Volunteer reconnects with Edmonds Ruins
February 29, 2024 | Stories
Volunteer and Edmonds descendant Kerry Revell reconnects with Edmonds Ruins near Kerikeri

This is a story from our monthly newsletter, Heritage this Month.

John O’Hare | Kerikeri 

The opportunity to reconnect with a historic site that has strong personal tūpuna links has proven to be a source of great satisfaction for Kerikeri resident Kerry Revell.  

A descendant of stonemason John Edmonds – who with his sons built what is now known as Edmonds Ruins in the Kerikeri Inlet between 1840 and 1858 – has taken on the challenge of dealing to overgrown weeds and foliage around the site.

“I moved up to Kerikeri a few years back. About six months before we moved up here, I saw the ruins and they looked to be in good condition, though when I went out there again recently, I saw that it was all overgrown,” he says.

Kerry contacted our Northland Area Manager Bill Edwards in Kerikeri, who recently took over the management of the site. Bill encouraged Kerry, offering support with safety equipment, some hand tools and petrol for the weed eater.  

“Edmonds Ruins is a historic reserve and one of the many places around Aotearoa that is managed by Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga. We are responsible for maintenance of the ruins and the surrounding area, and we are grateful for the interest Kerry has shown in the site,” says Bill.  

“We have also managed to put him in touch with another volunteer who has a lot of historical information on the Edmonds family, which provides additional context to his family and the ruins.” 

Volunteers are an important part of the Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga family and contribute greatly to our mission, according to Bill. “Keen locals like Kerry allow us to make best use of the resources we have available to care for these heritage places, and there are many who pitch in to assist us all around Aotearoa. We enjoy and value the community connection, care, and insights that they bring to a place. These significant sites and our organisation really benefit from their involvement.”

Edmonds Ruins in 2022

Although Kerry and his family left the area after his father joined the Navy when he was five, his earliest years were spent living nearby in the inlet where he remembered growing up surrounded by relatives – including members of the Strongman family and the redoubtable Granny Ella.

“Gary Strongman was a fisherman who would catch fish in nets then take them to the Stone Store for shipping. On one trip together we had a dinghy full of fish – the seagulls were diving down and pinching the snapper. I pulled the dinghy in and thought I’d tie it up while we were heading to the store,” he says.  

“I leaned over the back, missed the boat and the propeller and sank to the bottom of the inlet.” 

The result was most likely a near-death experience in which Kerry drifted into what appeared to be a white cloud with no noise and pure peace – when he was suddenly awoken lying on the beach having the water pumped out of him.

“When I opened my eyes, I could see the look of Granny Ella and got a bit of a slap with her walking stick and told how stupid I was. That’s a memory I’ll never forget,” he says.

A tendency to wander away from home and visit the shops in Kerikeri was another thing Kerry remembers – and his grandfather always knowing where he was thanks to the eyes of locals looking out for him.

In the process of clearing the weeds and other foliage near the ruins, Kerry has uncovered some features previously hidden by overgrowth.  

“I gave the well area a bit of a tidy up and in the process discovered the track that leads to the well with stones on both sides of the walkway. I feel a strong sense of peace and connection with tūpuna when I’m doing this work,” he says.

Kerry is keen to continue his labour of love – and equally keen for other interested people to contribute to our pool of volunteers as well.  

“Edmonds Ruins is a proud site with a lot of amazing feeling. I hope that we can keep it in good condition by getting other people involved.”

People interested in finding out more about volunteering for Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga can contact us here. 

O'Hare, John (author)
Edmonds Ruins
Revell, Kerry

John O'Hare | Communications Advisor
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