“Have your say on Mangungu Mission….” Close Off Date 4pm On Friday 24 August 2018.

Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga is seeking feedback on its draft conservation plan for the Mangungu Mission House at Horeke.




July 13


Have your say on Mangungu Mission….

People can now have their say on the future care of one of Northland’s most important historic places.

A conservation plan for Mangungu Mission – the site of the Wesleyan Mission that was established in 1828, and which later became the site of the largest signing of Te Tiriti o Waitangi and the place where honey bees were first introduced into New Zealand – is now available for people to give feedback.

The process will be overseen by Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga which manages the Category 1 historic place, and will include public meetings at Kohukohu, Rawene and Horeke.

“The purpose of the plan is to provide guidance on the care and management of the Mission House, and to protect and conserve its cultural heritage significance for future generations,” says Heritage New Zealand’s Property Lead Hokianga Properties, Alex Bell.

“Thanks to the success of the new cycleway, Mangungu Mission is no longer the quiet backwater it may have been five years ago. It’s increasingly becoming a tourism destination in its own right, and is also one of Northland’s Landmarks Whenua Tohunga.

“It’s important that we care for and maintain this very important building well, and that means getting the conservation plan right – because ultimately the plan will guide us on things like maintenance and restoration as well as interpretation, and even promotion of Mangungu Mission.”

Hokianga iwi and hapu have a close connection to Mangungu Mission, and the original signing of the Treaty in the Hokianga on February 12 1840 is commemorated by the community every year. The Mangungu signing of 1840 drew about 3000 people on the day, with about 70 rangatira signing Te Tiriti after a period of rigorous debate.

“Many people feel a strong connection to Mangungu for its Tiriti and mission history, and we would like to hear from anybody who has an interest in this place to find out their stories and associations, and why the place is important to them,” says Alex.

“The information we collect during this process will help inform the conservation plan.”

The primary focus of the plan is the mission house itself, which has had a fascinating history. Originally constructed in 1839, it is one of this country’s oldest buildings.

“Amazingly, the house was shipped down to Onehunga in Auckland where it was used as a parsonage and home. It was then trucked back up to Mangungu where it was reassembled on the original site of the mission in 1972,” says Alex.

“Even though it has been shifted, the house has important heritage fabric and values, reflecting the story of early contact between Maori and Europeans, the introduction of Christianity and, of course, Te Tiriti.”

Once consultation has been completed, comments received will be evaluated and written into the plan as appropriate. The plan will then be presented to the Heritage New Zealand Board and Maori Heritage Council for approval prior to being adopted and implemented.

As well as the public meetings, people are also able to lodge written comments about the plan to be received by Heritage New Zealand no later than (4.00pm) August 24, 2018.

“Everyone who has an interest in Mangungu Mission is invited to the meetings or to make a submission,” says Alex.

“Mangungu is important to a lot of people, and we want to ensure the Conservation Plan is the best it can be.”

The draft conservation plan has been publicly notified and is available on the Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga website http://www.heritage.org.nz/protecting-heritage/consulting-on

A reference copy will be also available at the meetings as well as in the Northland Area office (62 Kerikeri Road, Kerikeri).

Please send your written comments to the following address by 4pm on Friday 24 August 2018.

Calum Maclean
Policy Advisor Kaitohutohu Kaupapa Here
Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga
PO Box 2629
Wellington 6140.

email: cmaclean@heritage.org.nz.

“Roll on spring…” (2018)- HNZ Media Release




A very early daffodil at Kemp House. (Image HNZ Media Release)

August 10


Roll on spring…

The first signs of warmer weather have already arrived at Kemp House in Kerikeri.

This little beauty burst into life recently – and there’s more on the way.

Enjoy these and other seasonal delights at the Kerikeri Mission Station – a Landmark Whenua Tohunga cared for by Heritage New Zealand (open all weekend).

“Te Pakanga o Ōhaeawai listed as a Wahi Tapu” HNZ Media Release




July 30


Te Pakanga o Ōhaeawai listed as a Wahi Tapu

The pā at Ōhaeawai today. The pā also incorporates the urupā, in the middle of which stands Te Whare Karakia o Mikaere [St Michael’s Church].

One of the most important battle sites of the Northern Wars has been recognised by the country’s lead heritage agency as an area sacred to Māori.

Te Pakanga o Ohaeawai has been added to the New Zealand Heritage List as a Wāhi Tapu Area by Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga.

Under the Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Act, a Wāhi Tapu is defined as a place sacred to Maori in the traditional, spiritual, religious, ritual or mythological sense.

“Te Pakanga o Ōhaeawai is a hillside near Ngāwhā where a faction of Ngāpuhi under Te Ruki [The Duke] Kawiti successfully defended the pā of Pene Taui, of Ngāti Rangi, against British forces led by Lieutenant Colonel Despard in June-July 1845,” says Heritage New Zealand’s Northern Pouārahi, Atareiria Heihei.

“The fortifications were ground-breaking in every way, and became one of the prototypes for gunfighter warfare in later engagements.”

“The pā at Ōhaeawai is tapu to Ngāti Rangi as a place of battle and bloodshed. It also incorporates the urupā, in the middle of which stands Te Whare Karakia o Mikaere [St Michael’s Church].”

It is also the original site for the placename “Ōhaeawai”, although the name was exported to the nascent township 4km down the road in the 1870s.

The peaceful vista of today is very different from the scene of carnage that occurred on July 1, 1845 during the third major engagement of the Northern Wars.

“On June 25 about 600 troops from the 58thand 99thRegiments, the Royal Marines and militia – as well as approximately 300 warriors of Tāmati Wāka Nene – besieged about 100 men in Pene Taui’s pā at Ōhaeawai,” says Atareiria.

“Prior to the attack, Pene Taui had insisted that the battle take place at his pā, which Kawiti had agreed to. Kawiti subsequently fortified the pā for this purpose.”


The pā at Ōhaeawai – a watercolour by Cyprian Bridge. (Alexander Turnbull Library – ATV36328).

Kawiti and Taui did an exceptional job. The pā had two palisades – including a strong inner fence made of puriri logs set almost two metres into the ground with five metres of log standing above ground.

A curtain of flax matting hung on the exterior of the pā quenching musket ball fire, concealing the interior from the British and robbing them of such basic information as to whether or not their shelling was effective.

In addition, a trench located between the two palisades encircling the pā, provided protection for warriors reloading their muskets, who were then able to step up onto platforms that elevated them to ground level. From here they were able to fire their muskets almost completely concealed from the enemy.

If that wasn’t enough, some trenches extended beyond the shape of the pā to form bastions from which fighters could then shoot at attackers side-on as they attacked the pā. The coup de grace, however, was a series of rua [pits] that were underground compartments roofed with beams and timber – possibly the first example of an anti-artillery bunker.

The rua stood the defenders in good stead.

“The British established a four-gun battery on the nearby hill of Puketapu, and opened fire on June 25, continuing until it was dark,” says Atareiria.

“By the end of the day, however, they had done very little damage. The bombardment was to continue, equally ineffectually, for a further two days.”

Despite the bombardment – and the fact that they were outnumbered almost 10 to one – the defenders weren’t exactly throwing in the towel.

“On July 1 a raiding party from the pā successfully overpowered Tāmati Wāka Nene’s camp and took the Union Jack that had been flying there,” says Atareiria.

“The Union Jack was then flown within the defenders’ pā in full view of the British – upside down and at half mast below a Kākahu (Māori cloak). Despard was apoplectic with rage at the insult.”

Goaded into action, he ordered the storming of the pā. Although Despard’s offices and allies warned against attacking the heavily defended pā – and Wāka Nene, who had since recaptured his territory from the defenders, refused to participate in the attack – Despard would not be dissuaded.

“The disastrous assault went ahead,” says Atareiria.

“The solid palisades of the inner fence had withstood the artillery attack and remained intact, preventing the British from entering the pā. Meanwhile, the firing trenches proved devastatingly effective against the attackers. Within seven minutes of the attack beginning, over 47 of the attackers lay dead with about 70 more injured. The attack was an unmitigated disaster.”

Although more ammunition was brought in, and the British continued shelling for a few more days, the result had been a foregone conclusion. By 8 July, the pā was found to have been abandoned and the defenders had disappeared into the night.

“Although he tried to put a positive spin on the result, Despard had achieved nothing at enormous cost,” says Atareiria.

“He was to experience similar frustration at Ruapekapeka, where he would be confronted once again by an almost impregnable pā.”

Today, remnants of Pene Taui’s pā can still be seen in some of the undulations in the ground, though the area is predominantly an urupā with Te Whare Karakia o Mikaere at its heart.

“In 1871, Heta Te Haara, who had succeeded Pene Taui as the local rangatira after his death, wrote to the government for permission to remove the remains of the troops from the original burial site to where they currently lie inside the St Michael’s churchyard,” says Atareiria.

“On July 1 1872 – 27 years to the day of the battle itself – the troops were honoured by Māori in a service that was attended by a Government official representing the Under Secretary of the then Native Department, who reported on ‘the present good feeling, singleness of purpose, and perfect unanimity which very apparently existed between the Ngapuhi and their Pakeha  neighbours’.”

The grandson of Heta Te Haara, kaumātua Ben Te Haara, remembers his grandfather talking about the battleground. His recollections were a vital part of the research as he was able to point out many features from information passed down to him – including the location of a line of pūriri trees that the British used to range their guns.

“The information that Ben Te Haara and other kaumātua provided has been invaluable in informing our Wāhi Tapu listing,” says Atareiria.

“The listing formally identifies the tapu nature of this place to Ngāti Rangi, while also highlighting the importance of this place to all New Zealanders.”


Box Story:

A masterpiece of military engineering

One of the observers of the battle of Ōhaeawai was missionary Henry Williams. His wife, Marianne Williams, commented on the ingenuity of the construction of the war pā in one of her writings:

“It is quite astonishing how they seem to defy the British in their fortifications. They have double fences, ditches, and loop holes, their houses sunk underground; and as the great guns of the British are fired through their pa with so little loss to the rebels, it is supposed that they have large holes, in which they secure themselves. The fence around the pa is covered between every paling with loose bunches of flax, against which the bullets fall and drop; in the night they repair every hole made by the guns.”

“WWII Northland heritage inventory achieves key milestone” HNZ Media Release

Jack Kemp (left) and Dr Bill Guthrie – ‘somewhere in Northland’ – enthusiastically uncovering and recording the little known places associated with Northland’s World War II defences.

June 29


WWII Northland heritage inventory achieves key milestone

A research project to develop a heritage inventory of Northland’s World War II military places has achieved a crucial milestone.

Seventeen military camp sites associated with the defence of the Bay of Islands have been identified from official records and other sources, and information about them recorded. The work completes the initial phase of the inventory.

For Jack Kemp and Dr Bill Guthrie, volunteer researchers with Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga, the completion of the Bay of Islands component is an important first step.

“The Bay of Islands was an important part of what became Fortress Northland, and a central part of New Zealand’s defence strategy,” says Jack Kemp.

“Major General Harold Barrowclough, who headed divisional headquarters in Whangarei, had identified the Bay of Islands as the most likely place for the Japanese to land a main attack force, with simultaneous additional attacks at Whangaroa and Doubtless Bay a distinct possibility.”

Barrowclough had grimly predicted that – based on the defence that was in place in early 1942 – if the Japanese attacked the Whangaroa and Bay of Islands simultaneously at 7am, they would take both areas by lunchtime, and face only limited resistance on their road to Auckland. (more…)

“Whangarei’s archaeological gem captures imagination of students” Heritage New Zealand Media Release (25.05.2018)

May 29

Boys from Whangarei Boys High School sketch Parihaka Pa.


Whangarei’s archaeological gem captures imagination of students

A heritage site dating back hundreds of years has captured the imagination of students from Whangarei Boys High School.

Mair’s Landing / Tawatawhiti, just north of Whangarei’s CBD, contains a number of prehistoric and historic features – including a remnant Maori stone field garden, the remains of a coal chute associated with the Whau Valley Coal mine horse drawn tramway and Mair’s Landing itself – a stone wharf dating back to 1841. Interest in the extensive heritage site was sparked by a public talk given by Heritage New Zealand’s Northland staff as part of last year’s New Zealand Archaeology Week.

“I was told of the site by a friend who attended the talk, and so I got in contact with Bill Edwards of Heritage New Zealand in Kerikeri,” says Whangarei Boys High School Deputy Principal, Allister Gilbert.

“He was pleased that a school was interested in the history of the place, and supplied documents recording the archaeology of the Whangarei area and harbour as background material for the students. Heritage New Zealand people have been fantastic to work with.”

Bill, and his colleague Northland Archaeologist James Robinson, took 22 of the school’s staff members on a walking tour of the site – and the ideas for using the site as an outdoor learning environment grew from there. Mair’s Landing / Tawatawhiti was recently listed as a Historic Area, and research for the listing report has helped raise understanding of the site’s significance.

“The science and social studies teachers were enthusiastic about being able to walk classes to the site and back to school in 90 minutes, and a cross curricular unit was developed between the two faculties,” says Allister.

“The English Faculty then became involved with the project as they wanted to use it as a source of inspiration for writing. The Te Reo Maori teacher has also used it as a source of information and experience for te tuhi me te korero[writing and speaking activities].”

About 250 Year 9 students – split up into 10 teaching groups – visited the site earlier this year and took part in a number of activities including sketching the outline of Parihaka Pa across the Hatea River, one of the largest archaeological sites in New Zealand. The students also sketched the stone garden remnants and learned how the garden was used.

The boys also rolled up their sleeves and helped clean up the rubbish in the area that had come in from the road. Year 9 Horticulture students will also be involved in weed management of the site as part of their course working with Whangarei District Council.

“About 42 percent of the Year 9 students are Maori, and the ability to give these rangatahi pride and a place in the city is a really positive outcome of this cross curricular work,” says Allister.

“The response from all the boys has been positive, with growth in a sense of connectedness to the place they live in. The ability to weave the Tawatawhiti garden site – which is very early – with the Parihaka site has really put their history into perspective.”

The project has had other spin-offs that have impacted the students.

“The local museum, KiwiNorth, brought artefacts relating to Maori gardening and other tools to the school. We had them at the school for two days, with the Year 9 classes rotating through the display of Ko [digging sticks], Timo / Ketu [small wooden digging implements], Toki [adze], and Mahe [fishing sinkers] and Punga [anchor stone].

“This was the first time they have brought material out of the museum, and we were very privileged to have this opportunity. The source of the stone has triggered interest with the boys, and so the inquiry continues.”

Mair’s Landing / Tawatawhiti will continue to play a central part in Whangarei Boys High School’s learning – and the Year 9 cross curricular unit in particular.

“The school feels very close to the site and is looking forward to helping develop it, and hopefully getting access to a high enough standard that it can be open to the public as it is an easy walk from the popular Town Basin café and tourist precinct,” he says

“Stone Store nominated for retail award” Heritage New Zealand Media Release (28.05.2018)




May 28

Liz Bigwood at Kerikeri’s Stone Store.


Stone Store nominated for retail award

The New Zealand Retail Association has nominated the Stone Store as a finalist in the Best Provincial Retailer category of the 2018 Retail Hotlist awards.

The Association praised the way the Stone Store shop “balances its role as a living museum with a successful and beautifully merchandised retail operation”.

Manager of the Stone Store, Liz Bigwood, is delighted with the nomination, which she says is a tremendous honor in itself.

“The Stone Store began as a trading post in 1836, and has been in business in one form or another pretty well since then,” she says.

Trade of iron tools and implements, cloth, and basic foodstuffs like flour, tea, and sugar were stock in trade with local Maori and it was primarily this trade and the attraction of shipping into the Eastern Bay of Islands that Hongi Hika and other Ngapuhi leaders intended when they allowed a missionary settlement here.

“In later years, people used to say of the store that you could buy anything from a needle to an anchor, and we continue that tradition by stocking a wide range of goods, including authentic items similar to those that would have been on sale in the 19thCentury.”

A recent example includes wooden butter molds, similar to those available in New Zealand over a century ago, that are still manufactured in Germany. The Stone Store also stocks a range of quality New Zealand merchandise.

“It takes time to source these products, and it’s important that they fit well with our market and the heritage values of this place,” says Liz.

“The nomination acknowledges the special nature of the Stone Store as a unique retail operation, and the team that makes it so special.”

The awards take place on June 6.

“Crafts and Coffee kick off winter hours at the Honey House Cafe” Heritge New Zeland Media Release (15.05.2018)


Rina Ward at the Honey House Café (Image HNZ Media Release)

May 15


Crafts and Coffee kick off winter hours at the Honey House Cafe

The Honey House Café – one of Kerikeri’s favourite coffee spots – is staying open throughout winter, and a local artist is taking advantage of the extended hours to share her craft with others.

Jewellery maker Rina Ward will hold the first of a number of ‘Crafts & Coffee’ get-togethers on Thursday, 31stMay (10.30am-12.30pm), and is encouraging people to come along and enjoy a morning of “coffee, cake and charm jewellery making”.

“For the cover charge of $25 people can enjoy coffee and cake, and receive a jewellery starter kit to start them off,” says Rina, who owns Nostalgems Handmade Jewellery.

“I’ll be showing participants how to create one-of-a-kind heirloom-style jewellery, and offer a helping hand if needed. It’s not a workshop, but more an opportunity for people to get together and have fun. What better way to spend a winter morning than with some coffee, cake and a bit of crafting, together with people who have similar interests?”

One person who has taken part in one of Rina’s jewellery workshops in the past is the Manager of the Kerikeri Mission Station and Honey House Cafe, Liz Bigwood.

“As the name Nostalgem suggests, Rina’s jewellery has a wonderful heritage feel and her work is very popular in the Stone Store shop,” she says.

“Rina’s charm bracelets, for example, give people the opportunity to incorporate little keepsakes or objects that might otherwise become lost or overlooked – instead, giving them a purpose and significance that they might not otherwise have.”

A bracelet made by Liz incorporates a button from her grandfather’s army coat which he wore at Gallipoli.

“The button is only small but by incorporating it into a piece of jewellery it somehow gives it a focus and enables his story to be kept alive. Charm bracelets are a great way of highlighting these little treasures which might otherwise be in danger of being lost or forgotten.”

Holding the ‘Crafts & Coffee’ get-togethers at the Honey House shows what a versatile space the café can be according to Liz.

“It’s warm and comfortable with great food and a wonderful outlook – the perfect place for gatherings of this kind. Being open throughout winter also means this space can be available for community use like this – as well as being good news for all our local regulars.”

The Honey House will be open Wednesdays through to Sundays from about 9am and will feature a menu of tasty winter lunch meals and snacks including hearty winter soup, pies, toasted sandwiches, scones and frittata as well as favourites like the café’s toffee apple cake and its quality espresso and teas.

People can book their place on the crafty coffee meet-up by calling Rina on 021 175 9700, or emailing Rina at nostalgems@gmail.com

“Pompallier Mission coffee house open all winter” Heritage New Zealand (02-04-2018)




April 26


Pompallier Mission coffee house open all winter

The news is all good for fans of the delicious espresso and stunning bay views of the Pompallier Mission Coffee House.

Winter fare on offer now at Pompallier Mission’s coffee house.

The French-themed eatery – which is part of the historic printery cared for by Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga – will remain operating throughout winter by popular demand.

The coffee house has become a favourite of Russell locals as well as visitors to the Bay of Islands, and will open between the hours of 11am and 3pm every day offering the perfect range of French-themed light lunches for winter.

“We’re delighted to be able to extend our service throughout winter, and look forward to providing such delicacies as French Onion soup and Leek and Potato soup, as well as savoury French tarts,” says the Manager of Pompallier Mission, Scott Elliffe.

“Other delicacies on the menu will include local oysters and sparkling mineral water, as well as our delicious espresso and selection of teas.”

The historic Pompallier Mission printery building will be fitted with a fire sprinkler system during winter and will be closed to the public while that work is being done (June through August). The coffee house, however, will remain open during this time.

The new winter hours will take place from Tuesday May 1. Due to the intimate space in the coffee house lunch bookings are recommended – Ph 09-403-9015.



“Mair’s Landing added to Heritage List” Heritage New Zealand Media Release




April 27


Mair’s Landing added to Heritage List

The heritage value of an outstanding archaeological landscape in Whangarei dating back to the earliest days of human settlement in the area has been recognised by Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga.

Tawatawhiti / Mair’s Landing – owned by Whangarei District Council – has been added to the New Zealand Heritage List / Rarangi Korero as a Historic Area. The listing formally identifies it as a place of heritage significance.

Mair's Landing (Image Heritage New Zealand)

“Tawatawhiti / Mair’s Landing is very well preserved and incorporates evidence of Maori horticultural practice and later waterfront activity beside the upper Hatea River,” says Heritage New Zealand’s Northland Manager, Bill Edwards, who completed the research for the Listing.

“It also includes Mair’s Landing itself, which is likely to be the oldest surviving European structure in Whangarei City. The historic area is rare in that it spans a long period of human settlement.”

The combination of fresh and sea water, together with rich volcanic soils, meant that Tawatawhiti would inevitably become a centre for settlement – and that’s exactly what happened.

“Today you can still see clear evidence of living areas and remnant horticultural field systems that pre-date contact with Europeans,” says Bill.

“You can also see basalt rocks of varying sizes that were stacked to form a rock wall as part of a Maori horticultural field system. Stone-faced terraces constructed specifically for gardening or living areas – as well as stone heaps [puke] that were used to increase the temperature around the plant roots to assist their growth – are also clearly visible.”

Although there are no firm archaeological dates for the field systems, they are probably hundreds of years old according to Bill.

“As well as being a Maori archaeological landscape, the story of Tawatawhiti / Mair’s Landing is also one of people who have changed the landscape for their own purposes over generations,” says Bill.

“When Gilbert Mair and his family moved to Whangarei in 1842, for example, they used some of the local rock to build a stone jetty. It still exists today and is one of Whangarei’s oldest historic structures associated with early European settlement.

“Heritage role just like coming home for Ohaeawai resident” HNZ Media Release (28-02-18)

Heritage New Zealand’s Property Lead, Te Waimate and Hokianga Properties Alex Bell preparing a spit roast Hogget for the recent Waitangi Day cricket match at Te Waimate Mission. All in a day’s work – Alex’s third day of work actually.

February 28


Heritage role just like coming home for Ohaeawai resident

For Ohaeawai resident Alex Bell, taking on a new role with Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga is a bit like coming home.

The 31-year old was recently appointed Heritage New Zealand’s Property Lead, Te Waimate and Hokianga Properties;  a role that involves the management of New Zealand’s second oldest surviving building – Te Waimate Mission – as well as Mangungu Mission in Horeke and Clendon House in Rawene.

Alex has a particularly strong link to Clendon House.

“Dennis Cochrane, who was the father of Jane Clendon, was one of my ancestors. Jane, who married James Reddy Clendon, was instrumental in keeping Clendon House in the family after his death until it was eventually gifted to the NZ Historic Places Trust in the early 1970s,” says Alex.

“Besides that link, I grew up on a dairy farm near Lake Omapere and went to Okaihau Primary and College. Both sides of my family are long-time Northlanders with a good mix of 19thCentury links to the Hokianga, Bay of Islands and Whangarei.”

Discovering physical evidence of his ancestors on family land as a child was instrumental in forming an interest in history according to Alex.

“The objects I found poking out of the banks of the Hokianga Harbour were likely disposed of by them, so those old spoons and whiskey bottles created a more personal link between them and now,” he says.

Highlighting links that help bring history alive, as well as making stories and information accessible to the community, are objectives Alex wants to explore in his new role.

“I love to get into the gritty parts of the stories, and to find historical tidbits to incorporate into the story of a property or archaeological site that give it some personal context,” he says.

“Heritage New Zealand’s Hokianga properties were all established in the early phases of European settlement and are all Landmarks Whenua Tohunga. As well as travelling half way around the world, settlers had to build their lives in an unfamiliar nation, build relationships with a well established Maori population, and build the foundations of Missionary societies from which they had been sent – all while staying alive.”

Each of the physical buildings sit in landscapes that incorporate centuries of Maori settlement and politics, and have their own stories to tell.

“Te Waimate Mission is an untapped treasure – and that goes for Mangungu Mission and Clendon House too. There is a wealth of stories to be told beyond just those of key historical figures,” he says.

“They’re also beautiful places to enjoy. Te Waimate Mission, for example, is perfect for people to bring a picnic and sit under the trees.”

Te Waimate is a far cry from Western Australia where Alex worked as a contract archaeologist prior to returning to New Zealand. He is enjoying being able to walk through knee-deep grass without having to worry about standing on a sleeping snake, or surveying in the bush and getting covered in kangaroo ticks. Neither does he miss being away for weeks at a time, the relentless heat and sleeping in a swag by the fire.

“I certainly loved it there, though. A beer at sunset with your mates after a 10-hour work day in 45 degree heat, looking over a mountain range of premium grade iron ore – that’s the good life,” he says.

After working as an archaeologist in the north following his return from Australia, Alex is looking forward to the next step of his heritage journey. And his family connections make it all the more personal.

“One of my ancestors, William Robinson, is buried in the Mangungu cemetery – so this job is kind of like caretaking a bit of family history I suppose,” he says.