Saturday, March 21, 2009

history lesson

Oh dear, I'm lagging behind a bit....

The day after the Kerikeri trip I was back on the road to the Bay of Islands, but this time with a bus full of school kids! Pukepoto Primary is next door to us and I've been doing volunteer one-to-one reading there with the kids pretty much since I moved here. I only get in once a week now I'm working but I really enjoy my contact with them and they're always glad of an extra pair of hands come excursion time.

The main highlight of the day out was of course watching the dolphins play around the boat we were on - jumping out of the water, swiming along side and underneath us and generally being their usual awe inspiring selves. But apart from that and the boat actually going through the 'Hole in the Rock' the purpose of our day was to get a hands on history lesson.

Now I grew up going to places like Beamish and the Colne Valley Museum etc so Pompallier in Russell as a concept wasn't quite such the novelty for me as it was for the kids and probably most of the adults who went. Being able to wander through a place set up as it would've been in the 1840's, see, and take part in yourself, the processes involved in book making was just mind blowing though for some of the kids. For me it was just great not to see roped off areas and it being a real 'hands on' experience. Whilst the tannery and printing side of things held few surprises for me there were several 'Ahhh! That's how they did it!' moments for me when it came to the bookbinding. It all fitted in rather nicely with the books I've just been reading - Ann Turnbull's No Shame, No Fear and Forged in the Fire set in the days of early Friends against a printing backdrop.

Pompallier is a name I've been familiar with for a while (one of the local schools being named for him) but I'd never really taken in much about Bishop Pompallier. I was impressed to find a Catholic Bishop ensuring that the little known fourth Article of the Treaty of Waitangi got signed which gave equal status to the various religions already present in the islands, of both Maori and Pakeha origin. It's a pity the various Protestant missionaries weren't as open minded to that of 'God already present'.

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