About 14km north of Nelson is a picturesque area that one might think of as just farmland. Ngāti Tama settled here around 1825 and have recently signed a Deed of Settlement relating to land claims in the top of the south.
The New Zealand Company acquired a block of land that included Wakapuaka, which allowed settlement to begin in 1842. The land has since become productive farmland, with early settler families among the present day farmers. The area offers a number of features, facilities and activities.
Thackwood Cottage Garden, which has been developed by Murray and Karen Gill has been awarded 5 Stars (Garden of National Significance) by New Zealand Gardens Trust. It is nestled in a fourth generation farm. A love of the land led to the development of a 0.8 hectare English Cottage Garden filled with magical fragrances and surprises. They are on the left, a little past the turn off to Glenduan (The Glen) and offer facilities for Weddings and other functions in the garden or inside, and accommodation.
Up the same drive is the Centre for Fine Woodworking, which is a charitable educational trust with the principal aim of offering high quality tuition in fine woodworking. The Centre opened in 2006 and they now run a wide selection of short courses and a full-time programme. With small classes students quickly gain an extremely high skill base for follow-on courses. They have exhibitions at The Refinery in Halifax Street, Nelson. Principal Tutors are John Shaw and Thorkeld Hansen. David Haig, Bernie Stokes, Robert Bentley, Katalin Sallai, Mike Hindmarsh, Dave Carson are associate tutors.
The War Memorial Hall, the tennis courts and Country Club are on the right a little past the turnoff to The Glen. The Community Hall is a simple art deco building built in the 1950's in remembrance of WWII. Funds came from the community, and the then Waimea County Council. Nearby is a cairn naming those that died in the War who were residents of Wakapuaka and Whangamoa.
Nelson North Country Club is a member of Charter Clubs NZ and provides a venue for the family and the bar is open Wednesday to Sunday from 4pm. It has a hall which can be booked for functions and offers recreational activities such as darts, pool and a bistro.
Tennis has been played since 1970 and, in 2002, the four courts were completely renovated with Decoralt acryic surfacing. The friendly club is busy with social and competitive tennis and members are welcome to join or play at their pleasure. Professional coaches provide both individual and group programs and the Juniors have organised play over the summer. For all there is a barbecue area, children's playground, toilets and a ball machine for members.
Hira Rural Kindergarten is a unique facility, as the building is community-owned and enjoys a high level of parental involvement. There is a strong link with the local schools and a carefully planned kindergarten to school transition programme.
Nelson Model Aero Club is located on the Wakapuaka sand flats. They meet regularly at the site to fly their models.
The Wakapuaka River flows from the Bryant Range in a generally northerly direction to reach Delaware Bay, near Cable Bay. It is an attractive river running over a sand and gravel bed, and is a fishing river, but fish numbers are not high. The Wakapuaka Rivercare Group was established in 2000 to monitor the health of the River. Hira School participates by monitoring one site and runs a Tree's for Survival Nursery, offering free plants back to the community. Data collected shows that the river is in above average health.
Paramata Flats Reserve, Māori Pa Road, Cable Bay, is a publicly owned area that includes tidal river and flats which are of highest ecological value, designated by the Council. In the small area of unique lowland forest lives a small population of locally endangered South Island Fernbird and Banded Rail. Forest and Bird are underaking an ecological restoration of the Reserve, which involves many volunteers taking part in replanting, restoration and predator control, riparian margins restoration and land use controls and threatened species programmes focusing on long-tailed bats and green gecko.
Near to Wakapuaka lies Cable Bay, so named because the London-Wakapuaka cable, 25,326kms in length, was laid there in 1876. The Cable Bay farm has been farmed by Fred and Tess Stuart and family since the early 1930's. Ian's parents took over the Cable Station site after the Second World War and purchased further land when the Wakapuaka 1b block was divided (Ngāti Tama land). In 1965 they purchased the Cain Estate, part of the original Mackay property (the first farm in Nelson). There is a 2.5 - 3hr walkway through the property from the Glen to Cable Bay, administered by the Department of Conservation. It passes through a large native forest.
Delaware Bay, of deep historic and cultural significance to Nelson's Ngāti Tama, became a taiapure-local fishery on 19 March 2002. The goal of their Manawhenua Ki Te Tau Ihu Trust is to protect, manage and enhance an area of historic and cultural importance to Ngāti Tama, so that fish stocks recover.
This article was submitted as part of a Nelson Marlborough Insititute of Technology Creative Writing assignment, 2013. Updated May 2020
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Further sources - Wakapuaka North
McAloon, Jim. (1997) Nelson: A regional history. Whatamango Bay, N.Z.:Cape Catley Ltd.
- Mitchell, H & J: (2004; 2007) Te Tau Ihu o Te Waka: A History of Maori of Nelson and Marlborough, vols.1&2Wellington: Huia Publishers and Wakatu Incorporation
- Wastney, P. & N. (2008) Early tide to Wakapuaka, Nelson, N.Z.: Cadsonbury Publications
- Ngati Tama settlement signed (2013, April 22) Marlborough Express. Retrieved from Stuff:
- Fisheries (Notification of Proposal to Establish Whakapuaka Taiapure-Local Fishery: Notice 1999 Reprinted as at 26 March 1999
- Centre for Fine Woodworking. Retrieved 28 May, 2013
- Hira Kindergarten. Retrieved 28 May, 2013
- Nelson Virtual Heritage Festival 2020: Vicki Smith - Bush Telegraph - early communication in the Wakapuaka area:
- Paremata Flats Restoration Project. Retrieved 28 May, 2013
- Thackwood Cottage. Retrieved 28 May, 2013
- Wakapuaka River Care group. Retrieved 28 May, 2013