The Last

For a while I’ve been writing about my father’s photographs. For the time being at least, here is the last. This is a photograph of a picnic that was held in New Plymouth in the late 30’s, down by the port.

It is known what this event was, apparently a large scale picnic. Notice the port in the background. And Paritutu, the plug of a volcano. The softer cone has over the aeons has eroded away. In New Zealand we use the Maori word for these structures: tokatoka. There is a famous one near Dargaville, Don Binney painted it. I don’t have an up-to-date Maori dictionary, but I think that the new Maori word for helicopter is tokatoka, or tokotoko.

If you ever come to New Plymouth, I recommend that you climb to the top of Paritutu. It takes about 20 minutes, although some of it is a bit like stepaerobics. In preEuropean times there was a small Maori village up there. Probably not for everyday living, it would be a long way down to the letterbox, but more for somewhere to retreat to in the event of an attack.


Continuing on the same subject as the preceding posts, ie some background to the photographs that my father took around the port here in New Plymouth in the 1930’s, here are four more. I particularly like the subject matter here. In fact a couple of these look like
photos that I have taken in the past. Or would like to take in the future.

The white building is the Breakwater, the hotel that my parent’s ran.

There is a power station built on most distant part of this site now. A gas burning one.
In Taranaki we have oil and gas. Right by the hotel was the first oil field in New Zealand, at Moturoa. Electricity, oil and gas, see, you’d better be nice to us.

Port Taranaki

I’ve been thinking about my father, lately, quite often. His name was Milton Archibald Peryer. Born in 1904 he died in his 90’s. When I was interviewed on radio recently, Kim Hill the interviewer, probed a little about my parents and I hedged. I regret not being more forthcoming. Of significance is that I understated how my parents were puzzled by my career right until they died, in fact my fathers last words to me were “Peter, are you still in the same job?”. My mother’s approach was more commonly in the direction of “but is it worth you doing what you do, do you make enough money out of it”.

Surprisingly my father was quite a keen photographer himself.

In the late 30’s he was publican at the Breakwater Hotel in New Plymouth and took many photos of the port. This is now the deepest port on the West Coast of NZ, but it hasn’t always been that way. Early European settlers anchored offshore and were rowed in to land in small boats. In 1846 some of my relations were amongst them.

There was no breakwater then. Now there are two. The port has been going through development most of it’s life and as it happens, there are very few photographs from the time my parents lived there. I imagine that ports weren’t particularly high on people’s subject matter list.

Puke Ariki, our museum now has files of these images and are going to show some in November.

The photo above shows the Breakwater Hotel. This area is now completely built up. Below is railway line being laid. What I notice is that in the left hand arched window there is a bird cage. My father loved birds, and had lots of them.