The story goes that Bridie’s parents were at the pā when the "farmer' was turning over a nearby "paddock" with his plough. He was frustrated by the things he was turning over and offered them to Mr Wilson. The artefacts included a broken sword, cannon balls and a chain. A member of the public Mrs Bridie Wilson handed in a number of artefacts. These he gifted to the joint custody of the TRT & DOC. They are currently housed with the "Timperley Collection" in the Whangarei Museum until a closer public venue with appropriate environmental controls is available.
Wilson Family gifted artefacts. Bridget (Bridie) Wilson
Thor Stewart Wilson my father and Phyliss (Phillipa-Anne) Burns Wilson nee Billing my mother were on their honeymoon in the Bay of Islands and visited Ruapekapeka Pā.
My understanding is this was around November 1959.
As they left the pā site they met a farmer ploughing the paddock near a picnic spot they had chosen. The field as described to me was at the bottom of the road that leads from the pā site on the North Eastern side.
Thor went over to chat to the farmer who like the honeymooners was having a tea break whilst ploughing his field. The farmer explained to Thor the curse of harrowing paddocks with so much shrapnel. My father, Thor who came from a family of Roman Gypsies and was a blacksmith himself was fascinated by the metal unearthed in the ploughing.
During the conversation the farmer explained that there had been a lot of relics un-earthed over a period of years ploughing. (He wasn't too pleased with the damage they had done to his machinery over the years!)
Thor expressed an interest in the farmers excavations and the farmer gave him a freshly ploughed cannonball, bayonet and the grenade as souvenirs. Also what my sister Andrea and I believed was a nail that hung on our lounge wall for years was a grenade pin. The cannonball, grenade, bayonet and 'nail' lived on the hearth of each house we lived in beside the wrought iron fire stand our blacksmith grandfather made. The fire stand with genuine horsehair is still with us today at Opotiki.
When Thor died (1967) Mum kept the artefacts and as part of her will in 1996 they were bequeathed to me. Subsequently, I, Bridie Wilson nee Wilson gave the artefacts to the Department of Conservation and the Te Ruapekapeka Trust to hold them in perpetuity for the benefit of all people.