100 years of history diarised

Author John Clapperton, left, with editor Crispin Caldicott at the launch of John’s book at Waitoki Hall.

John Clapperton of Waitoki has combined research and personal experiences in his recently published book The Clapperton Diaries, documenting a unique perspective of New Zealand from 1885 until the 1990s.

John’s grandfather, William Nicol, arrived in New Zealand from Scotland aboard the Crusader and settled in Pahi, Northland. His documentation of the Crusader’s voyage is still held by the family, although a facsimile has since been deposited with the National Maritime Museum. The diaries are the only record of this pioneer’s life but his grandson painstakingly patched together the extraordinary history of his grandfather’s career, and later added his own rich experiences.

Having qualified post-war as a surveyor with NZ Lands and Survey, John surveyed and mapped most of the Far North from Bay of Islands to Cape Reinga during the 1950s when Northland was still virtually road-less, and electricity was but a dream for Northlanders. With more than a few problems to overcome, and several tangy pickles from which to extricate himself, he was undermined by an out-of-touch and dysfunctional Survey Dept in Whangarei. He left, became an engineer with Auckland Council, and later worked on the Moumoukai and Huia Reservoirs.

The Clapperton Diaries includes anecdotes of John’s adventures as an amateur mechanic with his brother on virtually anything motorised – including making them go much faster than they were designed to – as well as John’s own diaries of a motorcycle circumnavigation of the UK in the 1950s, salvation of a Dorset farm and the two ocean voyages there and back.

The book was edited by Crispin Caldicott, who says he wanted to ensure that this record of an earlier New Zealand is not lost.

Win the book
Hibiscus Matters has two copies of The Clapperton Diaries to give away. To go in the draw, message us on Facebook, or write your name, address and daytime phone number on the back of an envelope and post to The Clapperton Diaries, Hibiscus Matters, Unit G, Tamariki Plaza, Tamariki Ave, Orewa 0931. Entries close July 21.


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