66. In and Around Dargaville

We looked all through the Dargaville Museum, enjoying it and taking our time as we usually do when we’re reading new information.

There was a great gum collection and displays about gumdigging and the early Dalmatians in NZ. These settlers started coming in trickles, then due to homesickness wrote home about how great it was, thus enticing more and more of their people to come. Of course that was a ‘yeah, right’ situation as they worked long, hard hours at milling kauri or digging for kauri gum in swamps, often their bodies and clothing were wet. At least the climate was fairly similar to where they had come from.

At first only men came out, and they often married local Māori women or the daughters of other settlers. Sometimes they arranged marriages for themselves, bringing brides out from Dalmatia. Marriage meant they built better houses for themselves and their families, with wooden planks and more room.


Dalmatians brought piano accordians with them and kept up with their music and traditional dance and costumes. There’s still a big festival held in Auckland each year, organised by the descendents of these settlers.
A gumdiggers hut inside the museum – typically they were small and made from canvas sacks, tin and wood, the materials available to them.
Ngāti Whatua apparently submerged this waka in a Far North lake early in the 1800’s after some fighting between two groups of Māori – actually the written explanation was a bit obscure, but I think that’s what it was saying. It didn’t say whether it was made of totara or kauri.
It was interesting to learn about the skelton spade which was developed to be extra strong as the traditional spades of the time kept snapping with the gumdigging work.
The museum is on a hill; this is the view down to the township of Dargaville and Wairoa River below.
The museum has huge grounds with lots of interesting artefacts. At one end lies the site of an old pā and Wesleyan mission/church/cemetery.
Site of old pā grounds.
Here they are, been waiting to see these since we were in Matauri Bay – the masts from the Rainbow Warrior, removed before the ship was laid to rest in the Cavallii Islands and resurrected here in the Dargaville Museum grounds.
A re-enacted gumdiggers camp.
Another day we drove to Trounson Kauri Park, and caught this view of Maunganui Bluff on the coast beyond the Kai iwi Lakes (where we will also soon visit).
As we’ve been seeing bamboo windbreaks everywhere over the north, I thought I’d better photograph one. They seem a great idea – very bendy in the wind so branches can’t snap off, while still providing protection. This is new for us; in the south we usually have poplar or pine windbreaks.
The start of a bamboo windbreak, end on.
We walked the track that runs around inside the Trounson Kauri Park, washing our shoes at the washing station at both ends and keeping on the boardwalks.
The 450 hectares of Trounson Park was gifted to the nation by James Trounson early in the 1900’s as he was concerned at the huge amounts of kauri going through the logging saws – he wanted to ensure some at least was left alone.

It has since been turned into one of New Zealand’s Mainland Islands, actively kept pest-free to prevent the extinction of native plants, birds and insects.
This is original forest; some of the trees here are over 1000 years old. They are beautiful trees, right up there with puriri and pohutukawa.

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