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

 

Parliament Today:

John Key Press Conference: Ashburton Shootings, Judith Collins Inquiry

Prime Minister John Key has delayed the release of Nationals’ fiscal policy in light of this morning’s shooting at a Work and Income office in Ashburton... Key also answered questions about Judith Collins, and confirmed that independent inquiry will be held with regard to allegations made against Collins. More>>

ALSO:

Internet MANA: Georgina Beyer Rocks The Waka

“There is now, and always will be, a range of views about many issues within our movement and members are free to express them, but Georgina’s views on Kim Dotcom are not shared by the MANA Movement leadership or the vast majority of MANA members and supporters around the country” states MANA Candidate for Waiariki, Annette Sykes. More>>

ALSO:

IGIS Update: Inquiry Into Release Of NZSIS Information

The Inquiry would be conducted in private and individuals would appear before her separately over a period of more than a week. She does not intend to name those summoned to give evidence until her report is published. “I can confirm that all persons summoned will be required to appear under oath...” More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell:
On John Key’s ‘Blame It On Judith’ Strategy

Right now, Prime Minister John Key seems intent on limiting the scope of any inquiry into his government’s dealings with Cameron Slater. The declared aim is to make that inquiry solely about Judith Collins’ behavior with respect to the Serious Fraud Office. More>>

ALSO:

Maori Council Lawyers' Statement: Supreme Court Decision On Maori Water Rights

“…the Supreme Court refused to give Pouakani people what they asked for, but may have given them something much, much better instead… the Supreme Court has questioned whether the Crown owns the River at all.” More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Debate, And The Collins Accusation

Debating is a peculiar discipline in that what you say is less important than how you’re saying it. Looking poised, being articulate and staying on topic generally wins the day – and on that score, Labour leader David Cunliffe won what turned out to be a bruising encounter with Prime Minister John Key last night on TVNZ. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On Winston Peters' Latest Bout Of Immigrant Bashing

It is only one poll, but rather than cannibalising each other's vote, Colin Craig and Winston Peters do seem to be managing to find the room to co-exist... Few are questioning how Peters got to this happy place, and what it says about the mood of the electorate. More>>

ALSO:

More Immigration News: First People Trafficking Charges

The first people trafficking charges in New Zealand have been brought by Immigration New Zealand (INZ)... The defendants have been charged under the Crimes Act 1961 for arranging by deception the entry of 18 Indian nationals into New Zealand. More>>

Collins 'Misinterprets Media Reports': "Too Compromised To Remain Justice Minister"

Bizarre claims by Judith Collins this morning that she had been cleared of inappropriate behaviour by the Privacy Commissioner demonstrates she is too compromised to remain Justice Minister, Labour MP Grant Robertson says. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Regional
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news