If these walls could talk

Stone walls rock! That’s the message two fans of Northland’s dry-stone walls will bring as part of the Kōrero/Conversations section of Upsurge – an eight-day festival of the arts in the Bay of Islands region.


Kate Ballard leans against a dry stone wall.
Author of Stone Wall Country, Catherine Ballard. Photo: Upsurge Festivalexpand/collapse

Northland author Catherine Ballard will join with Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Northland Manager, Bill Edwards, to deliver Stories Behind Walls – an entertaining 50-minute look at some of the stories behind Northland’s hundreds of dry-stone walls.

Catherine will draw from research undertaken for her book Stone Wall Country: The Dry Stone Walls of the Bay of Islands and Kaikohe including stories from local residents, many of whom are descendants of the people who built the walls that date back to the 19th century.

Catherine is a graduate in horticulture from Massey College and has written the biography of Oswald Blumhardt New Zealand Plant Pioneer, Stone Wall Country - the Dry Stone Walls of the Whangarei District and Country Cop 24/7- The Life and Times of a Country Cop. Catherine has lived in Northland most of her life.

Bill, an archaeologist, will talk about the heritage values the walls contribute to many Northland landscapes. He will also draw on his OE experiences many years ago in Cornwall when he worked on dry-stone walls, old stone churches, and other masonry projects both overseas and in New Zealand.

He has also been involved in listing Mairs Landing in Whangarei, on The New Zealand Heritage List Rārangi Kōrero, which demonstrated how both Māori and Pākehā have used stone in the Hatea river area over the centuries.

Stories Behind Walls will take place at the Plough and Feather at 1pm on Saturday September 24. Tickets are $20 per person or a concession price of $18 per person. See the official Upsurge Festival website for more information.