Community Contributed

Scandinavian wall hanging in the Library

Manawatū Heritage2020-03-23T17:58:56+00:00
There is a Scandinavian wall hanging on the second floor of the Palmerston North Central Library celebrating Scandinavian settlement in the area. It is described in detail below.

Hilsen fra Skandinavien 

(Greetings from Scandinavia) 

In 1999, the Scandinavian Club of Manawatu Inc. began a project to mark — in 2001 - two significant dates in the district's history. One was the 135th anniversary of the arrival in 1866 of former Danish Prime Minister, Bishop Monrad, and his family, who settled at Karere. The other was the 130th anniversary of the establishment in 1871 of Scandinavian settlement in the Palmerston North area. The Club was hosting the 10th biennial Scandinavian Gathering in March 2001.    

Elizabeth Berkahn, then President of the Manawatu Embroiders' Guild, was invited to prepare plans from which Guild members would create an embroidered banner representing aspects of the district's Scandinavian heritage. The completed banner was duly presented to the Club on 2nd  October 2000, following which it became the backdrop to the 'Hilsen fra Skandinavien' (Greetings from Scandinavia) exhibition that opened at Te Manawa in November 2000. Then, seven months later, it became a permanent wall hanging in the Palmerston North City Library.    

Designed by Elizabeth Berkahn and Betty Crawford, the banner consists of three main parts. The two side panels, which were reproduced from actual photos, provide a narrative of Scandinavian settlement locally from the 1870s. Meanwhile, the central panel provides the emotional or spiritual content to the design. The Viking ship appears surreal in this panel - there is no-one sailing in it, as it does not fit into the 21st century. The swan represents the five Scandinavian countries — Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland and Iceland.    

The side panels, travelling clockwise and starting at '1871', represent the following:  

  1. This is the Celaeno that on 5th February 1871 delivered to Wellington, the first Scandinavian immigrants bound for Palmerston North. The England arrived with the second batch on 19th March 1871. These were the first two ships to bring assisted immigrants to NZ under the Vogel Immigration and Public Works Scheme (1870-76). They were also the only ones to bring Scandinavian settlers specifically for settlement at Palmerston North. The Karere Scandinavian Block, where some were settled, was between present-day Awapuni and Longburn. The remainder went to the larger Stoney Creek Scandinavian Block, which covered much of present-day Kelvin Grove and Whakarongo. The Scandinavians who followed them were mostly sent to remote Settlements in Wairarapa and Southern Hawkes Bay, and these townships developed far more slowly than the well-placed Township of Palmerston North.    
  2. The widespread bush-burns soon helped take the region from towering forests to farmland — albeit that the district was covered with rotting stumps for decades. The original photo for this scene was taken in the Pohangina Valley.    
  3. In 1872, three prominent young businessmen from Trondheim, Norway, founded the large-scale sawmilling and flourmilling firm, Richter, Nannestad & Co. Based initially at Terrace End, for several decades it was a major employer in the town — especially attracting Scandinavian and Northern European labourers, in part due to the English language difficulties. John Richter's brother was Prime Minister of Norway, Frits Jenssen became Mayor of Palmerston North, and Jacob Nannestad built what is now   Caccia Birch House.  
  4. The district was soon dotted with "smiling" little cottages. This one, which has a typical rural Swedish design, was built in Napier Road by Petter Johan Anderson and family, on their farm in the Stoney Creek Scandinavian Block. The carving above the verandah is a traditional design intended to protect the house from the devil. Family members occupied the house until the 1950s. In 1984 it was moved to Clifton Terrace, where it was restored.    
  5. This scene shows the Lauridsen family's blacksmith shop in George Street, opposite Coleman Place. Hans Jorgen Lauridsen is shoeing the horse, which is held by his son Johannes. This Danish family settled in Norsewood in 1895, before returning to Denmark in 1905 to escape the harsh pioneering life. Two years later they changed their minds and returned to settle in Manawatu.    
  6. As well as tending children, farm animals and sometimes the farm (while their menfolk were away building roads and railways for the NZ Government), the women also created the clothing their families wore, baked bread, churned butter, and grew vegetables to feed their families - and perhaps to sell some to raise a little money. Their lives were hard and they struggled with the new language — unlike their menfolk who had to learn it in their workplaces. Later the women struggled to communicate with their grandchildren, who often only learnt English. Assimilation with the British was considered more important than retaining the 'old cultures' — something their descendants would come to regret.    
  7. Stoney Creek School opened on 4th October 1877 to serve the Stoney Creek Scandinavian & Roadmens' Block. Its first pupils spoke a mixture of languages, so their teacher taught them to sing in English, and let them play outside frequently so the Scandinavian and German children could gradually learn English in the playground from the English-speaking children. The school building, which later became Whakarongo School, still exists in Koehler's Road. It is now the oldest educational facility - and the oldest (former) public building — throughout a very wide area.    
  8. Representing the New Zealand-born generation is Lydia Christensen-Dahlstrom, of Roberts Line, who is seen here in the late 1890s holding a bicycle owned by her Norwegian-born neighbour Otto Tiller. They are remembered in Kelvin Grove by Lydia Place, Dahlstrom Grove and Tiller Close.    

The two main stitches used on the banner are based on the Bayeux stitch. It was used in the famous Bayeux tapestry which depicts the events leading up to the Norman conquest of England in 1066. The Bayeux stitch creates a solid filling for the shapes, while an outline stitch dye was also added. The link here is the Viking heritage of the Normans.    

The central panel uses traditional Scandinavian embroidery to depict the waves rippling below the Viking ship. Then, at the bottom of the central panel and stretching between the '1871' and the '2001,' is a border in the very geometrical style of traditional Norwegian Hardanger embroidery. The flowers then add a touch of colour.    In all, twenty-two members of the Manawatu Embroiders' Guild and six members of the Scandinavian Club of Manawatu worked on the banner. Their names are embroidered onto a special panel sewn onto the back of the work:

The text reads: 

Scandinavian Banner

 Design Elizabeth Berkahn, Betty Crawford  

To celebrate 130 years of Scandinavian settlement in the Manawatu  October 2000 

Manawatu Embroiderers’ Guild 

Shona Giles, Florence Clark, Ann Scalon, Merryl Peart, Heather Brinsden, Marlene Smith, Jan Hannay, Sandra Hall, Mary Heathcote, Mary Parsons, Pauline Green, Christine Van Meer, Mary Ward, Lois Goss, Margaret Pemberton, Julie Allomes, Velda Dixon, Betty Crawford, Elizabeth Berkahn, Nicky Gardner, Sophie Willis  

Scandinavian Club  

Ann Hill, Anne Odogwu, Dorothy Wilkie, Monie Hansen, Peggy Barrett, Rachel Silver