Harry Head (? – 1924)

Hickory Bay is the most remote bays on Banks Peninsula.

It was once covered in thick forest and bush with the beach sitting between two vertical, unfriendly cliff faces. The Maori called it Waikerikikari (The Bay of Angry Waters) and unlike the other bays, the Maori never settled there.

As the Europeans came across it, they soon realised why. Most of the time one couldn’t land a boat safely and because of the bay facing the east, it would get blasted by wind.

The first European to tackle the remoteness was an Englishman named Harry Head. Arriving in New Zealand sometime after 1851, he took off on foot and walked the entire country, north to south. He liked Banks Peninsula and tried to buy land but being unsuccessful, he returned to England.

It wasn’t long before he was back, trying his luck for gold in Otago in 1861. After returning from England yet again, he was back when he decided on Hickory Bay for its remoteness. He rented 567 hectares from the crown for 10 pounds per year and once he had built himself a whare, Harry went a bit eccentric. Naming his property “Thas”; Harry deserted his clothes, wearing sacks that he would cut a hole for his head and arms to go through and for special occassions he would wear an Indian headdress. The most amazing thing about this man was that he was a genius, becoming and accomplishing the following;

* Greek scholar.
* Mathematician.
* Artist.
* Gold Miner
* Seaman/whaler
* Hunter/trapper/scout/bushman/farmer
* Lecturer
* Fluent in seven different languages.
* Could play many musical instruments.
* Had a great sense of direction – he never got lost .
* Built a flying machine in which he broke his arm when he tested it.
* Travelled the world seven times.
* Went on 312 voyages/expeditions

When another farmer moved into Hickory Bay in 1871 and even though the two settlers were hours from each other, Harry thought the bay was getting too crowded. He returned to England, gave lectures and came back in 1904 to Akaroa to visit old friends. He died 1924 in Melbourne, Australia.

The future of Hickory Bay was milling wood and the growing of cocksfoot. Only 7.8 hectares of bush are left and were gifted to the people of New Zealand. Many farms have come and gone, only a few properties now exist and while the main road reaches them, it is a private road.

And yes, I walked across sheep poo infested paddocks and rocks in these ridiculous boots…nothing gets in the way of an historian and a great story 😉

*photo taken by Annette Bulovic*

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