Passing time with Eris Parker

Side by Side

P12504900Waikato Advocate, New Zealand, 24 August 1895

‘The families of two well-known and respected residents of the Cambridge district have during the week been plunged in grief under circumstances peculiarly affecting. Late on Saturday evening Miss Kate Fitzgerald succumbed to a lingering illness – from consumption.

‘She had been engaged to Mr R B Bridgman and her rapidly failing health was not without its effect upon her lover. The shock produced upon him by her death was more than his enfeebled health could bear and he quickly followed, dying in convulsions on Monday.’

[Romeo and Juliet – surely!?  But there was no Coroners’ Report.]

‘The last offices of religion were performed by the Rev. L Hudson and the remains of the young people were buried in the one grave.’

They share the same headstone –

In Loving Memory of Katie third daughter of H & A Fitzgerald died 17 August 1895 aged 28

‘I will fear no evil for thou art with me

Thy rod and thy staff comfort me.’

Also Richard B Bridgman second son of J Bridgman died 19 August 1895 aged 29

‘’Tis but a voice that Jesus sends to call them to his arms.’

New Zealand Soldier’s Dog Tag

Army Dog Tags

In the Cambridge Historical Society collection at the Cambridge Museum, there is a round disc about 5 cm in diameter. It has a hole at the top and a number 29477 and the letters NZ and P.

It was donated to the Museum along with other buttons and badges sewn onto a fabric belt that has ‘Gloire aux Allies’ sewn into it.

After some research it has been found that this disc belonged to one of our Cambridge soldiers who died in World War One. John Preston was born 27 June 1891 to parents William and Nancy Preston. John was a farmer at Horahora when he enlisted in the New Zealand Rifle Brigade on 27 June 1916. He was Killed in Action 7 June 1917 and is listed on the Messines Ridge Memorial in France.

The P stands for Presbyterian.

Kumera Pits. Cambridge NZ

Kumera Pits

We are standing on the remains of Kumera Pits on the banks of the Waikato River in New Zealand. (S15/ 96 New Zealand Archaeological Association.)

There is a depression (a partially filled in ditch) running from the river into a steep gully with a stream at the bottom.  Within the site are signs of ‘sweet potato’ kumera pits and east of our position are more features relating to the pa site.

Further west along the river bank, on Addison Street, was the pa site and although it was registered with the New Zealand Archaeological Association (S15/94) it has been bulldozed and built upon.

The lookout pa (S15/94) is to the southeast of these pits.

Access to the lookout pa is up a steep, mucky farm track and during the school holidays I took two of my grandchildren up to this  site.

Acacia trees have now been planted on both sides of this pa site’s defensive ditch.

Masonic Hotel NZ

Masonic Hotel Cambridge New Zealand

The new Masonic Hotel in Duke Street, Cambridge was officially opened  23 October 1912.  It was built in brick and described as a very  commodious and up to date building. It compared more than favorably with any licensed house in the Auckland province.
‘The entrance hall is wide and roomy with a handsome staircase leading to the upper storey. Effective diffused light is afforded by handsome stain glassed windows overhead. Upstairs is the drawing room, most artistically and daintily furnished, whilst a cosy lounge leads out onto a balcony.

‘The dining room with kitchen is situated on the ground floor at the east end of the building and is capable of seating sixty persons. Adjacent is the commercial room and a reception room. A large public bar forms the west end of the building with a cosy private bar, a large clubrooms also being near at hand.’

‘As a structure, the house is eminent testimony of thorough workmanship carried out by the builder, Mr Fred Potts.’

Walkies – Cambridge NZ

The Duke spent 10 days holiday with me while Daughter sunned herself on a tropical island.

It rained in New Zealand and daily walkies had to be before work. And I wasn’t leaving a smelly dog inside my house all day. As I drove off The Duke started barking. Then howling like a baby. I rang my neighbour when I got to work but all was well. He just told The Duke to SHUT UP.



On the weekends we went trekking. At the bottom of the hill at the Agility Park, there is the fenced in Settling Pond from the old rubbish dump and a storm water drain. The Duke loves the idea of this drain, and a lot of yelling on my part has so far, kept him out of the mire. Other smells catch his attention and the bird life catches mine.

Not so the Cemetery Walk. The Duke flies down the steep steps and is away in the bushes by the time I get down. I call him back and he bounds into a wet mucky hole. OMG! He’s sunk to his underbelly. He looks up at me. NO WAY, I’M NOT GETTING IN THERE.  Flounder, flounder, flounder.  Shake, shake, shake.
Into the fast running stream and he’s soon washed clean. I hear a noise in the trees and let The Duke snuffle ahead. I sneak up on a Kereru.


Up at the Maungakawa Reserve there is a myriad of new smells. The Duke loses me pretty quickly as I’m captured by the host of tuis drinking from the spring blossoms. I reluctantly follow The Duke’s disappearing tail and I come across him chewing on something. OMG a dead possum. GET THE H… OUT OF THAT!  It’s got to be poisoned! How do I tell Daughter I killed her dog!  But no. We find a new path that the Department of Conservation has put through the bush.

All of a sudden The Duke is prancing up and down in the undergrowth. There’s a smile on his face.  Scurry scurry. It’s a rat. The Duke lands on it a couple of times but springs off as he doesn’t really know what to do with it.


Then, surprising both of us, the rat climbs a tree. The rain starts coming down heavier and two bedraggled bodies head for the car.

Cambridge Library

Cambridge Library Est. 1872

A library for Cambridge New Zealand residents was initiated by the Armed Constabulary forces (who were stationed in Cambridge from 1867) and was operated by James Mumford. Unfortunately this arrangement did not continue for long as most of the force was sent to districts where their services were more urgently required. The school and library, housed in the military building in Fort Street closed down.

The Cambridge Public Library came into existence in July 1872. It was housed in the new primary school in Duke Street with James Hally as chairman and William Cunningham as secretary – treasurer.

There were 30 subscribers and they collected enough money to buy a few hundred volumes ‘all really good and readable works’. Mr James Stuart (the school’s headmaster) acted as honorary librarian.

The library was incorporated on 16 July 1879 with William Rout as Chairman and William Willis, Thos Wells, Geo Clark, R C Dyer as Trustees and J S Masters as librarian. The library moved to a disused immigrant cottage on Victoria  Street near the Post Office.

A proposal for a new library building was included with the Town Hall plans in 1909 and the mayor, W F Buckland, wrote to Andrew Carnegie asking for a grant of £1000. The Library committee got their nose out of joint and opposed the grant saying they had a nucleus of £76 / 13 / 7d and didn’t need handouts.

The grant arrived, the Carnegie Library was built (Information Office today) and the Council took over the running of the Library.

Maungakawa in spring

Daffodils in Spring

The bird life on Maungakawa Reserve, just north of Cambridge New Zealand, is amazing. When the berries are ripe, the tuis warn each other as we approach. Then there is the whoomp whoomp of the wood pigeons as they move from tree to tree. Fantails flitter around us gleefully snatching at the insects.

The Duke doesn’t bother with birds – there’s too many interesting smells on the ground.

When the Thornton family built their house on this hill in 1891 Tom Brown was employed as their gardener. His legacy is still seen at the entrance to the reserve – boxus, laurel, camellias, rhododendrons, conifer, privet grandiflora and mulberry.

Off to the left of the drive is a very old ash playing host to some orchids. Down through a pathway is found a fan palm, porapora and another very old laurel and magnolia.

Up by the trig there is native regrowth  –  cabbage trees, rewarewa, mahoe, mangeao, houhere, flax etc.  Behind the fence by the Gudex Memorial are cedar deodora, ash, kowhai (planted 1992); ferns, orchids and kiekie growing on host trees; and honeysuckle, rangiora and alearia. And the daffodils in the spring are beautiful.

%d bloggers like this: