Tawa Historical Society Incorporated


Historical Places Articles


Colonial Knob Walk gives a lesson in geography and Maori lore


Colonial Knob Viewfinder

The Colonial Knob walkway provides an interesting lesson in geography with its changing vistas and landmarks, many of which are steeped in long-forgotten historical associations.
    The old time Maori possessed a great knowledge of his country, even when circumstances made it inexpedient to venture far from the tribal boundaries.
    Much of this knowledge would have been acquired early in life as part of his general upbringing and education in being able to recognise features of the landscape.
    But this awareness of love of the land did not stop at the limitations imposed by the human eye, for preserved in tribal traditions were stories surrounding parts of the country that were associated with the history of the race and which lay far beyond the horizon.
    Many of the features seen from the vantage point afforded by Colonial Know permit an alien culture to see into a savage mind.

This article was first published in the local community newspaper Kapi-Mana News on 12th February, 1980, pp14-5.

    Colonial Know provides a panoramic view of central New Zealand over an area of 150 kilometres, from near the Clarence River mouth in the south (if the slopes of the seaward Kaikouras are included as part of the picture) to Otaki in the north.
    I have walked to the summit of Colonial Knob more times than I care to recall over a span of more then 30 years, yet familiarity has never bred contempt, for there is always much to study.
    As the intensity of light alters from the harsh glare of summer to the hazy and subdued impression cast by the winter sun, so does the scenery change.
    One of the finest views is on clear winter’s day when the inland Kaikouras and the Richmond Range which divides Nelson and Marlborurgh provinces are plastered by snow.
    Only an unobservant person would fail to be impressed by the sight of the 65-kilometre stretch of fault line running up the Wairau Valley until it looses its identity where it reaches the foothills of the St Arnaud Range.

    The highest mountain is Tapuaenuku of the inland Kaikouras.   This prominent peak, 140 kilometres away, is visible throughout the year for it is seldom that vestiges of snow cannot be seen.
    The name is a particularly ancient one.   One old tradition preserved by South Island Maoris records that it is a memorial to a chief name Tapuaenuku who was a member of the crew of the Arai-Te-Uru canoe which, according to genealogical charts, visited these islands about 825 AD and whose followers settled at the Clarence River mouth.   The mispronunciation of Maori place names has shortened the name to Tappy or Tappyaenuke.
    Northwards from Mount Tapuaenuku, what appears as a pronounced high alpine pass or saddle comes into view.   This is the Awatere Valley and fault line, and it was a seismic movement in this locality in October 1848 which shook Wellington to its very foundations.
    The “Wellington Independent” in its coverage of the disaster, records “how a distant hollow roar was heard: the sound travelling at a most rapid speed and almost simultaneously the whole town was labouring from the most severe shock of an earthquake ever experienced by the white residents or remembered by the Maori”.   The geological verifies the Maori testimony.
    On the local scene the 1848 earthquake destroyed the Porirua Barracks.   In Wellington the wave-like motion of the earth wrecked all chimneys, many houses and commercial buildings.   Further sever shocks on subsequent days completed the destruction.
    The disaster had such an effect on the infant settlement that the Lieutenant Governor set apart a general day of public fast, prayer and humiliation.   Johnsonville was a venue where local services for the Porirua Road community was held.
    Occupying the central stage, the broad sweep of Cloudy Bay, formed at the head of the Wairau Delta, can be traced until it comes to a halt at the White Bluffs.   Cloudy Bay is an important place name for it was here that shore whaling stations were established in the early 1830s.   The whalers were a tough bunch who lived a precarious existence with their Maori proprietors.   They also became embroiled in vicious tribal wars until the establishment of law and order that came with British sovereignty gave them piece of mind.

Colonial Knob Lookout

View from the Summit
    The valley below Colonial Knob was formally the Wai-Ma-Moko but has long since changed it title to the less prosaic Mill Stream.   Though only a tributary of the Makara it supplies the greatest volume of water.
    Along the rocky beach line below the low range of coastal hills runs the Pukerua fault line.
    This comes ashore below Opau Hill at Makara.   Unlike the Wellington and Owhariu fault lines the Pukerua has not been active for a long time.
    Like the East and West Wairarapa Faults, the Pukerua together with the Wellington and the Owhariu are considered to be continuations of the Awatere and Wairau Faults that have mounded the scenery that can be scene across the strait.
    To the south of this vantage point a fine panoramic view is obtained of much of the Wellington Peninsula, Belmont and other high hills hide the Hutt Valley from view.
    To compensate for this there is a view of the hills flanking the South Wellington coastline until they change direction at Cape Terewhiti.
    From the Cape runs the short range which terminates at Ohau Point.   This marks the end of the west coast of the North Island.
    In olden times this was termed Omere and due to movement caused by the Pukerua Fault it looks like a large mere.
    It was on this range that a lookout was kept to judge whether conditions were favourable for canoes to cross Ruakawa in days gone by.
    This area from Hawkins Hill to Makara (formerly Owhariu) was called Pahua five centuries ago.
    Pahua was the last foothold in the North Island of the Ngati Mamoe tribe who belonged to the section of the Maori race referred to as the Tangata Whenua (men of the land).
    These were the tribes who could not claim descent from one of the canoes comprising the fleet.
    The Ngati Mamoe who claimed to be descendants and followers of Toi who settled in New Zealand a century or more before the arrival of the fleet were the grace and favour tenants of the Ngai Tara.
    The Ngati Mamoe departed for the less populated South Island about 1450 AD.   Today only a few obsolete place names and faint etchings of their village sites in the Pahua district recall their presence.

    Lt. Chetwode, commander of HMS Perlorous, in his journal entry September 11, 1838, recalls the risky tenure on life the whalers held by writing, “nothing could have been more pleasing to the residents than my arrival”.   This was mainly referring to the goods and chattels that had been taken by force from the whalers.   These atrocities had not been done by their Ngati Awa landlords but by vengeance seeking Ngati Tahu who, on finding there foes away from Queen Charlotte Sound wrecked their spleen on the sailors and their Maori wives.   Lt. Chetwode, by reading the Riot Act, was able to retrieve most of the stolen property.
    The Maori name of this area was Kei Puta te Wairau an apt description which translated means that on most days of the year the sun mangers to find a gap to shine through.   The open spaces of the Wairau did not escape the attention of the New Zealand Company who were ob the lookout for wide open and sparsely settled areas, which could not be found in their Nelson and Wellington settlements.   This coveting of other people’s possessions was to lead to the massacre of the surveying party up river at Tuamarina in 1844.

    Archeological excavations undertaken at the Wairau Bar have shown that this locality was one of the first areas where Polynesians settled, because of the abundance of protein provided by the flocks of moas which roamed the eastern seaboard of the South Island.
    From Cloudy Bay the coastline can be followed southwards to Cape Campbell, near the Clarence rivermouth.   At this juncture Mt Manakau, the highest peak of the seaward Kaikouras, makes a fitting background.   The slopes of Mt Manakau would place this last view of the South Island between the Clarence and the Kaikoura.   The name Kaikoura was once the term used by the Bay of Plenty Maoris for the whole of the South Island.   Other North Island tribes knew the South Island as Te Waka a Maui – Maui’s canoe.   It was near Kaikoura that this ancient hero fished up the North Island – Te Ika a Maui – Maui’s fish.

    Confusion often arises as to whether the prominent mountain to the south is in fact Mt Manukau.   In some quarters it is identified as Te Ao Whekere.   The whale shaped Manakau, 2,609 metres (8568 feet) high, has been formed from a large block of country raised and tilted by the Awateri, Kekerengu and Clarence Faults.   The two peaks are only a matter of feet different in height so that in actual fact from Wellington we are seeing the massif of two peaks some miles apart.   The Lands and Survey Department show Manakau on their maps.
    Moving the eye northwards from Cloudy Bay past the hills hiding Port Underwood from view, the Marlborough Sounds become the centre of the stage.
    Given reasonable visibility the entrance to Tory Channel can be picked out without too much difficulty as a gap in the line of cliffs.   It was here that the legendary Kupe came ashore to rest after the ordeal with the monstrous octopus which dragged him pell-mell through the narrow waters of Cook Strait.   When a heavy swell a running seas can be lashing this stern coastline.   Tory Channel marks the termination of the eastern seaboard of the South island.   From this point until we reach the nearest prominent headland (Cape Koamuru) facing Wellington’s west coast – we are on Arapawa Island.

    There are two ways of spelling Arapawa.   The one used on maps is Arapawa and it refers to the downward thrust Kupe resorted to in dispatching the octopus that had caused him and his family so much trouble.   From the North Island Arapawa gives the impression that it could be likened to a giant sized mere.
    The other meaning concerns the spelling Arapaoa – the misty of smoky path.   Whatever is the correct place name, both forms would have been of real significance in the days before a written language was in use.   In the first instance the ordeal of an early Polynesian settler had been preserved even though in the process a mortal had been transformed into a demigod.   The second rendition has come about through the band of cloud which settles over the northern part of the island on any day of the year.   In days gone by this would have been a prominent geographical feature to guide strangers on their way.
    Apart from these legions the history of Awapara goes back to the misty past.   When A Shand was recording the traditional history of the Moriori of the Chathams he found that the place names of Arapawa, Mana and Kapiti appeared in their songs and poetry.   A section of the Morioris were forced to leave Arapawa about 1250 AD after losing a fight over tribal boundaries.   With minor variations the Rangitane tribe also preserved the legend of how Kupe severed Arapawa alongside Mana and Kapiti from the main land mass of Aotea-Roa.
    At one stage of New Zealand’s history Arapaoa was the name applied to the whole of the South Island.
    Two other landmarks record the heroic deeds of Kupe.   These are The Brothers, two small rocks near Cape Koamaru which according to tradition were the eyes of the marine denizen that had been cast into the sea at this point.   The Brothers Ngawhatu-Kai-Ponu are noted for their fierce currents, a point that Cook was made aware of when they nearly brought about the end of the Endeavour.   To the Maori they were tapu and precautions had to be taken when journeying across the Strait in their dug-out canoes.   The second landmark is Cape Jackson, lying to the north of Koamaru.   This was once known as Tao-Nui-O-Kupe recalling the navigator’s attempt to secure the North Island to the South by casting his spear in an almighty attempt.

    It is easy to pooh-pooh ancient traditions such as Kupe’s magical achievements, but in doing this we are interpreting the saga too literally.   Licence has to be allowed for the poetic nature of the stories.   What these exploits are all about is some early Polynesians encounting difficulties in Raukawa (Cook Strait).   Viewed in this light Kupe’s exploits assume the role of a memorised and handed-down version of the New Zealand Pilot as well as being a font of history of a portion of Aotea-Roa.
    Likewise the sage of Maui fishing up the North Island needs to be treated in its proper context for here is the story, of some early castaways, migrants or explorers discovering Te Ika a Maui after first making landfall in the south.   A modification if this legend is closer to our way of looking at things, when it states that Maui discovered the North Island by sighting it from a hill near Kaikoura.

View over Porirua Harbour

    The two arms of the Porirua Harbour have given rise to the questioning of the meaning of this place name which from the earliest times has been a conspicuous North Island landmark.
    Porirua is an ancient place name of which the meaning is not clear.   Traditional accounts state that it was at the harbour heads that Kupe took the opportunity to swap his anchor for one of local stone.
    Students who have made a point of studying the Maori language hold that “pori” is in fact “pari”.
    If this is so, together with “rua”, meaning two, we have an apt description of the daily phenomenon of the flood tide sweeping across the two inlets at the same time.
    There is many a trap of the unaware in giving a literal translation to Maori place names and Porirua is no exception.
    For those who have studied the language the syllables “pori” remain a stumbling block, in learning the meaning of a place name that was bestowed centuries ago.
    However, if other early place names are anything to go by, Porirua may once have been part of a sentence that explained something of interest.
    The point must also not be overlooked that changes in the language bought about by later arrivals in the country may have confused the issue.

    Behind Arapawa Island the high peaks of the Sounds can be identified.   Among these are Mt Stokes, the highest hill, named by Cook after the First Lord of the Admiralty.   This is considered to be the high bush-clad country on which Moncrief and Hood came to grief on the first effort to fly the Tasman.   Mt Furneaux, after the commander of the Adventure, recalls Cook’s second visit to New Zealand.
    Poenui Peninsula and the top of steep Forsyth Island reveal that the vista has now been extended to Pelorus Sound, which was first made known to the world after the whaler John Guard piloted HMS Pelorus up the sound.
    Prominent features behind Cape Jackson are the Chetwode Islands, at the mouth of Pelorus Sound.
    Further back in the haze is Cape Stephens, the northern headland of D’Urville Island, whose ancient name of Rangitoto in all probability would still be in use if the wishes of the great French navigator had been complied with, that on discovering its rightful name his own be deleted from the map.
    Further out to sea, when visibility permits, the conical shape of Stephens Island can be seen.
    It was within the lee of the doubtful shelter afforded by Cape Stephens and the northern headland of Admiralty Bay that Tasman sheltered when he was in these waters between December 19 and 23, 1642.
    Coming back across the Strait, the start of the main divide of the North Island can be traced from where the Rimutaka Range rises out of the sea at Cape Turakire at the western headland of Palliser Bay to the south-east.
    From here the high points of the mountain range which Wellingtonians wrongly refer to as the Orongorongos stand out in relief towards the eastern skyline.
    Tepokapoka, Mt Matthews, Papatahi and High Misty provide a fitting background.   Proceeding northwards the Tauarua Range takes over until it disappears from view near Otaki (Mt Aokaparangi).   This is the termination of the southern sector of the Tararua Range which a letter writer to the Wellington Independent of 110 years ago referred to as the striking high sierra.   In the winter a glimpse is provide of a few of the higher peaks of the Northern Tararuas.

    The two offshore islands, Mana and Kapiti, are ancient names.   Mana was where Kupe placed his daughters while he explored the western coastline of the North Island.   It was suggested by one of the daughters that it be called Te-Mana-O-Kupe-Ki-Aotea-Roa.   This means the ability of Kupe to cross the ocean to Aotea-Roa.   Kupe in all modesty agreed to the request.
    Kapiti which is another name which once formed part of a sentence which recalled times long past.   The old place name was Kapiti-Te Waewae-Kapiti-O-Tara-Kaua-Ko-Rangitane or in English where the boundaries of Tara and Rangitane join.   The Ngai Tara and Rangitane were old Tangata Whenua tribes – men of the land – who were the owners of the southern North Island before the descendants of later arrivals redistributed tribal boundaries.
    On occasions when the atmosphere possesses that quality which land agents like to describe as being like champagne the two permanently snow covered volcanoes, Mounts Egmont and Ruapehu , can be seen.   Egmont at a distance of 190km can be seen as a conical mound arising out of the South Taranaki Bight.
Ruapehu, because its summit often arises out above the clouds, hovering about the southern North Island dividing ranges, may require a second or third look before it become apparent that in this direction we are seeing as far as it is possible to see.

    Both landmarks are a reminder that in ancient times the Maori knew more about his country than the lower strata of English towns and villages.
    Mt Egmont or Taranaki, as it used to be called, marked the area where the Ngati Awa used to be supreme.   Ruapeahu was the landmark which indicated the tribal domain of the Ngati Tuwharetoa of the Volcanic Plateau and Taupo districts.
    Beneath the northern horizon were the lands occupied by the Ngati Toa and Ngati Ruakawa until tribal warfare of the early nineteenth century forced both tribes to give up their beloved Waikato for the quieter living on the shores of Cook Strait.   Sharing the northern boundary of the Nagti Tuwhaetoa where the Ngati-Mania-Poto of the Waikato, Te Arawa of Rotorua and the Bay of Plenty and Tuhoe of the Urewewa.
    Through the local Ngati Ira’s federation with the Ngati Kahungunu of Wairarapa and Hawkes Bay, some idea of the Ngati Porou country of Poverty Bay would also be known.



Painting shows mid-19th century country life


This article was first published in the local community newspaper Kapi-Mana News on 22 April, 1980, p21.

When William Fox former editor of the New Zealand Gazette and Britannia Spectator, lawyer, explorer, prolific writer of articles pertaining to contemporary affairs and prominent politician, who later became the Colony’s Premier more than once, painted this scene of life along the Porirua Road near his property called Crofton, it marked the time when this stretch of highway ceased to be the main route out of Wellington.
    From an historical viewpoint the pointing is of great interest as it depicts country life just north of Wellington almost 125 years ago and less than two decades after the founding of the Wellington settlement.
    In the rural setting can be traced a few of the original 100 acre sections from which the price paid for the land and the crops they were to produce after the bush was cleared was to be the main source of wealth for the settlement.
    Flanking the roadside boundary are post and rail fences.   These came within the provisions of the Wellington Provincial Council’s Fencing Act 1855 which made it mandatory for all landowners, whether they were living on the spot of absentees, to adequately fence their sections with materials and in a manner which came within the schedule attached to the Act.
    This was to restrain domestic stock so they would not become a nuisance to other landowners whether colonist or Maori.
    The wandering of domestic stock in the early years of the Wellington settlement caused a great deal of ill-will between Maori and colonist as unrestrained animals destroyed the natives’ cultivation grounds that were often situated in the waste lands which the colonists tended to regard as free for all commons.
    Following the practice then commonplace in England, sod fences were also constructed.   These can be seen in the left foreground.

    On top of the sods and piled earth, woody plants like gorse and hawthorn would be planted.   After the enactment of the Fencing Act, boundary markers such as these were not acceptable as a means of stopping stock from wandering.
    Thus a delightful part of the English countryside did not become a feature of the New Zealand scene.
    The cattle are Devons – the red rubies as the were also known – and were triple purpose breed that provided meat, dairy products and if the need arose, could serve as beast of burden on the rough cart roads.
    The Porirua Road however, was a grade above this as it was maintain at coach road standards.
    Not all the bush had been removed by the land owners.   Some trees had been purposely left to provide shelter from the prevailing wind on this elevated site as well as providing a park-like vista in what could only be regarded as a despoiled scene which resulted from bringing the ground into production.
    The was in which the owners of these pioneer farms had come to grips with the problems of developing farms out of dense bush so impressed visitors to these shores that many a descriptive pen portrait has also been recorded by travellers passing along this section of the Porirua Road in the 1840s and 1850s.
    The impression of industry by the pioneer community was brought home after leaving the steep and narrow road flanking the lower gorge of the Kaiwharawhara.

painting of Crofton by Fox

    In the background is the Tinakori Range where the attractive setting of Wade’s Town completed the picture that at last the earliest settled parts of the Wellington Province were over the worst years.
    The bush covered hills were wasteland, the direct result of the New Zealand Company’s policy of ribbon development which resulted from the need to sell more and more land to provide their funds for bringing our further shiploads of colonists.
    Some of the wasteland adjoins the Kaiwharawhara Native Reserve Block originally comprising about 440 acres that had been set aside by the New Zealand Company as part of its policy to see that the indigenous inhabitants did not become a landless proletariat through colonisation.
    The Kaiwharawhara Block was reserved for the Ngati Tama at their own request.
    Today this scene can be identified as being in Crofton Road.   Originally this section of the Porirua Road was a logging track.
    After Captain Daniell had constructed his private road to Trelissick Farm, the benefits to be obtained by upgrading these two private ventures so that a new route out of Wellington could be obtained was appreciated by those in charge of the settlement affairs.
    In 1842 the bridle road over Paerau Hill at the top left became largely a thing of the past as its gradient and narrowness made it unsuitable for wheeled traffic.
    In 1857 after the Ngauranga deviation had been completed, this section of the Porirua Road no longer served as the main route out of Wellington due to its serious drawbacks which can be fully appreciated by traveling along what is now called the Old Porirua Road and Crofton Road.
    After it ceased to be the main route out of Wellington, this stretch of highway from Kaiwharawhara to Johnsonville became the responsibility of the local community to keep in good order.
    It also meant a break with the past as the community living north of Johnsonville no longer had the same affinity of interests with settlers in this area.
    In 1857 Fox severed connection with the Porirua Road District by selling his country section “Crofton” to take up a larger holding “Westhoe” in the Rangitikei.
    At the same time other leading identities who had resided along the Porirua Road from the start also moved on.
    Among the pioneers to depart to the Rangitikei were the Hammonds of Tixel Farm, which together hah served on several bodies promoted to aid the progress of the district.
    The year 1857 can well be regarded as the end of an era in the history of the Porirua Road.



Century old orchard memorial to pioneers


This article was first published in the local community newspaper Kapi-Mana News on 24 June, 1980, p26, 29.

The introduction of horticultural plants into New Zealand irrespective of whether they were intended for use or ornament is often difficult to unravel through loss of records and the source form where a particular species was obtained being lost though the passing on of earlier generations.
    This point was brought to light in an earlier article on the history of old Tawa Flat published in Kapi-Mana News on May 25, 1976, when the interesting treasury of one time popular apple varieties at Boscobel Farm at the turn-off to the Takapu Valley was discussed.
    At the time it was not possible to give the names of any of the varieties which had been a conspicuous feature of the landscape for a century or more, due to these old timers have long ago been dispatched to limbo.
    When a survey was made of Williams Earp’s orchard in the autumn of 1976, 11 varieties in all were found to be present.

    At the time all that was possible in the way of identification was to place them in the somewhat rough and ready classification devised by pomologists, who in the course of their work are confronted with the problem of finding out the names of unrecognised varieties.
    Initial progress in finding out the names of the apples planted at Boscobel Farm when it was a showpiece along the Porirua Road was confined to placing the 11 varieties within six of the seven classes devised for finding out the names of a fruit whose varieties are listed in the thousands.
    For all the help of a classification which removes guesswork out of the reckoning, only a few of the varieties have been identified, because finding out the names of cultivars as any gardener knows is painstaking work.
    What does emerge from the few names identified is an interesting chapter with regards to orchard management practices when the setup was different from present day arrangements.
    The approximate date when the orchard at Boscobel Farm was planted would have been some time in the 1870s.
    This is borne out by two of the varieties identified being comparatively new introductions at this time.

    One hundred years is a long time for apple trees to remain in good health and regularly bear good crops.
    The reason why certain varieties are still performing well after the expiry of the usually accepted uneconomic life span of 50 years is due to circumstances that were not appreciated at the time of planting.
    Lord Derby is one that is giving a good account of itself and so well is it bearing that it is a pity that a preservation order could not be placed on it because of its scientific and historic importance.
    When Earp planted Lord Derby it was very much a novelty as it was first introduced to commerce by a Lancashire nurseryman about the middle of last century.
    Hogg and Bull in their standard reference work on apples “The Herefordshire Pomona” (published in two volumes between the years 1876-85) describe Lord Derby as one of the finest culinary applies.
    Today’s opinions vary but it is interesting to note that the Royal Horticultural Society still recommends it as “an invaluable cooking apple”.
    Lord Derby these days is an unusual apple as it belongs to the old codling type which in New Zealand have practically disappeared.
    One of the causes for its fall from favour was that as a sturdy grower of an upright habit, it took up too much space for small gardens.
    From the commercial orchardist’s viewpoint its height made it difficult to control pests and diseases as well as presenting difficulties when picking the crop.
    To balance these shortcomings were the good points.   When in blossom Lord Derby makes an attractive sight with its exceptionally large flowers.
    It is one of the varieties that has gained a reputation of bearing heavy crops, on almost any soil.   This accounts for why it is still performing well after the passage of a century.
    A further point in its favour is that it is free of black spot so that the trees at Boscobel have never been wakened by the fungus spoiling the foliage.
    As an apple Lord Derby can best be described as unattractive.   Its shape is oblong and is green with a red flush.   On closer examination the fruit will appear rather irregular in outline due to ribs arising from the base of the apple.

    This is characteristic of the old codling type apples and ridges are no longer seen in modern varieties as they are a definite shortcoming when it comes to packing the fruit.
    These ridges, depending upon what school one went to, are called quoining or queening.   The flesh of Lord Derby is pale yellow, soft and mildly acid.
    This was another variety popular in Victorian times that had a storage life measure in a few brief weeks.
    Celleni which is synonymous with Norfolk Challenger is another variety that has been identified.   This is a medium sized apple of round shape of deep yellow shade with distinct red stripes and crimson mottling.
    This variety is reputed to possess a pleasant balsam flavour.   Most people however would find the taste more on the acid side.
    Celleni, although it never became a commercial variety, was popular in its day because of its fertility.
    A lax habit of growth resulted in a small tree with slender braches that would be exposed to breakages when carrying a heavy crop.

Boscobel Orchard

One thing that stands out in this brief study of the Earp orchard is that certain troublesome pests and diseases are conspicuously absent.
    A prevalent pest which leaves the fruit alone here is the larvae of the codlin moth.   Evidently the varieties are not susceptible to codlin attack.
    This could have been by design as under the Codlin Moth act of 1884 it was made mandatory to keep the crop free of this pest.
    Other pests not present are the oyster shell scale and the San Jose scale.   Woolly aphid is also absent.
    Along with the fungus disease, black spot, that is present on Golden Noble, these troubles were not present in the country when the orchard was planted.
    This article on a part of the old Tawa Flat was written before Tawa Borough Council announced the purchase of this delightful spot as a static reserve which the community can now enjoy.
    If anything is a fitting memorial to the pioneers of the district it is this reserve and the portion that is already cleared of scrub and awaiting further improvement.
    For with it old holly and hawthorn hedges together with its orchard it is a visible reminder of farming practices and a style of life that has long departed from contemporary New Zealand.
    When Boscobel Farm was laid out in its pocket size paddocks, folding of sheep in small enclosures was still the fashion among the colonists who were not blessed with large holdings.
    This was in direct contrast to present day sheep farming where stock graze in larger paddocks.

    Celleni is a coulourful apple and in publication was more often than not described as “a culinary apple of the first quality”.
    Golden Noble was another variety identified.   In its heyday Golden Noble enjoyed a reputation as being a first class cooker.   In the days before a highly developed transport system it was a favourite choice for cottagers in that it required little sugar to make it appetising.
    For any one who enjoys an apple that is a subtle blend of acidity and sweetness Golden Noble can be eaten straight from the tree.
    As a once popular variety, Golden Noble first came to prominence when it was discovered in 1820.
    Though this is not so long ago it nevertheless recalls an era when the introduction of new apple varieties was in the hands of amateur breeders, nurserymen and those on the look-out for seedlings showing definite points of merit.
    At the time Golden Noble certainly possessed points to recommend it.   In addition to requirement little sugar it had the desirable property in a culinary apple of frothing up after cooking.
    From the small section owner’ viewpoint it appealed in that in the days before stocks influenced the ultimate height and spread of a tree, this variety could be relied on to remain a tree of moderate dimensions.
    As the season advances the medium sized green fruit changes to a rich golden yellow.   It is an unfortunate shortcoming of this variety that the attractive display provided by the ripening crop is detracted by the fungus disease black spot or scab as it is called in England.
    It was this weakness for being attacked by scab that caused its departure from the scene.
    Harking back to the middle decades of last century is a specimen of Lane’s Prince Albert named in honour of Her Majesty’s consort.
    This is another variety whose creation belongs to the time before the breeding of new and improved apples became the province of the well funded scientific research stations.
    Lane’s Prince Albert which can still be obtained from nurseries throughout the country is a reminder of the idiosyncracy of the English.
    For in no other apple growing country is the distinction made between dessert, culinary and cider varieties as it is in England.
    Age has caught up with the specimen of Lane’s Prince Albert in the orchard which in the days of William Earp was referred to as Boscobel Farm, after his place of origin in Worcestershire.
    The somewhat decrepit specimen is now a dwarf spreading tree that over the years has become much flattened.   This is a varietal characteristic when pruning is neglected.
    Another tree not positively identified could well be the Hitchin Pippin.   When fully ripe this oblong shaped apple changed to an orange hue, with ample dots and short streaks of red.
    In general appearance it is not unlike the old dessert variety, King of the Pippins.
    This is another chance finding by some observant passer-by as the very name pippin means nothing more than apple that has been raised from seed and is not the direct result of an applied breeding programme.
    Why William Earp planted these apple and pear trees, which obviously from the number that have survived the years would have been in excess of the household needs, is an interesting question.
    Before the days of refrigeration there would have been a ready market in Wellington.   However the emphasis on cookers in preference to sweet easting apples speaks as if the bulk of the crop was not intended for sale.



Sawmillers Recalled

By W H Secker

This article was first published in the local community newspaper Kapi-Mana News on 14 August, 1982, p3, p10 and 30 November, 1982, p33.

    With the passing of the years it has become customary to stereotype the pioneer sawmillers as all being a bunch diamonds so it has become their collective fate to be judged by writers of popular history as constitution a race apart from the rest of the community, according to Tawa historian William Secker.   He writes :
    The teachings of Wellington early history shows this stereotyping of those engaged in a pioneer industry has become an embellished through the reminiscences of old timers who recorded their experiences.
    That this conception is often wide of the mark can be gained from Charles Heaphy’s book, “Two Years Residence in New Zealand”, when he mentions that in the Karori Valley two Scottish brothers were engaged in cutting timber.
    These two brothers were Alex and Moses Yule of a middle class background who were engaged in pit sawing to save their capital.
    The same set of circumstances motivated the hardy mechanics by E J Wakefield in “Adventure to New Zealand” when they made two attempts to set up shop at Upper Kaiwarrawarra in 1840-42.
    The sawmillers who erected a water-driven mill on the eastern branch of the Kaiwarrawarra were the exception to the rule as it was the general custom for timber to be prepared for market by pit sawyers acting in tandem as a two-man team.
    To get themselves established, these enterprising Porirua Road free enterprises would need to have been backed by capital to supplement their own meagre resources.
    The charge can well be laid against their backers that they were being used to test the water and see how the Maoris would react to their presence in the bush.
    It is quite wrong as E J Wakefield infers in his journal that they were squatters helping themselves to valuable timber owned by investors in the New Zealand Company and to which society turned a blind eye.

Bush saw mill - Kaiwharawhara

Sketch S.C. Brees - Turnbull Library

    Pioneer industry faced problems
    The sawmill which was driven by water power was erected by six enterprising wheelwrights on the eastern branch of the Kaiwharawhara stream (Korimako) near Ngaio Railway Station.
    When S.C. Brees drew this scene in 1843, the mill was in full production.
    Though the section of the Porirua lands had belonged to the Ngati Awa, the Ngati Toa maintained that they were the overlords and the vendors to the New Zealand Company in effect were a subject tribe.
    That no further harm came to the sawmillers and blocking of the road ceased soon after its opening indicates the Ngati Toa were issuing a warning to those concerned not to overstep the mark.
    The Halfway (Glenside) marked the frontier where the settlement for the time beeing halted.

    In his interesting journal “Adventure in New Zealand”, E J Wakefield gives a good description of this scene tin the bush.
    In heaping praise on these enterprising mechanics, the impression is conveyed to today’s readers that these free enterprises had established themselves on land without obtaining the permission of the proprietor.
    This was not the case as the plundering they suffered from the Ngati Toa and the airing the outrage received at a public meeting in mid April 1841 meant that their whereabouts were known.
    At the same time they would not have been human if they had not at some stage of proceedings felled timber belonging to absentee owners.
    Wellington being the only planned settlement where a high percentage of the land was heavily forested, budding agriculturists were presented with special problems.
    Almost from the founding of Wellington, this problem was overcome by forward seeing landowners by leasing strips so tenants would have the incentive to go ahead and improve the capital of their sections through felling bush and fencing.

    Charles Heaphy, draughtsman to the company, in his “Two Years Resident in New Zealand” details the type of lease the sawmillers of Upper Kaiwarra signed.
    • The tenant would have the use of the land for three, five or seven years.   This being on the condition that at the expiration of this time that it should be all cleared and fenced.
    • For the next seven years a rental of about twelve shillings an acre each year would be paid.
    • For the last seven year which would see the expiry of the lease, the annual rental would be increased to one pound an acre.
    Circumstances altered cases and the nature of the bush had an influence on the rent and the time the tenant held the strip rent free.
    In the case of the sawmillers of Upper Kaiwarra, the leases were terminated early as in the early 1850s Daniell sold Trellissick when he moved to the Rangitikei.
    By selling Trelissick, in 1853 to take up larger farming activities in the Rangitikei, Daniell followed in the tracks of his former neighbours Charles Clifford and William Vavasour who back in 1844 departed from the Porirua Road to become pioneer glaziers in Wairarapa.
    The motivation for all three settlers is well put in former Premier Frederick Weld’s words: “I never had the taste for pottering about with small bush cultivations, an occupation more suitable to labourers with large families.”

old Kaiwharawhara
[Attributed to Robert Park 1812–1870, Maori dwellings and chapel with whalers’ lookout Tutaewera near Kaiwharawhara, Wellington ca 1842 - Turnbull Library]

    Early sketch of old Kaiwharawhara
    In this sketch of old Kaiwharawhara probably done by an un-named army or navy officer who visited Port Nicholson in the 1830s, the coastal range of hills records the landscape where fern and scrub has replaced the primeval forest cover as a result of man setting fire to the countryside.
    Near the stream mouth can be traced an ancient pathway leading to the high point of the ridge.
    To the right of the sketch can be traced the bridle path leading to a whalers’ lookout that was a going concern in pre-Waitangi days.
    The two high points on the ridge in the mid-foreground are Kaiwharawhara on the left and Paerau on the right.

    To get access to the selected site of their sawmill in the north Kaiwharawhara Stream (near Ngaio Railway Station) the mechanics had to find their own route as the Porirua Road was out of their way.
    The problem of transporting of iron, machinery, goods and chattels was conveniently solved by bringing back into use the pack track that led from Kaiwharawhara to the old whales’ lookout (encircled).
    From here it did not entail much effort and delay to continue the track to an elevated valley that provided access to the promised land, where the tall timber grew.
    This finding your own way was the lot of many a settler as the company did not accept the argument that it had a moral obligation to provide access to all country sections sold to subscribers of capital to its colonising venture.
    Captain E Daniell whose land the sawmillers were settled on found that this was also his lot when he had to engage further labourers who became his tenants when he set up home at Trelissick.
    When the Porirua Road was started in 1840 the surveyors for roughly the first half mile followed in the line of the whalers’ pack track.
    The parting of the ways was where the track belonging to the pre-settlement era took a right angled turn westward.



Country’s Past Often Lost – Placename changes


This article was first published in the local community newspaper Kapi-Mana News on 22 June, 1982, pp18-19.

    Proper appreciation of the information contained in old journals, diaries and sketches often escapes those interested in learning something about our country’s past because in the way in which placenames are made archaic through substitution of a new geographic nomenclature every so often.
    Through the fault of being one of the earliest settled parts of the country and for years having a large transitory population, the Wellington region provided numerous cases in which confusion most confounded arises due to this policy of change, right from the time of settlement.

NZ COmpany map of Wellington

    This map compiled surveyors of the New Zealand Company last century shows some of the survey districts surrounding Wellington but not the southern road to the Porirua Valley.
    Tawa historian BILL SECKER writes on Page 19 of how early placenames in common use during and following the European settlement of the Wellington region have been made archaic or lost.

    Evidence of changes can be seen on early maps and papers where there were once household names like the South Porirua Valley, Upper Kaiwarrawarra, Kinapora, and Halfway.
    Within the last 25 years the present generation has seen the once descriptive and historically significant place name of Tawa Flat truncated to Tawa for the benefit of the lazy.
    This change of names often gives rise to mistakes being made by otherwise meticulous latter day historians when they write on local subjects concerning early colonial times.
    Just how confusing this can be comes to the fore with the name of South Porirua Valley for when its use was in vogue it referred to the country district located on the New Zealand Company’s maps as the land that lay to the north of Wades Town, at its southern boundary and extended north-eastwards along both branches of the Kaiwharawhara Stream until Johnsonville was reached.
    Early in the 1840s as a placename the South Porirua Valley became obsolete as a new terminology such as Wades Town, Upper Kaiwarrawarra, Kinapora and simply Porirua Road became the accepted addresses for the community living north of Wellington.
    The hardy and enterprising mechanics mentioned by Edward Jerningham Wakefield in, “Adventure in New Zealand” who set up home and constructed two sawmills in the district vaguely called the Porirua lands by the townies, were in fact earning their living in the Upper Kaiwarrawarra.
    At first they were some distance from the bridle road leading up Paerau Hill but today we would have to be particularly smallminded and parochial if we ruled them out as not qualifying on residential grounds for coming within the history of the Porirua Road for in their activities these same folk tapped the timber resources of both ends of the South Porirua Valley for grist for their mill.



Town of East Porirua held much promise


This article was first published in the local community newspaper Kapi-Mana News on 25 May, 1982, p29.

    East Porirua had great promise when Wellington land agents Macdonald, Wilson and Co offered 78 building sections by auction 75 years ago on February 27, 1907.
    Most of the first homes built in Arawhata and Awatea Streets were on Sections bought by staff of Porirua Hospital, according to Mr Alf Mexted of Titahi Bay who has the original plan of the Town of East Porirua.
    Sections offered in “the long looked-for auction sale of the charming and picturesque Town of Porirua East” ranged from a quarter acre to almost nine acres.
    Described as an auction important to city capitalists, to suburban residents, to market gardeners and to bee in fowl farmers, the 78 allotments “form one of the most beautiful and delightful suburban towns in the colony”.
    The description continued: –

Town of East Porirua subdivision

    This map appeared on Macdonald, Wilson and Co’s poster advertising the sale by auction of 78 sections in East Porirua early in 1907.

    The Town of East Porirua consists of 106 acres of the most fertile and productive character and is the subdivision of the original Section 61 of the map of the Porirua District so long known as the property of the late Mr Wall.
    The Town of East Porirua is at the head of the celebrated Tawa Valley, a valley that during the next ten years will hold a great population, and be recognised as the premier suburb of the City of Wellington.   The recent phenomenal success of the sale of the Town of Tawa when quarter-acre sections were sold at an average of $480 per acre, only emphasises the special value of the Town of East Porirua where the railway facilities are at present so much greater.
    The Town of East Porirua has the advantage of having its roads laid out, made and metalled, and every person desirous of building can do so at once without difficulty or trouble.
    Every section in the Town of East Porirua has been so laid off that a carriage or motor car can now be driven along its roads and streets.   In this respect it is quite unique amongst suburban towns.
    The main old Porirua Road runs right from the railway station through the Town of East Porirua and connects with the other subdivisional roads.   From every section there is a magnificent panoramic view of the calm waters of Porirua Bay and the lovely rolling hills surrounding it.
    A more charming and peaceful view of seascape and sylvan scenery cannot exist in any part of the world.
    The facilities which obtain in the Town of East Porirua for carrying on the smaller industries of market gardening, fowl farming, bee farming, and a swarm of cognate industries are very great.
    Ladies and Gentlemen who wish to enjoy the charm of country live while close to a great city, and at the same time make a comfortable income, should fix their home in the Town of East Porirua.   They will never regret it.
    It is anticipated from the express desire of large numbers to erect building forthwith that the Town of East Porirua will be full of dwelling houses in a shorter time than has ever before been known in connection with suburban town.
    The term were of “exception liberality”: Deposit on each section at the time of purchase $10; balance payable 10 per cent in three months, 10 per cent in twelve months, remainder on mortgage for five years, interest on unpaid purchase money 5 per cent per annum.



Census of 1848 gave misleading details


This article was first published in the local community newspaper Kapi-Mana News on 13 July, 1982, p29.

    Like all statistics compiled about the socio-economic status of a particular section of the community, this data obtained in the Census of 1848 about how certain emigrants of the labouring classes pulled themselves up by the bootlaces can be misleading.
    Though the company’s embarkation records would confirm they were all at the lowest rungs of the ladder when selected as suitable colonists, it was not uncommon for emigrants of a higher status to sign up as labourers so they could conserve their meagre capital by obtaining a free passage for their wives and children.
    In the list, the name of W Nott comes within this category of colonists prepared to put up with cramped quarters in the steerage for the longest passenger run in the world.

    The column – Trade or calling at time of arrival – means that in some cases skilled workmen are listed as labourers or the even lower status of agricultural labourers.
    This arose from the practice of intending immigrants filling in their applications as being willing to be employed as labourers so their wives and dependent children could be assured of a free passage.
    The entry N Bartlett recalls this practice whereby a Somerset sailmarker by his own free choice elects to join the ranks of the unskilled in order to make the break from the old order.
    By avoiding working for wages and offering their services on a contract basis to capitalists eager to create farms out of the bush, colonists such as these people who were prepared to give it a go by forsaking the comforts of Wellington made an adequate living as long as land owners were prepared to spend money and enter into tenancy agreements.
    Though this practice was advantageous for the workers, it struck at the Wakefield theory of colonisation as it was a body blow to the concept of the transference of a cross-section of British society to New Zealand where everyone knew their place.
    At the time of the 1848 Census the Halfway still marked the boundary of the Wellington settlement.

    A COMPARATIVE STATEMENT between the position of Emigrants upon arrival in Wellington, and as returned in the Government Census taken in 1848 (unpublished)

1848 Census