a ribbon’s gleam
Royal-ing a plowman’s team.”
In the collection are many references to the ‘‘big bush.” Notes accompanying the verse say that the “big bush” was Pakiaka, 100 acres of native trees at Managateretere [Mangateretere] .
She explains that her father-in-law, William Nelson tried to buy it, to preserve, but failed and it was cut down.
The loss she felt is obvious from this extract:
“The big bush of the plain is not
No birdsong hovers o’er the spot,
Alas! it’s loveliness was shorn
From generations yet unborn.”
Mrs Nelson covers many aspects of Hawke’s Bay life in her verse, including the arrival of the mails at Port Ahuriri aboard ‘‘white-winged” ships, the races, fires, floods and earthquakes.
In all her verse she strays from the strictly factual to add something more.
She says of the race. –
“The boys would thrill with sly delight
When a sudden shower, a fight,
Ringed with friends to see fair play,
Would douse the lively days.”
Mrs Nelson wrote for many years simply for pleasure, but the history she has recorded in the collection is valuable.
Its presentation to the libraries in a type-written and bound form will insure it is not lost among a pile of old papers.