The Prow (www.theprow.org.nz) one of New Zealand’s most dynamic regional history websites, celebrated its second anniversary this week. The Prow is a history site for the top of the South Island, in Māori Te Tau Ihu o Te Waka-a-Maui, the prow of the waka (canoe) of Maui, and hence the site’s name.
A joint enterprise of Nelson city, Marlborough and Tasman district councils, the Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology (NMIT) and the Nelson provincial museum, the site has now loaded no less than 226 historical stories from the region, 70 of which have been contributed by interested locals.
As the choice of name might suggest, the site is alert to the Māori prehistory and history of the region. One of the most recently loaded stories, about Nelson’s former Paruparu estuary, known to early settlers as ‘the Tideway’, recounts the Māori and colonial history of what is now the western margin of Nelson’s CBD.
A menu of ‘events,’ ‘places,’ and ‘people’ provides multiple visitor-friendly routes into the rich trove of material found on the site. For those of us working on Te Ara, this guide to facets of Nelson and Marlborough history has proved invaluable, not least as we have worked on our entries for the Nelson region (now online) and Marlborough region (only weeks away).
Events, places and people are complemented by the less common but equally useful ‘enterprise,’ ‘society,’ ‘arts and creativity,’ ‘Māori’ and ‘your story’. As this last suggests, The Prow seeks contributions from amongst its community and further afield. All stories are supplemented by web links and guides to further reading and study. The Prow also suggests ways in which its material can be used in the school curriculum, in particular in English, the visual arts and social studies.
The Prow has set a high standard for regional history websites. When a site is so good, it is tempting to think of ways in which it could be even better. A wish list could include:
- links to relevant stories from the (digitised) pages of the Nelson Evening Mail and Marlborough Express from Papers Past
- an inventory of images and maps on The Prow itself.
Yes, those are challenges but they are also compliments to a site which has accomplished so much in such a short time. Roll on third, fifth and 10th birthdays, when The Prow will doubtless have forged even further ahead.