Wildlife Sculptures  

Early History of the Alford Forest District 

Moa Hunter Period 1176 - 1476 AD

 The area was first occupied in the Moa-hunter Maori times from 500 to 800 years ago. ( 1176 AD to 1476 approx )

Heavy rain forest still survived in the foothills of Alford Forest and the heavier soils of the open plains. On the margins of the forest, along with stony areas which carried only open scrub and tussock , these conditions provided the food  favoured by the surviving Moa flocks. A few of the local residents have found evidence of Moas, ie gizzard stones, maori ovens with Moa bone fragements etc, in recent times. It can be assumed that the Moa hunters, probably by accident, started enormous fires which progressively burnt off the surviving rain forest on the plains. From Carbon 14  analysis of the charred remains of the foothills forest the climax of the Moa Hunter seems to have been over the period 1250-1350AD.

Single Tree (Fowling Tree) at 1425ft elevation

The name the Maori's gave the tree was "Hine - Paaka" named after the Ngai-Tahu chief Maru, a leading figure in war and diplomacy as his tribe pushed down from Kaikoura in the late 1600's..

Single Tree, Alford Forest, in 1927.Tree of Hine-Paaka.

A sapling when the Maoris arrived about 950 AD, the solitary Black Pine which grew here became a famous fowling tree used by the Ngati-Mamoe and Ngai-Tahu tribes from 1500 to 1820, and named by the latter, the Tree of Hine-Paaka.

In itself an object of affection from Maori and European, the Single Tree is perpetuated in a new seedling planted during the Springburn District Centenary ( 1876 - 1976 ) to symbolize the unity of both peoples.

Respected by the European settlers as the Single - Tree, it was still a living giant in 1890, a dead skeleton in 1930, and in September 1954 was blown down in a severe Northwesterly gale.

A solitary Matai Tree ( Podocarpus spicatus ) stood at Alford Forest and was used by the early Maoris as a fowling tree ( KERERU wood pigeons ). To these travellers the solitary, grand old tree, was stood out as a major landmark at the top of the plain.

  Archie Keepa with a piece of "HINI PAAKA" the sacred fowling tree.

Rights in the "Fowling Trees" were exercised by clans as far north as Kaiapoia. On arrival, the fowling expert would decide from a careful examination of the Matai berries when the snares would be set. to scale the smooth trunks he would attach a series of long saplings, each secured with cross ties of forest vines, to serve as an improvised ladder, up which an active man could scramble. At a convenient distance below the canopy, he would construct a platform of saplings known as papanui. From his platform he would prepare snare-perches for the Kaka and Pigeons ( Kereru ) in particular. An angled branch constituted the perch, an open noose draped over it continued as a long cord held by the fowler crouching on the platform below. The pigeon, his crop stuffed with berries, would rest gratefully on the proferred perch,  where the fatal noose was ready. When the bird alighted on the cross bar, the fowler twitched the noose to trap it's legs. As for the Kaka the fowler kept a decoy bird whose squawks attracted the curiosity of the wild flocks.

On his property at Alford Forest the pioneer settler Donald McKenzie spared from fire and axe a single Black Pine ( Matai ) tree, the mecca of visits by maori fowling parties from Kiapohia and Banks Peninsula during the siccessive occupations, over 300 years, of the Ngati-Mamoa and Ngai-Tahu ( 1500 to 1830 approx ). In the 1930's  the tree was then "a dead skeleton". According to Mr A.J.Grigg (Donor of two large adzes to the Christchurch Museum) the large old Matai tree blew down in the big norwest gale of September 1945. Another Matai tree has been planted to replace the old "Single Tree".

The Single Tree property was originally held by Kennaway and Delmain under a pasture licence.

In 1881 Dennis Hoare a Hotel Keeper from Timaru free-holded "Single Tree" farm.

Hoare leased it to Benjamin Ede in 1883.

1894  - 1906 Andrew McFarlane

1906  - James Grigg

The 2000 acre farm was then split into four blocks. Arthur Grigg settled on the top farm.

Till 1935 Arthur Grigg  

H.A.Grigg discovered two massive "Sugar Adzes" in the 1920's when they ploughed within one chain of "Single Tree". Mr Grigg recalls the discovery of charred sticks and some squared stones near the tree , possibly a hearth ( Takuahi ). He remembers the existence of a deep swamp immediately south of the tree which held many waterfowl. This would have saved the tree from the many fires which swept through the area.

1935 Ron Cameron

> F.W.Lister

> Smith and Early Changed the name to "Santa Rosa"

> 1974 Rex Milne

>1995 Dusty Locke



Cabbage Palms   

A number of Maori adzes have been found at Alford forest, and these were probably used to extract the cabbage tree sugar ( Kauru ) out of the cabbage palm ( Cordyline ) taproot. Some of these adzes can be viewed at the Canterbury Museum, Christchurch, New Zealand. When the adze had exposed the sugar rich pith, the roots were stacked upright to dry for several days, and cut into short lengths to pack into baskets for baking in earth ovens. the firewood being laid with oven stones over it.  The fire was set at dawn and by mid-day the stones could be quenched with water, covered with fern and Ti leaves. The baskets were stacked in layers then left to steam all afternoon and night. Opened the next morning, the sugary pith (kauru) was dried out and stacked on storage platforms until ready to use. It could be eaten, soaked in water, or the sugary Fetula could be separated from the fibres and mixed with water in a wooden bowl to the consistency of jam or molasses. The cabbage palms grew in extensive groves along the foothills and river terraces, and there are still plenty still surviving.

Alford Forest index

Alford Forest Post Office History

Website: http://www.wildlifesculptures.co.nz/