Oct 29

Birthday book for Batley

The Kauri Museum CEO Bet Nelley and me with ‘Pioneering Life and the Kauri Tree’, the perpetual diary, recipe, photograph and history book that celebrates the Museum’s 50th birthday.

2012 is a big year for big celebrations: the nearby township of Paparoa – 150; Roadleys at Batley – 100; The Kauri Museum at Matakohe – 50.

Paparoa had a three-day community party, we’re having a family party and The Kauri Museum produced a book that’s so gorgeous I’m afraid to write in it. Problem solved: we’ll christen it at our family’s Celebrate a Century party.

Pioneering Life & the Kauri Tree: The Kauri Museum celebrates the first fifty years is a perpetual calendar, cookbook, photo album and history book – done with a light touch; just enough of everything to educate, entertain and amuse.

As well as 300-plus photos, there are 50 recipes, all old favourites tested by Kauri Museum staff and volunteers. I made Date & Fig slice (p.33) and found the filling so yummy, the finished product had somewhat less filling than the recipe intended and the cook somewhat more.

Despite the book’s beauty and quality, it demands to be used – and not just by spilling brown sugar on it while you’re cooking Date & Fig slice. Each month begins with a stunning double-page spread photograph: March – preserves; April – Anzac; December – Christmas table.

There’s space in the perpetual diary to write a few notes, in our case dates that relate to Batley:

10 November 2012 – family party to celebrate 100 years at Batley;

11 November 1912 – Albert and Jack buy Forsaith’s Grant – 823 acres – at Batley;

12 November 1862 – Joseph and May Masefield, the first Pakeha to own where the house now stands, arrive in NZ.

Before the book launch, I shared my thoughts on the book with a group of  journos at a lunch at The Kauri Museum. The CEO Bet Nelley had asked me to review it because, she said, I was a journalist, an author and her friend. Actually, there’s more – in a small-world coincidence, in 1929 one of Bet’s aunts was bridesmaid for my grandmother Bess Shoebridge when she married Walter Newman.

Bet contracted Sarah Charles of Ant Creative to produce the book after Sarah did a great job of sparkling up the Museum’s shop, plus staff and volunteers contributed in a big way.

The book is designed for everyone, including international tourists who visit and love the Museum – there’s even a map so you can find your way there. A few of the photos are also in Love at the End of the Road, plus there’s a photo of my great-great uncle Wesley Switzer who had a sawmill south of Kaitaia.

Pioneering Life & the Kauri Tree would make a great birthday book and a Christmas or birthday gift – click here to get to The Kauri Museum’s online shop.

About the author

Rae Roadley

Rae is a journalist, freelance writer and writing tutor. Soon after returning to her hometown to work for Northland's daily newspaper, she met beef and sheep farmer Rex Roadley. He lived in a historic home at Batley on the Kaipara Harbour and after moving there, Rae reported on farming then wrote a newspaper column, The Country Side. Her wryly amusing tales of country life earned many followers and led her to learn more about the local people, past and present. She tells the story of her new life in 'Love at the End of the Road: Finding my heart in the country'.


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  1. l.broomhall

    Yes this appears to be a great book, but nowhere have i seen a price or where one can buy it, surely this is rather important dont you think.

    1. Rae Roadley

      You’re right – very important – thanks for the note. Penguin sold out this week and I’m selling the last of my first edition copies ($40 incl. postage in NZ) pending a reprint which I’ll be doing. Visit my ‘Meet Rae – Buy the book’ page, drop me an email and I’ll tell you how to pay, etc. And big thanks for your kind words about the book – appreciated, Rae

      1. Belinda

        Wow congrats on the reprint Rae! A great acheivement for a fantastic book!

  2. Belinda

    Hi Rae,

    I have seen the Kauri Museum’s book “Pioneering Life and the Kauri Tree” and agree it is a beautiful book and a fitting celebration of 50 years of a fantastic national treasure. Great to see that they have your book for sale as well – I imagine it would be a great read for locals and tourists alike.

    Have you seen Paul Campbells book “Images from Albertland”? It is a photographic history of the Albertland settlers who came to the Kaipara in 1862 (150 years ago this year!) As I look through the photos it is easy to see how life would have been at Batley and in the surrounding areas – not an easy life for anyone I am sure. Paul has done a great job of bringing together photos and diary entries from the time – it really is a window into the past. This book is available from The Kauri Museum as well.

    Also, my family are thoroughly enjoying Zoe’s Chocolate Cake – so moist and tasty — yet nice and easy for a basic baker like me!


    1. Rae Roadley

      Hi Belinda,
      Glad you’ve joined the chocoholics who’re making and devouring Zoe’s cake – it’s proved a hit. The Kauri Museum has been a big supporter of my book – they sold copies at the launch, invited me to their big Settler’s Day, and have probably sold more copies than anywhere else – lots of travellers buy it, they tell me.

      And I’ve more than seen Paul’s book – went to the launch, bought a copy (it’s fabulous), and Paul visited a while back, which was great. His book is another perfect gift (for anyone who’s interested – you can find it here – http://www.albertland.co.nz/shopping-cart.php?category=Books )

      Thanks for dropping in, Rae

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