Historic link for old library site

02:57, Feb 12 2013
Jane Baird
PAGES OF THE PAST: Historian Jane Baird in her family home in Clifton, with some of the original books from Clifton Library.

One hundred years ago subscription to Massacre Bay's Clifton Library was five shillings each year per member.

These days all that remains of one of New Zealand's first "country reading rooms" is a small paddock fronted by a new sign installation listing the historic stories of early settler times in what is now known as Golden Bay.

Golden Bay historian Jane Baird thinks the new sign is "beautiful".

COUNTRY READING ROOM: The old Clifton Library, now in a new location and used as a Scout Den.

"We've been going to do it for about 28 years. Once we retired we had time to do this. I feel relieved. It's been coming for a long time and now we've got it all together. A lot of people - they never even knew it was there. It took years of research."

The sign sits in front of a small unoccupied site in the quiet community of Clifton, between Takaka and Pohara.

It lists many of the local connections of the early settler population. James Baird (who later drowned), Jabez Marraige Gibson and Arthur Shuckburgh Collins are listed as the original trustees of the library.


About 40 people gathered at the unveiling of the sign in December, with historic photographs provided by the Golden Bay Museum.

"I know our history's only young compared to Europe, but at least our history grew with photography so we're pretty well covered," Mrs Baird said.

"If James hadn't drowned goodness knows what would have happened. This [Clifton] was supposed to be the town. But the Haldane family gave the land for the Post Office in Takaka," said Mrs Baird.

She has a long time passion for history. She attended archive courses in Wellington and Nelson and worked at the Takaka Museum. She has personally researched and even preserved a lot of information and records from the old library.

"Because I was a training archivist I like to keep a record of things. I think it started when I was 4," she said.

Today the original Clifton Library building stands on the Takaka Show Grounds, where it is the Scout Den.

The Nelson Mail