These letters given to Ross Kerr from K.Hoggard provide a valuable insight into the early days of hut building in the Orongorongo Valley.
Letter from E.J Guiness to K.Hoggard – 1st February 1932
“Dear Tod [sic?],
Just a few lines which may catch you before leaving for Wellington – if not it doesn’t matter. Last week-end, (the Friday being Anniversary Day) Jamieson & I & a chappie named Jack Keeping [sic?] from our Dept. decided to take the Saturday morning off to make a three day trip to the Orongorongo – which we did.
We have almost completed the hut now – just a little up top & both ends being left to do. Some fellows (whom we met) had been using our place previously & left it in a beautiful condition. It may interest you to hear the following:
At least 6 huts have been registered as new, one which is being built lower down the valley opposite side to Greens Stream & known as “no. 6”.
There are at least 4 new huts in the valley – one on the old site of Ted Exley’s old hut up the Turere Stream (a real whopper place with purposely [sic?] laid path, steps & vegetable garden) – one up the stream that comes down below Howe’s – (just upstream from ours & built of split pungas) – one on the flat below Greens [sic?] old place (with a raised wooden floor…) & one on the opposite side of the river to Greens lower down (no6).
These new huts put ours to shame from advanced building methods.
The Nest has been burned (I believe by Mr Burden with Bill Clapham’s consent owing to the frequency of [?] Sunday parties from the Bay).
The owners of the Whakanui Hut (Landers & Wood - have been banned from the Orongorongo District by the Waterworks Bd. & their hut is of course unregistered.
Kesler, of the “Nest” fame has likewise been ‘outlawed’ from the Orongorongo & warned never to appear there again.
Frank August (who has the permanent camp in the Wainui – fence-posting & logging for Burden) has been appointed honorary ranger for the Orongorongo District.
In view of the above information gleaned and verified from several sources (principally from Mr MacGregor in person) it would appear that the Waterworks Bd. has begun to take drastic action & I think somehow we would be well advised to consult them with a view to re-registration. One great disadvantage this registration of huts has is that the huts become referred to by their registered numbers – ours is “no 1” for instance & well known.
A fellow by the name of Turner (from Lower Hutt) owns the hut between ours and Howe’s. He has a camp oven & supplied us with fresh home-made scones.
Well old sport, I expect to see you ‘in the flesh’ shortly. I dare say you will be glad to get back to the ‘old hole’ again. It must get very boring down there. Excuse scribble as I am writing at the office (Sat morning).
Note: Howe’s was Pork Villa and we transferred No.1 to this site at Xmas 1934, pulling the remains of Pork Villa down. Jack Howe is Asst Land Registration, Lands & Deeds Dept. 1975. K.H.”
Letter from E.J Guiness to K.Hoggard – 1st February 1932. Kerr Ross, Papers relating to the Orongorongo and Rimutaka Forest Park areas. MS-Papers-4572-1, Alexander Turnball Library, Wellington, NZ
Letter from K. Hoggard to Ross Kerr, December 1974
“I made my first trip into the Orongorongo Valley in 1927 leaving from Eastbourne. For non-athletes with packs the trip took about 3-3 ½ hours and the catchpole stream was crossed a dozen times.
In 1930 E.L.Guiness of the Tax Department and myself...decided to build a hut on the…eastward side just north of Green’s Stream.
We had heard rumours of a permit system being introduced and interviewed the water board's mayor. He said persons like ourselves were to be encouraged and finally we were issued with licence No. 1…it was built from malthoid and manuka with a public works type chimney.
The material was carried from the Wainui over the Gut Buster…and through the 5 mile bush. I shall never forget those roles of malthoid.
Laurie Turner…and the McGregors appeared at this time. Turner’s “shop” was a bit further in from Macintoshes above Jacobs’ Ladder. I have seen the McGregors speechless carrying material through the 5 mile bush. Their place was near Green’s Stream.
Laurie Turner was appointed Honorary Ranger. Doug Sinclair was very active at this time.
The continual thieving and the deterioration of the malthoid caused us to consider moving and we settled on the site of the old “Pork Villa’.
At Xmas 1934 (one of the hottest seasons known) Mr Jones, a maori contractor who did work for Riddiford) took a dray-load of motor packing cases, iron roofing etc from the Wainui Valley and brought it up the Orongorongo River to the exact point we had described and the 2nd No.1 Hut was built. [Guiness] supervised the building, I helped, and [Ernie Leask] also did some work on it…
I made about 80 trips to the Orongorongo, my last being at Xmas 1941…
The Hut No 1 (the 2nd one)…finally…passed into the hands of Dr Jenner who died last year [1973?]…
Ernie Leask…tells me the hut we built had disappeared and another one built a few yards further up the slope.”
Letter from K. Hoggard to Ross Kerr, December 1974, Kerr Ross, Papers relating to the Orongorongo and Rimutaka Forest Park areas. MS-Papers-4572-1, Alexander Turnball Library
No.1 Hut, 23 October 1932. Left to right: Jamieson (Tax Dept), Keeping (Tax Dept) and Hoggard (Lands and Deeds) - (Ross Kerr Collection)
Hut #1 Mark II December 1934 - Hoggard in doorway (Ross Kerr Collection)
Hoggard's map showing hut sites