The 'Puketutu Nests'
King Country, New Zealand, October 1969 - late 1971
(This article was printed in Xenolog No. 100, Sept-Oct 1975, edited by Fred and Phyllis Dickeson, Timaru, NZ, and was compiled by the editors in conjunction with their son, Mr Bryan Dickeson. It is posted on the UFOCUS NZ website with Mrs P. Dickeson's and Mr Bryan Dickeson's kind permission. They wish to also acknowledge the extensive and invaluable on-site support, and contributions from Mr Tony Pivac and Dr. Valkenburg.)
The UFO-related incidents associated with C. (Charles) Blackmore's King Country farm, are among the most unusual and long-lived known to New Zealand ufologists.
Accounts of the first three 'visitations' are quite well-documented (up until September 1971), but Mr Blackmore became more reticent as the incidents proceeded and was no longer "available for comment" because of the large traveling distances involved, and also because of the fact that he shifted from Puketutu.
Wednesday 8th October, 1969
Mr Blackmore noticed a flattened, perfect circle of water weeds, about 14 feet across, which had appeared overnight on a dewpond, up on the steep hills behind the farmhouse.There was a strong, sickly-sweet smell in the air, but cows in a nearby paddock did not seem to be affected by, or interested in the circle. Cows in the same paddock, however, like his dog and horse, refused to go near the pond - not even for a drink, and four wild ducks that had settled in some 10 months before, had left permanently.Mr Blackmore developed a headache, which lingered for three weeks while the circle of reeds and waterweed (which was swirled clockwise) died off, went brown and began to sink. The cows developed a nasal discharge, (which seemed to spread to other animals) and became lethargic - herd milk production fell by 50% and vets could do nothing.
Samples of dead weed taken from the pond showed no sign of atomic radiation, but consultant horticulturalist from Te Puna, John Stuart-Menzies, indicated that death to plant material had been caused by intense, electromagnetic radiation.
News of the circle leaked out because Mr Blackmore's children told other school children about the discovery on their way to school in the bus the next day. (Interest in the 'Ngatea circle' was still very high at that time, and news media soon turned their attention to the 'Puketutu nests.') The incident was extensively reported in local papers.
Wednesday, 14th January 1970 (3 months later)
At 4.30am. Mr Blackmore was taking the cows in to be milked when they suddenly went 'silly' - running around the paddock, sniffing in the direction of the pond, and refusing either to go into the cowbales, or let their milk down once inside.The dry-stock was also affected; black cattle huddled in a corner, the dogs were crouched and quiet, and turkeys hunched in the corner of their pen nearby.On a neighbour's farm other cows went berserk - running around sniffing the air, and looking in a north-easterly direction towards Blackmore's pond. Bulls were bellowing and dogs howled. The farmer's wife, Mrs Ryder, described the commotion as "pandemonium", and noticed a strange, pungent smell in the air (quite different to perfume.)
After milking, Mr Blackmore went to the pond to check - another identical circle of swirled, dead reeds with associated strong odour. This had not been present the preceding evening when he had been cutting ragwort in the paddock. The pond water was a muddy, brown colour as well, as if it had been stirred up.
The reduced milk production and Mr Blackmore's persistent headache returned.
Monday 13th September, 1970 (8 months after the second incident.)
At 8am. Mr Blackmore noticed an extremely large third circle covering the pond (about 80 feet across, so that reeds all around the edge of the pond were flattened clockwise). Pond water was muddy; the same sickly smell filled the air and there were slight signs of radioactivity on one part of the pond edge. The overflow pipe was still dripping and the pond had been partially emptied - there was a distinct 'high water mark' around the pond edge itself. Furthermore there was a track around the pond, with grass bent in a clockwise direction, but no sign of footprints. There were no animals in the paddock at the time to produce such tracks and the 'nest' had most certainly not been present the previous Sunday evening.
There were more headaches and upset cows, and this, the third incident was quite widely reported as well.
After a month, Mr Blackmore indicated that he had seen a small UFO as follows: it was some 20 feet in diameter and around 9 feet high through the center. A central strip around 1 foot high ran around the perimeter of the object. The top and bottom sections rotated clockwise, while the central strip remained stationary.
(This sighting may have occurred between September 1970 and January 197,1when Mr and Mrs Dickeson visited the farm to investigate.)
Photo of one of the circles of dead waterweed which appeared in a dew pond on C. Blackmore's farm, Oct 1969-71. Photo courtesy of Bryan Dickeson and Mrs Phyllis Dickeson, printed in 'Xenolog' 100, Sept-Oct 1975.
Details of later developments are difficult to find - dates of further visitations and effects on the environment are not known. The writers (Fred and Phyllis Dickeson, editors of 'Xenolog') visited the farm in January 1971, talked to the Blackmores and took some photographs of affected cows (showing large, itchy spots, which developed overnight during 'visits' to the pond. These spots were only found on the part of the cow's body that was facing the pond while they slept.) Mr Blackmore was pleasant, but a little tired of the publicity.
By this time, there had been other unusual circles (some 26 feet in diameter), but the dates of these appearances are not known. There were reports also, of small, moccasin-type footprints in the soft mud bordering the pond (film exists of swirled reeds, plus blurred footprints), and accounts of smallish humanoids near the pond. A small, blue-black oil-like deposit was noticed and filmed, but no sample taken.
On another occasion, an object hovering over the cowshed during the night, shot out a beam of light in Mr Blackmore's direction. He said he felt as if a band were being tightened around his head. On several occasions more than one member of the family was involved in these incidents. Mr Blackmore also claimed to have developed some kind of rapport with his cows - he might awake at night for example, and go directly to a particular cow in trouble, eg with a piece of wood stuck in it's throat.
At one time, Mr Blackmore suggested for various reasons that UFOs might be interested in the area because of mineral deposits (especially copper). Samples of soil and water were sent to SATCU and were tested for unusual mineral contents, but the results of these tests were inconclusive - the Puketutu pond is not likely to be geologically exceptional to other dewponds in the area.
("I organized soil tests with Menrath's Soil Test Services, Christchurch. Menrath's was one of very few such services in NZ at the time, but could only provide a very basic set of tests. The tests were inconclusive or negative, but showed that the 'visitors' were unlikely to be looking/mining for copper, contrary to what Mr Blackmore was led to believe." - B. Dickeson)
Mr Blackmore moved from Puketutu in mid-late 1971. It is known that some of the effects recurred on their new farm.
1. SATCU Journal No 65 (Nov-Dec 1969), No 74 (May-June 1971)
2. 'King Country Chronicle' 14 Sept 1970, 2 Oct 1970.
3. Various correspondents.