Translated from Maori — Puketitiri means, "the hills over which the mutton birds flew."
For their end-of-year coach tour in November, Hawke's Bay Founders were delighted to explore the hinterland of Napier and learn from a settler's descendant some intriguing snippets on how the bush was broken into farmland.
The Puketitiri valley is 54 km north-west of Napier and is tucked into the eastern flank of the Kaweka Range. On this trip, Hawke's Bay Founders followed the same route taken by the early settlers as they made their way from Napier on the coast, through the Rissington district and up into the foothills. The first settler moved into this area in 1860.
Pam Turner, a long time resident of Puketitiri and historian for the area, told the group that the Puketitiri valley was once recognised as having the largest (20,000 acres) and most dense stand of podocarp forest in New Zealand. This attracted saw millers and the native timber industry was prominent until the 1930s.
Bullock teams and wagons were commonly used for heavy haulage of goods, produce and timber and horse and coach plied the roads for human transport.
Following lunch at the Puketitiri Golf and Country Club and announcements by Paddy Bayley, the group moved on to Balls Clearing and Scenic Reserve where many took to the walking tracks to explore this precious stand of virgin native forest. Native trees such as rimu, matai, kahikatea and miro abound. The reserve was named after Jack Ball, a colourful character from the area's settler past.
As in Puketitiri and wherever there was tall bush, owing to a strong demand for native timbers and for cleared land for farming, the axe, saw and burning resulted in most of the bush gone between 1870 and 1890. The last of the Puketitiri timber mills closed in 1942.
Historical photographs — Puketitiri
Mrs G Turner using a Norwegian spinning wheel (1921).
Puketitiri Farmers' Cricket Team (1923). Their main rival team was the millhands from the local sawmills.
Mr Henry Carston, a highly respected teacher at the Puketitiri sole charge primary school (1921).
… and in the present day
Kaweka foothills viewed from the Puketitiri Golf Course and Country Club.
Afternoon tea at Balls Clearing. Dispensing an excellent Christmas cake are Hawke's Bay Founders, (from left), Kath La Rooy, branch vice president, Richard Bayley, branch secretary, Paddy Bayley, national and Hawke's Bay branch Founders president and Stephanie Drew, branch committee member and designer for the Founders Bulletin and for new items of Founders livery.
George Foulds, 100 years of age, enjoying afternoon tea at Balls Clearing.
Hawke's Bay Founders, Brenda Ebbeling (left) and Margaret Watt, marvel at the size and age of this giant kahikatea.
Giant native trees in the Balls Clearing Scenic Reserve.