A reader has kindly sent me her great-grandfather's diary,
and suggested I pass it on in due course to what she called
''the Settlers Museum'' - poor old thing.
The diarist is Angus McAngus, who arrived in January 1862 on
the Chariot of Fame and set about building a two-roomed
wattle and daub cottage on a section in Maclaggan St.
(''Daub'' is a mixture of wet clay, sand, animal dung and
The diary shows just what an energetic new settler Angus was:
• 6 Feb: gathered manuka and saplings for wattles and filled
the cart with horse manure from the roadside.
• 7 Feb: cartload of sand from the beach - took all
• 8 Feb: clay from hillside and straw from J.C. Bartholomew
• 9 Feb: Lord's Day. To morning service and heard Dr Stuart
preach from Luke 6:48 ''He is like a man which built an
house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a
• 10 Feb: dug up section and found rock.
• 11 Feb: mixing daub. Children helping by paddling in the
mixture. Gave them a shilling. Sorted out wattles. Found
timber off-cuts from building site to make windows. Bought
second-hand door from Tom Gow in Rattray St.(10
• 12-14 Feb: erecting cottage with help from Jock
• 15 Feb: McMaster asked for 16 shillings but I gave him
• 16 Feb: Lord's Day. To evening service and heard Dr Stuart
preach from Luke 10:7 ''For the labourer is worthy of his
• 18 Feb: gave McMaster an extra 4 shillings. (Total costs 1
12 shillings). Moved in to new cottage. Fiona and children
The diary is an absolute treasure trove of information about
Coincidentally, I received a request for money from Otago
Settlers Association with information about their plan to
build a settlers (as with the association name, the
apostrophe is not used) cottage in the refurbished museum.
The document has a superb photograph of an early settler's
cottage, showing husband and wife (and their cat) standing
proudly in front.
(Strangely, for a museum-related publication, the picture
carries neither caption nor attribution).
The plan is to raise $200,000 to ''make this cottage a
I did a quick calculation. In 1862 Angus McAngus built a
cottage for 1 12 shillings (about $130 these days) and the
association is asking for $200,000 to build one today. I
understand that a perfectly sound, modern two-bedroom
ownership unit (including land) can be picked up for about
$160,000 in St Kilda.
Obviously, there is more to this cottage than I thought and
the association would have to cover extras like. -
• ''Cottage environment'' some soil and a few shrubs ($20)
and a cat (?)'
• 'Prop production''- are there no 19th century bits and
pieces already in the museum?
• ''Cottage wall''- the cottage already has four walls,
• ''Audio effects''- surely Angus McAngus didn't suffer from
• ''Special lighting''- Angus would have had a candle but
lighting would help.
• ''Mannequins and clothing''- mannequins expensive but
clothing already held, surely?
• ''Wattle and daub case, self lit''- what, I wonder, can
this mean? I'm confused, and any campaign asking for money
needs to leave the donor in no doubt about where the cash is
My small cheque will be on its way with Angus' diary but I
still wonder why the cottage should cost so much. The land is
free and there is no need to install the really expensive
stuff, like drainage, water pipes, telephone lines, broadband
access and satellite dishes - stuff which Angus
The flier, in its odd wording, tells us that the cottage will
make us ''immediately aware of the Scottishness they set out
Is there something more expensive about a Scottish wattle and
daub cottage than one built in Ireland or Wales?
The discrepancy between $130 and $200,000 had me beaten until
a news item explained it all.
Part of the huge extra cost is probably the Dunedin City
Council charging itself for granting itself a building permit
and budgeting for building inspectors to check out the
cottage twice a day (maybe $50,000).
Straw and animal waste buildings are a specialised field
these days, so no doubt one of the world's very few
''Scottish wattle and daub cottage'' experts has to be called
in at $5000 a day (say $50,000).
Probably an accurate assessment, given the council's bill for
consultants runs to $32 million for the last three years.
Heritage architecture is an expensive business. Maybe an
The heritage plan for the upgrading of Speight's took
But the remaining $80,000 odd?
Obviously, the Otago Settlers Association is being ripped off
by a very cunning and very greedy horse dung merchant.
- Jim Sullivan is a Dunedin writer and