Local Govt | National News Video | Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Search

 

Honey House history creates a real buzz



February 11

MEDIA RELEASE

Honey House history creates a real buzz

The Honey House Café behind Kemp House – the NZ Historic Places Trust property in the Kerikeri Basin – has a heritage all its own.

And patrons of the new café can now learn about the extraordinary story behind its ‘sweet as’ name in a fun series of interpretation signs and modules.

“Early New Zealand was not, in itself, a land flowing with milk and honey,” says the Manager of the Kerikeri Mission Station, Liz Bigwood.

“Both had to be produced, and New Zealand’s earliest supply of honey can largely be attributed to the work of one early Northland identity – William ‘Bee’ Cotton.”

As a historical figure, Cotton is certainly not in the big league of New Zealand history. But when it comes to bee-keeping you’d be hard pressed to hold a beeswax candle to the man once dubbed the ‘Grand Bee Master of New Zealand’.

Born into the English gentry, Cotton had achieved a brilliant scholastic record at Eton and a degree in Oxford prior to his ordination as an Anglican priest.

“On the surface he didn’t appear to be a leading candidate for life in the colonies, but in 1841 – after becoming Bishop Selwyn’s chaplain and joining his mission to New Zealand – he found himself sailing to the Bay of Islands,” says Liz.

A passionate apiarist, Cotton sought to bring his bees out to New Zealand. Not just any old bee, though – these would be British Bees – because, as he wrote: “the Bee of England, like the man of England… is surpassed by none in the world.”

Cotton devised various contraptions designed to transport his beloved charges 16,000 miles, including an early bash at refrigeration.

Sadly his ingenuity was wasted, and the British Bee never made it to these shores. The popular belief is that when his ship struck foul weather off the Bay of Biscay superstitious sailors – who believed bees on board a ship were bad luck – dumped the lot overboard.

Cotton was not to be put off, however, and during a stop-over in Sydney various apiarists promised to send hives to him. But it was James Busby (“Buzz-bee” as Cotton inevitably dubbed him) who eventually brought three hives to the Bay of Islands, producing a swarm.

Cotton records the moment when bee and man were reunited in New Zealand:

“I yielded to my wish to see the Queen so I tipped-tap tap on the inverted hive. The bees… marched all up the sides of the hive in a few minutes, and I had the pleasure of …handling for myself for the first time a Queen in New Zealand.”

In a fit of patriotism no doubt appropriate at the time, Cotton named Busby’s swarm after the Royal Family, and it wasn’t long before hives were established at Waitangi, Te Waimate, Paihia, Pakaraka, Whangarei and Auckland.

A legacy of Cotton’s ‘evangelical’ approach to beekeeping was the eventual establishment of a large shingled bee shelter housing box hives at the Kerikeri Mission Station. It is on this site that the newly opened Honey House Café pays homage to Cotton’s legacy while providing tasty snacks and beverages to visitors to the Basin.

“Bee keeping was an important part of life at the Mission Station, and Cotton played a significant part in establishing early bee keeping in Northland and later Auckland,” says Liz

He also provided a bit of colour. Some local Maori were so impressed with his ability to handle bees, one was heard to say that one of Cotton’s Queen bees must have been his tupuna [ancestor], because he was able to pick her out immediately from the rest of the hive.

Eccentric – and intelligent – Cotton eventually returned to Britain in 1847 where he sadly succumbed to mental illness as a result of depression caused by the death of his sister, and deep disappointment in love.

Cotton’s book on beekeeping written in Maori – Ko Nga Pi – was published a year after he left New Zealand in 1847. It was Marianne Williams at the Paihia mission who dubbed Cotton ‘The Grand Bee Master of New Zealand’. Many apiarists today would agree.

Enjoy your heritage – the Kerikeri Mission Mission House and Stone Store (246 Kerikeri Road) are open to the public every day during summer between 10am-5pm. The Honey House Café is open daily between 10am and 4pm.


ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

'Delivering': Joyce On Budget 2017

The new operating investment in Budget 2017 includes:

· Investing in a Growing Economy – $1 billion over four years to keep building a sustainable growing economy, including a further $373 million in the Innovative New Zealand Programme.

· Building Public Services - $7 billion over four years to deliver the public services for a growing country...

A key part of the Budget is a $2 billion a year Family Incomes Package, which is designed to provide better rewards for hard work, to help families with young children meet their living costs, and improve incomes for those struggling with high housing costs. More>>

Scoop Full Coverage: of Budget Announcements & Reaction
Latest: Scoop Search

 
 

Auditor-General Stands Down For Investigation: Gordon Campbell On (Not) Taking Responsibility

So Martin Matthews, our current Auditor-General wishes he could have detected “earlier” the fraud that occurred on his watch at the Ministry of Transport. Hmmm. But he could have detected it earlier, surely? That’s the point. More>>

ALSO:

NGOs Pleased: Govt To Halt Collection Of Client Data

Brenda Pilott, the chair of ComVoices and national manager of Social Service Providers Aotearoa, congratulates the government on its decision to call a halt to the collection of individual client data until the concerns of not-for-profit service providers have been worked through. More>>

ALSO:

Gosh: Blasphemy Law Repeal Struck Down

Chris Hipkins, the MP who tabled a Supplementary Order Paper to add our Blasphemy Law to the Statutes Repeal Bill, said this was a "sad day for freedom of speech, tolerance, and leadership". More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Navy’s Dealings With Fat Leonard, And Twin Peaks

At an official level, our “she’ll be right” attitude routinely spills over into a keen resentment of anyone who suggests the outcomes may be less than satisfactory… The Navy has now gone one step beyond. It won’t even ask itself whether it did a good job. More>>

ALSO:

NZDF: Fifth Rotation Of Troops Heads To Iraq

The fifth rotation of New Zealand Defence Force troops left today for a six-month mission training Iraqi soldiers. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Demonising Of Iran

Will New Zealand still be willing to pursue its recent trade overtures to Iran, now that US President Donald Trump has used his speech in Riyadh to single out Iran as the main source of terrorism and instability in the Middle East? More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 

Opening The Election Supporters

 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • PARLIAMENT
  • POLITICS
  • REGIONAL
 
 

Featured InfoPages

Opening the Election