Opened in 1980 and set on 7 acres adjoining Bell House, an elegant two storey home gifted to the historical society by the Bell family and now used as a restaurant, the village portrays a typical Fencible settlement between 1840 and 1880.
|Fencible settlers often had to live in tents while waiting for their cottages to be built. it must have been a shock.|
|Some settlers lived in these raupo huts and had to wear raincoats to bed if it looked like rain! Tough times!|
The Fencibles, the name comes from the word defencible, were retired British soldiers who, together with their wives and children, were offered free passage to New Zealand in order to become a New Zealand defence force. The Fencibles had to be no older than 48, industrious and of good character. They were in effect military reserves in that they were expected to have some other sort of employment to complement their pensions and to be on call if needed. They were supplied with small cottages and an acre of land which became theirs after seven years of service, several of these cottages are now in the village.
|The Puhi Nui Homestead of William McLaughlin (1861)|
|The kitchen in Puhi Nui|
|John Bycroft's Flour Mill (1855) Put a coin in to operate the water wheel.|
|The Howick Courthouse (1848), believed to be the oldest administrative building in New Zealand|
I had a brilliant afternoon wandering the streets of the village. Since the day threatened rain, although none came, there was no more than a handful of other people there and it was quiet and peaceful. I had most of the houses to myself and took my time examining everything and exploring the history of those intrepid early settlers. The Pakuranga school room (not the one pictured) brought back memories of the 100 plus year old school room I was educated in at primary school, now sadly demolished.
|Ararimu Valley School (1876) built from pit-sawn totara|
|Howick Arms (1848) Owen Lynch used one room of his tiny two room cottage as a licensed hotel|
|A view of the village across the lake, note the raupo hut to the right and the fencing to the left|
There is an admission fee , free parking and a cafe on site that does not require an entry fee to the village. There is also a small toy museum where children can experience some of the games played in colonial times and they can marvel in the school rooms at the meticulous hand writing demanded of children back then. Ah those were the days!
|Sweet dreams, baby. A very practical colonial cradle|
I loved my quiet stroll through history. In this crazy modern world it is so good to reflect on quieter times even if the reality is that they were tough. Reflecting and sauntering in peace and tranquility was the perfect way to spend a dull afternoon and I am determined not to leave it so long between visits in the future.