Tawa Historical Society



By Elsdon Best


    Many letters from early Wellington settlers were published in the “New Zealand Journal”, and other English papers.   Some of these communications are very quaint.   One good woman, writing from Wellington in 1844, regrets the number of “barbers, tailors, ribbon weavers and button-makers” who have settled at that place, and asks for “useful members”, winding up with a request for “a few furze seed and some damson and some white bullace.”   One rejoices in the absence of church rates and other objectionable items, but “we have far too many lawyers.   I believe some of them are going home in the same ships they come out by.”   Another notes, with pardonable pride.   “We have got a gaol, but no church here.   There is not many days but some of our rangerterers (rangatiras) are walked to gaol for debt.   I hope I shall soon be a rangerterer, but not to go to gaol.”
    In 1846 the “New Zealand Journal” stated its faith in the future of Wellington.   “Our belief is that Wellington is destined to be the New York of the southern hemisphere.   Fifty years will make it equal to Liverpool or Glasgow, as it has superior advantages to the Mersey or Clyde.”   Could any “Yankee blow” beat this?

    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.


    We note that in 1846 Wilkinson’s Tea Gardens at Oriental Bay are mentioned in local chronicles, hence, apparently, war’s stern alarms did not prevent the pioneers enjoying themselves, with tea and comfits, in sylvan shades, beneath the peak of Matai-rangi.


    Of all the stalwart settlers who hewed out homestead on the Porirua Road, and battled against Nature with godlike courage, our notes of admiration persist in circling round and adorning the fame of one Sam.   Here was a man of cold drawn courage and appalling presence of mind.   We quote from old records of a hair-curdling affray that occurred on the old road when some Natives attempted to turn settlers off their holdings.
    Sam, being duly sworn, stated : – “I reside on the Porirua Road.   On Saturday last I saw the prisoner lift his tomahawk to Cummerfield.   I went and fetched my cow, and tied her to a root on my land.”
    Here, we hold, appears the very acme of courage, presence of mind, and forbearance, not to speak of originality and divers other virtues in the lists of man.   Seeing that tomahawks were circling somewhat freely in the atmosphere, Sam, utterly forgetful of self and sundry other things, at once preceded to fetch his cow.   Now some folks might have fetched a club or even a Maxim.   Not so Sam!   With commendable promptness Sam pulled out for his cow.   Not content with this intrepid act, he likewise tied the aforesaid cow to a root on his land.   Persons of common calibre might have acted differently.   But never Sam.   They might have fetched somebody else’s cow (we have known of such things), or tied her on another man’s land.   But Sam, with the true love of home implanted in his bosom, never dreamed of such base acts.   He distinctly says that he tied her to a root on his land.   Those of a carping disposition may belittle such an act of self-sacrifice; we say that the path of duty and virtue alone appealed to Sam.   With noble disinterestedness he persisted in at once fetching his cow, when clubs were trumps, and in tying her to a root (on his land).
    All honour to Sam!
    Likewise to the Cow!!
    (We regret being unable to place on record the time consumed in the cow fetching act of Sam.)


    In the forties a considerable quantity of timber suitable for cabinet matters and other purposes was shipped from Wellington to England.   Thus the Caledonia in 1845 took 512 baulks of maire and a large number of slabs and knots of totara, hinau, kohekohe, rimu, rewarewa, matipo, akeake, kowhai, also 16 tons of hinau bark.


    An export in such items is noticeable in early journals.   By the David Malcolm in 1846, seven cases of curiosities were sent to England, and the early settlers are said to have commenced to collect Maori implements, etc., as soon as they landed at Pito-one.   Most of such items were sent to friends in England, but a few collections were retained here, notably those of Messrs Gillespie and Petherick.   That of the latter gentleman is now available to all who take an interest in Maori ethnography, owing to his generous gift of the same to the community.   When we consider that an export of Maori ethnographical items began so early, it is not to be wondered at that we have now largely to depend on German and English forgeries of such things.


    The gaol returns of the “roaring forties” make some curious revelations.   The Wellington “Independent” of August 9, 1848, gives the following abstract of gaol returns in Wellington for the quarter ending June 30 : – Class of persons – Soldiers 39, sailors five, civilians two, Maoris one.   Now which were the orderly members of society in those days, the upholders of order – or the upheld? And how do the said upholders compare with civilians and the primitive savage, John Tenakoe.   It reminds one of old stories anent the 18th Royal Irish and family clothes lines.


    (A Delicions Confection)
    Scene 1, the Tart; scene 2, the mustard pot; scene 3, the-re-reaction.
    In 1847 a Wellington family made a hearty meal of a tutu tart which was much appreciated, for a time, until it began to get to work, when it was less admired.   Fortunately some neighbours came to the rescue, and administered liberal does of mustard and water, with admired effect.   The tart consumers returned to the world of life emptier but wiser than of yore.


    In the forties a good deal of travelling by canoe was done.   Natives coming to Wellington from Whauganui and other places sometimes came by canoe, which were generally left at Pori-rua, or at the native village which formerly existed at the mouth of the Ohariu stream.
    Canoes were much used on the Heretaunga, or Hutt River, prior to 1855, when the elevation of the land by earthquakes altered the aspect of that river so much.   One small canoe, dating from the forties, is still in the possession of Mr Mantell.   It was used in those primitive days for bringing the mails ashore from vessels anchored out in Lambton Harbour.
    As late as 1870 we remember seeing some of the old-time canoes hauled up above high water mark at Waimapihi, Te Paripari and elsewhere.   Long disused were they, and dilapidated withal, the abandoned craft of primitive man, now supplanted by the fine boat of the white man and the locomotive that throws the leagues behind her as she rushes athwart the old time trails of Awarua and Pori-rua.
    A fragment of Te Ahu-o-Turanga, one of Te Rauparaha’s old canoes, still existed at Motu-hara as late as the nineties, and a part of Te Ra-makiri, another old war canoe, was said, at that time to still be lying on Mana.   About the same time the hull of another was in use as a footbridge over the Ohariu stream.
    In our youth we remember seeing the Porirua Maoris pulling a cart by hand to the Bay.   They had bought it in Wellington, and, having no horse, presumably they hitched themselves to it and hauled it out gaily.   The procession was trailing down Tawa Flat when we saw it.


    One of the best known characters on Wellington roads in the early forties was Sam Phelps, an artist of renown.   Sam’s particular line of art was that known as “greenhide engraving”, or in common phraseology, bullock punching.   Samuel was a past-master at his profession, but, like some other brilliant men, could never keep his elbow straight when within reach of red wine.   Hence he was frequently in trouble.   His dislike for magistrates and other authorities was marked, and he used to express his emotions when punching his team, the bullocks comprising which he had named Shortland, Best, Halswell, etc., after the aforesaid authorities.   When one of these hapless wights hove in sight Sam would at once commence to hurl the most frightful imprecations at his bovine namesake, much to the joy of what Wakefield terms the “lower classes”.   Thus he might pass along one “street” of the township damning Best’s eyes to the depths of Sheol, but, if the Colonial Secretary appeared, he would at once proceed to belabour “Shortland” with horrible threats to “cut his liver out”.   The original Shortland demanded an explanation from Sam one day, but got little satisfaction from that worthy.   “I wasn’t a speakin’ to you.   I’m a drivin’ of my bullocks, I am.   That’s my business, and I’m shorely mindin’ it.”
    Early settlers and voyagers made some amusing attempts at writing Maori names.   An account of the fight at Te Kuititonaga, Wai-kanae, published in the Port Philip – “Patriot” of December 3, 1839, states that the Nottyarber (Ngati-awa) tribe were attacked in their beds by Notorowkow (Ngati-Rau-Kawa) on October 16.
    Charles, writing from the Hutt in March, 1840, tells his Home friends that the Naitirohons (Ngati-ka-hungunu) are expected to attack the Hutt Natives any day, and that our tent is pitched on the place where the Naitirohoons are expected; we keep guns and pistols loaded, and have a good ditch.”   Evidently a fearless fellow was Charles, and presumably no mean exponent of gun play.
    John, writing from Port Nicholson in 1840, draws attention of the British Empire to his efficiency in the Maori tongue.   John states : – “The Natives are a fine race of people, very much like the ancient people in Britain.   We are now learning their language – Coeyah, yes; Caroary no; cochnah is bad; curpy, good; wich e dich, let me see; emran, come along; arrer, go away; naptha, make haste.”   Friend John was evidently a philologist of no meant attainments.
    There was a curious medley of coins in circulation at Port Nicholson in the forties, when whalers were wont to distribute the coinage of France, the United States, several Spanish American countries, etc.   We have seen four different countries represented in the coin in circulation at Honolulu, and that as late as the eighties.


    The “New Zealand Gazette” of July 6, 1842, contains the following sad notice : – “Awful Conflagration!   Total Destruction of the Police Office, Courthouse, Post Office and Church.   We stop press to announce to our readers by far the most serious effects of the devouring element (fire) which has yet been recorded in the annals of Port Nicholson.   … The burning of the Courthouse, etc., formed as grand a scene as could well be imagined.   … The destruction of the edifices will be a serious loss to the inhabitants, as the value of the buildings alone is estimated at the enormous sum of five pounds.”
    The “New Zealand Journal” of 1840 contains an advertisement inserted by J. Vallentine of Wych Street, who enumerates desirable goods for emigrants to New Zealand.   The desirable goods include – Sets of bullock harness, at 6s 9d per set; felling axes, 6½lb, 1s 1d each.   Ye joyous gods and gentle bushmen!   Try and imagine the desirable felling axes, 6½lb, at 1s 1d each.
    William complains in mournful numbers and 1840 that he had to give £4 for two pit saws at Port Nicholson.   Cheer up, William!   The day will yet dawn from “Where the roaring circulars swing, whirring through the pine,” and the long-tailed griffin shall be as dross in the land.
    Some of the letters written by early settlers here to friends at Home, and published in divers journals, bring much joy to us.
    William II (of a verity Williams were plentiful in those halcyon days, even as leaves in the vale of Vallombrosa), William, we repeat, sent the following sworn statement swinging round half a world to appear in the “New Zealand Journal” of London : – “One of my ducks has a brood of six.   She is very attentive.   I have a cock and two hen turkeys, one of the ladies is sitting on seven eggs.   I gave £16 for the cow, for her with her calf, which I sold for £5.   The old lady gives us a gallon of milk a day.   Kapi tenai, as we say in the mauri language, meaning very good that.   Sweet pease came up, but some varmint destroyed them.”
    We would fain draw attention to an undesirable tone of levity displayed by William II when alluding to the ladies of his establishment, and likewise note, with some pain, indications of a sordid desire for gain on William’s part.
    William III.   (we apologise for this plethora of Williams, but truth was ever stranger than fiction) writes to his wife in the distant fatherland to be sure and bring six blue-edged plates, and you must be careful with the money; be sure and bring a bottle of brandy and one of rum, you will find them very hand, and a cheese bring.   William concludes by hoping Providence will smile on us, and I got my clothes washed at New Zealand.   (William’s code of ethics shown in luring his helpmeet to squander money in rum and blue-edged plates is truly deplorable, and the only blithesome item we note is that Providence apparently assisted him in getting his clothes washed at New Zealand.)
    A highly important despatch from Sam is published in the “Journal” of 1841.   Not the Sam who so fearlessly tied his cow to a root on his land.   Not at all.   This was quite a different Sam, a Sam II., as it were.   Sam II.   States : – “Your little namesake says yunk, yunk, and is now stealing potatoes from his mother’s sack to give to the pigs, he sings out porker, porker and says he is a rang-a-tare, he talks mauri very well.   There is one of the tribes here, they are quiet and honest and say “car-pe the porkei”, which means very good the white man.”
    Matilda, a rustler of the early forties, wrote Home in 1848 and informed her kind friends that on the mountains about Port Nicholson snow lay for eight months in the year.   The fair Matilda adds : – “We have a brewing building at Wellington; as to churches and chapels, there is not one built here yet, the people are afraid the devil will blow them down here, as the place is called the Devil’s Bellows, so they say prayers in buildings hired for the purpose.”   (In regard to Matilda’s first statement, we can only charitably suppose that the fair maid was colour blind, or possibly snow blind.   Matilda’s allusions to his Satanic Majesty are of a much more serious nature, and we can but implore her to read Ingoldsby.)
    In 1842 a settler wrote home saying : – “Oh!   All you who have in England the dread of the tax-gatherer, or the providing for a large family before your eyes – come here.”   Another early settler wrote : – “We have five shillings for the work we had for one in England.   … We have plenty of meat here, which we would not have at Home.   … We can buy anything but cider.”   This worthy, given to luxuriate in meat, and bewailing the lack of “cider”, hailed from little old Summerset.
    William, for the ’steenth time, writes home glowing words, and remarks that he was at the opening of the chapel, when the Lord was with us.   This sounds better than Matilda’s dour remarks, quoted above.
    Yet another settler writes to his friends in England to say that : – “We are not slaves in New Zealand as they are in England.   … We get as much meat as we can eat.   … The Natives are kind and bring us potatoes for omi-nomi, that is, for nothing.   They call my wife the good white girl because she gives them lilli, which means bread.   … We have saved upwards of £20.”
    One states a contrast : – “Last Christmas we were in England, and my wife and I sat down to a potato, but this year we enjoyed our beef and pudding.   Tim O’Lochlin, a funny Irishman, has some bullocks and several cows.”   (Think of it, ye dissolute bushwhackers, Tim, the funny Irishman, has several cows, not to speak of sundry bullocks.   The saints be praised!)
    C. writes home : – “I have plenty of clothes and plenty of meat.”
    That is the point.   Throughout all the letters published, as from the poorer class of immigrants, there runs one constant theme – the surprise and joy at getting enough to eat.   In their letters to the Home folks they preach the Gospel of a Square Meal!


    The accommodation houses of early days were not palatial, and, indeed, are said by some to have somewhat inferior to the Royal Oak, or the Grand.   Crawford describes the Wairarapa Hotel (apparently situated at or near Palliser Bay), as he saw it in 1847.   It had one at least, if not two rooms.   “The walls were of wattle and daub, and the roof of thatch.   It was called the “Sow and Spuds”, and was kept by a pakeha formerly known as Maori Jim.”   The title of this elegant hostelry denoted the bill of fare, which invariably consisted of pork and potatoes.
    Old Dan Richards kept a store and “grog shanty,” as old-timers termed it, on the Peninsula, in the early days, and wild orgies are said to have taken place at his and similar establishments.   Later on he leased land on the peninsula, and grazed cattle belonging to surrounding settlers, when feed was short in winter.


    Early in 1844 the aldermen of Wellington met in solemn conclave and proposed to expend £10 in repairing the road in Willis Street.   As the Corporation had still a balance of £11 in hand, it was proposed by R. Waitt, and seconded by William Lyon, that the whole amount be expended in improving the “Beach.”   This left the honourable Council penniless, but happy and care free.


    During the Native troubles at the Hutt in 1846, a certain Imperial officer in charge of a picquet turned his men out before daylight in order to be ready to repel any attack by the savages.   While waiting in the darkness the gallant officer was much annoyed by repeated demands for ‘more pork’, apparently emanating from the members of the picquet.   So often was the demand repeated that the officer, in a state of exasperation at length threatened to place under arrest any misguided Tommy who dared to again cry ‘more pork!’ At length he went down the rank in search of the offender, amid the giggles of the delighted Tommies, and managed to discover the real culprit, who was perched on a stump hard by.


    We often hear regrets expressed at the destruction of the forest, and old-timers speak, in mournful numbers, of the days when they could stand at their back doors and shoot pigeons for dinner.   But bush, scrub and swamp sheltered other things not quite so desirable as unstewed pigeons or pie destined kaka.   Note what Major Richardson says of the mosquito plague at Paua-taha-nui n the early fifties : – “We reached Scotch Jock’s (at Pae-kakariki) at one o’clock, where an excellent dinner was soon provided.   We learned that a hose, that had been shut in the stable the previous night, had been almost driven mad from the attacks of the mosquitoes.   … We put up at a small inn, at Paua-taha-nui.   Rest we had none, for though we shut ourselves in a room filled with smoke, the mosquitoes had been before us and declined to budge one inch, and in consequence our sufferings were beyond anything I had yet endured.   At 3.30 am, long before daybreak, we had to rush out into the open again, when the sand flies took up the morning tale until we got into rapid motion.”   This was in January, 1853.   Think of this ye dwellers in the fair valo of Paua-taha-nui and yearn not for the days when the song of the waeroa was heard in the land.
    One of the early settlers, in writing home to his friends, remarks : – “Our house is the worst part of the business, being built of green timber, which as shrunk and lets the wind in, and the flooring has shrunk so that the legs of the chairs slip through … but we do not think much about these trifles.”
    We can quite grasp the idea that it might be somewhat disconcerting to find one’s chair disappearing through a crevasse in the floor, but it was well that the owner had not time to think of such trifles.   He was too busy tearing stumps out.
    A settler writing in 1850 to friends in England, remarks : – “There are queer stories afloat here as to the new colonists.   Some say they are going to establish no end of monasteries and convents.   The monasteries they had better keep at home, as this climate won’t suit them.   A ship’s monkey would suit people here better than a monk.   As for convents, the more the better.   If the nuns are tolerably good looking we will soon unkennel them, and any monks that would stop us would be very likely to get monkey’s allowance.   There is not much sort of reverence here for that sort of cattle.”


    We now speak of a most critical moment in the development of the infant colony at Port Nicholson, when its leaders were accused of being guilty of high treason, and a British Army of thirty (30) whole men, bristling with arms, was sent from Auckland to crush the aforesaid rebellion.
    In Governor Hobson’s despatch of 25-5-1840 to the Secretary of State for the Colonies we note some interesting items concerning the doings of the Wellington rebels : – “Coincident with the report of the Messrs Williams, dated Port Nicholson.   I learned, not only from the “New Zealand Gazette” but from other authentic sources, that the settlers who had located there, under the New Zealand Association, had formed themselves into a Government, had elected a Council, appointed Colonel Wakefield president, and had proceeded to enact laws and to appoint magistrates.”
    “According to my opinion, unaided by legal advice, the proceedings of the Association at Port Nicholson amount to high treason.   They have usurped the power of her Majesty in establishing a constitution and in appointing magistrates.   … Without one hour’s delay, I called on the commanding officer of the troops to detach thirty men to Port Nicholson, etc.”
    In order to be on the right side of the fence, the gallant Governor, “yielding to the emergency of the case arising out of the events at Port Nicholson,” proclaimed right away the sovereignty of her Majesty over the Northern Island and Southern Islands, thus bringing the Wellington “rebels” within his jurisdiction.
    We regret not being able to give in detail the sanguinary battles between the British army (thirty) and the Wellington pirates, but the fact is we are unable to find those details in the early journals.   The next item of any interest is as follows : – “Thirty soldiers sent hither have been suddenly withdrawn to Auckland, much to the satisfaction of our settlers, to whom their drunken and disorderly conduct was a constant annoyance.”   Here endeth the Wellington Rebellion!


    In 1842 the “New Zealand Gazette” published a letter from Mr Swainson, in which he advocates the improvement of the Hutt River, and remarks : – “It would have been of little or no consequence if Karori, Porirua and the neighbouring districts, had never been discovered, but the valley of the Hutt has been formed by Nature for the granary of Port Nicholson, without it we can have no agriculture.”
    We have heard bitter gibes cast at the heroic performances of the Porirua Navy, and cutting remarks on the subject of Porirua whisky, but the above is the most unkind cut of all, and nothing but a sense of duty allows us to resurrect these dreadful works.
    However the “New Zealand Gazette” of July 16, 1842, makes noble amends for the remarks of Mr S---- : – “The Porirua district is the finest we have yet seen in New Zealand.   It equals in picturesque beauty any of the romantic and fertile valleys in Scotland, and the location of a few Perthshire Highlanders, with their minister, their schoolmaster, and their home-brewed ale, would at once quiet the district.”
    It is not quite clear as to what part the home-brewed ale was to take in the quietening the hostile autochthones of Porirua, unless a draught of the same was deemed to be fatal to human life.   Moreover, we have ever heard that the Highlanders of Perth, or any other shire, preferred home-brewed whisky to homebrewed ale, leaving the latter mild beverage for the despised Sassenach loons.
    A word omitted.   It was just occurred to us that the homebrewed ale was intended to take the place of Geordie Bolt’s forty rod tarantula mixture, which is said to have been a most effective beverage.
    In connection with the primitive cooking arrangements of early days, old-timers will remember the “go ashore”, or go-ashore, or go-a-shore, which you will, the three-legged iron pot so universal in what we will term the palaeolithic era, and now so seldom seen.   There are seventy-three different stories extant as to the origin of this name, ranging in date from Cook’s first voyage down to the forties of last century, though all agree as to the origin of the name lying in the remark that the pot in question was to go-ashore.   Crawford writes : – “Goashore, an iron pot, so called because it was always taken ashore from the boat to cook food.”   One of these “origin” stories states that Wellington saw this beginning of the name.
    It is high time we recognised the fact that the name is a corruption of the Maori word kohua, written koe-shoca by Polack and other early writers.   It was so pronounced on account of the peculiar pronunciation of “h” by the northern Natives, hence Hongi was written Shongi, and so on.
    Prior to the camp oven was the damper epoch, which was contemporaneous with the hangi, or Maori steam oven, the manipulators of which were Native women, the wives of our earliest settlers, the whalers.   The old-timer Australian damper, made without yeast or other “rising,” was a luscious viand that stayed with the consumer, clinging closer than a brother.   A more ambitious brand was made with yeast, and which, when baked in the ashes, was as food for the gods.   But then we did not worry about dyspepsia in those days.   As for the niceties of dress in the free and easy ’forties, a blue shirt and white moleskins were good form and truly orthodox.   But you had to mount a clean pair of moles on Sunday.   Many of us remember the old-fashioned cheese-cutter caps, as also the crinolines that blocked the side-walks of the “Beach” in the primitive ’sixties.


    The “Wellington Independent” of August 1, 1849, remarks that “on Sunday evening we had both hail and snow.   On Monday morning a most unusual sight presented itself, the whole of the hills and mountains in the distance, the house tops and streets being covered with snow.   At Karori the snow was nearly ten inches deep.   It was amusing to watch the youngsters who had never seen such as sight before.”
    At the same time two inches of snow fell at Nelson, an unprecedented occurrence within the memory of the local Maoris.   It is said to have much puzzled domestic animals.   They appeared unwilling to trust themselves upon it, and trod the ground with the greatest caution.
    The letters of the early settlers never cease to delight us.   In 1843 one of those interminable Williams wrote : – “The pigeons are very numerous, it’s not many days but I have two or more for my dinner.”   The “more” sounds a bit stiff; but doubtless William was making up for lost time and past defects in his commissariat.
    James, another early scrivener, remarks : – “I heard a missionary preaching to the Natives; we could not understand anything, but the Natives had been taking too much whipe havo of the pokeeps.   Whipe havo is spirits and pokeeps white men.”   It is apparent that James was one of the leading philologists of his time.
    H.S. wrote from Wellington in 1842 : – “At night it is intensely cold, much more so than in England.   It almost kills me.”   It does seem a pity about H.S.
    William (as usual) writes Home loving words and says : – “I cannot form acquaintances here, they drink spirits to excess.   Only one thing grieves us in this country, we are so far from grace.”   Cheer up, William, a time will come.


    In June, 1842, Mr Charles Kettle returned to Wellington from an expedition up the Manawatu River and back by way of Wairarapa.   The party had some difficulty in crossing the Remutaka range to the Heretaunga (Hutt) district, the old Native trail having probably been almost disused since the advent of Ngati-Awa.   These explorers arrived at the house of Mr Mason, the most distant out-settler at the Hutt at that time, on June 7, 1841, having marched for thirty-two days.   They were in rags and half starved.   At that time there were but few Natives in the Wairarapa district, and those mostly to the eastward, about Wai-nui-oru.   It was in this year that a body of them returned to the district from Nuku-taurua, north of Hawke’s Bay, whither they had migrated when hard pressed by the new comers of the Awa and Toa tribes.
    These explorers got confused in the gorges and gulches of Remutaka, which it took them some days to cross, and they were compelled to subsist on what poor vegetable products they could obtain for a period of some days.
    But prior to that time Remutaka had been crossed by Robert Stokes and Mr Child, with two Natives, in 1841.   According to Mr Stokes’s report as given in the “New Zealand Journal” of August 6, 1842, this party left Pito-one on November 25, 1841.   It was now for the first time, apparently, that some knowledge was gained of the aspect of the country up the Heretaunga River, in all its roughness.   He mentions the Manga-roa tributary, mis-spelled Mungaroa in his report and by almost every writer since his time; also another tributary stream, the Pawatanui, about four miles from Pito-one.   This name looks like one of the numerous attempts made by early settlers to spell Paua-taha-nui.   Mr Stokes was informed by the Natives that the “Erratounga” (Heretaunga) “has its source on the east side of the Tara-rua, at a place called Kapa-kapa-nui, about five miles from Wai-kanae,” and that it “receives the waters of the Wak-kanae and Wai-mea!”.   It is evident that Mr Stokes got somewhat confused among those mountains.
    The party camped at night on the Pakura-tahi stream, and ascended Remutaka next day, both these names being correctly spelled in Mr Stokes’s report.   Some fine views of the Wairarapa Plains were obtained, and the explorers were much struck by the appearance of them.   They were then covered with fern, toetoe, coarse grasses, etc., with clumps of bush in divers places, the whole presenting a park-like appearance in a distant view.   Mr Stokes mentions the Aorangi range as bounding the valley to the eastward, albeit he spells it Hao-rangi, which, however, is preferable to the abominable name of Hau-rangi, as it is rendered by our mapmakers.   Mention is made of the quantities of fish in the lake, eels and kanae, and also of the number of ducks, pigeons and pigs.   The party met some local Natives from the Turanga-nui pa, on the south-east side of the lake, and heard of means of communication with Manawatu by a pass on Tara-rua.   They found a small pa at Orongorongo on their return, and reached Wellington on December 6.   Mr Stokes, in his report, advocates a road to Wairarapa by way of the Heretaunga Valley and Remutaka.
    In 1842 a traveller wrote : – “Then came up, ever and anon, the piping, gushing and trilling of birds, just as we heard them in the woods of Porirua.”
    In the early days a good many small coasting craft used to enter Porirua harbour.   Our few surviving old-time settlers will yet remember the Look-in, Cemino’s Fidele, the Mana, the Gem, and many another of the old mosquito fleet that did good work in the days when roads were not, or few and far between.
    The “New Zealand Journal” of December 2, 1848, notes that “Mr Walker has laid down the keel of a vessel of 56 tons at Porirua.   Mr Griffiths is working at one of about 50 tons, and the Messrs Fraser, of Mana, have nearly completed a schooner of 75 tons.”
    Mr Walker, father of Mr James Walker, of Plimmerton, built three vessels in the early days, one at Porirua, one at Kai-wharawhara, and one at Day’s Bay.
    Perhaps one of the last vessels to land passengers at Porirua was the Belle Creole barque, which in January, 1852, brought half a hundred returned diggers back from Melbourne, and, on account of calms and light winds in the Straits, landed her Wellington passengers at Porirua, whence they walked into town.


    Te origin of some of the place names in the Poirua and surrounding districts have been ascertained, but in some cases tradition is silent.   Many of the local Native place names are old, and were given by the former occupants of the district, the Rangi-tane and Ngati-Ira folk, while others are new, dating from the invasion of these parts by Ngati-Awa and Ngati-Toa.

HORO-KIWI         The correct form of this name is Horo-kiri, and it is so written in some of the early works on New Zealand including Taylor’s “Te Ika a Maui.”   Its present form is apparently due to the carelessness of writers and settlers.   The average English settler is not apt at acquiring foreign tongues.
    Horo-kiri is one of the old place names of the district, and its origin was in this wise : – In the days of yore a chief of the Rangi-tane and Mua-upoko clans, named Tu-kapua, was traversing the district with a party of followers.   In passing down the Horo-kiri valley Tu-kapua became hungered, and asked his wife if any food remained.   She replied : – “There remains nothing save the skins of some kumara retained by a slave as food for himself.”   Tu-kapua demanded the said skins and devoured them.   “Ka horomia katoatoa e ia aua kiri kumara” – all those kumara skins were swallowed by him.   Hence the place received the name of Horo-kiri, or skin swallowing.

OHARIU         Should be O-whariu.   The word whariu implies a basin, or hollow, between hills, as a valley, one which contains water; whereas wharua is applied to a hollow that contains no water.   At the same time the origin of this name seems to be lost.   As it possesses the prefix O, so common in Maori place names, it is not improbable that it was named after a person called Whariu, but his is mere conjecture.

PAHAUTANUI         This is a good example of our treatment of Maori place names.   The correct form of this name is Paua-taha-nui.   It is thus hyphenated because it is composed of three words.   We have not collected any tradition of how this place was named, and conjecture in such cases is unwise.   Paua-tahi-nui drives its name form the stream that flows past the Matai-taua pa and old military post (now the village churchyard), and over which the bridge is.   To this stream only does the name properly belong.

KARORI         Is said by Te Whata-horo to be correct.   The word implies an aimless wandering, as of a person who roams about without any definite object.   Such a wanderer in the former times was one Te Pohu.   When it was asked: “I mate a Te Pohu ki hea?” (Where did Te Pohu die?) – then one replied: “I ana karori noa atu ki hea” (Where indeed, in his eccentric wanderings).   As the aforesaid Pohu chanced to die at “Beautiful Karori”, that name of Kaori was assigned to it.

KAI-TOKE         Is correct, and explains itself – worm eating.   Toke is the Native name for earthworms, several species of which were eaten in former times.

RIMUTAKA         Should be Remu-taka (two words).   Tradition states that the origin of this name was as follows : – Huka, son of Tamai-rangi, chieftainess of Porirua, went on a visit to friends at Wai-rarapa four generations ago.   He was accompanied by a party of his people, Ngata-Ira of Porirua.   The party ascended the Remu-taka range by the old trail and stayed to rest a while on the summit thereof.   Here Huka told some of the women to prepare his fine personal adornments of plumes, etc., that he might be properly dressed and adorned prior to entering the village of their friends.   A woman named Te Uhi was engaged in dressing the hair of Huka and, while tying his top-knot, some incident occurred which caused the company to laugh at her.   Te Uhi was so affected by the ridicule of her companions that she threw herself over a cliff nearby (suicide was not uncommon among the Maori under such circumstances), and hence the place was named Remu-taka, because she had thrown herself headlong down the cliff.   Eventually this name was extended to a considerable portion of the range, the seaward end of which is known as Turaki-rae.
    The above is scarcely clear to us as explaining the origin of the name Remutaka; had the good lady fallen the other way round, the matter might be clearer.

TARA-RUA         This range name is correctly spelt on our maps, and originated in the two sharp, upstanding peaks on its summit seen from the Wairarapa and also from the Otaki side.   These are the tara rua – two peaks, or double peak.
    South of the tara rua peaks is a high, rounded summit known as Puke-moumou, which is probably Mount Hector.   This was looked upon as a tapu place in former times, and was occupied by a tribe of fairies or forest elves who, in misty weather, might be heard singing and talking by any chance travellers.   The gentry of the Survey Department are said to have profaned this place by lighting fires and carrying on their ungodly arts there, hence the forest folk deserted the spot, for its tapu was broken, and, as you know, these folk are an extremely tapu people.
    Near this place a Maori track formerly crossed the range from Wairarapa to the Otaki River, passing near a pond or lagoon in the hills which is known as Hapua-korau, and is said to be the source of the Wai-o-hine River.   Flax plants of great size are said to grow by that lagoon, and some are occasionally brought down by floods.

TINA-KORI         Should be Tina-kore, and is so spelled in some of the early journals.   The origin of this name, is doubtful and several different stories have been related concerning it.   One of our best informed Natives says that it originated in this way : – In the very early days of Wellington settlement a party of officials visited a Maori hamlet, near where Dr Featherstone formerly lived, on some land business.   When noon arrived, Te Paki, a relative of Wi Tako, remarked: “Ka mate nga pakeha.”   One inquired, “I te aha?” – and Te Paki replied, “I te tina kore hoki.”   (The white men will fare badly.   As how? On account of the lack of “dinner”.) Hence was the place named Tina-kore or “dinnerless”.   Such is the story, which hinges upon the use by the Natives of the English word dinner, followed by the Polynesian negative kore.   At the same time the name simulates Maori well, for the Native word tina means “satisfying” hence tina kore would mean “unsatisfying”” as applied to food.   “Ka rawe te kai nei, he tina ki taku poho” – How excellent is this food, most satisfying to my stomach.

HERE-TAUNGA         The Native name of the Hutt River and valley, often spelled Eritonga in early European publications.   An ancestor named Te Matangi seems to have been responsible for this name as applied to the Napier plains, so named from some incident connected with bird-spearing or snaring.

MAKARA         Makara is Ma-kara, evidently a stream name.   Ma is an abbreviated form of manga, a stream; kara, with second vowel long is a stone name, apparently a form of aphanite.

PAPA-KOWHAI         This place is near Mr Gear’s place, on the side toward Paremata station.   In the early days of European settlement some natives of the Polynesian Isles lived at this place.   They were termed Wahu or Oahu by the Natives, a generic term for all Polynesians, among the Maoris.   Some of them married Ngati-Toa women.   They had come to New Zealand on a whaler.   Hence the place where these folk lived was formerly known as Oahu.

WHITIANGA         This is the name of the site of the Paremata R.R. station and its vicinity, including the small hill near the bridge.   Presumably this narrow part of the harbour was a crossing place by canoe in former times, hence its name, form whiti “to cross over.”
    In a report of Governor Grey to Earl Grey of date March 26, 1847, is a map showing the Native reserves in the Porirua district.   On this map the Paua-taha-nui stream is given its proper name, the only instance we have noted of its being correctly named on a map.   The Policy Camp on the point of the Motu-karaka terrace is also marked, and Leigh’s stockade at Tawa Flat, on the left bank of the Kenepuru.
    In regard to the name of Cape Terawhiti, which has been spelled in many outrageous forms, it is generally supposed that it should be Te Rawhiti (meaning the east), and that Cook mistook it for the name of the cape.   It is, however, more probable that, when he asked the name of the cape, the Natives gave him the name of land near by, which is known as Tarawhiti.   Such is the name of the lands near O-te-rongo and on to Wai-ariki.
    The cape is marked as Cape Pori-wero and Poliwero on some old maps, notably on Lieutenant M’Donnell’s.   This also is probably a corruption of a Native place name, or a descriptive name, as pari whereo (red cliff), which appears to have been applied, by D’Urville to Sinclair Head, and which he probably obtained from the Wairarapa Natives.

JOHNSONVILLE         Johnsonville, which has now a population of about 1000, was originally known as Johnson’s Clearing, from an early settler of that name who hewed out a clearing in the forest there.   In after years it was known by the names of Johnstown, Williamstown and Johnsonville, the last of which names has “made good,” hence Johnsonville it is.   Natives still call it Wirewutaone (Williamstown).

PAREMATA         Wakefield’s theory that this place was named after Parramatta in New South Wales is quite erroneous.   It is an old Native name and was applied to the vicinity of the old barracks only, and not to any place east of the R.R. bridge.   The site of the R.R. station termed by us Paremata is known as Whitianga to the Natives, a name that extends as far as the spur just east of and near the R.R. bridge.   The Native name of the place where the old (closed) hotel now (1911) stands, is Horo-paki.   The old accommodation house (London’s) was situated near the spur above mentioned.

TAKAPU-WAHIA         The name of the site of the present hamlet of Ngati-Toa, is a modern name for that place, having been given by them when they first settled there in memory of a place of the same name at Kawhia, their former home.

    The Maori burying ground on the end of the spur at Taupo (Plimmerton) seems to have been a tapu place for many years.   Angas, who was at Taupo in 1844, says : – “On the brow of the steep hill overlooking this pa stood a singular erection of sticks, almost resembling basket work, elevated on four upright posts, and having a semi-circular top.   Within this cage-like building was placed a variety of different articles, household utensils, calabashes, dried fish, and several garments and baskets were suspended from the sticks underneath.   This proved to be a wahi tapu or sacred place … serving as a receptacle for goods that had become subject to tapu.”
    Mr T. Bevan informs us that a man named Rhodes was keeping a store at the Native village at Taupo (Plimmerton) in 1845.

    Captain Collinson’s map, published in 1850, shows the Native reserves of the districts and a good many Native place names appear on it, as Te Pari-pari, Te Ana-o-Hau; and Te Ana-o-Weka, between Pukerua and Paekakariki; Pa Wairaka, just south of Waimapihi, also the Hongoeka hamlet and the Taupo pa.   The big rock on the beach near Wairaka is named Gibraltar Rock on this map, and Cooper’s house at Titahi is marked.
    One of the earliest poet laureates of the classic vale of Porirua was responsible for the following gem : –
                O, how shall I cross the swift river, Ohau?
                Waikanae not swim to the shore;
                Otaki a boat and rapidly row
                In the Manawatu did before.
                Orous way gently, but ever beware
                In the Horowhenua afloat.

        The streams of the Porirua district afforded a certain amount of food to the early settlers, principally in the form of eels.   Other fish found therein were kokopu and inanga, the toitoi (a small “bully”), and a few tikihemi, the latter being a small, sharp-nosed, scaly fish marked with a blue stripe.   A few piharau in former times, but no upokororo in our time.   Fresh water shrimps were common.
    Sea fish do not enter the Porirua Harbour in quantities as they did in former times.   Boatmen now report about seven feet of water on the bar at low water.

    The birds formerly found in the forest of the district are : –
                Makomako, or bellbird
                Tieke, or saddleback
                Weka, or woodhen.
                Pitoitoi, or robin.
                Tui, or parson-bird.
                Kakaririki, or parakeet.
                Tititi-pounmu, or bush wren.
                Tataeto, or whitehead
                Kereru, or pigeon.
                Pihipihi, or blight-bird (appeared in 1856)
                Kaka, or brown parrot.
                Tihe, or stitch-bird.
                Piwakawaka, or fantail.
                Ruru, or morepork.
                Miromiro, or tomtit.
                Koekoea, or long-tailed cuckoo.
                Pipiwharauroa, or shining cuckoo.
                Riroriro, or grey warbler.
                Kahu, or hawk
                Whioi, or lark.
                Kotare, or kingfisher.
                Karearea, or sparrow-hawk
                Matukutuku, or blue heron
                Tete, or brown duck
                Parera, or grey duck
                Papango, or black teal.
    The bellbird, tui and parakeet were very numerous.   The stitch-bird was common and always seen in pairs, and usually in gullies.   The grey warbler was common, and we have found thirteen eggs of this bird in one nest.   Pigeons were numerous in the ’forties and ’fifties, but became scarce before the forest was destroyed.   The bittern does not seem to have been known at Porirua.   Occasionally one is seen in the Otaki district.
    The Maoris of the Otaki district say that the kakapo was formerly found on the hills about Manakau and Ohau, but that it disappeared suddenly about sixty or seventy years ago.   A half-caste now about sixty years of age relates that in his youth, he used to hear the old Natives speculating as to the cause of its disappearance.
    The huia was not found at Porirua.   The one seen by E. J. Wakefield and some Natives on the right bank of the Korokoro Stream in 1840 is the nearest seen to Porirua that we know of.   Thirty or forty years ago they were fairly numerous between the Hutt and Waio-tauru Rivers, and some were obtained in that district at the time of the despatch of the troops to South Africa.

    And now we have reached the end of our notes, and have nought more to say of Porirua and they who settled it.   But few of the old bush sloggers now remain among us, those who tamed the wilderness and felt the joys of conquest as the giant pines thundered to the earth.   Few, very few, of the old Bush Legion now remain, even we of the second rank are thinning out and learning the infirmities of age and the ways of death.   There is no place for us in the ranks of today, for our ways are not as theirs, and the time as come for us to shift camp and take up a new section.
    To the men who cleared the way.   To those who have crossed the range.   To the few that remain –

    THE END.