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The Hereweka Trust have recently deconstructed the small barn used as an early 20th century woolshed at the Larnach’s farmstead on the Hereweka site. The work was undertaken by local contractor John Clearwater from Clearwater Civil and supervising archaeologist Peter Petchey. While it was sad to see the building go, the building had reached a state of such disrepair its retention and conservation were almost impossible. From the deconstruction the Trust were able to ascertain that the building was;
- probably not part of the original Larnach-period and was constructed in the early 20th century.
- its construction was a mixture of timbers (including imported hardwoods, a small amount of pit-sawn natives, milled rimu and milled pine).
- some of the material had been “cobbled together” from other buildings.
- very little of the material was sound enough for reuse, though some may be used as seating in the future.
A full archaeological report will follow the work and this information helps the Trust develop further understanding of the use of the site both during and after the Larnach period. Some of that will help form part of the later interpretation for visitors to the site.
Dairy farming around Harbour Cone declined in the early 1900s. The Nyhon family bought out the small farms down in Smiths Gully, as well as the Larnach Model Farm on Camp Road. The amalgamated farms gave the Nyhon family 250-300 acres, with their best road access being at Camp Road, rather than Highcliff Road.
Larnach’s Camp Road farmstead was not ideal for a shearing shed and associated yards as they sit precariously on a small flat section of steep hillside. The small barn was eventually built into two-stand shearing shed around 1910. The back wall had been supported by massive natural posts, which were two stories high, with corrugated iron cladding to protect the supporting bank. Today, the posts are now rotten hollow shells, the cladding sheets dropping off in chunks, and the central roof beam broken in two places.
The Hereweka Trust is in the process of deconstructing the little shearing shed, with detailed recording at all stages. While making his first drawings and measurement of the building, consultant archaeologist Peter Petchey, came across eight wool bale stencils, tucked neatly away on a top plate since the shed was last used in the 1990s. They are an interesting find and provide an insight into the move from dairying into sheep farming.