Tag Archives: history

An Indescribable Beauty

I have just finished reading “An Indescribable Beauty. Letters home to Germany from Wellington, New Zealand. 1859- 1862. Friedrich August Krull”, published by Awa Press, Wellington, New Zealand.


I heard an interview late last year with Mary Varnham (of Awa Press) who has family connections with the Krull family. Mary described a book that was written by a young German man who immigrated to Wellington, New Zealand in 1859. She mentioned how much he had loved the native bush, the abundance of beautiful birds, the beauty of the settlers’gardens already thriving and how he had traveled within the North Island describing what he saw and experienced.

I have spent all but 6.5 years of my life in the Wellington area. I love the bush and our birds and wildlife. I have always enjoyed history and I am an avid genealogist. I needed to read the book.

I was not disappointed. Here within the young Friedrich’s wonderful letters were mention of the gale winds that prevented his ship entering our harbour, earthquakes that regularly shook the ground, steep hillsides and difficult terrain to travel across, place names that are so familiar to me and also many surprises.

I did not know that there was once a hot water area near Wellington city at a place named Kaiwharawhara, nor did I realise just how many native parrots had lived in our bush – Kaka and Kakariki I am guessing from his descriptions.



His meetings with Maori (indigenous peoples of New Zealand) were warm and fascinating as he and his companions attempted to understand vastly different cultural ways.

The book has been published with extensive and very informative footnotes and contains many illustrations from the era in which he wrote his letters back to Germany.
The illustrations are described as fully as possible in notes and all are taken from The Alexander Turnbull Library collections.

I learnt so much from this delightful book and I have copied this piece from the Awa Press website blog as it gives you even more background information:

15/ 8 / 12; 4:57:01 PM
I call it my folly. It’s one of the loveliest books we’ve produced and it probably won’t make a cent. With any luck it will just cover costs, although, given the luxurious paper and quarterbound cover, even this is in doubt. I’m talking about An Indescribable Beauty, which Awa Press proudly published this week. Unfortunately, the author, Friedrich Krull, won’t be able to attend a launch party – he has been dead for 98 years. The book contains the letters he wrote home to his mother in Germany from Wellington in 1859 and 1862. Friedrich was 22 years old.
Sometime after the invention of the typewriter, the letters were translated into English by a person unknown. Last year the crumpled, yellowing sheets were handed to me by one of Friedrich’s descendants. When I read them I quickly realised these letters were a taonga – vivid, perceptive, and astonishing. I believed many other people would enjoy as much as I had this young man’s account of his life and travels in the colony on the verge of the New Zealand Wars. An Indescribable Beauty was born. Not many people realise that Germans were the second largest group of colonial settlers in 19th century New Zealand. There were German settlements from one end of the country to the other, and many New Zealanders have German ancestry. It is my hope that reading Friedrich Krull’s letters will inspire them to research and learn more about their own family histories.


The Pauatahanui Burial Ground

Earlier in the week on an afternoon awash with warm, late spring sunshine, we headed to a local spot with our cameras.

It is strange that we have lived in this area for 24 years and this is a spot I have not visited and enjoyed. Sometimes the obvious things that are under our noses are missed time and time again.

We went to the Pauatahanui Burial Ground which is adjacent to St Alban’s Church.

New Zealand’s indigenous people, the Maori, used this spot as a feeding ground and an excellent site for a pa. The elevated site with 360 degree views is ideal as a vantage point to ensure safety and fortification when it was required.

Early European settlers purchased the land and it was gifted for a church and burial ground. The first European burial was in 1860 and the picket fence is still standing around the grave.

Originally it was a rather stark place of stone graves. Then 5 local women got to work.

The project to clear the overgrown and neglected Burial Ground site adjacent to the Historic Church of St Albans and to plant Historic Roses was the vision of 5 Pauatahanui women in 1991. With the help of friends and families, the first area was ready for planting in 1992. The bulk of the roses were grown from cuttings, but some were donated. Advice was given by the then Custodian of the roses at the Bolton Street Cemetery, Wellington. Over the years a notable collection has been built up of mainly older varieties which survive with very little attention in an exposed position.
Working parties are held several times a year with local residents and members of Wellington Heritage Roses and the Mana Branch of the Wellington Rose Society, taking part. The project is one of the longest running of the Keep Porirua Beautiful organisation. Many volunteers have received Keep Porirua Beautiful awards for their work in the Burial Ground. Renowned rose experts have visited the site and the project has been widely acclaimed within New Zealand and abroad.
The early settlers to New Zealand brought rose cuttings with them on the long voyages from Britain for their gardens and when a family member died they often planted a rose by their grave. Some roses found growing in the Burial Ground are believed to be from original plantings and these are considered “living history”. Roses have been rescued from historic sites and local roadsides where they are in danger of being destroyed by development or weed killing. Volunteers are mindful of the rural setting and have attempted to keep the planting informal and not contrived and in keeping with the history of the area.
The best time to visit the Burial Ground is from late October, November and December for peak flowering, but roses can be found flowering for many months of the year.


There are at least 100 different roses to be found in this location and I took lots of photos to share with you. I will post batches of photos over the next few posts.

We plan to return to this lovely spot on an overcast day in the hope that we will capture the sheer beauty and scale of some of the larger, rampant and rambling roses.

The perfume of roses was another delightful aspect of this visit. It was a special surprise to find such a beautiful and special spot so close to home….

It has been a big week in my little country

Events over the past week here in New Zealand began last Friday with celebrations around the country for the 50th anniversary of Samoan Independence. We have a large Samoan population in New Zealand and there were many colourful celebrations last week.

Then we have watched and enjoyed coverage of Queen Elizabeth’s 60th Jubilee celebrations. When I was growing up as a young child, Britain was called the “Mother Country” and the Queen remains head of the Commonwealth of Nations and New Zealand belongs to that.

The Transit of Venus, which occurred on Tuesday this week, links up with the European discovery of New Zealand and I posted about that here.

Today marks the 25th anniversary of New Zealand becoming a Nuclear Free nation. We are intensely proud of that status and it would be foolish of any government which suggested altering that legislation.

Tomorrow our World cup champion rugby players, the All Blacks, play their first test of the year against Ireland, in Auckland. Many, many eyes will be watching that game at the end of a significant week in our history.