Sunday, January 09, 2011

The French presence

After visiting Onuku I headed back to Akaroa -still before the heat of the day and the later rush of fellow tourists -to see a little more of the French connection.

My first stop en route back to town, was to the Catholic part of the Akaroa cemetery. I had visited here once before, as one of my great-uncles married a woman who hailed from here, and I had previously found her parents' headstone. Her father was named François, so I have presumed he is quite possibly French.

I was very surprised by what I saw in the cemetery. Akaroa is not all that close to Darfield where the recent huge earthquake was centred, and I wasn't expecting to find a damaged headstone. But there was in fact considerable damage to the headstone I was seeking, and to many others in the cemetery.

Yes, maybe this is a bit of a cliché shot, with the agapanthus flowers in front of the harbour view- but I am sure you don't mind seeing another pic of this beautiful harbour.

On the outskirts of Akaroa, near the coastline, is the 'Britomart' memorial, and it commemorates the raising of the British flag here in Akaroa.

The British flag was raised here on 11 August 1840, just days before the arrival of the French ship, L'Aube, carrying the first French settlers to the South Island.

In the centre of the Akaroa township, a different flag flies near the place where it is believed that the first French settlers came ashore.  Here the French are celebrated.

Whatever political power ploys were in action in 1840, today Akaroa is proud of the French part of its heritage.

(You can read more about the French colonists in Akaroa here.)

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