Archive for July, 2014

Genealogy and Glass

July 30, 2014


In the last post we made mention of a cousin of mine with whom we had lunch last weekend.

Stuart and I were working through our respective family trees some years ago when, at close to the same time, we came to the conclusion that there were some mysteries surrounding my great-grandfather and Stuart’s great-great-grandfather, Cosmo Damiano Vannini.  We established contact and discovered that we were both looking at the same person. It turned out Damiano had had at least three partnerships (two marriages) and that Stuart’s family and mine were from different relationships.  Over time we have developed  more and more knowledge of our shared ancestor Cosmo Damiano Vannini.

This past week we have had time to compare notes in more detail and clear up some questions that have arisen as to the identity of a number of people and correct details with respect to a number of people.  Mind you. at the same time we have identified a few more questions which we need to look at in the future.  A very productive few days of swapping information was had.

As well as being a very knowledgeable historian, Stuart also has a very interesting passion.  He is a well renown authority when it comes to New Zealand art glass, its history and the history of both the glass items and the various artists throughout the country.

He has a wide ranging collection of pieces showing many of the artists and many of the techniques used.  I was able to spend an interesting hour or two looking at and discussing a lot of the pieces  and the artists.  The photos below show some of the diversity of the pieces.


Stuart also has a blog in which he writes on Glass and Glass Artists

Visit his Glass blog at

Thank you for your hospitality Stuart, we look forward to meeting up with you again soon.

Culinary delights in Kerikeri

July 27, 2014

A morning out to visit the Mahoe cheese Factory just 12kms south of Kerikeri at Oromahoe was on the cards. We headed out to try some of their cheeses, they make mainly Edam and Gouda style cheeses with other styles added throughout the seasons. The owners have a very interesting story as to how they started their factory. The following is an extract from a NZHerald article.

It is towards the end of 1991 and Bob and Anna Rosevear from Oromahoe are in a hotel in far east Russia having dinner with the First Secretary of the local Communist Party. A television is playing in the background and whatever was on is suddenly stopped and replaced with a performance of the ballet, Swan Lake.

They switched channels and Swan Lake is playing on that channel too, and another and another. It was relatively clear something wasn’t right even if they or, indeed, the Communist Party Secretary didn’t quite know what – but it didn’t take long to find out. President Mikhail Gorbachev had been deposed.

The Rosevears (and at various times including sons Tim, Jacob and Jesse) were consultants to Sovenz, a subsiairy of the then NZ Dairy Board, and in Russia to teach cheese-making mainly in Kharbarovsk in the north east of Russia just 30 kilometres from the Chinese border, and on Sahkalin Island, Russia’s largest island situated north of Japan. After the Gorbachev coup they were phoned by the NZ Dairy Board to ask if they were okay and were advised somewhat phlegmatically that this was Russian politics and in 24 hours it would all be over. It was, but the putsch had significant consequences for the country since it eventually lead to the dissolution of the USSR.

In fact Bob was in Russia again, in St Petersburg, when a subsequent putsch took place. He was watching a live performance of Swan Lake this time, when Boris Yeltzin was replaced by Vladimir Putin. So Mr Rosevear can rightly say he has played a personal part (certainly unwittingly and only in the way of serendipity) in two significant episodes of Russian political history.

Where did it all begin? Bob and Anna met at college in Wellington, met up at university again and married and moved north in 1974. They were orchardists before becoming dairy farmers in Oromahoe and had been buying cheese from a supplier in Whangarei who decided to quit the business. Anna had made cheese in the family kitchen and these two facts seemed to go together although, as they were about to discover, it’s a quantum leap from domestic to commercial cheese production. And it wasn’t an investment made lightly because interest rates in 1986 were hovering around 25 per cent. Still, they borrowed some money from a rural bank, bought up some of the cheese-making equipment and dived in.

As they say, the rest is history. We bought a piece of their 2014 award winning Champion Artisan Cheese Very Old Edam, a piece of aged blue as well as some Greek style yoghurt.20140725-130802-47282781.jpg

As you can see, we also made a a visit to Makana Confections to taste their chocolates, macadamia brittle and other delights. We just had to buy a little of their product to savour later!

The Kerikeri Farmers Market is held every Sunday morning and is a great market catering for all with stalls selling fruit & veg, artisan products such as cheeses, meats and breads, food to go, plants, coffee, wines, oils, speciality mushrooms and much more. Let’s just say that we have added considerably to the local economy.


Four years!

July 25, 2014

Yes, it is four years since we sold Pen-y-bryn Lodge and what a full-on, eventful, and interesting four years it has been. We have travelled a few miles…even more kilometers….reunited with lots of friends and family and made lots of new friends. There have been happy times and sad, a few weddings and babies born, but too many funerals to attend (Bernice – I am now an orphan 😦 ).

We have seen some amazing sights both in NZ and overseas and by looking back through our blog of travels we can revisit many of these highlights. In our initial blog posts I note that we stated that we would be traveling around NZ for a couple of years before settling down somewhere, well, it has been three years on the road in NZ and we are no closer to settling anywhere just yet. Firstly, we just love this life and secondly we still have no idea of where we would possibly want to live. Although we have narrowed it down to wanting yo live in somewhat to warmer climes in the winter months so that rules out most of the South Island and the central North Island. However, we do tend to live by the rule “never say never”.

We look forward to taking you along on our travels, thanx for coming along on the ride.

Kerikeri via Waipoua Forest

July 24, 2014


The trip through to Kerikeri took much longer than we had anticipated due to the number of washouts, road repairs, felled tree retrieval and clearance along the road.  We had last travelled this route 18years ago, but neither of remembered the VERY narrow and windy route where the road narrowed to single lane and twisted and turned back on itself continually.  


We saw a number of large Kauri trees along the route peeking through the tree tops.


We were very lucky not to have encountered more traffic or indeed heavy trucks as we ventured through.  Jim & Judy were not quite so fortunate and grazed past a large truck just before they caught up to us parked up on the side of the road near Tane Mahuta. 

26Tāne Mahuta is a giant kauri tree (Agathis australis).  Its age is unknown but is estimated to be between 1,250 and 2,500 years. Here we stopped for a walk to see the Lord of the forest, a truly amazing sight and hard to capture the huge size of this tree. 


It is the largest kauri known to stand today, its vital statistics are;  

Trunk girth 13.77 m (45.2 ft)

Trunk height 17.68 m (58.0 ft)

Total height 51.2 m (168 ft)

Trunk volume 244.5 m3 (8,630 cu ft)

Total volume 516.7 m3 (18,250 cu ft)

From there, it was a better run through Omapere, Opononi, Kaikohe and onto Kerikeri where we are now safely parked.

Whilst in Kerikeri Roy is taking the opportunity to catch up with his cousin, Stuart Park, so they can compare notes to assist the untangling the branches of their family tree.  Stuart kindly invited us to lunch on Sunday and it was a very pleasant surprise to be greeted at his house with the Swiss flag flying.  Yes, the Vannini name originates from the Italian corner of Switzerland. 

swissSwiss flag flying

We shall be staying here in Kerikeri for the rest of the week before we head further north.

Dargaville and Pouto

July 23, 2014

Wednesday night we spent at the Northern Wairoa Airfield after an uneventful drive through from Whangarei.

On the way through there we saw a lot of evidence of wind damage to trees and some buildings as well as flood damage in paddocks and around stream and river beds.  Fortunately none of this impeded  our passage and we arrived in good time.

After a quick look at all of the Campgrounds and park over options we made our way to the airport, talked nicely to them and were allowed to park up for the night.

11The two of us parked

You see some interesting sights from the windows when you park at an aerodrome.


Next day, instead of continuing our drive we decided to take a scenic tour and drive to Pouto the furthest point south on the North Head of the Kaipara Harbour. 

The Pouto Peninsula is a landform on the northern Kaipara Harbour in Northland.  The Peninsula runs in the north west to south east direction and is approximately 55 km long. The width varies from about 5.4 km to about 14 km, with the widest part of the peninsula near its southern end. The ]Tasman Sea is to the west, and the Kaipara Harbour is to the south and east. Dargaville sits at the northern end of the peninsular.  Pouto, originally a Māori village, is in the south east of the peninsula.  There are interpretation boards for information at the end of the peninsular.


One can get down to the beach/sand spit and from there look out to the entrance of the Harbour.  It is a further 5 – 7 km walk to the lighthouse however we chose not do it as it was already mid afternoon and rather a chilly was wind blowing.  There have been 113 recorded shipwrecks on the coast of Pouto, because the low-lying peninsula makes the north head of the Kaipara Harbour treacherous, and there are a lack of landmarks on the peninsula from which to take bearings.  There is a guided trip to the Lighthouse which we may do another day.


There is a parking/camping place at Pouto which in the summer months would be much more pleasant than the muddy conditions we found it in.

sea_thumbView from the camping area

Besides, the drive into Pouto itself is via a long stretch of narrow windy gravel road.

Kelly’s Bay was the pick of locations on the peninsular.  It lies on the eastern side of the peninsular on the Kaipara Harbour therefore is very sheltered and flat.  There is good parking in the campground and would be a place to return to at a later date.

16Kellys Bay parking on right. 

As we drove into the Bay, there were huge numbers of Oyster Catchers and skittery Pied Stilts lining the foreshore.


On our way back to Dargaville, we headed out onto the west coast to have a look at another beach and camp site at Glinks Gully.  There are a large number of permanent and holiday homes lining the beach with a small campground up on the hill.  


Glinks Gully

A typical west coast beach, rough, windswept and and this very windy day was not particularly inviting.  Back toward the main rain back to Dargaville where we spied this rocky outcrop on the horizon, obviously the remains of a volcanic plug.  It is known as Maungaraho Rock. A plug is a volcanic landform created when magma hardens within  a vent on an active volcano. If a plug is preserved, erosion may remove the surrounding rock while the erosion-resistant plug remains, producing a distinctive upstanding landform.


We stopped at a roadside stall just out of Dargaville to pick up some tomatoes, however, someone must have been concentrating far too hard when painting the sign!


Friday morning and time to leave Dargaville.   After checking the road conditions with the local constabulary, we were told the only way for us to get to Kerikeri was via the coast road through the Waipoua Forest as the Mangakahia road was closed to heavy vehicles. Once the morning fog had lifted we set off to continue on our journey…  

22early morning mist across the aerodrome


July 22, 2014

We need to back track a little.  The middle weekend that we were at Otamure Bay (Whananaki) and the weekend before “the” stormy weather,  we hopped into the RAV and drove down to Tauranga for the weekend as our niece Jenna was getting married.  We left Otamure by 9am on the Friday morning, finally arriving in Tauranga at 5pm.  Yes, we did have a couple of stops along the way but not too many or not for long either!

The wedding took place on the Saturday afternoon at Mills Reef Winery, a lovely location.  The bridal party left from the motel we were all staying at which was not too far from the venue.  Jenna’s two younger sisters, Amy and Rebekka, were her bridesmaids.

11Rebekka and Amy getting into the car

Arriving with her Dad, Keith.


10Jenna & Chris exchanging vows

Jenna is Bernice’s sister Hilary’s daughter, which meant that 4 of the 6  siblings were there for the nuptials.

56    7Jeff, John, Jude, Sue & Bernice solving the problems of the world.  And yes, I did need a glass in each hand!

9Rebekka and her boyfriend Paul

hugBride getting an Uncle Roy hug!


Jenna & Chris cutting the cake.  The background image is of Bernice’s parents cutting their cake.


L-R Amy, Bernice, Roy, Hilary, Chris, Jenna, Sue, Jeff, Jude, John, Rebekka

A lovely wedding and weekend away, but it was a long drive back for us with a stop off at brother Steve’s (thanx for the lunch) in Auckland along the return journey. 

Wind, wind, rain, rain, trapped!!!!

July 21, 2014

Time for a catch up on things happening in and around us so be prepared for a couple of blog posts over the next few days!

Last post we were in the midst of appreciating the benefits of a new awning and appurtenances.

3breakfast in the Vannini Veranda

We had a very rare and unusual sight one morning…

2Roy washing the van!

Within 24 hours we were packing up the awning in advance of the threat of strengthening winds.  We felt reasonably secure in our spot at Otamure, against a line of trees with the wind blowing from behind us.  The three of us were all in a line; Jim & Judy behind us and Pat & Sue in front of us.  The first day and night of strong wind was a little concerning as we were being rocked a little by the stronger gusts notwithstanding that we had our hydraulic jacks firmly on the ground. (Bernice here, we were well and truly being rocked around, and not just a little, some of us had little or no sleep for two nights!)8Not too windy at this stage – he can still stand upright!

After two nights we decided that we would move to a less exposed position as the wind had moved around and we were being pushed round even more.  A quick move to the shelter of the toilet blocks meant all three of us could get relief from the wind, and life was almost bearable irrespective of the wind and rain.

Yes and it did rain, and rain, and rain, the road between Whananaki and SH1 was blocked by fallen trees and water across the roads and the region also had power cuts, which did not affect us directly but did cut communications.

Thoughts of proceeding to Kerikeri were put on hold as SH1 was impassable at Towai .


Just a little wild and woolly


124and a little damp around the edges of the campsite

For the next three days we waited for road bypasses to be put in place and water to retreat.

However there was a bright side to the wait.  We managed to get in three days of rock fishing in the next bay along from Otamure.  Success on each day was at least a feed of Snapper or Terakihi or Kahawai depending on who caught what.

All this water along with accompanying (relative) warmth meant that fungi growth was rapid and overnight in some cases.  Not good for eating though.


And the storms played havoc with wildlife with some birds succumbing to the elements.  This bird complete with bright blue legs and beak was washed up in the debris.  It turns out it was a Shearwater, after initially thinking it was a rarer Prion.


Of course all this wet and stormy weather did not stop us from hosting happy hour….here we managed to squeeze 10 of us into the Vannini party van with reasonable comfort.  We seem to be the magnets for hosting the hoards, anyone would think we used to own a Luxury Lodge or something!!


Finally on Wednesday we decided to go North via Dargaville which meant backtracking to Whangarei to dump and refuel and then head West, but that’s another episode soon to come to a channel near you, stay tuned!

But to finish this entry, a bird, sorry not a Kiwi this time Jeff, a Kingfisher.