PORIRUA – AND THEY WHO SETTLED IT
By ELSDON BEST.
PORIRUA – AND THEY WHO SETTLED IT
THE TAMING OF A WILD LAND.
“Waiho i Porirua, i te kainga ururua.”
TO THE OLD BUSH LEGION.
To the Men who planted Wheat with a Hoe, and ground it in Hand-mills;
The Men who wore Fustian, and left their coats at Home;
To the Bush Sloggers of Four Decades, who Carved out Homes with the Axe, and Smoothed the way for Us:
The Trail Breakers of the Past, who, with Butter at Sixpence a Pound, Conquered the Wilderness, and Opened up the Dark Places for our whirring Motor Cars.
To the Old Timers who Succeeded!
And To Those Who Did Not!!
This article is taken from the publication “PORIRUA : AND THEY WHO SETTLED IT” by Elsdon Best that was serialised in the Canterbury Times commencing 4 March 1914. Elsdon Best (1856-1931) was born on his father’s farm known as “Grasslees”, Section 48 Tawa, and became one of Tawa Flat’s notable son’s becoming a pre-eminent Maori scholar and historian.
THE TAMING OF A WILD LAND.
MAORI OCCUPATION OF PORIRUA.
THE COMING OF THE WHITE MAN.
THE PURCHASE OF PORIRUA.
THE OLD BUSH LEGION.
THE PASSING OF THE OLD BUSH LEGION.
THE SHADOW OF WAR.
Native Disturbances at the Hutt and Porirua
The Ngati-Toa Pa at Motu-Karaka
Trouble at the Hutt
Wellington Under Martial War
British Men-of-War to Porirua
Military Occupation of Porirua
Fighting At Heretaunga
Reconnaissance Of The Matai-Taua Pa
The Passing Of The Hostiles
The Turbulent Sixties
THE MILITARY ROADMAKERS.
The following notes on the settlement of the Porirua district, and kindred items have been thrown together somewhat hastily, and lack many connecting links. Picked up at haphazard from many publications, from conversations with members of the Old Bush Legion, from the faint trails of old time memories, gapped with hiatus and marred by incompleteness, but one excuse exists for presenting them here: That plea is contained in an old aphorism of the Children of Awa: “Linger not by the Fire of Pawhero;” for no man may know when the spears of the enemy shall force open the Gates of Hades.
The military operations conducted in the far north in the forties of last century have been described in print with perhaps somewhat wearying frequency, but those pertaining to this district have been neglected, hence the amount of detail given herein.
We have also taken the liberty to record the correct from of many local native place names.
A FIRST WORD
The Taming of Wild Land is the work we write of, a work commenced by neolithic man, and carried on by him for long centuries with scant result wrested from his unwilling hands by the virile members of an intrusive race, and carried out with energy and completeness in a few brief decades.
The Maori, tracing the far-spread water, roads we dared not brave, came to these isles and here dwelt throughout the changing centuries. He turned to the Earth Mother and the ocean for his food supplies, to the forests and streams of Aotearoa, nor deemed it wise to destroy the forest that covered the land from sea to sea. But, on the day whereon was seen the first foreign sail far out upon the realm of Kiwa, were it Spanish, Portuguese or Dutch, there fell the first shadow on the Maori people, the forerunner of the coming of the White Man. Yet a little while, and neolithic man shall step aside, and civilised man take up the task – the conquest of the earth, the taming of the wild land.
First came there adventurous voyagers, creeping along unknown coasts, and viewed as demons of the sea by the primitive man, but bearing gifts of strange and amazing items. Then came the hardy sea hunters, the men who fearlessly attacked the monsters of the ocean. Yet a little while, and the traders appear, the man who sought the dressed fibre of the flax, and some of these whale hunters and traders settled here at Kapiti, at Mana, at Te Korohiwa, at Paremata, at the Harbour of Tara, and elsewhere. The second act ends here. The white man has arrived.
Ere long another breed of the sea demons arrives, a horde of strange men, who bring their women and children with them and settle firmly down upon the land, camping in strange and doleful places, all unheeding of the charm of sea and sky. Truly a strange folk, who betray great ignorance, but possess the courage of gods, who assail the forest with fierce energy and hew down the giant trunks that saw the coming of Kupe the Explorer and were old when England was young. Even so shall they toil, and learn, and conquer for it is the Bush Legion in the making. And Neolithic man draws aside and marvels at the strange scene. For the last act of the great change has opened, the Settler has arrived, the Farmer calls for his own.
THE MAORI OCCUPATION OF PORIRUA.
There is no actual proof that the earliest inhabitants of New Zealand, Maruiwi folk, ever occupied Porirua and surrounding districts, but it is highly probable that they did so. It is quite likely that those old time aborigines were the people who killed and ate the giant moa of these parts, leaving their bones in the middens and sands of Titahi, Paremata and Miramar. Tradition tells us that the moa was still flourishing in these isles when the first Maori immigrants arrived some thirty generations ago, but that, ten generations later, when the last immigrants arrived on these shores the moa was a thing of the past. It is possible that the Toi people were responsible for the extinction of the moa in this district, but tradition is silent on the subject. It is, however, quite certain that these Toi folk, the secondary immigrants of these shores, dwelt in this district, settling here about twenty-seven or twenty-eight generations ago, say seven hundred years back. Traditions collected by the writer state that the Miramar Peninsula was then an island, but that, some ten generations later, it and the surrounding country was raised considerably by a heavy shock of earthquake known as Hao-whenua. It is highly probable that the Porirua lands were raised at the same time, when we note the old line of sea bluffs extending from Kahotea southward past Takapuwahia and Mr Prosser’s homestead to, and past, the old hotel, and also on the other (eastern) side from the railway station past the old M’Grath accommodation house at Cameron’s Creek and onward to Aotea and Papa-Ko-whai. At some time in the past the harbour waters extended to the bases of all these bluffs and southward of the Post Office.
The first Maori occupation f this district, according to tradition, was that by a tribe known as Ngai-Tara, whose eponymic ancestor was a chief named Tara, son of Whatonga of the famous vessel Kura-hau-po, and great grandson of Toi, the first Maori chief who settled on these shores. The Maruiwi people, who preceded the Maori, were a people with at least strong Melanesian affinities, and many Maoris show the Maruiwi strain of descent in their features, though the statement made by a newspaper writer lately that the Maori is “at least half Maruiwi” is, of course, absurd.
The chiefs Toi and Whatonga, with their followers, came from the Society Group in Eastern Polynesia, and settled at Whakatane and other places. In later times, when Whatonga was far advanced in years, his two sons, Tara and Tautoki, visited this district, and eventually settled on the Miramar Island, then known as Motu-kai-rangi. As these people increased in numbers, the descendants of Tara, after whom Port Nicholson was named Te Whanga-nui-o-Tara, assumed the tribal name of Ngai-Tara, and occupied the district from the Hutt to the northern side of the Pori-rua Harbour, settling on the coast line, but not occupying the forest lands back from the coast. The descendants of Tautoki, known as the Rangitane tribe, settled the Wai-ra-rapa district.
After Ngai-Tara had dwelt in this district for many generations, the descendants of Kahu-ngunu began to move down the East Coast and occupy the Wai-rarapa district, where they gradually displaced Rangitane, some of whom moved across Cook Strait (Raukawa) to the Sounds, while others held on to the forest lands north of Masterton. Ngai-Tara were also subjected to the same pressure, or apprehension, and many of them also moved across the sea of Raukawa, to be found in later days in occupation of the Sounds by Cook. Those who remained in the Porirua and Wellington districts intermarried with the Kahu-ngunu folk and the later arrivals known as Ngati-Ira.
Thus it was that we find a clan of the Kahu-ngunu folk, known as Ngati-Rangi, occupying the Wellington and Porirua districts for some time, to be replaced, or rather to be intruded upon, some two or two and a half centuries ago by the descendants of on Ira-kai-putahi, he who achieved fame by being fed on this mother’s heart in far-off Eastern Polynesia. These sons of Ira the heart-eater had been driven from the East Coast district, and had settled at Palliser Bay, whence, as they increased in numbers, they spread westward to occupy the Wellington and Porirua districts. By means of intermarriage, and other causes, all the people of these parts became known as Ngati-Ira, though partially Kahu-ngunu, Ngai-Tara and Rangitane, with a light strain of Maruiwi blood.
Ere long these offspring of the heart-eater pushed their northern boundary outwards to Puke-rua, where they built a fortified village (pa) on the Bluff overlooking the beach and just west of the Wai-mapihi stream, some traces of which hamlet may still be seen. This challenge was noted by a clan of Ngati-Rangi then living at a fortified village known as Nga Ma-hanga, at Paraparaumu. These latter folk sprang to arms to push back the Ngati-Ira advance, and marched to attack them at Puke-rua, proceeding by way of the Horo-Kiri Valley, so as to take the post in the rear. But Ngati-Ira had been warned of the expedition by a Rangitane slave, who had escaped from Nga Mahanga and reached Pukerua by the beach track. Hence Ngati-Ira left their pa, and marched to a point on the track between Paua-taha-nui and Horo-kiri, where they lay in wait for their enemies, who were under the chiefs Paetaka and Horoiwi. In the scene that ensued the Ngati-Rangi force was defeated, and retired without loss of time, while Ngati-Ira held grimly on to their outposts at Pukerua until the invasion of the district by northern invaders.
When the northern invaders, under Tuwhare, Te-Rau-paraha, and other chiefs, marched down the coast in 1819 or 1820, they found that the pa at Puke-rua blocked their advance. Acting under the advice of Te Rau-paraha they made overtures of peace to the inmates, thus gaining admission, whereupon they suddenly attacked Ngati-Ira and defeated them, the survivors escaping up the bed of the Wai-mapihi creek, where they are said to have concealed their greenstone treasures. Some of the Porirua folk were captured and enslaved by these raiders, who then advanced on Port Nicholson, some by marching along the coast, it is said, others proceeding in canoes looted at Porirua.
After these raiders had returned to their homes in the north, the Ngati-Toa of Kawhia, and the Ngati-awa of Taranaki came down and took possession of the Porirua and Wellington districts driving to Wairarapa those of the local people who escaped the murderous foray. This occurred in the twenties of last century, and the old-time people were permanently expelled from this district, the Ngati-Toa clan settling at Porirua, Mana and Kapiti, while Ngati-Awa occupied Port Nicholson.
Thus it is that the local Natives of our time know nothing of the old history of the district, which has to be obtained from the Wairarapa Natives. We know that the shores of Porirua have, for long centuries, been a favoured dwelling place of the Maori, more especially those of the Whitireia peninsula, and that many signs of such occupation may still be seen, but of the lives and adventures of these folk we know nought. They have passed away like unto mists from the summit of Tararua, and the place shall know them no more.
The mode of life of the Natives of this district was probably more primitive than that of many other tribes, inasmuch as they did not possess alluvial plains or any considerable extent of land suitable for the cultivation of the sweet potato. Their food supplies were drawn largely from ocean and forest, especially the former, they were expert fishers and fowlers, who knew the ways of fish and fowl as no white man knows them. These bushmen were versed in primitive forest lore, in the woodcraft of neolithic man. These fishermen hauled their nets in the harbour long before the Hoa-whenua earthquake over 400 years ago, and the shoaling of the bay, and braved the waves of Raukawa as they had those of the great Pacific in the days that lay behind. Their vegetable foods were the products of the forest and of the kumara gardens of Whiti-reia and elsewhere.
The district was occasionally raided, or traversed, by enemies, who usually came from the west coast of the island, for Porirua, prior to the twenties of last century, was ever occupied by clans of the East Coast people. Indeed, there local natives were related to the Mua-Upoko fold of the Otaki district, and to other clans as far north as Whanga-nui. Apparently the forest was their principal refuge during such invasions, for there are but few signs of old pa, or fortified places, in the district. Only three have been located, and all these are on the coast south of Mount Cooper. No sign of earthwork, save terraced hut sites, is seen at any other old village sites, and indeed many such sites would not lend themselves to defensive works, and are situated on sloping ground commanded by higher land in close proximity. But more of this anon. We do know, however, that it was a custom of the local tribes in former times to have places of refuge in the forest, to which at least non-combatants, as also defeated peoples, were accustomed to retire in troubled times.
So lived and fought, toiled and died, the thousands of primitive folk who, century after century, dwelt on the shores of Porirua, on the wind-swept hills of Aotea and Koanga-umu, in the coves of the Wai-o-hata and One-hunga, on bleak headlands and raised beaches, in the days of long ago, what time Columbus was driving his superstitious crew across the Western Ocean.
And to what end did the descendants of the old sea rovers dwell for seven long centuries by these forest-clad shores and the surf-lashed coast of Raukawa? Where now are the sons of Tara and of Ira the Heart-Eater? Of a verity nought remains save a few middens – and neolithic implements, faint traces of bygone hamlets and … memories.
For in days of yore, when Tasman was peering into unknown seas, the saying of the Children of Tara was : – “Waiho i Porirua, i te hainga ururua.” (Let it be Porirua, where many people dwell.)
NGAITI-TOA – THE PRESENT OCCUPANTS OF PORIRUA.
We have seen that the former Maori clans were expelled from this district in the twenties of last century, and that the Porirua district was then occupied by a portion of the Ngati-Toa tribe, the most prominent chiefs of which at that time were Te Rau-paraha and Te Pehi. The latter is known to us as Te Pehi Kupe, but, strange to say, this latter name is not known to the local natives, who always refer to him as Te Pehi. He it was who boarded the Urania, whaler, in Cook Strait, in the year 1824, and insisted upon being taken to England, where he hoped to obtain firearms. His story is a most interesting one. His son, Te Hiko-o-te-rangi, was also an influential person; he died in 1846, after having been in the Wellington Hospital for some time.
Pawiri Puaha, a leading Native of Porirua, lived here for many years, and died on September 6, 1858. It is comforting to read in the “Independent” that he had for many years “maintained a consistent Christian profession.” His daughter, Raiha, died at Porirua in May, 1912.
Ngati-Toa were not a numerous people hence the alliances with other tribes made by Te Rau-paraha. That section of the tribe living at Wainui have, like other clans, much diminished in numbers, and few of them are now left. Our old friend Aperahama Mira and his wife are the last of the old folk now surviving at that hamlet.
In the year 1840 an estimate was made by the officials of the New Zealand Company of the number of Natives in the Wellington district, from which we extract the following items : –
|Port Nicholson (Ngati-Awa, N-Ruanui and Taranaki)||500|
|Owhariu, Oterongo and Wai-ariki (Nga-ti-Awa)||40|
|Mana Isle (Ngati-Toa)||30|
Those at Manga-rautawhiri given as Ngati-Awa were probably members of the Ngati-Tama clan. Oterongo was a small hamlet near Omere (the seaward range at Cape Te Rawhiti, so-called), southern end, while Wai-ariki was near the old M’Menamin homestead.
At that time it was estimated that 400 Natives were living at Wai-kanae and 1000 about Otaki.
Dieffenbach gave the Native population of the shores of Port Nicholson and Owhariu as numbering 800 in 1840, but this was assuredly an over-estimate. These were all Ngati-Awa, except the inhabitants of the village at Te Aro, who were of Taranaki clan. The Puketapu clan of Ngati-Awa were living in Owhariu Bay, and at Waipirau, a little hamlet at the foot of Bowen Street. The Ngamotu gens were located at Nga Uranga and Pito-one; Ngati-Tama were at Pipi-tea and Kai-wharawhara, while Ngati-Mutunga were at Wai-whetu. Dieffenbach also remarks that 120 of Ngati-Toa were living at Porirua and Mana, 200 more on Kapiti, while 700 Ngati-Awa resided at Waikanae. Presumably there was a good deal of guess work about this census business.
In the “New Zealand Journal” of 1851 appears a report on the Maori villages of the Wellington district, and as far as Wairarapa and Rangitikei, from which we cull a few notes.
Takapuahia, Porirua : A Ngati-Toa hamlet situated on the native reserve; about 250 Natives here. Two neat chapels have been built of reeds, and the materials for a water-power mill have been bought by the Natives. Cultivation of wheat, maize and potatoes. The Natives have abandoned the Taupo (Plimmerton) and Pukerua settlements and are now located here, a much more desirable place. (Presumably this village, which is still occupied by Ngati-Toa, should be written Takapu-wahia. It was named after a place at Kawhia.)
Komanga-rautawhiri : A fishing village on the coast near Titahi. Forty-five Natives dwell here, probably attracted by the whaling station at the Coalheavers (Te Korohiwa; “Coalheavers” is a whaler’s corruption.) A very bleak place. (This place is marked Bridge Pa on some maps. It is just south of the old whaling station.)
Taupo (Plimmerton) : Now deserted.
Pukerua : One of the first settlements of Ngati-Toa in the district, and residence of the late chief Tungia. It has been abandoned, the Natives having joined Puaha at Takapuahia, thought many of them have died within the last five or six years. Houses in a state of decay. Mr Couper has a cattle station here.
Te Paripari (between Pukerua and Paekakariki) : Occupied by Ngati-Aawa. About twenty-two Natives here. Many of these people have returned to Taranaki. This decadent hamlet was formerly known to us as the Rocky Settlement.
At Wairaka, Pae-kakariki and Wai-nui are 195 Natives. A school at Wai-nui is under the superintendence of one of the young chiefs. These natives have several stacks of wheat awaiting the completion of the mill at Porirua. Ohariu (Owhariu) is accessible from Wellington only by a footpath; the pa is in a state of decay. Originally the population of Ohariu was numerous, it being the principal landing place for canoes from both sides of the straits. These Natives are Ngati-Tama from Taranaki. The mortality among them of late years has been great. The Native teacher informs me that he has buried one hundred persons here within the last ten years. A few Whanga-nui Natives live here who have intermarried with the people of the place. The present population is 119, but there is a great scarcity of children. More of these folk will soon return to Taranaki.
In a Government publication of 1870 the Ngati-Toa people living in the Porirua and Otaki districts numbered 207, the principal men being Hohepa Tama-i-hengia, Ropata-Hurumutu and Tami-hana Te Rau-paraha. The clan names given are : –
At that time the Ngati-awa folk at Whare-roa and Wai-kanae numbered 174, the greater part of the tribe being at Taranaki, while some were at the Chatham Isles. The Wai-rarapa Natives then numbered 850, while Ngati-Raukawa of the Otaki district were 740 strong.
The present Native population of Porirua is extremely small, and confined to the hamlet of Takapuwahia, on the western shore of the southern arm of the harbour, and a few dwelling at Hongoeka. But the homesteads of the intrusive white man are scattered far and wide over the land for tribes made by Te Rau-paraha. That section of the tribe living at Wainui have, like other clans, much diminished in numbers, and few of them are now left. Our old friend Aperahama Mira and his wife are the last of old folk now surviving at that hamlet.
In the year 1840 an estimate was made by the officials of the New Zealand Company of the number of Natives in the Wellington district, from …
… past times, the Toi who found these isles occupied by a strange people, who met with strange adventures, and looked upon the huge moa of the Bay of Plenty.
The hamlets of the aborigines were situated on promontories, on terraces, on flat or sloping land above the bluffs, or on the small flats found in the little bays and indentations of the coast. All settlements were near the shores, for there was no land away from the coast that appealed to the Maori as a desirable place of residence. His clearings were small indeed, and confined to the vicinity of the hamlets. Bush had been cleared at some places suitable for cultivation, such as Motu-karaka, Kahotea, and some parts of the Whitireia peninsula and old sweet potato gardens are recognised by the presence of water-worn gravel in the soil, as seen at Titahi, Kaipawa, and many other places. When the common potato was acquired, then clearings became more numerous, but we are not aware of the date of the introduction of the tuber into this district.
But the forest was practically untouched in pre-European times, it was a food preserve, and a prized one, and it was also a haven of refuge in many cases, when raiding enemies reached these parts.
One of the most interesting types of relics of Maori occupation seen in these isles is the remains of the old pa or fortified villages seen in so many places, and of which the earthworks of thousands may be seen in the North Island. The Wellington and Porirua districts, however, show a great paucity of such remains, and what there are here are assuredly poor specimens of the pa Maori. There is not, in the whole district, a single example of the elaborate defences, heavy earthworks and deep fosses seen on the East Coast, in the Bay of Plenty, in the far north, and the Taranaki district. This fact is essentially a rocky district, and the bluffs, knolls and promontories which were selected as sites of fortified hamlets showed rock so near the surface that heavy earthworks could not possibly be formed by a people not possessing metal tools, hence the defences of such places were composed principally of stockades. Thus it is that so few signs of old pa are seen in this district. The latest occupied of the old pa were abandoned in the twenties of last century, the stockades soon disappeared through the agency of fire and decay, and no sign remains of such places save maybe a few water-worn stones, and perchance, a shell midden.
There is also another item to be mentioned, and that is that there is some evidence to show that the Natives of this district did not habitually reside in fortified places; indeed, judging from the evidence of middens, they appear to have lived principally at places that could scarcely have been defended fro any length of time. Such must have been either open hamlets or were merely surrounded by palisading. Doubtless these folk were generally provided with a fortified place on some adjacent hill or headland, to which they retreated when threatened by an enemy; in fact, we know the sites of a goodly number of such stockaded forts near Wellington. In a few places are seen remains of earthwork defences, parapets and fosses, the heaviest of which are probably those of the old Ika-a-Maru pa near Mr James M’Menamin’s homestead, between Owhariu and Ohau Bay.
In the case of the Porirua district there are only three places that can be safely said to have been fortified retreats in former days, and all of these are on the outer coast line. One is Te Pa o Kapo, a small rock promontory between Titahi Bay and Mount Cooper (Whitireia); another is a small knoll on the headland of Komanga-rautawhiri; the third is on a headland further south known as Tu-tamahurangi; all of which will be described later on. Any other fortified places possessed by the Natives of these parts must have been defended by stockades only. Such long occupied hamlets as those of Onehunga and Hongoeka must have been defended by stockades, or had fortified places near at hand to which the people retired in troublous times; smaller hamlets, or temporary settlements, might have been dispensed with such strongholds. Of many of these smaller places no sign remains save, possibly, a few hut sites and middens, heaps of sea-shells, the molluscan fauna of the realm of Awarna i Porirua.
The discovery of implements of stone or other material does not necessarily prove that places where such were found have been occupied by Natives in past times. We are not aware that any Maori settlement was ever made up the Horokiri valley, which seems to have been densely wooded as late as the coming of Europeans to the district, yet stone implements have certainly been found there. Such items found at places covered by dense forest prior to the advent of civilised man have probably been either lost or hidden at such places, and we know that the above valley was occasionally traversed in former times by Natives on their way up and down the coast.
Again, during an occupation of these isles for centuries, the Maori has ever been an enthusiastic woodsman and a past master in forest craft. Each season of the year found him ranging the woods for various products thereof, birds, rats, berries, roots and suitable timbers for the construction of houses, canoes, tools, weapons and other items. Implements were lost in these forests, and many have been concealed or thrown away by hard-pressed fugitives, as also under certain other circumstances. Thus implements are found by persons engaged in draining swamps, making roads, etc, and the narrator has known of cases where stone implements have been found in rougher and more remote localities than Horokiri (Corrupted into Horokiwi by Europeans). When the road from Fort Galatea to Rua-tahuna was being made through the wild gorges of Okahu and Te Wera-iti, two beautifully formed and finished stone weapons (patu one-wa) were found by workmen at the base of large trees.
Some stone adzes have been found at Motu-karaka, as also two short wooden spears, the latter preserved by burial in a swamp.
In as much as Native settlement here was confined to the coast line in pre-European times, it is by no means a difficult task to locate signs of former occupation by the Maori people in this district. This can be done by traversing the coast line, taking care to examine, however, not only suitable places for hamlets or isolated huts, on small flats or slopes above high-water mark, but also the bluffs, headlands and hills above the coast line, for many of the old-time hamlets were situated on such commanding sites. This means a great deal of zigzag walking in order to thoroughly explore the coastal area, and no one is better aware of that fact than the writer of these notes.
We will now proceed to take our walks abroad and examine the coast line from Tutamahurangi Point, south of Wai-rere, to the harbour mouth, right round the shores of the bay, out to the North Head, and on to Pae-kakariki, noting all the signs of Native occupation near. It is quite a task, and will occupy some strenuous days; but, as the men of old said – “Hai aha ma te waewae mama!” – What reck tho light-footed!
In order to perform this exploration we will make the Porirua village our starting point, and work both ways from that base. Thus our first stretch shall be from Porirua Railway Station to Tutamahurangi (marked Tomahawk on some maps), south of Titahi, near the southern boundary of Wai-rere No. 1 Block.
In the first place we note but few signs of former occupation on the low-lying flat from the starting point on to Takapuwahia native village, inasmuch as this was a wet and swampy piece of land in most parts ere drains were put in, and, moreover, was over-flown to a greater extent by the tides in pre-European days. Indeed, at some past period the waters of the bay were flowing where now stand the railway station and post office, for the bluffs on the western side, as also those near the old M’Grath accommodation house at Cameron’s Creek, were formed by the waters. It was the ceaseless work of erosion, the gnawing of Hine-moana, as the men of yore put it. The salt water has lapped the bases of these bluffs on both sides of the harbour, and you may note marine deposits in the siltage flats where now the tides never reach, thus illustrating two laws of nature, the unstable nature of land and the ceaseless action of water.
From our starting point, then, and onward as far as the turn-off of the road to Titahi, in order to locate signs of old-time occupation, you must search the high land, the terraces and slopes above the bluffs, and there you will find a plenty. And in your search keep an eye on the steep faces of the bluffs, for there you will see in many places of shell refuse that marks the sites of old hamlets. There are many such tokens seen, as also old hut sites, from Te Uru-kahika, south of the Prosser homestead, onward to the turn-off at Kahotea. Some of these are of modern Ngati-Toa occupation, but many are of pre-European times. The present village of Takapu-wahia stands on the site of a former settlement, and from there to Kahotea the whole line of low hills have been occupied.
In the little inlet at Kahotea, where the road to Titahi Bay turns off are signs of former occupation on the little flat, and shell refuse is seen on the creek banks. On the lower part of the middle spur on the north are also seen tokens of old settlement in the form of hut sites, and on the low spur point just east of this is an old store pit of the rua tahuhu type, a deep pit that was covered with a V shaped roof and entered from the end. A little way up the middle spur is a deep pit, but that is a sawpit of pakeha days, and beareth no neolithic aspect; probably Bill and Jim broke down, flitched and ripped a rimu log on that pit, anyhow we hope they did.
The little creek that has cut its way through old siltage near the Titahi Road, has exposed an illustration of the dangers that best the amateur archaeologist. It has exposed in the vertical bank two layers of shells, separated by a deposit of alluvium. Lest ye take these two deposits for tokens of two separate occupations divided by a considerable lapse of time. The upper deposit is assuredly an old midden, shells thrown out of primitive hamlets on to the village rubbish heap, as be-tokened by the presence of charcoal, burned stones, and the fact that all shells of bivalves are separated and asunder. Note the difference in the lower strata, wherein no charcoal or burnt stones occur, and, clearly, the bivalves have never been opened by hungry neolith, the two valves yet adhere to each other. Amigo mio! This is an old beach level, probably forced up by such a shock as we had in 1848, giving the hapless molluscan fauna of Kahotea no time to migrate to where the pleasant waters be.
From this spot as far round as the deep inlet known as Te One-poto no good camping ground exists, and we look in vain for signs of permanent occupation. On the south side of that inlet, near its mouth, we note middens and hut sites, as also, mark this, the site of a hut built by Europeans or by natives who had acquired from whites the habit of chimney building. In many places around and near Porirua Harbour may be seen the sites of old huts formerly occupied by white men. Nothing remains now save the levelled site and remains of old stone and clay fireplaces or chimneys, in some cases of clay walls. These are the lone camps where, in long gone years, dwelt members of the restless legion always attracted to frontiers and new lands. We remember some of these old Bohemians and squaw men, old sailors and whalers and wanderers who anchored here in their declining years, some taking Native wives; men who had joined the Trail Breakers way back in the dim thirties and twenties, and who had camped down by the placid waters of Porirua to end their days in peace. They are all gone now, those old wander-lust devotees, gone together with the whaleboats, the Native canoes and the bush, gone to heir own place, and few remember them.
On the northern point of One-poto inlet the Maori has had a small settlement, as proved by certain scarpings of hut sites, some stone anvils, such as were used for pounding fern root on, shell wastage, and a shell mound or midden at the base of the spur, western side.
On the next point, known as Te Neke, opposite the Paremata R.R. Station, is the site of an old time village of our barbarian predecessors. It is marked by the levelled hut sites on the spur, and the ubiquitous midden. A fine site for a hamlet, and a charming view its occupants had of the three-armed inlet and the surrounding forest-clad hills.
On the little flat just north of Te Neke are also tokens of former occupation, while on the spur north of it are hut sites, store pits and middens. All these spurs, slopes, bluffs and flats are wanting in any form of defensive earthworks, and most of the old places of residence are situated above the beach, on sloping spurs and hillsides offering no advantage as defensible places. If they possessed any defensive works at all, such must have consisted of stockades only, but, eyeing the sloping ground, the observer cannot help thinking that they were little more than open hamlets.
Beyond this spur is another little flat, known to gentle aborigines as Kai-aua, whereat old Dan. Richards used to live in the days of our fathers, or grandfathers, as the case may be. This flat has also been occupied by Natives; most of these little flats were used as kumara gardens and hut sites in the past times, while the remains of a stone fireplace show the former abode of a white man, probably it was Daniel’s primitive home.
On the next spur, opposite the narrowest part of the bay at Paremata proper, and the old stone barracks and Geordy Bolt’s (Thoms) whaling station, are hut sites and middens, while on the next small semi-detached spur the same evidences are seen. By the way, did it ever strike you that the much maligned rabbit is the archaeologist’s friend and coadjutor, his most willing helper? For this is surely a fact, as we proceed to prove. In this wise: The last mentioned midden (as also others at Aotea and elsewhere) would have escaped the scrutiny of our eagle eye, so covered is it with a dense sward of grass, had it not been for the fact that rabbits had burrowed through the turf and obligingly scratched out a fine assortment of shells, cast away there by the brown skinned dames of past generations. Rains had cleaned them and exposed their whiteness that all might see. Mr Annandale refers to the rabbit some what disparagingly as a rodent mammal, but we claim him as a brother archaeologist possessed of much enthusiasm and no mean powers. We are much mistaken if the Porirua rabbit is not more worthy of praise than the Welsh species.
We should not omit to note that this narrow gut or passage by the old barracks was the first and original Porirua Ferry. Travellers from Wellington came round the western side of the bay and were ferried across here. When the road was made as far as London’s store at Tinipia (Ginger Beer), near the railway bridge, the ferry was moved to that site.
On the map of Porirua Harbour as surveyed by Captain J.L. Stokes, of H.M.S. Acheron, in 1850, the point immediately opposite the old barracks is called Deep Water Point. Proceeding towards the mouth of the harbour the next point is marked Servantes Point, the next Bar Point, while that at Kai-tawa is South Head. Whitireia (Mount Cooper) is marked Titahi Cone. The depth of water off Deep Water Point is given as nine fathoms, but it shoals rapidly both ways. The rock in the fairway at the harbour mouth, the name of which is the Toka-a-papa, is 3ft above the high water! The shoals and boat passages in both arms of the harbour are shown. The latitude of Mana Isle is given as 41deg. 5 51.
To proceed with the music, or with our archaeological survey, to give our amateur efforts a high sounding name: On a small flat here we again note signs of former occupation. It has undoubtedly been occupied by Natives in pre-European days, also probably by Europeans, as, for example, when the ferry was located here. Also the Polynesian Company had several men living on the peninsula when the first Wellington settlers arrived in 1839. In this paper we propose to call this peninsula north of Takapu-wahia and Titahi the Whitireia Peninsula, a name employed by Bishop Selwyn in his journal. Whitireia is the Native name of Mount Cooper.
Inward from the little flat above mentioned we encounter a few middens ere reaching the point east of Onehunga, the name of which point is Te Kahikatoa, but on the bluffs and spurs above the beach no clear, definite traces of occupation are noted. The formation, however, is such as was favoured by Natives, and we noted what might have been hut sites; the question might be decided by a little spade work. There are some distinct, though point. …
… Moving forward into the little bay at Onehunga, we observe that a considerable area of the flat is practically one big midden, showing that there must have been much and continued occupation here. There is a fine stretch of sandy beach here, such as we shall see but little more of on this trip, save at Titahi Bay. By the way, the name Onehunga denotes a sandy beach of this nature; the word One signifying a beach, though not applied to a rocky coast line, which is akau. These middens are a promising field for the relic hunter, showing much shell refuse, numerous old steam ovens, cooking and other stones, as also bones, including the decaying bones of whales, probably some of Geordie Bolt’s prey of the latter thirties and early forties, the same having provided John Tenakoe with many a square meal. At the first creek, the winds that blow have exposed an old midden at the base of the spur, and the hut sites are seen on the lower part of the spur between the two gullies close by. A considerable part of the flat must have been occupied by the Maori in past times, and doubtless there is treasure buried here, awaiting the archaeologists of the days that lie before. Onehunga was the residence of Whanake the principal chief of the Porirua and Wellington districts early in last century. It was form here that he lost his canoe, named Te Rau-o-te-kaho, and recovered it by means of appealing to the gods, who kindly caused it to drift back to shore again, thus showing the amazing power of faith and prayer. We sadly fear that neither faith nor prayer would prove so efficacious in these degenerate days.
On the western side of the wide faced spur opposite the central part of the Onehunga flat are some well defined terracings that may be the sites of huts of the men of yore, though it is suggested that they may have been formed for cultivation purposes, like those seen by Wakefield in the early forties of last century at Te Paripari, a Native settlement between Pukerua and Paekakariki and resembling others seen by the writer at Te Reinga and Mokau in the seventies. We will pursue this subject further when we reach the fine series of terraces between Kaitawa and Whitireia.
On the western side of Onehunga Bay we see more traces of human occupation at the base of the bluffs, as also on the slope above those bluffs, such slopes being spurs running down from the range above; the lower extremities of such spurs having been cut off by the action of the sea in past ages. For, at some period in the remote past, the sea has laved the bases of all these bluffs around and outside the harbour; then came a time when the land was raised, thus leaving small flats or sloping land at the base of the cliffs, ready for occupation by man, so soon as he should arrive. The tokens of these activities are so clear that, of a verity, he who runs may read.
Above these bluffs are visible hut sites, also some large water-worn stones, such as were used for pounding fern roots on; such stones were ever present articles of domestic furniture in Native hamlets. These places were assuredly desirable villa residences, and the brown-skinned tenants had a good water supply right handy in the form of a spring that issues from the hill-side. We note also water-worn gravel in the soil, a pretty sure sign that kumara have been cultivated on these slopes, and possibly taro on the flat below. By the way, talking about villa residences, a time will certainly come when such will line the slopes and bluffs of Porirua Harbour, and the old hut sites and cannibal feast ovens on the grassy slopes of Kaiaua, Te Neke, Kahotea and many another old prehistoric hamlet, will accommodate desirable seaside residences for those who toil among city streets.
To proceed: In the gully just south of our last location is the last patch of bush left on the peninsula, more’s the pity, albeit the larger trees have disappeared therefrom, laving a fine grove of kohekohe, titoki, mahoe and others of the smaller species, also some fine specimens of Pteris tremula, a handsome fern. There is a small patch of scrub left at One-poto, another in a gully north of Kahotea, nothing more. The handsome kohekohe trees (Dysoxylum spectabile) were a brave sight this year of 1913, when in blossom in May, so prolific were they in flower-producing; and who would not stroll thither to see the long masses of bloom pendant from trunk and the bigger branches, instead of from the branchlets, surely an eccentric tree, your kohekohe.
And that patch of bush is going to disappear anyhow, just so soon as the nearest Goth needs some firewood or fence battens. Ay de mi! Will the time ever come when our farmers will condescend to spend £1 a year in planting trees for fuel and fencing? No need to select good soil, and the return would be speedy and profitable.
Again, we will endeavour to proceed, for verily the flesh is weak. At the western point of Onehunga Bay, on the top of the bluff, is a fine piece of level ground whose grassy surface shows no sign of occupation, though it must have been utilised in former days possibly as a garden, protected from breakwinds. Just west of this point both sides of the first little gully are carved into plainly marked artificial terraces, each a few yards in width.
Here the presence of waterworn gravel in the soil, and a rua kai, or storage pit for food products, hard by, tend to uphold our theory that these terracings were made for cultivation purposes. All these terrace formations date from pre-Ngatitoa days; they are the work of the old tangata whenua, the people of the land, the descendants of Toi and of Ira.
The next spur and point constitute the South Head of the entrance to the harbour. This is Kai-tawa, whereat the Ngati-Toa folk had a small hamlet that was occupied as late as the forties of last century. Wakefield mentions it in his “Adventures in New Zealand”, under the name of Waitawa. The signs of this late occupation are plainly seen in the form of hut sites and store pits of the type termed rua poka. Some of the woodwork of one hut is till extant, apparently slabs of totara, a durable timber. A hut site on the beach below hath a modern aspect.
Proceeding by the beach from this point to Titahi involves some rough scrambling round the base of the cliff, and a short distance from Kaitawa is situated a cave, formerly used as a burial place, or as a place to deposit bones of the dead after exhumation. It contained many such remains in the days of our youth, but they seem to have disappeared now, possibly removed by pakeha vandals.
Harking back to Kaitawa Point, and continuing up the spur towards Mount Cooper, there appear to be some artificial terraces on the seaward slope. Proceeding up the spur, we note that the head of a small seaward gully widens cut and develops into a wide even slope of triangular form, the apex of such triangle downwards, the base represented by the ridge above. This slope shows the most remarkable series of artificial terraces in the district, and one highly worthy of study by our antiquarian. This slope has a width of about 100 yards at its upper part, and has a northern exposure. Practically the whole of this face has been carved by human hands into terraces that vary from forty yards or so up to one hundred paces in length, the longer ones being the uppermost of the series. Of the longer terraces there are about nine, but at certain places two terraces run together and continue as one, or one bifurcates. They vary in width from a few feet to six or seven yards, though doubtless denudation has wrought some changes in their contour. These terraces continue from the broken ground above the beach one above another, up to the brow of the spur; there are also some shorter cliffs below this series, and on the knoll to the eastward.
The question that naturally presents itself is, for what purpose was all this labour performed in so stiff a soil? To which we reply, they must have been formed for one of two purposes, namely, as hut sites, or as a means of cultivating the warmth-loving kumara. If utilised as a site for a hamlet, then the position is a most indefensible one, and it could not have been held against any enemy. Moreover, after a careful examination of the terraces we have detected no signs of hut sites or foundations, so common on the sites of deserted hamlets where the soil is fairly stiff, no sign of fire pits or of earth banking of former walls. But we did find foreign waterworn gravel in the soil, often a sign of an old cultivated area; such grave, when obtainable from beach or pit, being spread on the surface of sweet potato cultivations and placed in the holes in which taro was grown. Hence we have come to the conclusion that these terraces were formed as kumara gardens on the sunny slope, and doubtless each terrace would have on its outer margin a breakwind of manuka or other material, to shelter winds so prevalent here. All these terraces are covered with a thick sward of grass, and spade work only would solve the question of the use they were put to.
There is no sign of any scarped hill that might have served as a pa or fortified place, anywhere in the vicinity. Mount Cooper itself was just the sort of place that the old-time Maori would have selected for the purpose; it would have made an ideal pa, but gives no sign.
In his “Notes on the Great Barrier Island”, published in Volume 22 of the “Transactions of the New Zealand Institute”, Mr Weetman remarks on certain old terraced formations on that island : – “There are places on the east coast, notable at Korotiti, which mark the site of old habitations and cultivations, the slopes of the hills being terraced and the ground supported by stone facing, while in other places enclosures are fenced in by stone walls, which are as straight and well built as those constructed by Europeans.”
On the summit of the ridge above the terrace formation is a fine piece of ground with a gentle slope toward the east. Here again we find beach gravel in the soil, from which fact we draw the conclusion that this area also was cultivated in former times. Marine shells likewise are here seen, unquestionably brought from the beach also.
On the summit of Whitireia (Mount Cooper) are two places that look like hut sites, but must be viewed as doubtful. By the way, as shore whaling stations kept a look out on the watch of whales, stationed on some coign of vantage during the season, it is possible that Geordie Bolts had one on this commanding hill, probably he had one somewhere hereabouts, his station being so far within the harbour.
From the summit of Whitireia one enjoys one of the finest views obtainable in the district. Looking westward we have the sea of Raukawa, or Cook Strait, and Mana Island, laying below us, the sea traversed by Kupe, that explorer from Eastern Polynesia, in times long past away, while far away are the high ranges of the South Island. Southward we plainly note the coast as far as the Bride Pa and the two ranges that hem in the Owhariu Valley, while lone Omere, massive and bare sided, guards the gate of Raukawa. In the foreground lie the Pa-o-Kapo, Titahi Bay, and the rugged coast-line southward to Korohiwa, once populated by rugged whalers and their brown skinned wives, now long since deserted of primitive man. Northward the outer harbour lies below us, with the hills of Hau-kopua in the distance. Facing eastward we see the northern part of the eastern arm of the bay as far as Paua-taha-nui, and the ranges beyond the Hutt, while to the right we view the inner part of the southern arm, the vale of Kenepuru and surrounding ranges, as also far away on the sky-line, the sharp peak on the old Native track to Pito-one.
Then we note that this hill peak, conical and symmetrical in form as viewed from the railway, has lost its western slopes through the ceaseless gnawing of the sea for countless centuries; the “ngaunga a Hine-moana”, described by Kupe of old, when describing the aspect of these isles to eager listeners far away in Eastern Polynesia. Thus the western half of the scene, as also of its flanking spurs to north and south, have gone, worn away by the erosive power of the sea, or, as the old time Maori put it, of Hine-moana (personified from of the ocean). For the whole of this coastline, from the harbour mouth southwards, stands as an amazing illustration of the powers of erosion, of the ceaseless eating away of the land, not of earth or stiff clays, but of hard solid rock. Looking upon the masses of rock and isolated outlying crags off shore, you know that, long centuries ago, these were a part of the solid land, that the reef running seaward from the points were once part of those headlands, and the thought grows, as it did in the minds of the men of yore – that nothing shall endure for ever.
But look below! From the wind swept summit of Whitireia, famed in local song and story, look down upon the rugged storm lashed beach far below; for, of a verity the scene is a wild one, and fascinating withal. The huge waves are rolling in from outer seas and pounding heavily on the rocks and cliff base. Ever they roll in, slow, mighty, in ordered racks, in ceaseless array, the battalions of Hine-moana roll in to attack the Earth Mother. The foremast rank, a smooth rounded mass, encounters the hard bitten outlying guards of Whitireia, the black and sullen pickquets of the rock-ribbed land. The huge rocks are enveloped, covered with snowy foam, that is caught up by powers of impetus and wind, and hurled far ahead in gleaming spray. But the power of the great comber is broken, and it rolls on with diminished force to break upon the rocky feet of Whitireia. And, even as the backwash surges outwards, another great wave rushes in to the attack, while about every third billow looms high above the rankers. High above the roar of the wind comes the booming clamour of the endless war, and, amid pastoral scenes far inland, the dulled sound of the strife shall strike upon the ear. When the barbarous legions of the North surged down upon hapless Rome, when Sargon was collecting his stamped clay library, when Egyptian culture was young, this strife at Whitireia was an old, old story.
When, in fair weather, you range the beach below, you will find a rock bound coast indeed, and see strange forms of rocks curved by the waters of the ages, upstanding walls, symmetrical lanes where softer upturned strata have been eroded, while the sunlight gleams across the glittering waters, and lone Mana stands sentinel above the Raukawa.
With last look at battling giants, and the waves urging over the Toka-a-papa, we wend our way downwards to Titahi, but never to lose the sullen boom of the sea. Small wonder that the Maori termed a renowned warrior a Toka tu moana, a sea standing rock.
As we descend the southern side of Whitireia, we note that the scourging ocean has eaten away the flank spur ward; at its base are wave-hewn masses of rock. Mount Cooper is a bisected hill, one-half has disappeared into the maw of Hine-moana.
One the well-grassed eastern slope of this spur are certain small, ill-defined terracings which may have been hut sites, but they are not definite enough to enable one to do more than speculate.
Ere reaching the sandy beach of Titahi Bay, now overrun by city dwellers, but a quiet, almost unknown place when we first saw it fifty summers ago, we turn aside to the bluffs, where a small headland has served as a place of refuge to the original people of the land, and was known as the Pa-o-kapo. It is probable that it was so called after an ancestor named Ka-po. This is apparently the largest of the three known fortified positions of pre-European Porirua, and that is not saying much, for its limited area, albeit fairly level, would suffice for only about a dozen huts. Doubtless some, or possibly most, of the people belonging to it, lived on the slopes outside the pa, or it may only have been occupied when danger threatened, a not uncommon custom in Maoriland.
This retreat consists of a high point, with precipitous sides, extending seaward from the low hill south of Whitireia, and connected with the mainland by narrow neck, originally about thirty or thirty-five feet in width, but which as been cut away on both sides by neolithic engineers, so as to leave but a narrow causeway a few feet in width at the entrance to the pa. This narrow causeway has been cut down since we last saw it, some twenty years ago; it was then higher, with a scarp or bank of perhaps six or eight feet to ascend in order to enter what was formerly the fortified area. This scarp was originally surmounted with a stockade, and the butt of a heavy totara post, apparently pertaining to the gateway, was still in position twenty years ago. The pa was probably deserted about 1820. It was a place easily defended on account of its precipitous sides and narrow entrance causeway. The signs of several hut sites and food stoves are still visible (in 1913); the refuse of the pa was thrown over the cliffs, as seen by the shells still in evidence. Mournful to relate, we observed no freshly picked human bones on the midden, but verily there be no lack of banana rinds and lunch papers, showing that the trail of the serpent is over the storm-lashed citadel of Te Pa-o-kapo. Hard by a pre-European oven lieth a sardine tin, and the adjacent cultivation and hamlets of the anthropophagous neolith are invaded by tearooms, motor-cars, ’Arries, and other dissolute items.
Within the fortified area are a few large water-worn stones, such as were used for domestic matters in past times. This area contracts somewhat in the middle, to widen out again somewhat towards the northern point. This was an old-time Ngati-Ira pa of past centuries, and was never occupied by the late coming Ngati-Toa.
The slopes east and south-east of this pa have been cultivated, as sown by the quantity of water-worn gravel in the soil, laboriously carried up from the beach to be spread on the kumara fields.
Moving southward along the terrace, and above the fine stretch of sandy beach, we see the site of a large pre-European settlement. Here the drifting sands of time have exposed a considerable area, probably an acre, of the original surface, thickly covered in many parts by the middens of the old-time folk, the sons of Ira and of Tara. Refuse heaps, ovens and oven stones, stone flakes, stones used for domestic purposes, bones, and other relics, are strewn over the surface in great numbers, showing that this was a hamlet of some size. The place is an interesting study for those with a leaning toward the observation of primitive culture.
Further on, the drifting sands have covered the original surface, together with any traces of Native occupation. Early in February, 1913, half a dozen human skeletons were exposed here by such sand drift; these would probably date from pre-Ngati-Toa times.
Crossing a small stream we ascend a steep bluff and emerge on the terrace at the south end of Titahi Bay, and here view one of the oldest middens in the district, although this place has also been occupied in late times, and even, apparently, by the intrusive pakeha. This midden has been covered with drift sand blown from the beach below; the strong winds from seaward have removed a considerable portion of such sand, exposing to view the site of an old settlement and the debris thereof. Any huts located here would be merely kauta or kitchens, dwelling huts would be situated further along the terrace, away from the unclean, polluting precincts of cooked food, except some that might have been occupied by persons not troubled with tapu, such as slaves. Indeed, several takuahi, the little stone-lined fireplaces used in dwelling huts, are in evidence, though possibly they were not contemporaneous with this midden. It is curious to note the debris of an old, old village mixed with pieces of iron, glass and other tokens of European times, not to speak of the remains of a brick chimney.
At this picturesque village site no signs of earthwork are visible. Like practically all other such places in the district, if fortified at all, then it must have been by means of stockades only. The three pa already mentioned are simply headlands with a small scarp on the landward side.
At Koanga-umu, the hill above the rocky beach at the south end of Titahi Bay, are seen many small artificial terracings on the hill slopes above the bluffs; the purpose of these we have already discussed, and left as an open question. Further on, at and near Ruku-tane, the beach line is much too rough for hut sites, and the steep faced hills above show no signs of human occupation. A rugged, rock-bound coast, studded with the sharpest rock faces we have walked over since we left the regiment. The lines of isolated rocks extending seaward from the headlands are evidences of the encroachment of the sea throughout the ages. Truly a wild coastline.
Proceeding on to the low headland known as Te Korohiwa to the Maori, and to the early whalers as the “Coalheavers”, a name applied on maps to some rocks off shore, we view the site of one of the early whaling stations, as mentioned elsewhere in this melancholy narrative. A boat landing is noted on the northern side of the point, and on the south side of its summit, near a little streamlet, is the site of what was probably the whalers’ hut, of some 28ft in length, with the remains of an old stone fireplace, while nearby is seen an old stone pit, as used for potatoes. This is the station where our former R.M., Mr J.C. Crawford, first landed on this island.
But about that decrepit old stone fireplace; it looked like an old friend, to see it again. For surely we have sat before roaring fires in many such, with the billy slung, and the camp oven at the right front. Camped before a scant handful of a coal fire, or degenerating before a thrice accursed gas stove, we hit the weakening trail of memory and clay fireplaces.
Southward of the “Coalheavers” two small inlets are met with ere reaching Bridge Point, the first being known as Te Iwa-pakake, and the second as Kai-kanohi; the latter place is said to have been occupied by Natives formerly.
At Bridge Point, known as Komanga-rautawhiri to the Maori, such point rises in a knoll at its seaward extremity, and this knoll is the second pa we have to describe. It was defended by a small scarp on its landward side, facing the low neck, which scarp would be surmounted by a stout palisade work, or stockade, and this latter defence would doubtless be continued round the outer edge of the summit of the knoll. The summit area has been flattened in so far as the protruding rock would allow, but its area is extremely limited. The sites of three buts are yet discernible on the summit, as also another half-way down the northern slope of the mound. The summit could not have accommodated more than four or five huts; thus it is one of the very smallest pas we have ever seen. A ridge of rock occupies part of the middle of the area formerly enclosed, rock unassailable by a metalless folk. Two storage pits (rua poka) are seen on the knoll. This place is about opposite the south end of Mana Island, and is termed the Bridge Pa on the Admiralty chart of 1850, because, at that date, there was a hamlet of Ngati-Toa here, and it is situated at the eastern end of a curious narrow shoal that extends from the mainland across to Mana, call the Bridge. The deepest sounding marked on that shoal is four and a half fathoms, while to the south of it the water rapidly deepens twelve, sixteen and twenty fathoms; on the northern side to eleven and thirteen fathoms. Possibly this shoal marks a former land connection between Mana and the main. At the Mana end the shoal impinges upon the central valley of the island, at the mouth of which valley was situated a whaling station in the early days.
Missionary Henry Williams visited this settlement in 1839, but says little about it. The following notes are from his journal : –
“November 12, 1839 – Wind against us; stood across the straits, and determined to land at Port Nicholson and walk overland. In the afternoon anchored in the harbour. Several Natives came on board, with whom I made an arrangement to accompany us on the morrow. My companion, Mr Hadfield, very unwell.”
“November 13 – In full preparation for our departure to Kapiti, where I hoped to meet the Columbine. Landed at Nga Uranga. In the afternoon proceeded up the harbour in a canoe to Petoni (Pito-one). We brought with us 100 prayer books, fifteen Testaments and six Catechisms.”
“November 14 – Found Mr Hadfield very unwell this morning. Took a good breakfast as a preparation for my journey; my companion a draught of cold water and a crust of bread, a sorry commencement. Mounted the height on our way to Kapiti; joined in the evening by Reihaua.”
“November 15 – Received an express to go to Manga (Komanga-rautawhiri), a pa of Te Rangi-takaroro. Arrived at noon, amidst heavy rain and were happy to find ourselves opposite to the island of Mana. Passed close to Te Koriwa (Te Korohiwa), a place where are several Europeans whaling. Saw Neti, the Native, who came out in the proceedings of the agent of the New Zealand Land Company.”
“November 16 – Prepared to cross over to Mana, which occupied some time, owing to the numbers who wished to accompany us. We were nearly one hundred in the canoe, and I was somewhat fearful of consequences. It was about two miles across. We landed at the pa of Rangi-haeata, who received us with all due honours. Several Europeans were here, who were civil, one in particular, who was very solicitous that we should take some rum, which gave me an opportunity to speak on the evil of the practice … Passed to Oeka (?), where we found two Europeans.”
“November 17 – Held conversation with Moturoa and some others, who appeared in a pleasing state. After breakfast, went to Porirua. Held service with the Natives; about ten Europeans present.”
This is all relating to our district, and quite satisfying of its kind, for a more bald and unsatisfactory narrative it would be hard to conceive. The party probably passed a night at Papa-kowhai, which was usually the first day’s walk form Pito-one. It is, unhappily, scarcely clear as to whether civility or rum was the evil practice of Manaites in those days. The ten Europeans at Porirua’s service were probably some of Geordie Bolt’s Hardshell Baptists.
The rounded hill just westward of the Bridge Pa has been cultivated, and we counted sixteen potato pits on its slopes; these are relics of Ngati-Toa occupation in late times. The flat raised beach below the knoll, as also the flat neck, have apparently been occupied by huts. During a stroll along the coastline from Owhariu to Porirua in 1880 or 1881, we found a lone old Native woman living in a hut at the knoll, presumably the last survivor of the Bridge Pa folk of the fifties. Some apparently artificial terracings are observable on the hillside, and shells are seen on the summit.
The first streamlet south of the point is Otaroa, where occurs a most delectable little strip of beach of fine yellow sand, an unusual luxury on this wild coast.
Just beyond is Wai-tawa, and further on where a fence strikes the beach, is Wai-rere, where is a clump of karaka trees. The point just south of Wai-rere is Te Anapaura, and on the hill above is said to have been the home of Te Kekerengu, son of Whanake, and Tamairangi, principal chief and chieftainess of the Ngati-Ira tribe of these parts early in last century. If this was so, then he had a mighty steep home.
We will now hark back to our starting point at Porirua Railway Station, and continue our survey northward from that point, following the beach line, and examining the hills and bluffs above it as well, locating the signs of former native occupation on the lands now trodden by the white man.
The valley of the Kenepuru, including Tawa Flat, as also the valley of Cameron’s Creek, do not appear to have been ever occupied by the Maori; they were covered with dense forest when the early settlers arrived, as also were the surrounding hills.
Wending our way form the station, the point of terrace-like formation between the railway line and the road up Cameron’s Creek (? Aotea) formerly showed signs of having been occupied in the form of shell refuse.
From the creek on to Paremata Railway Station are many places formerly occupied by natives, many of them being homes of the original peoples, while small settlements of Ngati-Toa have exited at Aotea, Papa-kowhai, Oahu, etc. Such sites are marked by shell middens and occasional hut sites. The first ones met with are on the lower slopes of the hill known as Tamanga-a-kohu, just above the road, and are on the lands known as the Aotea block, though Aotea, form which it is named, is the name of the little bay on the south side of the Gear homestead. There are three or four old settlements on this stretch. There are also two on Section 103, that at Papa-kowhai having been located on the low-lying land near the road; other seen on Sections 102, 101, 99, and 98, while no doubt some were missed about the various farmsteads, not examined by the narrator. Of those seen, it would appear that only two could have been defended by stockades, one on a spur on the Aotea Block, another on a point just south of Horopaki and the Paremata Railway Station; these two places show both hut sites and shell middens. Most of such little hamlets were situated on headlands or the lower parts of spurs, where they would be in small clearings surrounded by the light bush that formerly covered the lower parts of these hills.
We observed no signs of native occupation at Horopaki, where stands the old hotel at the base of the hill just east of Paremata Railway Station for, if ever existent, the trail of the pakeha is over them all. The old “pub” seems to have gone out of business; its era of usefulness is over, though it is said to have done a roaring trade when the railway was being constructed and this was “the head of the road.”
Whitianga, a mane meaning “crossing over”, is the name of the land near the railway station and the narrow neck of water by the bridge. Now, why was the station not named Whitianga or Horopaki, instead of wrongfully applying the name Paremata to it, and thus confusing us with two Paremata, on one either side of the waterway. Of a verity the ways of railroaders ad Post Office officials in matters pertaining to nomenclature are “some surprising and plenty aggravating.” This promontory is named Green Point on the Admiralty Chart of 1850, while Yellow Point is south of it, on Section 101. At the base of the isolated hill at Whitianga is a place known as Tinipia to the natives. This was the site of London’s Ferry and trading store, and where he used to concoct a seductive beverage known as ginger beer for sale, most of his customers being the noble autochthones of these parts; hence they named the place Tinipia, the native pronunciation of the above-named beverage. All honour to Tinipia!
On this isolated or semi-isolated hill, for it is connected with the hills eastward by a low neck over which the road passes, are tokens of former occupation in the form of shell refuse, etc., as seen at the top of the cutting made for railway purposes. The summit of the hill has certainly been occupied by the Maori, and would lend itself readily to fortifying, but there are no signs of scarping or earthworks thereon; if defended at all then it must have been by means of stockades only. The summit is fairly level, and would accommodate a good many huts, and the situation of this old hamlet is a most commanding one.
Leaving Whitianga, or the Crossing Place, we move on to Long Point, formerly known as Point Russell, so named after Captain Russell, of the 58th Regiment, who was in charge of the military parties engaged in making the main road in the middle forties; the promontory is known as Te Rapa-a-te-whai to the Maori. This promontory has also been occupied in former times, as proved by the shell middens seen along its ridge, and a picturesque place it must have been when forest clothed all the hillsides, and the “Mana Maori” was in force. Similar tokens are seen east of the base of this point, on Sections 97 and 96, and also further on at Sections 94 - 91, etc., towards Paua-taha-nui. At Wai-o-hata, or Duck Creek, and other places not examined, there are doubtless such tokens of primitive man to be noted, but such are occupied by the houses and gardens of the intrusive paleface, some of whom are sympathetic in their demeanour toward the seeker of archaeological data, while others look upon him with the cold eye of suspicion, evidently not liking his appearance and truculent expression. Time was when we reckoned to outrun any engaged granger who objected to us, and a good many have so objected, but the hills of Porirua seem to have grown much steeper than they were forty-five years ago, a deplorable habit acquired by many hills.
Some of the old middens along this stretch are down near the beach, but most of the little hamlets were situated on the bluffs, spur points and sidelings above the road. On Section 91 is a little flat point, cut through by the road, that may have been so flattened by the hand of man; certainly it has been occupied by him as proved by a midden. Between this point and Paua-taha-nui some extensive middens have been opened up by the road work, assuredly a token of prolonged occupation.
The modern pa of Matai-taua, that was situated in the churchyard, we leave for a future chapter to deal with. At Ration Point, or, as it was known in former days, Te Ewe-o-Whanake (the birthplace of Whanake), so named because he of that name, principal chief of Ngati-Ira early in last century, was here born, was another settlement of the original owners of this district.
The next noteworthy place is Motu-karaka, formerly a favoured dwelling place of the aborigines, the situation being a charming one for a hamlet. Old shell middens have been noted pretty well all round the edges of this terrace formation. As a settlement this dates from very early times, but the Ngati-Te Ra clan of Ngati-Toa lived here in late times. The earthworks seen at the point, albeit of Native origin, are of post-European times and will be described elsewhere.
The swampy valley of the kakaho stream, west of Motu-karaka, was possibly not habitable in pre-European times, but from Section 84 right along to Paremata Point are many tokens of old time camps, some not far above high-water mark, others on spur points above the beach, though the only small flat seen is on Section 82, where the road to Plimmerton leaves the beach. At this place we note the fell signs of post-European occupation in the form of a stone fireplace, as also the walls of a hut built of rough stones and clay.
The signs of old occupation at Paremata proper – i.e., north of the railway bridge, are numerous and far reaching. The low-lying land, now almost covered with sand dunes, between the bridge and the hill marked as Burial Hill on some maps, and as Walker (station) on others, has been the site of a very old Native settlement, inasmuch as remains of the moa have been found here, in conjunction with Maori implements, oven stones, and other items pertaining to the camps of neolithic man. Evidently a great amount of sand has drifted over the site of the old village since it was occupied, but where the original surface is visible, it is, in many places, covered with village refuse, shells, oven stones, flakes, etc., etc., and many interesting finds have been here made. Shell refuse on Burial Hill shows that it also has been occupied in the past, though why the hill should have been so named on the Admiralty Chart of 1850 we wot not. Who was buried here? Wilson speaks of drifting sands exposing coffins on the flat below; there must have been post-European burials. Possibly that of Mr Martin Luther, unworthy descendant or namesake of the original, who was here hung and buried in the forties, may have been one of them. Quien sabe?
There is a considerable deposit f sand on the western slope of Burial Hill, showing the power of wind to convey sand to a considerable height. We are of opinion that most of the sand drifting has occurred since the native vegetation on the flat was destroyed in post-European times. A vigorous growth of introduced plants is now checking the drift, but many of the old dwelling places are now covered deeply by sand. Just east of these sand dunes, on a sandbank in the eastern arm of the harbour, are remains of some posts. This sandbank was known formerly as Te Whata Kai a Tamairangi (The Food Store of Tamairangi), so named from the fact that, early in last century, the chieftainess of Ngati-Ira of that name had an elevated store house at that place, it being so placed because it was inaccessible to rats. Natives maintain that the post butts now seen are the remains of that store.
A considerable number of interesting finds have been made on the site of this old hamlet, apparently one of the oldest in the district, in the form of Maori implements, and also of moa bones. In a paper on “Moa Remains”, published in Volume 17 of the “Transactions of the New Zealand Institute”, Mr F. Chapman gives the following account of his discovery of moa bones at Paremata : – “In 1883 I had occasion to go to Porirua … The Manawatu railway crosses this harbour by a bridge which was in course of construction when I visited the spot. I made a hasty search among the sandhills beyond the bridge, a few hundred yards from the stone stockade (the old barracks), which is new a woolshed, and there found a piece of land from which the sand, which must have accumulated there for ages, had recently blown away. Here, close to the large sandhill, upon which in 1847 a Maori was hanged by the sentence of a court martial for rebellion, I found four beautifully polished stone axes (i.e., adzes). Not far from these I found the neck of a moa, all the vertebrae of which lay in a string. A number of bones lay there, too, and upon them were plainly visible the marks of the stone implement which had been used to cut off the flesh. The bird had evidently been cooked and eaten, as burnt bones lay about. I saw numerous tracheal rings lying among the bones, and close by them some horny fragments like portions of the beck. … These bones were those of a very small bird when compared with the giant moa whose bones are so common in the interior of the South Island.”
Another searcher found a moa bone on the flat north of this place, nearer Plimmerton, while Mr Beckett found several at Titahi.
It seems clear that the bones found by Mr Chapman had been handled by man, the marks of his stone-cutting implements being plainly visible on them. It would be of much interest to know how long they have lain there. According to the traditions preserved by the Natives of Wairarapa, the moa had disappeared from these parts when the district was first settled by the sons of Whatonga, that is, by Tara and Tau-toki, and their companions, who flourished some twenty-eight generations ago. When Toi, grandfather of Wha-tonga, came to these isles from Eastern Polynesia, one of his party, Rua-kapanga by name, came across some moas inland of Maketu, and succeeded in trapping one. The last moa known to tradition is said to have been killed by Tautoki at Waitaki, South Island. That would be about 650 years ago, or about he year 1260. If Native tradition is to be relied on, the moa must have become scarce in the North Island on the arrival of Toi, who lived thirty or thirty-one generations ago, and the original inhabitants of New Zealand, the Maruiwi folk, found here by Toi on his arrival, must have been responsible for the slaughter of the moa. The Mamoe clan of these aborigines occupied the Napier district, and are mentioned as extending to Wairarapa; presumably these folk also occupied the Wellington district, though tradition does not say so. But it does say that Tara and his party built fortified places here when they settled, and there would assuredly be no need to erect such defences in our uninhabited land. It appears probable, then, that these Maruiwi or Mamoe aboriginal folk were the people who killed and ate the moa at Porirua and the Hataitai (Miramar) peninsula at Wellington.
Again, the legend sayeth that, when Whatonga came south with his sons to this district, he found some Mamoe aborigines living at a place east of the Manga-pakia stream, Wai-rarapa district, whose chief, Rakai-tauheke, said to him: “Be careful in your demeanour, lest you be pakia (slapped or struck) by man,” which expression is said to have been the origin of the stream name of Manga-pakia. We must decline to vouch for the truth of this story – it sounds a bit far-fetched, like many similar Native yarns; but anyhow, these tourist gentry could scarcely have been in danger of being rudely slapped in a district having no human inhabitants. However, we will leave the question of the extinction of the moa for wiser heads to worry over and proceed with our tale.
The only remains of early European occupation at Paremata Point now observable are the old stone barracks, or rather the remains thereof, and a stone causeway, presumably constructed by the “British Army”, across a low-lying piece of ground between the barracks and London’s Ferry (where the railway bridge now is). Of Geordie Thom’s whaling station, near the stone fort, nought remains save one of the old try-pots. Stay! There is one other token of early European occupation of Paremata Point near the beach, and that is a post-pakeha midden, but in that midden you will find no items of interest, no implements telling of the evolution of human culture. Like all middens of that period, the Early Iron Age, in New Zealand, it contains one universal, invariable and persistent type of relics – to wit, broken bottles.
A pit situated east of the fort seems to have been made to obtain the large water-worn stones used in its construction, as also that of the causeway above-mentioned. The huge ballast pit near the railway line to the north exposes vast deposits of such water-worn stone, gravel and sand, evidently deposited by and in water; an old seas beach, as sign from the days when the sea-waters laved the base of Burial Hill. On the edge of the graveyard we observe shell refuse, burnt stones and charcoal deeply buried under drift sands, and the same evidences of occupation are seen west of Burial Hill, all of which are linked up with the big midden south of that hill. Such remains are also seen east of the railway further on, at several places, towards Tawhiti-kuri, the rocky point near Plimmerton that impinges upon the railway.
Before leaving Plimmerton, we may mention Te Punga o Matahorua (the Anchor of Matahorua), a huge water-worn stone with a hole in one end that is said to have lain at Paremata for centuries. It is said to have been the anchor of the Matahorua canoe, by which Kupe the explorer came to New Zealand, but it is doubtful if so heavy a stone was ever used as an anchor by this Maori. It is now in the Dominion Museum. When shown to the narrator in the early nineties, it was lying near the midden east of the railway, and south of Burial Hill.
On rounding the rocky point at Ta-whiiti-kuri, just south of Plimmerton, we note a fairly extensive series of middens at the base of a spur east of the railway line. The fact that the midden extends some little distance up the hillside denotes the fact that a portion of the hamlet was situated upon the hill, and an indefensible place it appears, like many of the old local settlements. In these middens are seen the usual shells, Chione, Cominella, Turbo, Haliotis; etc., oven stones, anvils; flakes, takuahi, fish bones, etc., and a tooth of some species of seal was seen. The lower part of the spur has been covered with drift sand, concealing old hut sites, but a portion of a midden on the spur has been exposed by a second movement of the sands, which are being blown into the gully. The hollow in the face of the spur has evidently contained huts. Had not these middens been uncovered through the action of the wind, no person would imagine that a settlement had ever occupied this spot. Great numbers of stones are seen on this village site, for this was the home of a folk not possessing metals, with whom stone provided tools, weapons and the mains of cooking. Mr Beckett found a spear head at this place, as also pieces of moa egg shell, one piece about three inches long, also some others, in the sands south of the point.
At Taupo (Plimmerton) no sign remains of the old Native settlements of Ngati-Toa and the original people, save shells seen where the ground is disturbed. The road crosses the site, other parts being covered by houses and the railway line.
The Ngati-Toa pa of the forties that stood on the raised beach just below the spur point west of Taupo, was merely a stockade, and disappeared long ago; no token of it remains, though Maori relics have been found on the site thereof. The spur just above it was apparently used as a kumara garden in former times, and up it ran the old Maori track to Pukerua; in fact, it was the highway to the west coast until the road by Horokiri was opened in the forties. We remember traversing that track some forty years ago, when we encountered Natives at Paremata Point, but the pakeha at Plimmerton was not, neither was there any Plimmerton for that matter. We remember our arrival at Paremata, because the Natives were highly amused by the knickerbockers worn by a member of our party; for that useful garment, as pertaining to adults, was new in the land in those days.
The earthworks on the spur above the old pa do not mark an old fort, but were formed to enclose the little burial ground. This is the spot shown in the pictures sketched by Brees and Angas in the forties. The track from Taupo to Plimmerton is described by Wakefield and other early writes. It was known to Natives as the Taua-tapu track, so named from a place on the range along which it ran.
Brees gives a good view of Porirua Harbour, looking southward from this point, as it was in the forties. It shows the lower part of the spur with a fence and whata, or elevated platform, on it. Brees has also left us six other views of the district, including Thoms whaling station at Paremata Point, Te Ana o Hau (two views), a view from Pukerua looking north, and a view of the old Native village at Paremata, showing part of the stockade; this apparently stood near the beach just north of Thoms whaling station at the Point.
Angas has left us a fine picture of the stockaded Taupo pa that occupied the site of Plimmerton, and another of Te Rangi-haeata’s pa that stood just under the point of the spur mentioned above, a curious site being immediately commanded by that spur.
Proceeding along the beach from Taupo, or Plimmerton, we pass Turi-kawera; and reach Motuhara, another site of Native settlement in former times; in fact, we remember old Karehana Whakataki, of Ngati-Toa, living here as late as the nineties, camped in a little hut in which it would have been quite impossible to swing the proverbial cat. At Motuhara are seen the midden signs of neolithic man, and here at some finds have been made, including stone adzes and a paddle found when excavating a drain, as also some moa bones found by Mr Beckett.
Passing on to the next little bay, marked Anchorage Bay on the Admiralty chart, we come to Hongoeka, where a few Natives are now living. Here we find one of the most extensive middens in the district, one pointing to continued occupation of this spot in former times, and a most interesting place to the fossicker; it covers a considerable area. Doubtless many archaeological treasures lie buried here.
There has probably been occupation of the raised beach between this place and the North Head, or Te Rewarewa, but the debris from the hillside, set free by the destruction of the bush and the trampling of stock, has obliterated here, as elsewhere, all signs of pre-European occupation.
At the first little streamlet north of Te Rewarewa are signs of Native occupation over a very small area, and here also are some huge whale’s bones, relics presumably of the chase of leviathan during the first half of last century.
From here to Point Wairaka, the Fishing Rock of modern folk, the coast gives no sign; indeed, there is no spot in that stretch where a site could have been found for a hamlet, so steeply rise the precipitous hill faces from the beach, for here again the erosive power of the ocean is in evidence, the waves of many centuries have bitten deeply into the land. At Wairaka there was formerly a settlement of Ngati-Toa folk on the hill above the pint. The curious old legend concerning the rock in the sea off Wairaka has been published. It records the adventures of one Hau, a gentleman of remote times and questionable habits, who, when in pursuit of his wife, Wairaka, who had fled with a man named Weka, found his progress along the beach barred by a rock, hence he pierced a hole in that rock to pass through, which has caused it to be known as Te Ana o Hau. One would suppose that he might have walked round the rock in about a minute, thus saving himself a lot of trouble, but the myths of primitive man will not bear criticism, any more than will those of civilised man. Anyhow, he caught the erring Wairaka at the point above-mentioned, where he, by means of his magic powers, transformed her into a rock seaward of the point, which rock has since been known by her name. Taylor, in “Te Ika a Maui”, states that Hau sent her into the sea with a gourd to obtain drinking water, a curious place to seek it, and played his petrifying tricks on her, before she could find any. But in those days the land seems to have contained numbers of irresponsible and dissolute persons; more’s the pity!
On the hill above Point Wairaka the Ngati-Toa folk had a stockaded pa with carved posts; it was occupied, apparently, as late as 1851, but we know not the date of its abandonment.
At Pukerua are seen traces of native occupation in several places on the spurs between the steep gulches, as also a modern fenced grave. Probably one of the oldest occupied places here is the old pa on the spur west of the mouth of the Wai-ma-pihi Creek, which is said to have been first occupied by the Ngati-Ira folk about two centuries ago. Evidently it was defended merely by stockades. It occupied the lower part of the spur immediately above the beach, and was not naturally a strong position, though the northern invaders of 1820 failed to take it until they gained access to it by one of the treacherous acts so common with Te Rau-paraha. Tungia, known to the whalers as “The Wild Fellow”, was one of the Ngati-Toa chiefs in this fight, and was buried here. His son, Nga-huka, or Pirihana, lived at Pukerua and Porirua for many years. He was a much tamer edition.
No signs remain of the old fortress save some hut sites, shell refuse and the base of one of the old posts. We picked up a human skull here in the early nineties. In the sixties there were a number of old canoes along this coastline, lying above high-water mark, but they have all disappeared long ago.
But few tokens of the presence of man were found in the bush by the early settlers in this district. Occasionally, when the bush was being cleared, some tokens of the former presence of the neolithic Maori were seen. On the range at the back of Petherick’s place at Johnsonville was a place where, in former years, a canoe had been dubbed out, and which was hauled over some remarkably rough country to Wellington Harbour.
Only one or two of the finds made among local middens have been recorded. One of the most interesting items we have seen was a nephrite (greenstone) implement found at Titahi, it being of a most unusual form, shaped like an axe blade, with the cutting edge in the axial centre of the tool, not adze-shaped as is usual. A groove on the upper end was apparently made to facilitate lashing. Unfortunately this item was not photographed.
Probably the first moa bone found by Europeans in this district was one picked up on Jimmy Mitchell’s place in the early days of settlement.
The original settlers who could have told us of many archaeological finds of interest made in early days, have now mostly gone from us. The old bush legion is passing away, and but few now remain of those who carved out homesteads with the axe and knew full well the thunder of the falling rimu; who chipped in their wheat between roots with a hoe and baked their bread in camp ovens.
 Who knows?
Porirua Harbour was spoken of in early days by those who saw it prior to the destruction of the bush, and the exposure of mud flats by the elevating of the land by earthquakes, as a beautiful place. It does not run so much to beauty now. The water was deeper, and showed blue in bright weather, while the forest or light bush descended almost to high-water mark. Walking along the beach at high water was a task in those days; Wakefield speaks of seeing a party of Natives passing round the shore somewhere about the One-poto, wading along under the branches of the trees, often immersed up to their waists in the high tide.
It was said to the early forties that Porirua Harbour would be utilised for the shipping of produce in the future. Those early settlers little thought how completely this harbour was to be cut off from all such trade, which declined as soon as the road was opened. For a time small craft carried produce to Wellington, such as the cutter run by Cimino, produce collected by traders such as Bowler, who had a store and a small wharf at Section 101, near Papakowhai. Loudon, at “Tinipia”, near the Paremata railway station, also did a good deal of trading with the Maoris in later times, but earthquakes and road communication with Wellington killed the sea traffic.
In a little work entitled “The British Colonisation of New Zealand”, published in 1837, is to be found some curious information said to have been derived from Te Pehi, of Ngati-Toa, who left Cook Strait on the Urania in 1824 and went to England, and from Neti, also of Ngati-Toa, who visited France and England, and returned here in the Tory in 1839. Te Pehi’s account of Porirua Harbour is one of the earliest known. Neti seems to have stated that he had ascended the Heretaunga, or Hutt River, for four days’ sail in a canoe, hence it was reported that the river was navigable for eighty miles!
A letter from Messrs Hanson and Abzdorff, of date April 14,1840, published in the “New Zealand Journal”, remarks: “This was an excursion made by our Mr Hanson to the mouth of the Piriraa (Porirua) River, which falls into the sea nearly opposite to the island of Mana, and which is accessible by vessels of fifty or sixty tons burthen. There can be no doubt that it will form the site of a secondary town of some importance. The valley through which the river flows contains, probably, from 20,000 to 30,000 acres of exceedingly fertile land, and the river possesses numerous advantageous sites for mills.”
Those old pioneers surely had grand ideas, and a curious habit of confusing harbours and rivers. Many of the early writers allude to the harbour as a river. The “New Zealand Journal” of 23-5-1840 remarks : – “Abreast of Mana is the small river and harbour of Porirua, into which a vessel drawing seven feet can enter at high water.”
“On March 16,1840,” writes E.J. Wakefield, “we left Kaitawa (a Native hamlet near the South Head) and sailed across the river (bay) to a place call Motuhara. The Porirua River is about three-quarters of a mile wide at its mouth. A reef of rocks (Te toka-a-papa) lies nearly in the middle of the entrance, and the channel lies to the southward of it, in which I am told there are about two fathoms of water at high tide.”
In August, 1840, Mr Stokes, assistant surveyor to Captain Smith, Surveyor-General, started from Wellington on an expedition to Taranaki, accompanied by Messrs Park, Dean, Heaphy and Wakefield. The party left Pito-one on August 27, and proceeded by the Maori track that left the beach on the right bank (western side) of the Korokoro stream, ascending the steep hill, and crossing the high-lying country to the Takapu creek, near Tawa Flat : –
“The road (!) to Porirua from Port Nicholson is through the bush, and for the first eight miles a succession of hills, at this point (?) the highest elevation is attained, and a commanding view presents itself of the Porirua valley and river, with the sea in the extreme distance. The path now leads down the side of the hill, through the valley, crossing the Porirua (Kenepuru) Stream fourteen times. The valley is well, but not very heavily timbered, and the soil very good; the stream is, in no place where we forded it, more than six yards wide or knee deep. On the following day, when we reached the arm of the sea into which the Porirua (Kenepuru) stream falls, and which is generally considered as part of the river, it was high water. … From this point to where the river communicates with Porirua Bay, the distance is from three to four miles, and the width at this time from three quarters of a mile to a mile, at low water it is much narrower.”
(Here we note that the southern arm of the harbour, from the mouth of the Kenepuru northward to Paremata Point, is spoken of as a river, the bay being that part from the Point to the Heads.)
“Near the whaling station (Thoms) another arm of the Porirua River runs for a considerable distance inland in a north-easterly direction. The distance from Pito-one to Captain Daniels’s whaling station is about twenty miles. Here we were hospitably entertained by Lieutenant Thomas.”
We note the curious habit of early writers referring to rough Maori bush tracks as roads. The high point on the Pito-one to Takapu track, from which such a fine view was obtained, is by no means eight miles from the former place, but only half that distance. The Native name of the steam that flows through Tawa Flat is Kenepuru, but we are informed that an older name for it was Wai-hakato-kota. This stream, in former times, furnished no small supply of food to the Natives, in the form of eels and inanga, as also the lamprey in its season, and the upokororo, now long absent from these parts.
Mr R. Stokes, in his report of a trip made by him from Port Nicholson to Taranaki in 1840, remarks : – “There are several small harbours along the coast accessible to vessels of one hundred tons; that at Titahi is described as well sheltered and convenient. Porirua is also a good harbour for coasting vessels, and has a bar at its mouth with twelve feet at high water.”
The Hon. W. Petre, in his “Account of the Settlements of the New Zealand Company”, published in 1842, says : – “The Porirua district and river have also been partly opened for selection. The land in this valley is of the richest character. The mouth of the River Porirua forms an excellent harbour for small craft. It is a bar harbour with thirteen feet water, without any surf. … In the opinion of nautical men the bar may be deepened so as to admit vessels of larger draft of water. The district is rather less heavily timbered than the Hutt, and cattle find abundance of food there. … the rapidity with which they fatten is very remarkable.”
In his narrative published in 1842, Heaphy remarks on the “beautiful and park-like appearance” of the Porirua district : – “There is a whaling station at the harbour, and the locality is considered one f the best. The “Brougham” loaded with oil from this fishery. This is a bar harbour, but vessels of a hundred and fifty tons can enter it with safety, the entrance being sheltered by the island of Mana. The Kenepuru Valley is covered with timber, and the soil is fertile. The number of acres surveyed and given out in this district is 10,800. Much of the land about the Porirua Harbour is very valuable, and one gentleman in particular will make a fortune from his happy selection of land there. A town will, ere long, be formed at Porirua. At present there are about fifty English settlers there, besides the whaling party. … Had the depth of water been greater at the entrance of the harbour, Porirua might, probably, have been chosen for the site of the first enterprise of the New Zealand Company, in preference to Port Nicholson.”
That town is surely a long time in being formed at little old Porirua; or possibly the allusion was to Paha-taha-nui!
Captain Collinson, of the Royal Engineers, reported in 1848 : – “There is a safe landing at Porirua Harbour, except in a very strong N.W. wind. Any vessel can get shelter under the island of Mana in a S.E. wind; or under the north head of the harbour in a N.W. wind. Vessels under twelve feet in draught can go up as far as Paremata (Point); boats can go up to Jackson’s Ferry at all times, and to Paha-aha-nui at high water, and to a point half a mile short of it, called Ration Point, at low water.”
W. Tyrone Power, in his “Sketches in New Zealand”, 1849, remarks : – “I have an affectionate remembrance of Porirua, though I suffered a great many discomforts there (at Paremata Military Post in 1846). It is impossible not to like it when the fine weather set in, and one could wander among the beautiful valleys, in the thick, dark woods and over the rugged hills from which one got such glorious glimpses of sea, sky and mountain, stretching far, far away into the distance till the faint blue of the hills mingled with the tints of the horizon. Nothing could be more exquisitely beautiful than the harbour of Porirua itself on a fine day. It is perfectly landlocked and surrounded by hills, tree-clad and green to the very water’s edge; the water, a beautiful blue, finding its way into the little bays and creeks, where the tiny waves break on a golden sand.”
It is surely a picturesque place in the forties, though we cannot remember the golden sand, unless the little beach of yellow sand at Otaroa is the one alluded to; and, anyhow, all sands were of golden and all fields green in those days : –
“When all the world was young, lad,
And all the fields were green;
And every goose a swan, lad,
And every lass a queen.”
Missionary Taylor, in his “Past and Present of New Zealand”, 1868, remarks : – “The picturesque harbour of Porirua is accessible for small vessels only, the earthquakes of 1855 having materially raised it and left a large portion of it dry.”
We have seen that the original Porirua Ferry was established at the narrow channel at Paremata Point, where Thoms whaling station was situated, at which latter place there used to be a little wharf, close to Boddington’s accommodation house. The point and flat is Paremata proper, but the intrusive pakeha, in his usual eccentric manner, transferred the name across the inner harbour, and applied it to the places known as Whitianga and Horopaki to the Maori, hence the Paremata railway station.
Travellers up the coast, prior to the completion of the road to Whitianga (London’s), proceeded round the western shores of the inner harbour from Kenepuru, past Te Onepoto, and were ferried across the narrow channel to Thom’s Place, where a special brand of Porirua chain lightning was dispensed for their benefit, or otherwise; either so, or they proceeded to Paremata by boat from Jackson’s Ferry, situated just below the junction of the Kenepuru and Cameron’s Creek, though Jackson’s Ferry did not exist in the earliest forties. They were mostly foot wayfarers in those days, the day of the horse was not yet. Indeed, we can remember, as late as the sixties, divers settlers of Rangitikei and elsewhere, who used to make their periodical journeys to Wellington on foot. How would Algernon Montague, of Manawatu in 1913, care to stroll carelessly down to town!
After London’s Ferry was established at “Ginger Bay”, near where the railway bridge now is, travellers proceeded by that more direct route, though the Porirua whisky still made good at that point. But the opening of the road to Paekakariki killed the Pukerua trail, and Paremata proper gradually languished and died, while Taupo was killed, until the W.M.R.R. brought it to life again under the name of Plimmerton. By the way, in those days a license cost but £5 per annum, and some of those early pubs were surely a caution to Crockett, and several other things. For example, Okiwi Brown’s Grand Hotel and the “Sow and Spuds” at Wairarapa. Men may come and men may go, but Okiwi’s tarantula elixir had one constant flow. But all men didn’t go from Okiwi’s palatial café. Jim Merry didn’t for one; he curled up on the beach with a dislocated cranium and took a good long rest. He is still resting. But another paying guest of Okiwi’s did go, in a hurry. When he awoke at midnight to see Okiwi entering his room with a tomahawk in his hand, that aforesaid P.G. gent left hurriedly for foreign parts, so hastily indeed that he quite spoilt the appearance of the window, and tradition states that he melted into the landscape clad in one brief, sad garment, but festooned with window-frames and things; nor did he pause to reflect upon a higher life until he had burned the beach trail and made his hot-foot get-away far east of Pencarrow!
To return to worldly matters, we note that the name of New London appears on the map as New Paremata. We knew Old London, and remember his store at Tinipia, but this New London is of later growth, since our time. Or perhaps the place was so named in the hope that it would eclipse a village of that name on the Thames, that someone told us about. Ambition is but too common among frail humanity.
Long years ago Bowler’s store and wharf, near Papa-kowhai, was a well known trading place. Howler was a brother of the Wellington merchant of that name. He built that wharf in the interests of his trading business, but the earthquakes attended to that mater and left that wharf inaccessible and a back number. We remember a somewhat crazy-looking structure extending out from the causeway in the sixties, even then it was in parlous plight; nought now remains of it save a few pile butts. There is about enough water there now to keep the periwinkles alive.
In Malone’s “Three Years’ Cruise in the Australasian Colonies” is some account of a visit paid by H.M.S. Fantome to Cook Strait in November, 1852, when she anchored under Mana Island, and of a distressing accident in which a boat’s crew was lost when endeavouring to enter the harbour : –
“There is a settlement called Porirua, at which place we landed the mail for Wellington. While the boats with the letter bags were ashore, application was made for the surgeon to look at a sick man, there being no medical man nearer than Wellington, and Dr Bent volunteered to go. The galley, with the captain, Dr Bent, the carpenter and two of his men (who went ashore to get a spar for the main top sail yard), and the crew of five men, started from the ship at 9 a.m., Thursday, November 11 (1852), for Porirua. The boat not returning on Sunday, and hearing nothing of the party, we concluded the officers had gone to Wellington by land, while the crew were preparing the spar. The master, however, thought it as well to go and see, and got a boat’s crew in a small harbour boat we had, and left the ship. … On Monday morning the carpenter came on board with four men in the second boat, and the shock came on us that Dr Bent and six men were drowned. The galley shipped a sea about an hour after leaving the ship on Thursday; the sail was lowered by order, to bail out, but a second filled her. The sail was then hoisted, to send her as close to the shore as possible, the wind being on shore, but a third roller turned her over, and all hands were in the water. Poor Bent, with others, got on the bottom of the boat, was twice washed off, and then kept himself up about ten minutes with a small American bucket he took with him. … He showed no signs of fright, but was seen to go down without an effort; he could not swim. Some got ashore on oars, another on the gangboard, and one was found on the beach alive, but recollected nothing. Four were drowned besides Dr Bent. This was not all. When the boat was pulling in to make enquiries near the same place, on Sunday evening, in fine weather, she was lifted by a roller, the oars unshipped out of the row-locks, and the boat broaching-to, was turned over and two of the crew were drowned.
“All those saved were more or less injured, and the master’s life was saved by a Maori woman, he being thrown senseless on the rocks. A Mr Tandy and his Maori woman behaved nobly, and the master rewarded the woman ad gave a handsome tea service to the settler, Mr Tandy. The Governor-in-Chief, the colonel on the staff and a military surgeon were on the spot from Wellington directly they heard of it, to see that every assistance was rendered.”
One of the bodies, that of Myall, was found on the 17th, and was placed in the sandy burial-ground of the temporary barracks (at Paremata). Dr Bent’s body was found later, taken to Wellington, and buried in St Paul’s Churchyard on November 28, where an inscription was put up by his mess-mates. He was given a military funeral.
In the memoir of Commodore Goodenough occurs the following account of a visit make by him to Porirua in 1873, as taken from his journal : –
“October 9, 1873. – Drove to a pretty bay called Porirua, about fourteen miles away, up a narrow ravine, with an excellent road to about 600ft, and then over a gap into a long valley of the little Porirua River, with small farms and nice modest little homesteads on each side, some very trim; so much more so than one would expect, with labour at from 6s to 8s a day. While at Porirua we walked over some hills and through some water to a Maori village, or the remains of one. They own a fair bit of land, and are well off, but seem to spend their rents, immediately they get them, on drink, and then to beg of the Government. They came round us and put their hands to their mouths, calling “Kai! Kai!” to the Governor. One was a wretched old man, with a brown coat, and tattooed all over. An old woman, with a spare, dignified face and tattooed lips, was the wife of a chief who died last year, and had in this time cut out the tongue of an interpreter to prevent his revealing Maori secrets (!). She wore a rude head-dress, a band of black feathers, and had a red tartan shawl on her shoulders. They like the tartan shawl better than anything, apparently. It was all very wretched and squalid.”
This begging of food from travellers seems to be a novel idea, as also is the cutting out of interpreters’ tongues. The head-dress of black feathers worn by the widow lady was probably a potae taua, or mourning fillet; an old custom.
 Jackson’s Ferry noted in Aug 1844 by Brees.
THE COMING OF THE WHITE MAN
Of the first coming of white man to Porirua Harbour we have no information, but, setting aside the unsatisfactory traditions of the coming of white men to Cook Strait in early days, such as those mentioned by Captain Cook, and the curious legend concerning the ship of Rongotute, we may fairly assume that some of the whaling fraternity were the first white men to gaze upon the forest lined waters of Porirua. Such visits may well have been made prior to the establishment of shore whaling stations in the Straits, which commenced in the latter twenties. For deep sea-whalers had edged in to the coast of New Zealand long before that date, following the whales to their haunts on these coasts, one of those haunts being Motherly Ray, the curve in the coast line from Mana Isle northwards. The hardy adventurers who followed the chase of the leviathan were not of a type to record their experiences and descriptions of places visited, hence most of their logs are but drear reading.
Again, the Wellington and Porirua districts are perhaps the most unsatisfactory parts of the island whereat to collect any information from Native tradition as to the advent of Europeans, or old-time Native history. This is owing to the fact that the former Native inhabitants of this district, the men of the soil, were expelled from these lands in the twenties of last century; indeed, they were harried, slain and otherwise persecuted with savage ferocity from 1819 onwards, by intrusive northern tribes. These raiders eventually secured and occupied the lands from Turaki-rae northward to Manawatu, but for some fifteen years, or more, after this occupation, lived a harassed life amid the turmoil of inter-tribal quarrels. Hence their descendants have not preserved much data as to the coming of the white man, and his movements in early days. Ngati-Ira, the original folk, are now practically an unknown people. The few descendants of the old Porirua clan are to be found at Wai-rarapa. The whalers made their appearance in these parts at the time when the change of population was taking place, when confusion and turbulence reigned supreme.
It would have been highly interesting to relate the experiences of the first white visitors to Porirua, but very few items are on record, and we get nothing satisfactory prior to 1840, when the New Zealand Company folks began to move in the district. By that time the local Natives no longer gazed in astonishment at a European, though Wake speaks of how his appearance amazed the Natives at some of the more remote settlements, away from whaling or trading stations. Thus, of the Whenua-kura Natives, he remarks: “They stared with amazement at all my clothes and equipment. A large audience assembled to see me wash in the river at daybreak. Roars of laughter and screams of astonishment resounded from every quarter when I proceeded to brush my teeth.”
Of all the pioneers who led the way in the early settlement of New Zealand none were better capable of withstanding Native aggression than the whalers. No other body of men possessed in such a degree the qualities necessary to enable them to hold their own against the turbulent savages they had to deal with. They suffered at times from Native raids, but the hardy old whalers and sealers showed the Natives that they could hit back, and hit hard too. Hence the Maoris acquired a respect for them that they never had for ordinary settlers of this district. When Ngati-Toa and Ngati-Rangatahi plundered the Hutt settlers, and murdered some of them, they met with no resistance, settlers relying on lawful means that did not amount to much, nor did the military force stationed there inspire any feeling of respect in John Tenakoe; but before that time he had learned enough to leave the whalers alone.
The notorious Rau-paraha, with a party of his people, endeavoured to plunder the whalers of Evan’s Isle, off the coast of Kapiti, but those whalers were not to be bounced by cannibals. Rau-paraha flourished his tomahawk at one of them, a hard-fisted Milesian, who promptly knocked him down, and would have put him out of action with a whaling implement, had not the headman of the party interposed and stayed his hand. The Natives returned in force to take the islet, but the stalwart sea roves had mounted a four-pounder carronade on an eminence, and met the attacking party at every point, armed with guns, harpoons and whaling lances. For some time after this little unpleasantness, when the boats went off in pursuit of whales, it was found necessary to leave a guard on the islet, as the Natives would at once man their canoes and race to seize it, but they at length learned that it did not pay to interfere with the genus whaler.
There were two whaling stations at Porirua, on the mainland, and one on Mana Island. The well-known Geordie Thoms, alias Geordie Bolts (Hori Poti), had a shore station at Paremata; about the only token of which now remaining is one of his old trypots, that may be seen at the ruins of the old stone barracks nearby. Long years ago we saw another old trypot at the old Cooper homestead, on the Whitireia Peninsula. The other shore whaling station was situated at Te Korohiwa, on the coast south of Titahi. This name was corrupted into “Coalheavers” by the whalers.
We have not ascertained the dates of the starting or abandoning of these shore stations. In January, 1847, Mr Robert Hart stated that Thoms bought five acres at Porirua and established a whaling station several years before the Tory arrived.
Wakefield, in a list of whaling stations near Wellington, as in 1844, does not mention either of these mainland stations, though Mana is included. This was evidently an omission, as returns of the takings of the Porirua station in 1845, and of Te Korohiwa in 1848 were published. We may say that these stations were inaugurated some time in the ’thirties of last century. There were no whaling stations at Port Nicholson, though traders occasionally visited it, including Captain Kent, and one trader claimed to have lived thereat, about where Lambton Quay is now, as early as 1831. Whales did not frequent Port Nicholson, and the only “whale sign” we have there is a place name, the name of a hill near Kai-whara-whara, to wit Tutai-weera (whale spying), a curious combination of Maori and English, pointing to the early degradation of the former tongue.
Hence we see that little old Porirua had quite a white population, such as it was, before Port Nicholson attracted the genus pakeha. Even in 1839, when the Tory arrived, the white population of the Port was but one (1) lone sojourner.
Wakefield visited Porirua in June, 1940, and remarks : – “ I took passage in the Surprise to Kapiti, and we sailed on June 17. Having to deliver some casks at Porirua, where two of our colonists had hired Thoms’s fishery at Paremata for the season, we entered that harbour and anchored close to the sheers, in twelve fathoms. A whale was being cut in under them, and we took swarms of fish, which had been attracted by the carcase. Lieutenant Joseph Thomas, one of the lessees of the fishery, described himself as highly amused in his new pursuit. He was an old traveller, and had seen many conditions and people, but he was most pleased with the eccentricities of the “whaling mob” which he had to rule. He had been recommended by Thoms to the especial protection of Te Rangi-haeata. The chief did protect the station from any other annoyance than his own, only exacting a kind of blackmail in return, on his frequent trips from Mana.
“I went one day with the captain, as the whalers never failed to call him, to Korohiwa, a small settlement on the main opposite Mana. The leader of a whaling station established at this place had been lately drowned in attempting to land through a heavy sea on the neighbouring coast. The Natives had assembled from Mana and other places near to scramble for the property of the defunct, according to a common Native custom, and Te Rangi-haeata had, as usual, come in for the lions’ share … From the heights above the beach I witnessed a spirited chase after a whale, which extended far to seaward of the island.
“On another occasion I accompanied my host in an amphibious excursion round the north-east arm of the harbour. We had a canoe with us, but waded over some of the numerous creeks when walking along parts of the beach. The country is exceedingly pretty, and the hills moderate in height and steepness. Many small valleys, through which streams flow into the bay, afford very desirable spots for settlements. But few little nooks were at this time appropriated to Native cultivations.”
Wakefield places the date of the earliest shore whaling stations in Cook Straits at the year 1827. The whaling season opened about the beginning of May, and continued until October. During this period the cow whales, with their calves, frequented the long curve of Motherly Bay.
The appalling corruption of coal-heavers for Te Korehiwa was equalled by that of Tarwhite for Te Aea-iti, a station in Queens Charlotte Sound. Your old-time whaler was no philologist, and his rendering of the Maori tongue was a fearful and amazing thing.
The look-out of the Korohiwa Station was situated on the hill above the little flat-topped spur at that place, and here, during the season, a man was stationed to watch the salt sea for signs of “fish”.
One of the noted shore stations of those days was that of Tommy Evans’s, on Toka-mapuna, or Evans’s Isle, at Kapiti. Tommy ruled his men and affairs in regular man-o-war style. The members of his boats crew were uniformed and under strict discipline. Those were the days of Dicky Barrett, Horse Lewis, Jack Love and a host of other hard-living whalers, men who adventured greatly on wild waters, and who feared nothing in this world or the next. One of these old timers, Hebberly; alias ‘Worser,’ was the man after whom Worser’s Bay was named (marked Young’s Bay on some maps), he having been in the pilot service at the Heads. They were surely hard citizens, those old whalers, men who drank rum as we drink tea, only more so, and who mostly lived to a green old age on it, a statement which is sure enough treason in these times.
The “New Zealand Journal” of June 22, 1844, gives the following returns, among others, for the preceding season : –
|Porirua Station (Thoms)||2||15||35|
|Kapiti (Long George)||1||7||5|
During the season ending October 31, 1845, Fraser’s outfit on Mana took 15 tons oil (black), with a staff of fifteen men. Porirua took 18 tons, with a staff of 18 men, while Jillett, of Kapiti, took 90 tons, with a gang of forty-three men.
During the 1846 season the Fraser outfit on Mana had but poor luck, though running two boats and seventeen men, but Jillett, of Kapiti, with four boats and forty men, managed to secure 80 tons black and 2½ tons of whalebone.
In 1848 Wilson’s station at Te Koro-hiwa, eight men, took ten tons; and Jillett, with sixteen men, took 19 tons.
It is thus seen how the returns gradually decreased, and this led to the abandoning of the industry. It is said that, at one time, there were 600 whites living on Kapiti, possibly an exaggeration.
To return to Geordie Bolts, whose proper name was Thoms. He received the former name on account of his being unable to face the dangers of whaling after he had been injured in an encounter with one. Dr F.J. Knox, in a paper on the subject of whales, contributed by him to Vol. 2 of the Transactions of the New Zealand Institute, remarked: “I remember a whaler of the name of Thoms … who was merely touched by the tale of a mysticete, and nearly every bone on one side of the body was broken. Fortunately, there was no duly qualified doctor to be had, and Thoms consequently got quite well with the exception of a slight lameness. When brought to the station he was lifted out of the boat with considerable difficulty, being literally glued to the boat by the blood lost.”
Geordie kept a rude accommodation house at this camp at Paremata, at which travellers in early days used to stay. Crawford, in his “Travels in New Zealand”, remarks : – “Thoms was a noted disciplinarian. No one (of his men) dared to disobey his orders. If anyone ventured to dispute with him, he would tie him up and hold him prisoner. He was a short, stout man, with a trunk like a barrel, and a bullet head, standing firm on his legs, and looking everyone straight in the face. … A Wellington merchant asked him how he managed to make a cask of rum go so far… “Why” said Thoms, “when I takes out a glass of rum, I puts in a glass of water, and when it gets too strong of water, I puts in turps; and when it gets too strong of turps, I put in bluestone!”
And yet the pioneers lived!
Wakefield says of this worthy : – “His real name was Joseph Toms (?Thoms), but being crippled in an encounter with a whale, he had the fame of never having been able to face one since, and hence the nickname of “Geordie Bolts” … he was of small stature and repulsive features. … Besides his two whaling stations at Porirua and Te-Awa-iti-I, he had another in Port Underwood, and had taken out licenses for public houses at all three. That at Porirua, especially, promised to yield him profit, as the amount of travelling by land was rapidly increasing on the north side of the Strait since the foundation of the settlements of Whanganui and Taranaki.”
Again, Wakefield says : – “The increased traffic of white people along the coast has induced two whalers to fit up houses of accommodation for travellers at Wai-kanae and Te Uruhi, and Thoms has built a new wooden house as an hotel at Paremata Point at Porirua. … I walked easily in three hours and a half from the head of Porirua Harbour to Wellington.” This was in March, 1842.
But the New Zealand journal of July,1842, remarks that an accommodation house should be erected at Porirua : – “Thoms has a house there, but it is such a disreputable, noisy place, that persons prefer sleeping in the bush to paying it a visit. From all we have heard we should doubt if, even among whalers, such scenes of drunkenness and riot can be met with in any other part of New Zealand. We consider it out duty to call Mr Murphy’s attention to that establishment. A constable should be lodged in the house at the especial expense of its owner.”
So much for Thoms’ Grand Hotel!
Angas, who spent some time at Porirua in 1844, says : – “… We crossed the harbour in a canoe and arrived at Porirua pa (Paremata). Close to it is a substantial house belonging to Jordy Thoms, a master whaler, who has been engaged in his occupation along the shores of Cook Straits for upwards of twenty years. He married a sister (? relative) of Te Rau-paraha, by which alliance he secured the friendship f the Ngati-Toa tribe, and also several fine tract of land for his children.
“Thoms’ wife died a few years since, and was buried at Te Awa-iti, on the opposite shores of Cook Straits, where Thoms has another house and whaling station.”
At that time there was a Maori village at Paremata, near Thoms’ place, on the northern side and near the beach; a picture of that period shows a part of it. There was another at Taupo, of which Angas gives a good view. Angas states that, near Taupo (Plimmerton), “a new and very substantial stockade has been erected by Te Rangi-haeata since the massacre of Wairau, as a place of retreat in case of attack.” He also says that many Native houses were scattered along the margin of the harbour at Takapu-wahia and other places, as also extensive cultivations. From Paremata Point to Taupo, the beach was strewn with the ribs and skulls of whales.
Thoms told Angas that he was “the first European to discover and enter Port Nicholson.” He may or may not have been the first European to enter that port, but he can scarcely be said to have discovered it. The guileless pakeha has a careless habit of discovering places that were not lost, and have been occupied by the genus homo for a few hundreds of or thousands of years.
In 1844 Thoms made a trip down the west coast of the South Island, and took his 50-ton schooner into the Buller River, which he ascended for some miles in a whaleboat. An account of this trip was published in the Nelson “Examiner” of January 11, 1845.
Brunner in his journal, remarks : – “This part of New Zealand had never been visited by white men, with the exception of some of the off-shore reefs, which were formerly frequented by sealers, amongst whom was Thoms, the master of the Three Brothers, who anchored near the Three Steeples, or Black Reef, about two years since, and obtained one hundred and fifty sealskins, reporting on his return the existence of a large river, with a considerable tract of level land on its banks, in the vicinity of that place.”
The last two years of his whaling operations pretty well ruined Thoms, so poor was the return. The sheers for handling the whales at Paremata were situated between the point and the old barracks, near a fence which now (1913) runs down to the water. There was a jetty there in those days; it is also shown in a plan dated 1852. On this plan Boddington’s accommodation house is marked near the jetty. One Andy Green kept an accommodation house at the Point after Geordie Bolt’s time, and in still later days Bolton had a similar place there. Brett’s “Early History of New Zealand” reproduces some pictures of this and other places round the harbour.
Thoms was said to have known that the Natives intended to attack the surveyors when they should commence the survey of the Wairau district, Marlborough. When Ngati-Toa left Porirua to cross the strait for that purpose, Thoms took some of them over to Cloudy Bay in his vessel, the Three Brothers, and gave them two muskets in exchange for a slave. An account of this expedition, which resulted in the Wairau massacre, published in the “New Zealand Journal”, states : – “Mr Thoms, who was married to a relative of Te Rauparaha, and, in virtue of that connection, claims land in the Wairau district and elsewhere, promised to take the Natives to his residence in Cloudy Bay and detain them there until the arrival of Mr Spain, Commissioner of Land Claims. However, he made no attempt to detain them, although it was generally understood by his sailors that the Natives were going to Wairau to attack the Europeans.” See affidavits of John Lloyd and Alexander M’Clune, published in the “Nelson Examiner” of December 23, 1843. Hence it was that many persons looked askance at Thoms.
After the slaughter of whites at Wairau, which presumably the Government were too weak to punish the natives for, the Natives became remarkably bounceable in their demeanour towards Europeans, and began to annoy them at the Hutt and Porirua, with the expressed intention of expelling them form the district. This system of annoyance merged gradually into depredations, murder and open war. As a whole the Ngati-Awa folk of the Hutt and Wellington gave little trouble, those openly hostile being Ngati-Toa, of Porirua, and some Whangarei Natives, the latter principally of the Ngati-Rangatahi clan of the Upper Whanganui district, about Ohura, a clan that had no claim to any of the Hutt lands.
MURDER OF CAPTAIN CHERRY AT TE KOROHIWA (1838).
This barbarous murder was, apparently, committed for a paltry object. The Rev. R. Taylor gives the following somewhat mixed account of the matter in “Te Ika a Maui.” In speaking of the arrival of the Tory in 1839 he says : – “Had the folk in that vessel known, they might have seen a column of smoke curling up above the trees of Porirua, where the Natives were then cooking a cannibal repast. Some time previous to the arrival of the Tory a Captain Cherry was murdered by a Porirua chief. When the Natives saw the Tory they mistook her for a man-of-war, and fancied that it came to demand satisfaction for the murder; they therefore determined to take payment themselves beforehand, to show the English they had nothing to do with the crime. It appears that poor Captain Cherry’s feet had been held down by a slave whilst his master killed him. Maori justice fell on the former; he was killed and eaten whilst his guilty master escaped.”
That slave had been well cooked and eaten a year before the Tory arrived.
We cull the following notes from M’Nab’s work on “The Old Whaling Days”. In describing the movements of H.M.S. Pelorus, under the command of Lieutenant Chetwode, in 1838, he writes : – “Hearing, while in the Sounds (i.e.: Queen Charlotte Sound), that Captain Cherry, of the Caroline, had been killed by the Natives near Mana Island, Chetwode made for the scene of the murder, and anchored near Mana on the 15th (September, 1838). Two English and two American vessels were found anchored there; their names are not given. …
“The same day a court of inquiry was held. It consisted of Lieutenant P. Chetwode, Acting-Master D. Craigie, and Acting-Purser V.A. Haile; and there were examined James Ames, chief mate; James Reilly, second mate; George Potter, boat-steerer; and John Davis, A.B.; of the Caroline. The evidence disclosed that about eleven o’clock on August 27, Captain Samuel Cherry and the third mate of the Caroline had landed on the mainland opposite Mana Island, at a spot about two miles from where the Caroline lay, for the purpose of looking out to seaward for whales. After a short time Captain Cherry left the mate to go and look at some potatoes, which a Native wanted him to purchase. About one o’clock a Maori came and told the third mate, who still kept watch at the same place, that Captain Cherry had been murdered. The mate, fearing the worst might happen, ran down to the boats and took them back to the ship. About 4 p.m. he returned, and landed with a boat’s crew, when he found Captain Cherry’s body, lying on a litter on the beach, with several Natives round it, and one of the seamen of the Caroline, who had been left behind, had put his own clothes over the stripped body of his captain. The body was then removed to the ship, and the wounds washed and examined, in the presence of Captain Lovett, of the Highlander, and Captain Brown, of the Adeline, when it was found that the back part of the head had been severely bruised, as if by a piece of wood, and done suddenly. …
“When the third mate was putting off in the boat to give the alarm to the ship, Miti-Kakau, a chief resident near the spot, forced into the boat, against the wishes of the mate, a slave, to be killed as payment for Captain Cherry, according to Maori custom. The slave told that the chief struck the fatal blow, and that he, the slave, was obliged to hold Captain Cherry’s feet to keep him down. On board the Caroline were several Natives, who were very much attached to Captain Cherry, and these men threatened to kill the slave if he remained. He was accordingly taken away for safety to Mana Island, but was killed and eaten by the Natives there immediately he was landed.”
According to M’Nab, it appears that one Thomas Ellison, who was in charge of a whaling establishment only half a mile from where the murder took place (this must have been the station at Te Korohiwa), was suspected as the murderer, he having been heard to threaten Cherry; but the Court, having examined Ellison, came to the conclusion that he was innocent of the crime, and that Miti-Kakau had killed the captain, ‘not from any ill-feeling, but simply to obtain a new suit of flushing which he wore on that occasion.’ Surely Porirua must have been a cheerful sort of place to live at in those days. The historian continues : – “Some of these clothes the chief afterwards gave up, at the same time telling the chief mate he was ashamed of what he had done, but considered himself blameless as he had not done the deed himself. (This is ambiguous, to use a mild expression). However, when he heard of the expected visit of H.M.S. Pelorus, he fled towards Port Nicholson with his canoes. He was described as a desperate man, and one who had great influence over the others.”
Needless to say, the Miti-kakau person did not put in an appearance during the inquiry, hence nothing could be done, from the Lieutenant’s point of view.
This Captain Cherry was the man who interpreted for J.P. Johnson, author of “Plain Truths Told by a Traveller”, when the latter wished to purchase a tattooed Maori head. The aboriginal seller of decorated heads sold him one for ‘a small blanket and an old dirty shirt’; he then ranged seventeen slaves in a row, and requested intending purchasers to make their choice, and the selected head would be delivered in three days, for a keg of powder. Cheerful place, New Zealand, in those days!
THE PURCHASE OF PORIRUA.
HOW NATIVE LANDS WERE BOUGHT.
The officials of the New Zealand Company were well received at Port Nicholson by the Ngati-Awa natives living there; as also were the ship loads of immigrant settlers who so quickly followed them. From that time onward the bulk of this tribe was remarkable for its consistently friendly attitude towards Europeans. To some extent this may have been due to a difference in the character of the chiefs of the Awa folk, such men as Te Puni and Te Wharepouri being of a much less turbulent and savage disposition than Te Rangi-haeata, of Porirua. The straight forward conduct of Te Puni especially gained him the admiration and friendship of the early settlers. It is but a few weeks ago that the last of his generation, old Rangi-whaia Te Puni, lifted the worn trail to Rarohenga, and joined her old-time comrade, passed away forgotten and unnoted by the pakeha whom she and her folk had befriended and protected in the days of her youth.
Haere ra, E kin E! Haere ki Paerau; Hoatu ra ki te hunga nana i whakaputa i toku ihu ki te ao marama!
Certainly there were a few cases of murder committed by these people, and Taringa-kui, of Kai-whara-whara, showed some hostility to the white settlers at one time, but, considering the savage habits f the Maori generally, we had very little trouble with Ngati- Awa at Port Nicholson. However, the descendants of Toa-rangatira soon acquired law abiding habits, and such men as Nga Huka and Wi Neera were of a very different type to that represented by Te Rangi-haeata and Tungia, the “Wild Fellow”, as the whalers called the latter.
The most important cause, however, of the good reception met with at Port Nicholson by the company’s agents, was the fact that Ngati-Awa were not a numerically strong people at that time, and, moreover, they were camped, as it were, between the devil and the deep sea. The warlike Ngati-Mutunga clan had, some years before, seized a vessel at Port Nicholson, and compelled the captain thereof to take them to the Chathams, where they enjoyed themselves after the manner of their kind by slaying and eating the harmless natives of these isles. This much weakened the fighting force at Port Nicholson, and the remaining clans here had enemies on two sides of them and the deep sea on the third. They occupied two sides of the triangle in constant fear of attack. Their relations with Ngati-Toa, of Porirua, were not such as to inspire confidence, and, behind those very doubtful friends, lay others even more doubtful, the Rau-kawa clan of Otaki district. On the other side, towards the rising sun, were some of the expelled Ngati-Ira of the Port and Porirua, together with a part of the Wai-rarapa folk who had not joined in the retreat to the Mahia district. Albeit a peace had been patched up with Wai-rarapa, yet the Sons of Awa did not appear to place much reliance upon it, in which they were right, for we know that, on February 10, 1840, a band of raiders from that district came down the Puke-atua range and killed Te Pu-whakaawe at Wai-whetu, fleeing again to the cover of the forest, taking with them the head and heart of the slain man.
Ngati-Toa, of Porirua, Mana and Kapiti, had excellent opportunities for procuring firearms and ammunition, but Ngati-Awa were much less fortunate, the visits of traders to Port Nicholson apparently not being numerous. They were dangerously weak, hence their anxiety to have Europeans settle among them; they were prompted by the instinct of self-preservation to give a better welcome to those who would supply them with firearms, than to missionaries.
It would be difficult to find a parallel case to the peculiar circumstances attending the settlement of Port Nicholson by the New Zealand Company. The company despatched Colonel Wakefield and other officials to purchase land, and arrange for the settling of English emigrants thereon. Before news reached England of the success, or otherwise, of this procedure, the reckless company sent forth shiploads of emigrants to follow the Tory, and settle the land which might or might not have been acquired, wherever it might be. The company seems to have sold a considerable amount of land before it had acquired any, certainly before they could give any genuine title to it. Now it is clear that the peculiar conditions under which the Ngati-Awa folk were living at Port Nicholson alone account for the success of these rash proceedings, and prevented them ending in disaster.
The Tory, a vessel of 400 tons, armed with eight guns, and small arms for the ship’s company, commanded by Captain Chaffers, left Plymouth on May 12, 1839, and entered Port Nicholson on September 20, of that year. By September 27, in one brief week, Colonel Wakefield had purchased, or thought he had, all the land in sight – (“From Te Rimurapa (Sinclair Head) to Turaki-rae (east of Pencarrow), and from Tararua to the sea” – as Te Puwhakaawe put it). This was the only chief who opposed the sale, saying that the white men would certainly expel the natives ere long.
In his “Adventures in New Zealand”, E.J. Wakefield discourses upon Native land tenure, and makes the curious remark : – “No hunting ever led to disputes concerning limits in the forest, there being no beasts to hunt.” E.J. Wakefield never made a greater mistake than that, and he made a few.
THE PURCHASE OF PORIRUA.
We have all heard of the first slip-shod purchase of land made by the agent of the New Zealand Company, by one of which Porirua was supposed to have been bought and most other lands for that matter. When this latter sale was repudiated by Ngati-Toa, Governor Grey arranged to buy these lands for £2000, as will be shown below.
After Colonel Wakefield had purchased, or thought he had purchased vast areas of land on the northern and southern shores of Cook Strait, for divers muskets, handkerchiefs, shaving brushes, Jews harps, and other jewellery, he named the former area North Durham, and the latter South Durham. Fortunately, however, for posterity, neither names appealed to the colonists, and, like unto the horrors, New Ulster and New Munster, they soon fell into innocuous desuetude. New Zealander is bad enough, but to be branded as a New Munsterian would shock the ––– . We mean our worthy friend of cloven tail fame.
The second purchase of Native lands made by Colonel Wakefield, as for the New Zealand Company, included many lands in the South Island, as also the whole of that part of the North Island lying south of a line drawn from Mokau on the west coast, to a point on the east coast north of Whareama. This vast area was sold cheerfully by a few chiefs of Ngati-Toa, presumably for the simple reason that they had no shadow of claim to about ninety-nine hundredths of it. They had, more over, sold portions of it so many times, that they were quite accustomed to the procedure, and seemed to enjoy it. There was nothing mean about Ngati-Toa, in the way of land selling, so long as the purchasers did not attempt to utilise such lands. This deed was signed by Te-Rau-paraha, Te Rangi-haeata, Tama-i-hengia, Te Hiko-o-te-rangi, Tungia (the “Wild Fellow” of Pukerua), and six other Natives. Whether or not they knew that they what they were signing, we wot not. The probability is that they did, and that they looked upon it as good business. As to the fact that their own lands were included in the above colossal area, that, would not worry them for a moment, possessing, as they surely did, a divine belief in their own ability to smite or eject any occupants they disapproved of, a belief that was much strengthened in 1843 by what they deemed the pusillanimous behaviour of the genus Pakeha after the Wairau massacre.
The payment of the above princely domain consisted of muskets, ammunition, tools, tobacco, blankets, clothing and minor items, including combs, shaving boxes, beads, slates and pencils, razors, pipes, tomahawks, iron pots and two cases of soap, though what use the unsophisticated savage had for the latter item it is impossible to say.
Of course, the lands included in this amazing “purchase” those of Port Nicholson, Te Rimurapa, Oterongo, Omere, Te Ika-a-maru, Owharui, Titaki, Porirua, Hongoeka, Te Rewa-rewa, etc, etc, not to mention the lands of about ten other tribes, hence the Port Nicholson lands seem to have been twice purchased. There are few easier ways of acquiring wealth and fame than by selling other folks property – so long as they don’t object, and, anyhow, you achieve fame.
The claims of the New Zealand Company to Porirua were disallowed by Commissioner Spain, the purchase not having been proved, hence it was that arrangements were made whereby it was bought for the sum of £2000. The Commissioner stated that “The district lying between Wainui and Porirua, inclusive of both places, must be regarded as being in the real and bona fide possession of the Ngati-Toa tribe.”
Tyrone Power gives some account of the land shark gentry of early days. It appears that five different parties claimed Kapiti Island, and eight claimed Porirua. One J.T. Hughes, a modest Sydney-sider, claimed all Porirua, and all lands thirty miles up the coast, and westward to the snowy mountains. Hughes was used to these trifling purchases. Cooper, Holt and Rhodes claimed all the land between the Wai-Kanae and Otaki rivers, back to a line forty miles in the interior, for which they claim to have paid the fabulous sum of £150 to two Natives. This claim seems to have overlapped that of friend Hughes, and also to have spilled over into the Wai-rarapa side. It is not actually recorded that they claimed Cook Straits, or had a first mortgage on the Pacific Ocean; still they did their best and who among us can do more?
That land claim that Hughes was hughest to was heard before Commissioner Spain at Wellington in 1842, and hath an element of interest. This party claimed, “All that land known as Porirua, from the rocks called Kai-kotoa on the north-east side of the river (harbour), Porirua, N.E. by N. thirty miles, bounded to the east by a range of snowy mountains, to the south by a range of hills three miles from Port Nicholson, on the south-west side of the river Porirua, to Titahi Bay, thence south-east by east to the south branch of the Porirua river.” Alleged to have been purchased in October, 1839, by William Hay from Ngati-Awa and Ngati-Toa. Consideration: merchandise to the value of £378, plus cash and goods to the value of £40. Hughes, Hosking and others claimed under this alleged purchase.
Of a truth was it said of old that the meek shall inherit the earth!
Another claim was for 23,000 acres at Wainui, alleged to have been purchased in November, 1839, from the Native chiefs known as A. Houlsmouth (!) and A. Pie (?). Consideration: Various articles of merchandise, VALUE NOT STATED. After much travail and sore perplexity we have been unable to identify these aboriginal gentlemen who toted round such marvellous cognomens, nor are we able to state definitely as to whether or not this A. Pie person represented apple pie or some other toothsome confection. Yet it is on record that these Hollow mouthed Pies retained possession of their lands.
Many of these amazing so-called purchases seem to have been made by adventurers, mostly from Australia, when they heard of the intended settlement of these shores by the New Zealand Company, as witness the dates of alleged purchases. The history of land sharking in New Zealand in early days is a weird one, and interesting withal.
E.J. Wakefield was at Porirua on March 15, 1840, and remarks : – “I found here a surveyor engaged by the Polynesian Company, to whom Captain Hay has sold a considerable portion of land hereabouts, which he claims to have bought of the Natives. The latter, however, deny the validity of the bargain, and refuse to allow the surveyor to proceed with his business.” Wakefield mentions a Mr Berness, who was then living on Mana Isle. At Kai-tawa, a small Native settlement at the South Head, he saw Neti, who had come from England on the Tory.
The lands acquired at Porirua under Governor Grey’s purchase included all the sections claimed by the New Zealand Company with the exception of sixteen. The lands reserved by Ngati-Toa extended from Te Ara-tura to Wainui. Of these lands a large portion of the Whitireia Peninsula was soon after handed over to the Church for a Maori College.
It was Colonel M’Cleverty who proposed the sum of £2000 as payment for the Porirua lands. It was arranged that £1000 of this purchase money should be paid on April 1, 1847, £500 on April 1, 1848, and the balance on April 1, 1849.
A portion of land was set aside to be handed over to the New Zealand Company, in exchange for sixteen sections surveyed and sold by them, but now included in the Native reserve. The company claimed about 270 sections in the Porirua district, many of which had been sold to Europeans. The company came very well out of the transaction, thanks to the arrangement made by the Governor, when the decision of the Commissioners is considered, viz, that “the New Zealand Company is not entitled to a Crown grant of any land in the district of Porirua.”
Wellington papers of March 20, 1847, contain an account of this second (or tenth) purchase of Porirua and the Wairau district of Marlborough : – “The amount of compensation in money to be received by the Natives is £2000 for the disputed lands at Porirua, and £3000 for the Wairau. … Three blocks of land have been reserved in the neighbourhood of Porirua for the use of the Natives. The first block is bounded towards the south by a line drawn from Jackson’s Ferry through Section No. 62, to the back of the last section (38) in the Ohariu district, and thence to the coast, and comprises the land between the south-western arm of Porirua Harbour and the sea, including that claimed by Mr Cooper. The second block consists of the five sections from No 100 to No 102 (?) on Porirua Harbour, extending from Jackson’s Ferry (Aotea lands, etc., eastern side of harbour). The third block commences at the Taupo pa and extends to Wainui, containing all the unsurveyed land between the sea and the back of the sections in the Horokiri Valley, including the potato grounds and clearing at Pukerua.”
“In the reserves above described are included sixteen sections chosen by the holders of preliminary land owners (? land orders), for which the New Zealand Company receive in exchange ten Native reserves.”
The above arrangements were made between the chiefs of Ngati-Toa and Governor Grey between the 16th and 24th February 1847. As soon, however, as the governor left for Whanganui (on February 24) the Natives, true to their nature, endeavoured to repudiate the deed, and re-claimed the greater part of the lands in a most bounceable manner, including Takapu, Paua-tahanui, and half the Horokiri Valley. One settler, who had been authorised by the Governor and Colonel Wakefield to settle on Section 63 at Paua-tahanui, took his stock there, but he was ordered to leave by the officers in command at the Paua-tahanui military post, and Colonel M’Cleverty threatened to have him fined under the Native Lands ordinance. This was a very common attitude assumed by Imperial officers towards settlers, hence the dislike in which they were held. One of the strongest evidences of the antipathy displayed by these gentry was their wretched conduct at the Waireka fight, where the settlers, who had run out of ammunition, were deserted by the gallant B.A. and told to get out of the difficulty the best way they could. Fortunately, however, the little old British Navy wasn’t producing any snobs or bounders that day.
But that Section 63 settles. On the return of Governor Grey to these parts on March 13, he at once put the settler on his land, and expressed his opinion of Ngati-Toa in vigorous terms.
Mr Cooper claimed, and was occupying, four sections on the Whitireia Peninsula at this time; residing at the place afterwards occupied by Mr De Castro. Cooper appears to have received land elsewhere in lieu of these sections. Presumably this was the man after whom Mt Cooper was named. Tradition has it that, in after years, he was connected with Cooper’s sheep dip, of immortal fame.
The price paid for the Porirua lands (£2000) was considered exorbitant at the time, as we glean from a perusal of papers of that period. When the first instalment was paid over to the Natives, the Governor informed them that they would in future be amenable to the laws as Europeans were. At the same time, he granted a sum of £30 to the Natives at Te Paripari, for having surrendered Kumete and seven other rebels (!), with their arms to the Government during the late unpleasantness.
The area of land mentioned in the Crown grants of Porirua was 68,890 acres. The Crown grants for Port Nicholson and Porirua were despatched from Auckland to Colonel Wakefield on January 27, and were communicated to the “Independent” for publication.
The following is a copy of the document signed by the Natives when they sold Porirua for the last time in 1847 : –
Translation by Lieutenant Servantes, Sixth Foot.
PORIRUA, April 1, 1847.
These are the lands give up by us to the Governor, beginning at the boundary formerly laid down to us by Mr Spain at the Kenepuru, running to the Porirua, Pauatahanui, Horokiwi, extending as far as Wainui, then the boundary takes a straight course inland to Pou-wha (or Poawha) running quite as far as Pa-whakataka.
There are three places kept in reserve for us of the land that is given up by us to the Governor, one of them beginning at Te Ara-taura, running in a straight line inland, then it cross and comes out at the house belonging to Mr Jackson, running along the water edge; the other boundary comes as far as Waitawa, and runs along the waterside until it reaches Te Ara-taura.
We have likewise this again in reserve, the boundary of which runs from Jackson’s house until it reaches the creek on the side of the cultivated garden of Te Hiko, then it runs straight along that river, running straight along at the back of the ridge, then breaking out again to the waterside at Papatohi, a little outside the settlement a Oahu.
We have this again in reserve, the boundary of which begins at Tawhiti-kuri, running along the ridge until it reaches the mountains above Te Pari-pari, then it runs along the ridge to Wainui, and it then descends into Wainui river, it then runs straight along that river to Pouawha, running to Powhakataka. The part outside this boundary we still retain as ours.
If any of our cultivations that are above Taupo should fall within the boundary of the Governor’s land, they are to be returned to us.
The payment for these lands are these : – £2000 in money; £1000 to be given us on the first day of April, 1847; £500 on the first day of April, 1848; £500 on the first day of April, 1849, which being added together, makes £2000, which concludes the arrangements.
Ten chiefs signed to this.
Witnesses to signatures : –
W.A. M’Cleverty, Lieutenant-Colonel.
J. Armstrong, Captain, 99th Regiment
L.R. Elliott, Lieutenant, 99th Regiment.
W.F.G. Servantes, Lieutenant, 6th Regiment (Interpreter to the Forces).
Pa-whakataka, mentioned in the document, was an old pa of Ngati-Ira, situated on the Heretaunga (Hutt) River, above the junction of the Manga-roa.
If the above be a fair translation of the original deed, then that document must be couched in peculiarly dubious language, and would be well worthy of perusal.
In the early days of European settlement the advantages of settling the Porirua district, and of opening up the rugged forest-clad lands by means of roads was clearly recognised. In a despatch from Governor Grey to Earl Grey, of date March 26,1847, occurs the following : – “In a military point of view, the possession of a great part of the Porirua district, and its occupation by British subjects, were necessary to secure the town of Wellington and its vicinity from future hostile acts and aggression from evil disposed Natives, as it was only by the occupation of the Porirua district that the various tracks leading across the woody mountains which lie between Porirua and Wellington, could be effectually closed against an enemy.”
Thus Porirua, it was deemed, would form an excellent buffer state for Wellington, from a military point of view. If attacked by savages, the Porirua settlers might have stood the brunt of such attack, and, perchance, ere they were all put out of action warn the denizens of Port Nicholson of the coming wrath. The protection of the aforesaid settlers does not seem to have entered into the scheme. It was up to the Bush Legion to make good.
OLD BUSH LEGION.
LAND SALES ETC
On September 3, 1842, Mr Brees, surveyor to the New Zealand Company at Wellington, published in the “Colonist” a statement of country sections surveyed, selected, and under survey in the Wellington district. It includes the following : –
|Kenepuru & Porirua||108||108||8|
But before this statement appeared a correspondent had written : – “Small patches of cultivation form oases among the forest of Porirua.” At that period the name Porirua, among Europeans, seems to have been applied to lands as far south as Crofton (Ngaio), while Kenepuru also was applied to the district between the latter place and Johnsonville, and to a few other places for that matter.
The “New Zealand Journal” of January 31, 1843, published in London, remarked : – “It only demands a proper degree of spirit and enterprise to render immediately available the plains of the Hutt and Porirua.” It seems to us a scathing indictment of British enterprise that, in this year of our Lord, 1913, those Porirua Plains are not only still unsettled, but have not even been discovered.
There were several allotments of sections in the Porirua and surrounding districts. One took place on January 1, 1842, when some of the lands around Porirua, at Owhariu and Horokiri, were dealt with, but settlers could not approach the Horokiri and adjacent lands until after the hostiles had been driven out of the district, and that as in 1846.
On January 14, 1843, Mr Brees made another report on local sections, as follows : –
|District|| No. of Sections
opened for Selection
| No. of Sections
taken up prior to
April 9, 1842
| No. taken up in
| No. still Open |
It must not be supposed that these sections were always occupied by the purchasers when bought, for in many cases they were not. Many were held by absentees in England. Prior to April 8, 1842, 33 sections were taken up in Paua-tahanui district, also 59 in Horokiri district prior to January 1843, but it was not until 1847, after the shadow of war had passed away, and the Matai-taua pa at Paua-tahanui had become a military post, that white settlers were enabled to enter the north-east arm of the harbour.
Many of the persons who took up land in the country districts round Wellington in the early forties were unable to occupy them, on account of lack of roads, and, in many cases, of the hostility of the Natives. Thus we note in old records that, in 1844, Dr Evans and Mr Northwood, owners of land at Horokiri, obtained sections at Pakura-tahi and Wainui-o-mata in lieu thereof. Many exchanges of this kind were made.
In 1854 a number of sections in Horokiri, Paua-tahanui, Takapu and Owharui districts were gazetted as open for sale at ten shillings per acre. On November 16, 1854, Section No. 17 at Horokiri was sold for £115. In 1855 25 acres and a house at Porirua, the property of James Mitchell, was sold for £170.
In August, 1840, news was received in Wellington from New South Wales of the passing of the New Zealand Land Bill, that declared any titles to land in New Zealand not derived from the Crown, null and void. This seemed to cut the ground from under the feet of the settlers, and something very much like a panic ensured. Some of the Wellington settlers are said to have proposed a re-migration to Chili, but were dissuaded from carrying out their plan. The Crown grants were eventually obtained, after much trouble.
Richard Wakelin, in his “History and Politics,” speaks of the avowed object of the New Zealand Company to prevent labourers becoming landholders too soon, and of the evils of land grabbing. After the arrival of Governor Grey in November, 1845, matters improved, but much of the land was cut up into sections too small to make a decent living off in those days. The demands of the goldfields for produce of divers kinds, in after years, was a decided boon. The above writer remarks that in 1850 : – “The appearance of a man in a blue serge shirt on Lambton Quay (though then the every day dress of all classes in Nelson) marked him out as one of the ‘lower order’, a being of an inferior species, who, if he wanted to obtain employment, was told to take his stand at the ‘Poor Man’s Corner,’ situate in the vicinity of the old Custom House, where men stood to pick up odd jobs at sixpence per hour.”
R. Wakelin in his caustic remarks, seems to have exaggerated somewhat in his blue shirt harangue. As to a blue shirt being every-day dress, we have heard, on good authority, that those pioneers also wore trousers, often of the moleskin persuasion, as well; or at least on Sundays and during visits to town.
Heaphy states in his narrative that, when he left Wellington in November, 1841, the following settlers were clearing land in the Porirua district, which would mean between town and Johnsonville : –
while the Messrs Yule were the pioneer settlers at Karori. The first settlers towards Porirua settled about Ngaio and Khandallah, whence settlement gradually advanced northward into the Porirua Valley to Tawa Flat and the Ferry.
In October, 1841, a settler wrote : – “I have been to see what is going on in the Karori district, on the section of the Messrs Yule, the only people who have had the courage to attack this fine country, with no better road than one of the surveyor’s cutting.”
Heaphy writes : – “To show what can be done in the forest by industrious application, I may mention the circumstances of two young Scotchmen owning a section in the Karori Valley, having, by their own unaided labour, cleared about twenty acres of forest land heavily timbered, and built themselves a house in the space of six months, with only the assistance of a native to carry their provisions to them from the town.” No doubt this feat was good enough for new chums, but as to the house, well, well, there are houses and houses, and we remember some of the first vintage of Karori and Porirua.
In April, 1842, the Gazette published the following item : – “The new road to Karori, made by the New Zealand Company, is proceeding satisfactorily. It will be an excellent road, very nearly level (!), and will open up one of the finest districts in the neighbourhood of Port Nicholson.” The Gazette was not run on pessimistic lines.
Reference was often made in early publications to Boddington’s place. Mr James Boddington was one of the earliest settlers; he took up land on the Old Porirua Road, which place he named Compton Grange. He often sent home accounts of the young settlement of Wellington, which communications were published in the “Colonial Gazette”, “Times”, “Daily News” and “Morning Chronicle.” He died on September 22, 1849.
Wakefield states that after the fire that destroyed a goodly part of the buildings on Lambton Quay as far as Clay Point on November 8, 1842, many folks who had been small shopkeepers there went on the land, and two small villages soon sprang up along the Porirua bridle track (Old Porirua Road) at distances of four and six miles from town.
Nor were those old time trail breakers devoid of social pleasures in the primitive forties, for the above writer remarks on the number of social gatherings that took place just prior to the Wellington anniversary of 1843 : – “Among the most pleasing of these was a picnic given by Messrs Clifford and Vavasour, who had set an excellent example by clearing away at their section, half a mile beyond Captain Daniel’s farm on the Porirua Road, immediately they arrived. They were in time to ask their fellow passengers in the Fife, who were going on to Nelson, to lunch in a tent in the midst of their first clearing; a party of the ladies of Wellington joined the merry throng.”
In 1842 the New Zealand Journal suggested that some American woodsmen should be
imported, “and by their example operate as a sort of normal school for choppers.” We doubt not that those early settlers sadly needed lessons in axemanship, but they were destined to breed worthy members of the Bush Legion in the days that lay before.
As early as 1842, complaints were made by settlers on the Porirua Road regarding annoyances received from Natives.
In the beginning of 1844, according to the “New Zealand Journal”, there was a large number of small farmers in the Porirua and Karori districts.
In a letter written by T.C. Harrington to Earl Grey, under date December 19, 1847, we note that sites of towns had been contemplated by the New Zealand Company at Porirua, Port Underwood, Queen Charlotte Sound, Massacre Bay and South Whanga-nui.
Tyrone Power remarks on a ride from Porirua to Wellington in 1848 : – “The whole of this once dreadful road is now a fine highway, and, as I cantered along, I could scarcely believe that it was the same ground that I had toiled along so slowly and painfully less than two years ago. Gardens, cottages and cultivations are seen springing up on all sides; large patches of cleared land are making deep inroads into the forest, and the whole aspect of the country is being rapidly changed.”
THE BUSH FIRE TERROR.
When the early settlers were engaged in clearing their lands, the bush fires were often a source of danger, for, in a dry season, when a bush fire gets out of hand and takes charge, why, things are liable to happen, and such wild fires are given to romping over the country as though they owned it. Thus, in February, 1851, much damage was caused along the road by such a fire, some settlers losing crops and houses, in fact nearly everything they possessed, except the land itself. Volunteer workers had great difficulty in saving the chapel at Johnsonville from destruction. The Karori settlers suffered also, and one paper recorded a dangerous bush fire in the vicinity of Woolcombe Street, Wellington.
The “Spectator” of January 25, 1860, remarked on the fierce bush fires then raging around Wellington : – “On Friday the new church at Johnsonville was burned to the ground, caused by flakes of burning timber falling on the shingled roof. This is the second English church that has been burned at Johnsonville.” On the previous day bush fires had been raging at Karori, and the asylum at that place was only saved by turning out its inmates and employing them at water carrying. Soon afterwards, a bush fire swept across Rata Valley at Karori to Polhill’s Gully (Aro Street) and on to Happy Valley (Owhiro). There were surely anxious days, and anxious nights too, when the fire demon was doing business.
THE TOLL OF THE BUSH.
In 1851 Mr George Rennie was lost in the bush at Porirua, wherein he must have died of starvation and exposure. It was nearly a fortnight ere his body was found.
The following are the names of some of the early settlers in the Porirua district, as given in the “New Zealand Journal” of March 13, 1852. The term Porirua is here employed to denote the district from Ngaio northwards, apparently : –
|Name of settler|| Year of arrival |
The following old identities are given by Brett : –
|Name of settler||Location in colony||Year of arrival||Ship|
|Ames, James||Kapiti||1839||Star of China|
|Bell, George||Mona Isle||1832||Minerva|
|Boulton, Edward||Kapiti||1837||Samuel Cunnard|
|Cooper, W.||Kapiti||1837||Samuel Cunnard|
|Daniell, Captain E.||1840|
|Dieffenbach R.||Port Nicholson||1983||NZC Naturalist|
|Dorset John M.U.||Wellington||1839|
|Flugent H.||Mona Isle||1837||Louisa|
|Fogarty John||Mona Isle||1837|
|Fraser, Alexander||Mona Isle||1839|
|Fraser, Thomas||Mona Isle||1839|
|Hebberley James||Wellington||1836||First Pilot|
|Jenkins, W.||Mona Isle||1837||Louisa|
|Knocks John J.||Mona Isle||Minerva|
|Knox, Dr F.J.||1840||Martha Ridgeway|
|Smith, Port Nicholison||1839||When Tory arrived,|
|Taylor, Dr Henry||Wellington||1839||Success|
|Thomas, William||Karohiwa (opposite Mana)||1836||Caroline|
|Wakefield E. Jern||Wellington||1939||Tory|
|Wakefield Col. William J.P.||Wellington||1939|
 Early New Zealand - Bretts Historical Series (1890), extended and corrected from http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~ourstuff/Residents1839I-Z.htm
Here follow the names of some of the old settlers on the Porirua Road as written apparently about 1851, or a little later.
|2||Clifford and Hammond|
|3||Morgan and Sharp|
|6||Phillips (G. Mexted, occupant)|
|10||J.H. Wallace, Hammond, M’Mannaway|
|11||Gilpin, Reeves, Bell.|
|12||Burgess, J., Barrow, S. Barrow, Ames, Reeves|
|13||Rev. J. Hawtrey, Absentee|
|14||J. Petherick, E.G. Wakefield|
|32||Hart, Fisher, Dowdeswell|
|36||J. Taylor, Burgess|
|37||Carp and Harrison|
|40||Angell, Mexted, Wilmshurst|
|41||Pilcher, Woodman, Mitchell, Peckham|
|57||Mitchell, Wall, Brown|
|58||Wall and Floyd|
THE BUSH SETTLERS OF PORIRUA.
And what of the old Bush Legion that broke the country in, that hewed and toiled to make homes in the dense bush of Porirua, what time the primitive homesteads were known as “Brown’s Clearing” or “Jones’s Clearing.” What of the sturdy old pioneers, who, clad in moleskins and blue shirts, carved out homes with the axe and built their quaint cottages of slab or weatherboard, with clay chimney abutments, by the rippling Kenepuru or the placid waters of the inner bays. What time the whistling rasp of pit saws were heard along the flat, and stalwart men swung aloft the long-tailed griffin to modest tunes, for prices at one time sank to as low as three shillings per hundred. And where are those old sawyers now? Where the men who parbuckled, broke down, flitched and ripped the great rimu and matai logs, even that we might find fair haven beneath the simple cottages that followed. But few survivors are there, if any. When Jack Woodman, at eighty years of age, passed away in Wellington, in February, 1911, one of the last of the old sawyers we knew hung up his plate and handed in his tally board. We have a kindly feeling for those old pit sawyers, for we, too, have known what it is to handle an eight-foot breaking-down plate in a hard rimu; and just for a rest, to send the slim, ripping plate singing down the long black lines of a light flitch. Eheu! Fugaces labuntur anni.
And the yearly toil of bush felling on the hills, the battle of the bush cloggers to clear and tame the face of the Earth Mother, even that fair fields might support the coming people. And the gathering at Floyd’s or M’Grath’s, or the old Half-Way House, whereat, over pints of ale, were told tales of heavy labour, of drives, of close calls with the angel of death, with arguments as to the superiority or otherwise of certain axes and axemen, as also the weird tale of a mythical personage named Totara Joe, who was said to have wielded a 10lb axe with an iron handle!
Then the excitement of burning off the fall, when summer day came. (Lord, what a time us youngsters!); when the roar of the huge fire smote heavy on the ear, the racing sheets of flame leaped to the summits of the lone rata, and huge clouds of smoke rose skyward and bore to town-dwelling non-combatant the story of the conquest of the earth by man.
Anon the black and trying labour of logging up, when swart and perspiring men of demoniac aspect fed the roaring fires that cleared the blackened land, to make way for the sowers of grass seed.
Yet again the toil of riving out fencing material, for your wire fence was all unknown to the pioneers, few of whom could have afforded to purchase wire had it been available. They cut their logs with the old peg-tooth crosscut plate; your fancy American saws, with rakers (drag-teeth) and deep gullets dividing arrangements of two or three teeth, were still in the lap of time, and sawing down had not become common. Follows the hard belting with heavy beetles of titoki to split the stubborn logs, or “cuts”, as the lengths were termed, into posts, rails or “stabs”. By the way, we had two names, maul and beetle, for the same implement, the first derived from a French source, the latter from a Saxon one, a survival of the double invasion of England in past times, preserved through centuries of time and encountered in the bush at Porirua.
And the fences: mainly of two kinds were they, rail and “stab”. Why stab? Quien sabe!
Ask us something easier. (Our old friend, or enemy, Webster, says: “Stab, a staff, a stick. Gaelic stob, a stake, a stub.”)
First come the most primitive style of fence known to man; not the log and chock type, as seen in America, our timber does not lend itself to such manipulation, but logs rolled together by dint of heavy labour with wooden levers, handspikes to us, no labour saving timber jacks in those days. On the top of these logs lighter logs and chunks were piled to be consumed by the first fire that ran wild over the half-cleared land, and when that fire had so raced across the log-strewn land, then a dog-leg, stab, or rail was erected. The dog-leg fence was a curious contrivance made of split stakes, generally rimu (red pine), two being so driven into the ground as to form an X, then another was laid in a slanting position, its upper end resting in the crotch of the crossed stakes. This process being repeated evolved the primitive dog-leg fence. The stab fence, or picket fence, consisted of a one railed erection, with they pickets nailed to the rail their lower ends being inserted in the earth. In cases where nails were outside the family purse, we have seen the pickets, rough split, lashed to the rail with split supplejacks, a la Maori. The rail fence might be three or four rail, inserted in holes mortised in the posts, either goose neck or side lap style, the former by far the most common. This was the strongest type of fence – save one, the fence that ran along the eastern side of the Old Porirua Road just above where it leaves the junction of Johnsonville South, for that stalwart barrier was composed of trunks of trees, cut into suitable lengths and inserted deeply side by side in the earth. It was surely a fence.
The old roads are lined with neat houses now, but what quaint primitive places some of the old-time cottages were! Our folk would surely despise the cabin that sheltered the old Bush Legion. But they are gone now and nought remains save memories of the past.
Of all the quaint old-fashioned clay-walled cottages, of which so many were built back in the forties of last century, but few now remain. One such however, still stands on the old Broderick place, about a mile north of Johnsonville, though now covered by an iron roof.
And the appurtenances of those cabins, the old-fashioned gear of kitchen and “sitting room,” for parlour had not arrived, and the drawing-room undreamed of (in many cases the kitchen was also the living-room, and the bedroom served as a dairy), the queer old candlesticks and cooking utensils. For, mark you, there was evolution in all these things. Those candlesticks were tall sconces with a lamentable lack of any receptacle for guttering fat. The snuffers reposed in a tray right handy, inasmuch as those pre-historic candles frequently needed snuffing otherwise they gave but little light and, even when so snuffed, the illumination could not be described as grand and two such candles in a room was full allowance. What would we think of such a light now, do you suppose. Any how, no one troubled to turn on the electric light in those days. In late times the bedroom candlestick of to-day came to our knowledge, as also the kerosene lamp, which was deemed gorgeous innovation, and pretty poor lamps they were by the same token.
The same process of evolution was noted in cooking utensils, from the days of the three-legged “go-ashore” of the primitive times even into the elaborate cooking ranges of today. First in order was the camp oven, that turned out a finer loaf than any of your ranges, and that same oven has been the most useful item in the breaking in of these new lands, for we remember it as used for baking and as a boiler, for making sea pie in, as a bread kneading trough, as a frying pan and other uses quaint and startling. In days long past we left a camp oven, turned upside down, on the headwaters of the Manga-maha-ki, and did not return for it for some months, when we were surprised to find it occupied by bees, who had collected a nice store of honey. Carefully replacing the lid we swagged that oven over far ranges to our new camp, where that honey was much appreciated.
The old camp oven has been in the van of civilisation in these isles, ever the companion of the pioneer, the best friend of the bush-whacker. Let those who will tune sweet songs of praise to helpmates true, to billy or go-ashore, enough for us to chant the triumph of the faithful camp oven.
Another item coeval with the camp oven was the Dutch oven, though of a less ubiquitous nature. This was a curved piece of tin like a bisected dome in form, with, if we remember aright, a pan, or place therefore, at the base, and the top curved forward. A joint of meat was suspended from the top, of this canoe-shaped hollow part, and the apparatus set in front of the fire, the exposed joint being turned round occasionally; the fat dripped into the pan below; a portable form of the old time roasting jack.
After long years, the Colonial Oven, or, as it was sometimes called, the Melbourne oven, came into use, with a fire box below and open fire above between hobs, across which were placed iron bars to support pots or kettle. This was reckoned a great advance, but we surely despise the colonial oven these times.
Some of the old open fireplaces were of great size; some provided with iron fire dogs, in others two side logs supported the burning brands; while at the back was a huge “back-log,” some of which took several days to consume. In some of those old fireplaces you could have a camp oven, go-shore and kettle under way, and yet find room for the old folks and about seventeen young Browns or Joneses round the fire. From a cross beam up the chimney depended chains whereon to suspend kettles, etc., by means of hooks. Those hooks had frequently to be raised or lowered a few links, and this was one of the minor trials of pioneer life, for those hooks were passing well besooted and blackened the hands when grasped without aid of the “kettle holder” that hung on a nail hard by. Moreover they absorbed and retained caloric to no mean extent, even that the manipulator thereof often let go in a hurry and dropped them in the fire, an act often accompanied, if not by shrieks or stout language, at least by some mild remarks on the weather or surrounding scenery. Even then that hook had still to be recovered by means of a stick from the fiery depths, for it usually fell into the hottest part and concealed itself right cunningly. Well, well, we are not taking any tickets on recovering pot hooks from a 6 x 4 fire any more than we need any lessons in manhandling a camp oven.
In the days of our youth wild tales were told of the size of certain fireplaces “further back”, where openings existed in the sides for the passage of a team of bullocks that “snaked” huge logs of amazing girth into the fireplace as back logs. All of which, doubtless, we believed.
It was a great point to keep the fire in those far off days, for matches were 6d and 1s a box, and the Bush Legion was ever in the stern grip of poverty. Hence the embers were carefully covered with ashes at night, which ashes being raked off in the morning disclosed a mass of live coals. The cold hearthstone was not in those days. Or, if such a thing occurred, you went over to your neighbours for a firestick.
Baring Gould tells a story of an old woman on Dartmoor, who said on her deathbed : – “I be sure l’se goin’ to glory; for sixty-three years have I been married, and never in all them years once let the hearth fire go out.”
In after days, to wit, in your own civilised times, we acquired the American stove, a dour, sullen thing of evil memory, from which we passed in relief to the cheery open fire of the sitting room, for wood was still plentiful on the hills. And then, as the black pall of civilisation fell upon us, there came the cooking range, which still abideth, and the bush vanished, and, O bitter fate! the remnant of the old Bush Legion had to buy that fuel.
But the end is not yet. For the chain of progress still runs ruthlessly through the snatch-blocks of time, and we hear fell rumours of electric cookers, gasless cookers, fireless cookers and pre-digested foods, with the Lord knows what unmentionable horrors behind them. Of a verity is it full time for us old bush folk to shift camp. God save us kindly.
You folks don’t remember the old time wooden pails (pails, not buckets), the tubs of the old days, clean American made, iron hooped, painted in red or other bright colours outside; before iron buckets and tubs came into use. They needed more care than the modern article, and things were said if, on washing day, the tubs were found to be leaky.
WHAT BECAME OF THE PAIL-MAKERS.
Life was much simpler in those days, and luxuries were fewer, very much so. Food supplies were mostly “home-grown” and many of the old dishes are not heard of now, such as pumpkin pie, elderberry pudding (a dish for the gods in our sinful eyes), hasty pudding, not to speak of konini jam and dock pie. On red letter days a packet of lollies would drift in from Anderson’s or Wallace’s, those old fashioned fish and scissor lollies, or brandy balls, maybe some brandy snaps, though why the prefixed brandy we wot not.
Across the space of long years comes the vision of the wattle and daub chimneys, the slab huts, the weatherboard cottages, of the days when the old Bush Legion was in camp. Back over the weakening wires of memory looms up the log-strewn clearing, the black desolation of the new “burn,” the primitive home f the pioneer. And ever, throughout the changing years, the Old Timers, one by one, hand in their time and step aside from the trail of life. Yet a little while and the last of the old home carvers will have passed away.
For change is ever with us, and nothing endureth for ever. Neat and convenient houses stand on the sites of our old rough homesteads, the passenger trains have run our spring carts off the roads, the double-headed freight has put the wood cars and timber wagon out of action. The hard-muscled old bushmen who carved out homes from the heavy bush have given place to a new breed that walketh o’er pleasant pastures. Where the bush slogger chewed into a six-foot rimu his descendant strolls out to cut a cabbage for dinner. Where grandpa “logged-up” with a handspike, all ignorant of Price’s jacks, his offspring of the second generation totes a coal scuttle and a pennorth of kindling. For the old order has passed away and is not: the work of the pioneer in our district is over. In the small forties he saw his task before him, and rose to the occasion, and we who have reached the grey days of life have looked upon his strenuous toil and witnessed the Passing of the Bush Legion.