Topic: Katikati Archives by Ellen McCormack
This brief history of the Katikati Archive was written by Katikati Historian Ellen McCormack on 29 January 2009.
In 1967 I attended a lecture by Professor Paul Day of Waikato University. His subject was John Mulgan who was a descendant of Rev and Mrs. Mulgan who were early Katikati settlers. Professor Day was married to John Mulgan’s widow Gabrielle.
His lecture inspired me to collect all books and articles relating to the Mulgan family. A member of the Mulgan family had married into Canon Johnston’s family so the research extended to the Johnston’s. My own ancestors the Macmillan’s also married into Canon Johnston’s family and there were many more links within the area, so the research extended in all directions. George Vesey Stewart’s name was central in all research and so 42 years ago the Katikati Archive began.
My Mother, Alice Macmillan was a great hoarder who had kept masses of data relating to Katikati so much more was added to the Archive. Rita Hume was a member of the Noble Johnston family. Her family donated over one hundred years of Katikati history to the files. These items have all been photocopied and filed. These projects alone with my husband’s help took nearly a year to complete.
Warren Harding donated a trailer load of old newspapers mainly relating to Katikati and another huge project began. Many more names could be added to this list of massive donations.
In the meantime more research was needed to tie many of the stories together so I started copying everything from the Bay of Plenty Times from 1874 onwards. Every page cost a dollar to copy at the Tauranga Library. Each item had to be recopied to be filed in the appropriate place in the Archive [over the years we have completely worn out two photocopiers].
In the early 1990’s a move was made to establish an Historical Society in Katikati. I took some of our work to the meeting in the Anglican hall but there was not very much interest so Wayne and I continued on our own.
Next we copied all the school rolls from 1878 to the 1940’s and numerous other early historical documents to be able to assist researchers’ as our private archive had become well known in Northern Ireland through Noel Mitchel from Queen’s University, Belfast. Noel had made many visits to New Zealand with a particular interest in Katikati and the Athenree Homestead [Wayne and I have always been involved with the restoration of the Homestead].
The Murals were now beginning to raise awareness of the town’s history so in 1995 I decided to speak with Inez Cooper and she gave me a bookshelf in her office to store the files etc and so began my visits to Katikati each Monday. By 1999 the bookshelf was full and the “powers that be” decided there was no further room and that all organizations in the town should keep their own material and they were asked to collect it from the Archive. This was a very backward step so I started to look elsewhere for assistance.
The Museum was being established so I assisted with giving copies of photos and other data from the Archive and helped with creating many of the displays that are still at the Museum today.
At this stage Sue and Kit Wilson became aware of the archive and approached the W.B.O.P District Council for support. No funds were available but after much discussion our present Archive room was made available [on a limited basis] and in 2001 I formally gave all files, bookcases, filing cabinets, indexes and everything else to do with the Archive to the W.B.O.P. District Council.
$500 per year for photocopying on the Library photocopier was donated by the Council to the Archive [at the full price of 20 cents per copy]. This did not go far and so we continued to pay for photocopying and all other costs. The Wilson’s organized the Archive to operate under the Focus Trust to be able to receive funding and that arrangement still continues.
In 2006 Don Barnes volunteered to set up a data base for the Archive and he has been achieving this with his own group of volunteers.
Dianne Connelly-Cook and Marleen Gillingham are the present valuable volunteers in the Archive plus we have several others who assist with various other activities.
Since 2002 the Archive has existed “hand to mouth” but I wish to sincerely thank those people who have continued to “support the dream” and allowed us to keep functioning.
The Archive now consists of over 230 files containing over 2500 individual files within the system and an actual total of over 25,000 items [plus valuable family memorabilia, books, C.D’s maps etc.].
The Katikati Archive is a very valuable asset to Katikati as verified by Dr. Brad Patterson’s recent visit. Dr. Patterson [from Victoria University] confirmed we hold material not available anywhere else in the world.
We are unfortunately out of space in the Archive room and out of funds so this is greatly hindering our future progress.