At the suggestion of our group leader, I purchased a one-year membership to the New Zealand Historic Places Trust, which not only supports New Zealand’s efforts to protect their historic buildings, but also affords free entry to many trust properties located throughout New Zealand as well as Australia, England, and even a few Historic sites in the USA. For more information, visit their website.
I first used my membership in Russell, touring the Pompallier Mission which purports to be the oldest surviving industrial building in New Zealand.
Named for Bishop Pompallier of the French Marist mission, the French Provincial-style building in Russell was built in 1842 as a printery, tannery (for bookbinding) and storehouse. Nearly 40,000 books in Maori were printed here. Interactive printing, tanning and book-binding activities are very popular while a stroll in the colonial garden suits others. (Visitor Guide, prepared by Historic Places Trust)
After a few minutes spent enjoying the garden, a small group was gathered for a tour of the building. After giving us some historical information about the Mission our guide, Lydia, showed us the tanning area (in the lower part of the building) and then took us upstairs for a hands-on printing experience.
It is unfortunate that the upper floor is not wheelchair accessible, as I found the printing process to be very interesting — and learned the origin of some common phrases as they are used in the printing world.
For instance, to “quoin a phrase” is to use a wedge-shaped piece of wood or metal [quoin] to tightly hold (or immobilize) a typeset block of text [phrase] in place so that it can be inked.
A “chase” is a rectangular iron frame in which composed type is secured or locked for printing [quoined]. After the phrase is secured and inked, a piece of paper is attached to an opening [“cut”] on the hinged upper portion of the contraption. This is then brought to the inked phrase on the chase [cut to the chase], where it is pressed and, hopefully, “makes a good first impression.”
Obviously, the Pompallier Mission made a very good impression on me!
We then walked a few blocks to the oldest surviving Angelican church in New Zealand, Christ Church.
The churchyard, with its many headstones, was a delightful piece of history, and the pews inside were softened by needlepoint cushions created by the parishioners.
(Special thanks to my friend and traveling companion, Francine, for allowing me to photograph her as she “made a good first impression” at the Pompallier Mission!)