As part of the new Historical Gallery displays, local residents Michael Nobbs and Craig Thompson are constructing a partial replica of a palm thatch cottage.
This will form an interesting display backdrop to relate the stories of the first settlers who came to the island in 1834 — three Englishmen who had been living in New Zealand along with their Maori wives and some children.
To construct their dwellings, the families used the local kentia palm to construct palm thatch cottages. This was the main form of house construction on the Island for many decades. Even up into the 1950s a number of Island men retained the skills to construct palm thatch buildings, such as boatshed and workshop sheds.
For this project, elder Bill Retmock was able to show Craig Thompson just how the palm fronds were woven into the rooves and walls of a shed he was involved in constructing in 1954.