Heritage treasures for all to see

ISOBEL EWING
Last updated 05:00 10/06/2014

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On a stormy day nearly 174 years ago a ship carrying some of New Plymouth's first settlers arrived on Taranaki shores.

Yesterday fourth and fifth generation descendants of a family on the Amelia Thompson gave Puke Ariki some family treasures that also weathered the months at sea.

The heirlooms were passed down through the daughters of Charles and Mary Hamblyn's family.

Most recently they have been in the care of Annabel Rayner, who now lives in Wellington.

They include a Bible thought to be more than 200 years old, a doll called "Pansy" given to the family before they left England, a silver teapot and a tapestry woven by Mary Hamblyn on the sea voyage.

The items were buried close to the family home near Bell Block during the land wars.

The Bible belonged to Mary Hamblyn before she was married and bears a physical reminder of the adversities early settlers faced.

"We've always believed the watermarks were from when they landed onshore during the stormy weather.

"We've never had it rebound," Rayner said.

It was a sentimental moment for her as she signed the documents to pass over ownership of the family treasures to Puke Ariki. They will form part of its heritage collection.

"I know they will be looked after," she said.

Her late mother would have been happy with the decision to preserve the heirlooms in a safe place.

"She always wanted me to bring them home to Taranaki," she said.

Puke Ariki's social history curator Elspeth Hocking said the museum was approached fairly often by families with heirlooms they wished to gift.

"We're so grateful and lucky for people thinking of us with items so precious to their family.

"It's really exciting to see the things that come through."

Family member Anne Francis, of New Plymouth, is planning a reunion in Fitzroy of descendants of families on the Amelia Thompson in 2016, which will mark 175 years since it arrived at New Plymouth on September 3, 1841.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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