Tawa Historical Society Incorporated

 


 

OLD PORIRUA ROAD’S PLACE IN HISTORY
From a track to ‘highway’

By W H Secker

THIS is the first of three articles by Mr W H Secker of Linden which traces the evolution of the Porirua Road from a Maori track to what for the mid-19th century settlers was a modern highway.   This article was first published in the local community newspaper Kapi-Mana News on 18th July, 1978, p20.

    Because of the special circumstances surrounding the settlement of Wellington the construction and improvements made to the Old Porirua Road in the 1840s lift its history out of the parish pump category to one of national importance. When the New Zealand Company’s staff selected Port Nicholson for the site of their first settlement, two tracks through the bush led from Whanganui-a-Tara (the old Maori name for the Wellington Harbour) to Porirua on the West Coast.
    These two access ways had been part of the communications network of Te-Ika-a-Maui (North Island) since the time of the first Polynesian migrants to these shores had reason to leave the coast and explore the hinterland.
    The first of these walkways was the Korokoro-Kenepuru track which connected the area surrounding the mouth of the Heretaunga (Hutt River) with Porirua and the West Coast.

Port of Wellington
Town and Port of Wellington, from Kaiwharawhara Hill, 1844 (Brees)

    This painting by Samuel Brees shows the type of terrain which had to be traversed by travellers who were venturesome enough to leave behind the comforts of Wellington in the years 1840-42.
    After crossing the Kaiwharawhara Stream at its mouth the Whanganui-a-Tara – Porirua Track ascended a steep ridge to the summit of Paerau Hill, on the Te Wharau ridge.
    From here the track continued along the ridge until it descended to the valley of the Kenepuru at Johnsonville.
    By 1844 the settlers had made a serious attempt at clearing the bush so that a living could be obtained from their country sections.
    However the top of Paerau Hill in pre-European times was taumata.   This was an open spot, where travellers could make a break in their journey to enjoy a view made possible by a gap in the forest cover.
    One of the first public work schemes undertaken by the New Zealand Company was to construct a zig-zag bridle path up the steep ascent.
    This made it easier for those traveling on foot as well as enabling pack horses, bullocks and stock to be moved along the route with relative ease.   It also made the lot of surveying parties and company officials easier to bear.

SHIFTED
    The second track which assumed major importance once the settlement of Britannia was shifted to the south western corner of the harbour in 1840 was the route which left from Kaiwharawhara over Paerau Hill (now east Kaiwharawhara Trig) and then followed the ridge top until it descended to the upper reaches of the Kenepuru Stream at Johnsonville.
    Due to the hilly topography of the Wellington Peninsula numerous writers and scholars when quoting or editing the diaries of early travellers along these two routes get themselves hopelessly confused as to which is which.
    The state of affairs arises from lack of first-hand knowledge of the back country separating the two harbours.
    Confusion has also arisen through latter day historians not appreciating the fact that the old time Maori having no quadrupeds or vehicles, his tracks kept to spurs and ridges where the vegetation was lighter.
    Consequently the route followed from say, point A to B followed a different line to that worked out by a surveyor.
    At the time the first settlers landed at Petone in January 1840, Maori tracks played an important role in the economy.
    The Korokoro-Porirua track which left the Paparangi Ridge (now the Horokiwi) to join the Kenepuru Stream near the Takapu Valley provides an excellent example of the importance to both races of this primitive piece of roading.
    For when viewed in a broad perspective this track connected Maori communities in Hawkes Bay – Wairarapa with people living along the West Coast, Wellington being relatively peaceful part of the country.

FUNCTION
    Until the Ngapuhi and their allies arrived on the scene in 1819-20 the main function of the Korokoro-Porirua track was one of trade and communications.
    Before 1840 the Kaiwharawhara – Porirua track was of lesser importance as only scattered communities lived near Lambton Harbour and along Wellington’s southern coast.
    To the Europeans both tracks were of the utmost benefit as they provided a means of access to the hinterland so that Government officials, New Zealand Company representatives, missionaries, the military, police and other interested parties could learn something about what lay beyond the range of the hills encircling the harbour.
    Maori tracks however had their limitations and among the first priorities of the New Zealand Company was to see that the Kaiwhara Road as was frequently referred to by the settlers was upgraded to reasonable standards.
    The shortcomings of the network of Maori tracks which criss-cross the forested regions of the country was that they were of single file width.   This made traveling as far as a European was concerned difficult and tiresome work.
    Through not possessing the axe or saw which would enable fallen trees and surface roots to be removed, there were endless obstacles placed in the path of the traveller.
    As their function was to serve the needs of people who had recently been living in the new stone age they were not designed to meet the needs of horses or wheeled traffic.
    Like present day trampers tracks they kept to leading spurs and ridges wherever possible so that the route passed through terrain where the bush was less dense due to shallower and drier soil conditions.
    At times however, as was the case with both the Kaiwharawhara and Korokoro tracks from Wellington Harbour to Porirua, high ground had to be forsaken for slower traveling along a stream bed.
    In upgrading the Kaiwharawhara track so that it became the Porirua Road, the New Zealand Company put into effect a policy with roading which was to be repeated over and over again in the opening up of New Zealand to settlement.
    This sequence of events was the initial upgrading of the single file width Maori track to that of a surveyed bridle path on which horses could be ridden and stock driven.

Port Nicholson
Hutt River and Port Nicholson, 1840 (From the hills above Petone.)

    The first Europeans who travelled from Petone to Porirua commenced their journey though open country as this painting by Charles Heaphy in 1840 shows.
    Not far from this spot the track entered the bush.   From here it climbed until it reached the Paparangi Ridge (now known as the Horokiwi).
    From vantage points along the ridge glimpses of Kaiwhara (Scots Town) and Thorndon could be seen.
    Over the years references to these two parts of the Wellington settlement have caused confusion among writers who have got themselves bushed by thinking the traveller was on the Kaiwhara-Porirua Track.
    Like the access from Wellington to Porirua the Petone track was developed into a bridle path.   It never progressed beyond this stage and went out of use in the 1920s.
    This was when traveling by horse was replaced by motoring when visits to and from the Hutt Valley were necessary for Tawa residents.
    The Korokoro-Porirua Track joined the Kenepuru near the confluence with the Takapu.   In this vicinity the upgraded bridle path has been obliterated.
    This has been brought about by the large scale earthworks involved in altering the terrain for the development of Wellington’s new northern suburb of Glendene.  

REPLACED
    As settlement proceeded the bridle path was replaced by a poorly drained and surveyed cart road.   The fourth and final stage in this development was the Macadamised road.
    Because roads have an inbuilt obsolescence brought about by technological advances, improvements are continually taking place.   Roads are realigned so that the old order is constantly changing.
    Nevertheless along the length of the first highway out of Wellington still survive sections which recall the times when it was a cart and military road.
    Drainage was a problem.   One of the early improvements was to see that an easement was made on both sides of the cart road by removing the bush on both sides.   This meant that a swathe 20ft wide was created which allowed sun and air to gain entry on damp low lying section of the road.
    Money was the big obstacle in the way of bringing about improvements.
    Later arrivals in the Wellington Settlement were constantly complaining about the shortcomings of the work down by the New Zealand Company’s surveyors, the army, private individuals and at a later date, the Porirua Highway Board.
    The point these complainants overlooked was any type of roading is designed to meet the needs of the day.
    Early construction and improvements were done on a shoestring budget and at the time served the needs of the community.

SECONDARY
    However, the military road constructed between Johnsonville and Porirua was for the pacification of the country, and meeting the needs of future settlers was of secondary consideration.
    However, because of the circumstances prevailing in the colony during the first two decades of the founding of Wellington, the development of the Porirua Road did not run true to pattern.   It was these series of problems which gives the Porirua Road a place in New Zealand’s history.
    Pioneers, soldiers and visitors who were used to a gentler topography regarded the line of the Porirua Road as proceeding though mountainous country.
    This would be fair comment in the days of the Maori track, bridle path and cart road stages of development, when the access way out of Wellington proceeded through stretches of dense bush and the banks of gorges.

CAUSES
    Other cases which delayed improvements were squabbles with Maori owners of the land who disputed having made a sale to Colonial Wakefield in 1839, an unsympathetic colonial administration in Auckland and a chronic shortage of funds caused by the high cost of roading in a forested and hilly terrain.
    Finally, there was the out break of hostilities between the two races in 1846.   This forced Governor Grey for strategic reasons to but the disputed land from the Ngati Toa so that detachments from British regiments, local militia units and Maori pioneer troops enlisted for the task could complete the section of the road from halfway to Porirua as expeditiously as possible.

 


 

OLD PORIRUA ROAD’S PLACE IN HISTORY
From a track to ‘highway’

By W H Secker

THIS is the second of three articles by Mr W H Secker of Linden traceing the evolution of the Old Porirua Road from a Maori track to what was for the mid-19th century settlers a modern highway.   This article was first published in the local community newspaper Kapi-Mana News on 19th September, 1978, p24.

    High on the list of public works requiring immediate attention in 1840 if Wellington was to progress was the formation of a road that would give access to potential agriculture land as well as connecting proposed settlements to the north.
    From paintings, drawings and personal; dairies of early travellers, New Zealand Company officials and army officers, a clear picture emerges of the sequence of events which saw the Wellington – Porirua Road change from a single file width Maori track which followed the ridge tops wherever possible to a highway that to varying degrees served the community’s needs.
    To a man, all the writers who have left a pen picture of the old Porirua Road in the early 1840s refer to it as running through heavily forested terrain.
    Apart from the physical barriers presented by the hill nature of the country the authorities were hamstrung by the small populations and lack of resources.
    The end result of these difficulties was a patchwork sub-standard stretch of roading which in no way was a refection on the sincerity of the leading lights of the Wellington settlement.
    Neither did it reflect on the competence of the company’s surveyors and engineers.
    It addition to these problems the upgraded bridle path came to an end at the Halfway (Glenside).
    For although the route had been surveyed through to Porirua, work ceased at this point due to a dispute with Ngatitoa as to whether the land beyond this locality had in fact been sold to Colonel Wakefield in the last quarter of 1839.

Thorndon Flat

    Thorndon Flat, Wellington, April 1841 (Charles Heaphy)
    Charles Heaphy’s painting of Thorndon Flat in April 1841 graphically shows the hemmed in settling of the Wellington Settlement.
    At this stage the network of Maori walking tracks were a blessing to the surveyors of the New Zealand Company whose job it was to construct roads through this heavily bushed and, to the colonists, mountainous country.
    The ancient Maori track form Kaiwharawhara on the shores of Whanganui-a-Tara to Porirua ascended to the summit of Paerau Hill along a spur, which is to the right of the flagstaff.
    To get a gradient the surveyors commenced the Porirua road at the termination of a spur that was closer to the stream.
    Steady height was then obtained by crossing a gully and joining the spur the old time Maori used near the summit of Paerau.
    The gradient steepened with sharp zigzags bringing home that it was indeed a bridle path and not a road.
    Today the first section of the Porirua bridle road still exists although its history to some extent is lost through the policy of different names being applied to its length between Kaiwharawhara and Khandallah.
    From the turn off which was once part of the Hutt Road the original track follows Pickering, Fores and Winchester Streets before assuming its present day title of Nicholson Road.
    On the harbour side of Nicholson Road and for a short distance over the crest of Paerau Hill the work of the pioneer surveyors and engineers of the New Zealand Company is still in evidence.
    The message is also brought home to the traveller as to why early writers became enraptured with the changing vista of mountains, bush and sea.
    On Heaphy’s original work and the Queen’s reprints of 1963 cay cuttings in the bush near the summit of Paerau recall the time when this early pierce of roading gave Wellington a new lease of life.
    For without an access to the north the settlement doomed.

TEST
    Consequently, with no settlement taking place beyond the Halfway, the road from here to Porirua remained a stiff endurance test for man and horse until the military brought about improvements in 1846.
    Following the usual pattern in colonial time the new road was no more than a bridle path which closely followed the old time Maori track from Kaiwharawhara to Porirua Harbour.
    Edward Jerningham Wakefield in his interesting chronicle of colonial times, Adventures in New Zealand, states that “by March 1841 the bridle road had been completed for some time.”
    All obstacles in the path of progress in the form of destroyed bridges and forest giants felled across the road had been put right, these delaying tactics and drastic warning notices being the work of Te Rangihaeata, nephew o Te Rauparaha.
    Wakefield then goes on to state that “he walked the 16 miles between the two harbours in 3 hours”.   This is obviously a slip of the pen as the time would refer to the walking distance between Halfway and Lambton at the very most.
    More to the point are the remarks made by Alex Majorbanks when he records in his book, Travels in New Zealand, of how a 5 foot broad open road or cattle path has been opened up to Porirua sixteen miles distance.”
    Though Majorbanks was aware that cattle could now be driven from Wellington to Wanganui and Taranaki he regarded the main trunk road as nothing more that a cattle track.   For he goes on to state “that when it is available for carts and bullock teams the Porirua Road will be complete.”
    Apart from its narrowness the Porirua bridle track was not suitable for carts because of its steep grades and sharp zigzag turns.
    This was apparent from Wellington as the zigzag ascent from the mouth of the Kaiwharawhara stream to the ridge top near the summit of Paerau Hill was a conspicuous feature of the landscape as its line could be traced through fern and bush.
    In fact when the road was first completed it was a debatable point whether the first section which left the harbour would be a suitable path for bullocks and cattle because of the steep grade.
    The first colonial to allay these fears was William Gordon Bell who, on completing the terms of his engagement with James Watt of Miramar, drove his herd of cattle from Wellington to Wanganui.
    Before undertaking this stock droving job, Bell reconnoited the full length of the partly finished Porirua Road and then proceeded to walk to Wanganui to find out if it was indeed a practical proposition.
    For the town dwellers the departure of Bell and his two sons created great interest as the yoked team of one cow and six bullocks each laden with a pack were driven up the bridle road until they disappeared from sight once the summit of Paerau Hill was reached.
    Wakefield draws further attention to the shortcoming of the Porirua Road when he refers to how Bell’s drays, ploughs, seed, bulky articles and womenfolk travelled by sea to Wanganui.
    Because land owners could not commence developing their 100 acre country sections along the Porirua Road until access was provided, the New Zealand Company was landed with the additional burden of providing work for the unemployed.
    Roading absorbed a large proportion of the out-of-work who in the normal course of events would have been hired by the capitalist members of the community.
    Labourers employed in the Porirua Road project were paid 14 shillings a week with food provided by the company.
    No doubt as an inducement to attract tradesmen away from Wellington and who would willingly accept the rigours of life in the bush, carpenters and bricklayers earned 4 as their weekly remuneration.
    It was standard practice in the years when the Wellington settlement was getting underway for land owners along a stretch of road to bring about certain improvements themselves if their properties were to be serviced to best advantage.

A ROAD THROUGH BUSH
‘A ROAD THROUGH BUSH’     Courtesy Turnbull Library.

    The exact location of William Mein-Smith’s A Road Through Bush has never been determined.
    The Hutt, Karori and Porirua Road districts are all contenders for the whereabouts of this scene.
    From the appearance of the bush and terrain its location is along the Porirua Road.
    The skyline ridge in the background is the Paparangi Range which places the setting in the vicinity of the Anglican Church, Johnsonville.
    The Porirua Road at this stage of its history followed a slightly different route to that of the present day.
    It had become a cart road which was its third stage of development towards an acceptable all weather highway.   The road has been widened to provide a carriage way of six feet.
    The value of the work performed by the New Zealand Company in removing the bush 10 feet either side of the road, so that light and air could dry the surface, can be appreciated.
    Slumping and slips show that pioneers living beyond this point had problems.

    Though the Porirua Road was the chief link to the north and could justifiably be regarded as being top of the list in the allocation of public funds, history records that the initial improvements to the bridle road were brought about by Captain E. Daniell and his sawmiller tenants.
    The work that Daniell put in far exceeds anything else that was done in providing better access to a country section.
    It was also a damming indictment of the practices of the New Zealand Company’s administrators in honoring their contractual obligations to subscribers of capital, of offering sections in forested country which were some distance from the nearest road.
    In order to get access to his Trelissick Farm, Daniell put though his own cart road.   E J Wakefield records that this cost 30.
    There would have been other incidentals which would have boosted this figure considerably.   Daniell’s road is still in use and is marked on the Wellington street map as the Old Porirua Road.
    As a piece of engineering its formation could only be described as primitive.   Nevertheless it provided a detour that was to cut off 150 feet of climb and shorten the distance to Porirua by 1 miles.
    Following the practices of the time Daniell’s cart road cut into the banks of the Kaiwharawhara Gorge wherever possible.   On vertical slopes and where the rock was hard the road had to be built out from the face.
    Here standing bush and a breastwork formed from cut timber would prevent the fill from ending up in the stream far below.
    Engineering work of this nature gave rise to future troubles as slips and washouts became commonplace.
    From a point where the private road turned towards Trelissick Farm it was found that if a short continuation was made, a connection with an existing logging road could be made.
    This provided a better exit out of Wellington.   The logging road is now Crofton Road and, although widened, serves as a fine memorial to pioneering initiative.
    At a still later date the Old Porirua Road was re-routed down Kenya Street which in the days of the Onslow Borough perpetuated Daniell’s name.
    The hard going up Paerau Hill now became a thing of the past.   The new access way caused the New Zealand Company to bring about improvements to the bridle track.
    In 1848 what was still virtually a native path saw contracts let for the widening the bridle path to six feet with a clearance of 10 feet either side, this easement being to improve drainage on what was still an earth road.
    Roads of this nature soon deteriorated under the pounding they received from the hooves of bullocks, horses and cart wheels.
    Apart from minor improvements brought about by the settlers themselves, this was the state of affairs up to the Halfway, when for strategic reasons the army saw to the highway’s improvement and its completion during the troubles of 1846.

 


 

OLD PORIRUA ROAD’S PLACE IN HISTORY
From a track to ‘highway’

By W H Secker

THIS is the final article in a series of three by Mr William Secker of Linden tracing the evolution of the Old Porirua Road from a Maori track to what the mid-19th century settlers regarded as a modern highway.   This article was first published in the local community newspaper Kapi-Mana News on 27th February, 1979, p14-15.

    For all who had the interests of the Wellington Settlement at heart, the decision in May 1844 of land Claims Commissioner William Spain not to recognise the New Zealand Company’s Porirua purchases was nothing short of a national disaster as it effectively put a damper on improving the main access out of the town to settlements and open spaces to the north.
    However by 1846 relationships between Maori and Colonist had sunk to such a low ebb over land squabbles that Governor Grey from a military standpoint was moved to make representations to the Ngatitoa tribe so that part of their territory could be purchased and the access out of Wellington improved.
    Grey was successful in these negotiations and was able to purchase the disputed Porirua land which lay beyond the Halfway for the bargain price of 2000.
    In addition to the monetary grant a large reserve was to be set aside for the tribe which was to be in one continuous lot and selected by themselves.

Leigh’s Stockade

    Lieutenant Colonel W. A. McCleverty’s watercolour “Leigh’s Stockade near Kirrapuri River” of December 1847 when the Pax Britannica had been restored is a visible record of how things were at that time.
    Leigh’s Stockade, constructed by the 99th Regiment – The Moonrakers – stood in the vicinity of Redwood Avenue and Main Road, Tawa.
    In 1846 this would have been a strategic position as it stood close to were Maori tracks from Stebbings Gully and the Ohariu joined up with the major access route provided by the Kenepuru Stream to Wellington Harbour, the Hutt Valley and districts to the north.
    In 1846 Lt Colonel McCleverty was gazetted Officer Commanding Southern Districts of New Zealand.   Before the days of photography, one of the requirements of army officers was the ability to draw.
    The accuracy of McCleverty’s work can be judged by the background scenery.   This places the spot in which the watercolour was painted in the vicinity of Redwood Station near where the Tawa Street bridge is today.
    The stockade can be seen in the mid-centre.
    The building, if it followed the pattern of Middleton’s Stockade of which archaeological evidence still exists, would have been 900 square feet.
    Unlike Middleton’s Stockade which had outer defenses, the camp site of the 99th Regiment was in occupation when things had quietened down, and the troops with the help of enlisted Maoris were working in complete harmony on this major piece of roading.
    Te Rangihaeata had been flushed out of the Horokiwi while Te Rauparaha, his uncle, had had his mana diminished by his arrest at Taupo Pa on the orders of Governor Grey.
    On the right bank of the stream, soldiers are engaged in the heavy and unpleasant work of pit sawing fallen forest giants.

RUMOURS
    At the time Grey finalised the Porirua land purchase, Wellington was rife with rumours of an impending native uprising.
    For the colonists living in the vicinity of Johnson’s Clearing and Halfway, this had been a fact of life since the news o the Wairau massacre reached Wellington in April 1843 and resulted in Clifford’s Stockade being erected near the end of the Porirua Bridle Road in 1845.
    This was on a hill to the east of Johnsonville Station.
    Some of the rumours circulating among the community of treachery planned by Te Rangihaeta and Te Rauparaha gave rise to fears bordering on hysteria.
    The army shifted this intelligence passed on to the authorities by friendly tribes but held reservations about its authenticity.
    Part of the price demanded by the chiefs for further information concerning the safety of the settlement was that their tribes be armed at Government expense.
    The leading Wellington settlers were in favour of this dangerous expediency but it was ruled out by Governor Grey who had reservations about the loyalty of some of the informers.
    There was also the grave risk of arms issued to allies being sold to those who were directly challenging to Government.
    Grey however instructed Captain A H Russell, 58th Regiment, to make full use of Maori help in the construction of the Porirua Road, a policy which proved invaluable when trained infantry was required to do battle with Te Rangihaeta and his lieutenants in the Hutt, Pauatahanui and the Horokiwi.
    The frustrations and annoyance caused by the impass resulting over the land question meant that the Porirua Road did not receive the attention it warranted with regards to maintenance and improvements.
    This state of affairs was aptly described by Captain Russell in his report to his superiors after the highway had been completed to coach road standard as far as Paekakariki on December 31, 1849.
    In his report Russell wrote “that the first section of this line of communication was a cart road running as far as Boddington’s Section four miles from Wellington”, the remainder of this access way “offered for 10 or 11 miles every impediment of hill, forest and morass.”
    Journals kept by other army and naval officers stationed in Wellington during the troubles of 1846 also tell how traveling along the Porirua Road was a severe endurance test for man and horse.
    To complete the operation at the earliest possible date, the task of improving the Porirua Road up to coach road standard was started at both ends.
    The first sod was turned on May 1, 1846 when a detachment of the 99th Regiment under the command of Lt Elliott began work at Porirua.
    A week later on May 9 a party of 50 men of the 58th Regiment under Lt Herbert began road making at the Johnsonville end where some initial re-routing was required.
    Until the attack on the 58th Regiment’s (The Royal Tigers) outpost at Boulcott’s Farm at the Hutt on a dull morning on May 16, 1846, the military road makers camped along the way.
    Once hostilities started stockades were erected at key points along the route to act as command posts and prevent troops being attacked who were off duty.

SIEGE
    After the attack on the outpost of the 58th Regiment at Boulcott’s Farm, Wellington was in a virtual state of siege until the area was pacified after Te Rangihaeta and his lieutenants were flushed out of the Horokiwi after the fight at Battle Hill.
    Detachments assigned to road making marched to their duties armed and accoutred.
    Sentries were posted at strategic points to guard against the possibility of working parties being ambushed and sniped at from the cover provided by the bush.
    As things tuned out, billeting the troops at night under the protection of the stockaded camp sites and the posting of sentries at danger points during daylight hours proved unnecessary.
    The warfare conducted in the Wellington area during the troubles of 1846 followed a different pattern to that waged in the land wars of the 1860s.

STRATEGY
    From the diaries of officers engaged in the campaign the military command soon realised that half the battle was to keep the enemy under constant harassment.
    This was the key to the strategy that quickly pacified the Hutt and Porirua districts.   It also prevented the trouble from spreading, as tribes friendly to Te Rangihaeta were kept under constant vigilance.
    Twenty years later it would have been a different story as by then the Maoris appreciated the principles of guerilla warfare.
    The troops and native allies endured privations during the construction of the Porirua Road.
    Russell graphically describes the state of affairs in his final report when he states how “two natives of a party who tried to convey road tools to the station at Jackson’s Ferry (Porirua City Centre) in inclement weather died of exhaustion immediately after reaching camp.”
    At this age troops moved to and fro along the road and in the same report further evidence of the hard going is given in the statement of how the company of soldiers leaving Porirua at daybreak did not arrive at the barracks at Te Aro until 9pm.
    Posterity in indebted to another report of Captain Russell.   This was added as a legend to a map he drew of the general direction of the Porirua Road from the start of the deviation to where the first section ended at Jackson’s Ferry.
    Russell mentions in his neat copperplate writing how the army at this stage was stretched to its limits when he writes “in a short time both these parties (99th and 58th Regts) were called off to take part in the operation against Rangihaeata in the Horokiwi Valley.”
    Other parties were afterwards established under Ensign Middleton 58th Regt., Lt Leigh 99th Regt. and Lt McCoy 65th Regt.
    The report then made the cryptic comment “that the military force that could be spared from other duties would be unable to open the road with any degree of rapidity.”
    To overcome this difficulty, Russell’s report continues, “A native force was organised which at first acted in conjunction with the military parties.”

Te Kenepuru

    W B D Mantell’s sketch, Te Kenepuru, is a valuable record of how the Porirua Road appeared after army units had re-routed it between Johnson’s Clearing and the Halfway.
    Soldiers who took part in the construction of the Porirua Road were proud of their achievement which was by no means an easy undertaking.
    In 1845 Mantell, an officer in the militia, was appointed Superintendent of Military Roads.
    As was the case with officers holding permanent commissions in the line regiments, part of his duties were to draw and paint the scenery where military operations were taking place.
    These would be forwarded with reports so that a clear picture would emerge of what the operation involved.
    On leaving Johnson’s Clearing the new road, as the pioneers referred to it so there would be no confusion with the old bridle path, kept to the western side of the Kenepuru Stream.
    This was on the opposite side to which the company cut the bridle path.
    The new road did not follow the line of present State Highway 1 after it left the second settlement along the Porirua Road.
    From the ridge top near the Anglican Church at Johnsonville the military road descends.
    This gradient created problems and on one occasion a laden wagon got out of control and ended up alongside T J Drakes’s house.
    For the rest of the time this section of the Porirua Road remained in use, it was dubbed “Russell’s Folly” by the local community.
    However this criticism of the work of a capable infantry officer was not fair as it overlooked the difficulties under which the military roadmakers had to work during the dangerous times of 1846.
    The 15 foot wide road can be seen in the left foreground.   Branching off the military road is short right of way.
    This is the site of the conspicuous Glenside landmark, the old Halfway House.
    In the centre foreground can be seen the much rutted bridle path as it descended to the flats at the Halfway.
    Apart from alarums and the men folk being called away from their holdings to serve in the militia, the presence of the army improved the circumstances of many a pioneer family.
    One obvious place to benefit was Brown’s Inn.   Others by attending to the needs of the troops in providing services availed themselves of the extra money pumped into the economy through wartime activities.

INTELLIGENT
    However, as with other Europeans who from the time of Cook had reason to come in close contact with the New Zealanders, Russell and his officers found they were dealing with an intelligent people who on being instructed what was required of them could be left to their own devices so they could work in the way they were used to.
    The Maori workers were not enlisted in the army in the true sense of the term.   Liable to take a day off, they were paid on a daily rate of 2/6 (25 cents) for rangitiras and 2/- (20cents) for other members of society.
    They received half pay in the way of compensation for accidents or illness resulting from military service.   In addition the received extra payment for carrying heavy loads, tools or stores.
    The report states that after “acquiring the requisite knowledge they were placed in separate parties under Lt. Elliott, Dr Turnbull and Mr Mantell,” the last two being militia officers whose service relieved regular counterparts for the work in which they had been trained.

LEGEND
    The legend to the map then concludes with some illuminating facts.   The length of road constructed from Hawtrey Church to Jackson’s Ferry ran out at 7 miles 4 chains.   Today it is difficult to realise just what was involved in pushing this stretch of the Porirua Road through terrain that threw up obstacles along the entire length.
    The problems encountered by the military roadmakers are well put by Russell when he draws attention to the fact that from Hawtrey Church there was not half a mile of flat country.
    The report is a case of not being able to see the wood from the trees as he refers to “an infinite number of small steep spurns thrown off a range of hills supposed to run parallel with the direction of the road.”
    Keeping to his budget imposed a problem because of the number of bridges that had to be constructed.   What was lost on the savings was gained on the roundabouts so that overall he kept within his allocation.
    This averages out at little more than 700 a mile.   The general width was 15feet and after 18 months it was opened to traffic in December 1847.   The report concludes that the distance from Kaiwhara Bridge to Jackson’s Ferry is 11 miles 4 furlongs and 33 yards.
    The Maoris who worked on the formation of the Porirua Road were recruited from different villages in the Wellington area.
    At the Johnsonville end the workforce came from villages scattered around the shores of Port Nicholson.   Some were form the Ngamotu pas at Petone and Ngauranga.

VILLAGES
    Not to be left out of the act were members dwelling at the Ngaitioma villages around Pipitea and Kaiwharawhara, these tribes to all intents and purposes being sub-branches of the Ngatiawa.
    The amazing thing about recruitment of local labour was that gangs working in close proximity to each other and composed of Ngatiawa from Waikanae and Ngati Raukawa who had not buried the hatchet over where the lines of their tribal boundary ran, worked together without bad blood being spilt.
    The imperial troops and the locally recruited labour force also worked well together and more than one soldier and workman regretted the day when the operation called for the parting of the ways.
    Payment of the Queen’s shilling also resulted in changes to the traditional way of life.
    Lt. Tyrone Power records in his diary how the blanket gave way to shirt and trousers as standard everyday garb.
    Money gained by honest toil was in the main not frittered away.   A considerable proportion of it was spent on light agricultural equipment, livestock and other merchandise that would improve their lot.

 


 

Reminders of the British Army along old road
VISIBLE EVIDENCE

By WILLIAM SECKER

Surveyor’s Arms inn at the Halfway

Here stood the Surveyor’s Arms inn at the Halfway (Glenside) run by Anthony and Susan Wall.   Settlers who cleared the area warked as carters of goods, materials and suppliers to the troops of the 58th Regiment along the Old Porirua Road.

This article was first published in the local community newspaper Kapi-Mana News on 18th April, 1979, p8.

THE DIFFERENT USES that land has been put to as Wellington developed has meant that today few signs of the military presence along the Old Porirua Road dating back to the war of 1846 have survived.
    Nevertheless for all the changes due to public work schemes or the inevitable process of natural erosion on a hilly terrain and farming activities, there still remains etched on the landscape between Glenside and Linden visible signs of the presence of the imperial forces, the Wellington Militia Regiment and the recruited Maori labour force during the troublesome times initiated by the outbreak of hostilities at the Hutt in May 1846.
    These reminders of the not too distant past consist of :
•   The outlines of the stockade erected by the detachment of the 58th Regiment when under command of Ensign Middleton.
•   The adjacent sawpit where timber for the stockade, bridges and culverts along the way was cut into convenient lengths.
•   Short stretches of the original road which for various reasons ceased to form part of the highway as changed circumstances brought about improvements

Middleton's Stockade

MIDDLETON’S STOCKADE HERE
    This commanding site, up until the time that Governor Grey was successful in purchasing the disputed Porirua land from the Ngati Toa in 1846, was the Wellington Settlement’s frontier.
    Situated on a plateau 130 feet above the valley floor, it provided a fine panorama view of 180 degrees from Johnson’s Clearing in the south to the head of the densely bush covered Takapu Valley to the north east.
    Still discernible after the passing of 132 years are the outlines of the protected campsite.
    From State Highway 1, a well graded pathway, along which soldiers marched to and from their road-making duties can be followed as it ascends under the spreading branches of Cupressus macrocarpa trees and through scrubby broom.
    At the south corner of the plateau the path passed through the entrance of the palisade which formed the defensive perimeter of the stockade.
    Approximately in the centre of the almost level camp site the outlines of a 30 sq ft building in which the detachment and other passing servicemen were quartered.
    A well worn groove at the doorway tells of feet churning up the wet soggy ground.
    The remains of the fireplace are still evident, with all the signs of blackened earth and reddish pebbles that have been doused with water while still hot.
    After the army moved on, the purpose was utilised by an early settler so that the surface of the area had become rather disturbed.
    This contradicts popular belief that the pathway and the outlines of the stockade’s outer perimeter are the result of a landowner providing access and erecting stockyards on the site.
    When the British army was re-organised in 1880, the old 58th Regiments became the North Hampshire Regiment.
    In the services, loyalties die hard and there were misgivings at the time when the 58th (the Rutlandshire) lost its identity.

sawpit

Sawpit provided slabs of timber
    From this sawpit, soldiers of the 58th Regiment cut timber for the construction of bridges and culverts along the length of the road in the vicinity of the half-way.
    It also supplied balks of timber used in the construction of the defended camp which is recorded in history as Middleton’s Stockade.
    Troops drafted to sawing did not have far to go to their task for the day as the pit was just outside the north western perimeter of the stockade.
    Sawpits were cut close to a stand of timber as manhandling fallen forest giants was arduous work, even with the assistance of a windlass.
    No mention is made of it but the army no doubt availed themselves of the assistance of horses to haul the logs into position.
    The stand of tawa trees which still grows in the area indicates that totara and matai were the timber trees used for the work.
    Since the photo was taken (Oct 1977) this reminder of the 58th Regiment’s activities at Glenside has been relegated to a rubbish dump with drums and other pieces if ironmongery making a rural eyesore.

Russell’s road at Linden

Russell’s road at Linden
    This long disused section at Linden is a visible reminder of the problems that had to be overcome by the military road makers.
    Because of the structures imposes in its construction by the time factor and a limited budget, the Porirua Road, although it measured up to coach road standards, had some inbuilt deficiencies which required attention as times improved.
    Where the dog stands can be seen the carriage way and cutting formed by the troops and hired Maori workmen.
    At this point the road was beginning to level out after ascending from one of the numerous fordings of the Kenepuru Stream.
    The roadway was formed by cutting into a 60 degree slope.
    Due to the steep topography the outline of the road is somewhat blurred.
    Slumping and spoil coming down from up above through detirus being tossed away during two major re-alignments, together with a recently widened stream eroding the bank, makes the width at this juncture 12 ft.
    If this figure is correct it would still be in agreement with Captain Russell’s report when he stated that the average width was 15 ft.
    This stretch of road soon presented problems due to the hill above being a greasy bank.
    To avoid the trouble caused by numerous springs and a permanent high water table at an early stage, a new section had to be formed at a higher level.
    Further trouble was encountered through a band of crushed rock resulting from movements of the Ohariu earthquake fault in the past.
    Once exposed to the elements, this fractured rock assumed the consistency of porridge so that mud flows were common in wet weather.
    It is a frailty of human nature that we tend to ignore the lessons learned by earlier generations.
    One hundred and twenty five years later when the road was widened and improved for the third time, the engineer in charge was blissfully unaware of the problems encountered by the military roadmakers and the later contractor who affected the improvements by sighting the highway at a higher level.
    An on the spot test of this fossilised road showed that in this locality Telfords system of highway construction was used.
    The stones and gravel used for the foundations and binding came from the nearby stream.
    The absence of a chamber also supported these findings.
    The principles that Telford laid down were:
•   A level roadbed
•   Large stones set on edge, 3 inch thick at the margin and increasing in size to 7 inches at the centre.
•   The top coat to consist of stones not smaller than 1 in thick or exceeding 2 inches in diameter at the other end of the scale
•   For a road of 15ft width, the centre not to rise to a height more than 3 in above the margin.   To facilitate run-off of surface water, there would be a very slight convexity in the middle.
•   The binding gravel to be 1 in thick
    By following these specifications a Telford road could stand a load of 5 cwt for every inch of tyre width.
    The greywacke stones used to form the foundation had been expertly fractured along the bedding planes of the rocks.
    This aptitude for breaking rocks the correct way, being expert in wielding an adze, together with being able to fall a forest giant in the desired position, gives a new meaning to the British army officers’ patronising attitude about the usefulness of the Maori workmen.

Takapu service lane

Takapu service lane
    Though truncated and relegated to a service lane, this section of the original Porirua Road still retains some of its atmosphere when it was the access to what was called the Great Western Plain.
    Captain Collinson, Royal Engineers, the officer responsible for surmounting technical problems, sited this section of the road at a lower level in order to avoid the heavy and expensive work of cutting into a high steep bank.
    From 1846 up until the mid 1930s when the Tawa Flat deviation of the North Island main trunk railway reached this point, it was still part of the district roading system.   At this stage it was the turn-off to the Takapu valley.
    Beyond the overbridge this relic of the pioneering days continues from the north bound Takapu Station platform.   Nowadays it serves as another right of way.
    This 15ft width of early roading is an interesting study as it follows the undulations of the terrain before it loses its character at the point where it joins up with a widened and regraded stretch of the old highway out of Wellington which these days is called Boscobel lane.

 


 

Ngauranga’s early history

By WILLIAM SECKER

This article was first published in the local community newspaper Kapi-Mana News on 14th August, 1979, pp20-21.

Though Wellington’s northern industrial suburb of Ngauranga to many people is little more than a place name, there was a time when it occupied an important place in the scheme of things.
    New Zealand’s recorded history is of short duration but those who fail to grasp its importance overlook the point that since the time of the first European settlements it had changed from a society which was just emerging from Neolithic barbarism to a highly developed western nation.

Ngauranga Pa

NGAURANGA PA IN THE EARLY 1840S
    Shortly after his arrival at Wellington in February 1842 S C Brees, principal surveyor of the New Zealand Company, recorded this scene of Ngauranga Pa.
    In his historical writings S Percy Smith, former surveyor general and noted ethnologist, has preserved information that has all too often been lost with the recording of the Maori place names.
    He recorded that Ngauranga which meant a canoe landing place referred to the land at the mouth of the Waitohi Stream and not to the valley at the back of the pa.
    The name of Waitohi was never adopted by the colonists.   The surveyors and other company officials through language difficulties and not being aware of the great love the Maori had for his land either failed to pick up the name or else overlooked its significance.
    After a brief flirtation with the title of Wharepouri’s valley the old Ngati Ira place name of Ngauranga was universally accepted for the narrow bush-clad gully which led from the harbour to Johnsonville and which after considerable agitation in the 1850s was to become the main route out of Wellington.
    The description left by early visitors that Ngauranga was only a small community is emphasised by the artist’s handiwork.
    The scene is one where communal life is going on without a great deal of bustle.   The presence of Europeans in the near vicinity had wrought some minor changes to the old order.
    The weatherboard dwelling which can be seen on the stream’s right bank and immediately outside the palisade of the pas would have been the home of a Mr Smith.
    This was the pakeha who was left behind under the care of Te Wharepouri after the Tory weighed anchor in late September 1839, so that buildings could be erected and crops planted to meet the needs of the impending arrival of the colonists.
    To the rear of the beached fishing canoe and slightly to the right can be seen Te Wharepouri’s monument which for many years was a prominent Wellington landmark.
    This was a centre section of a war canoe that has been set up on four posts.   That Maori culture was not being destroyed overnight through having come in contact with a more advanced civilisation can be gained from the information that the whereabouts of Te Wharepouri’s mortal remains were kept a closely guarded secret.
    These precautions were considered necessary in case tribal feuds should give reason to desecrate the resting place.
    There was also the fear that the tattooed head would be sought after by any unscrupulous trader who made money out of such sorry business.
    The eel weir placed across the Waitohi shows the importance this form of protein had in the diet.   At this stage the stream at this point along the Hutt Road had not been bridged, and travellers who wished not to get their feet wet could engage the services of a local to pick-a-back them across.
    This was for a charge of sixpence although a higher rate would be charged for the heavyweights.

    Few better examples are provided of this changing scene than what has occurred at the industrial suburb of Ngauranga since Wellington was founded in 1840.
    In 1839 when the New Zealand Company’s advance ship Tory hove to off Petone while the party were looking for suitable sites to locate the first of the planned settlements, the small indentation along the harbours northern shore line was an important pa.
    For it was here that Te Wharepouri of the Nga Motu tribe who was the keenest advocate for Europeans coming to settle among the Maori community had his pa.
    Te Wharepouri, through his prowess as a fighting general and being a grand orator, was a highly respected chief and his counsel carried much weight in tribal conferences.
    His travels to New South Wales and his association with Europeans when the Nga Motu were still occupying their tribal lands in Taranaki made him an astute leader who could fully appreciate the value of trade and contact with the pakehas.
    One of the reasons why Te Wharepouri was keen to have a Pakeha presence at Port Nicholson was to protect his people from the forays and depredations of the Ngati Kahungunu of the Wairarapa and Hawke’s Bay.
    They had not given up hope of recovering the lost territory of their sub-tribe, the Ngati Ira, who had occupied the Wellington region since the 17th century.   There was also the risk of relationships with the Ngati Toa of Porirua breaking down.
    The Nga Motu tribe had no deep ancestral ties with Wellington Harbour and its hinterland for their occupation of the region dated from as recently as 1834.
    This was the year when they made a pact with the Ngati Mutunga who also belonged to the Ngati Awa federation to purchase the small landing place and the surrounding hills of the Ngauranga Valley for the outlay of some greenstone clubs.
    Completing this transaction, the Ngati Mutunga with the assistance of a coerced mariner departed from the scene to lay waste the Chatham Islands and to give the unfortunate survivors of the Moriori race a wretched dog’s life.

WAKEFIELDS
    Edward Jerningham Wakefield in his interesting narrative, Adventure in New Zealand, describes a visit to Ngauranga Pa when on September 23, 1839 together with his uncle, Colonel William Wakefield, and whaler-cum-interpreter Dicky Barrett, they paid a courtesy call while visiting the different Maori settlements scattered around the harbour.
    At the time of the unscheduled visit Te Wharepouri was engaged in wielding an adze while shaping a new canoe.
    In the meanwhile the bush telegraph had been at work about the question of selling land to the visitors, a point that was made clear by the landing of a party who were on their way to Petone to discuss this contentious issue of selling land in order to have a Pakeha presence in their midst.
    Te Wharepouri immediately brought up the topic of the overtures that had been made by the visitors about the request to purchase land to which Barrett to the best of his ability tried to convey Colonial Wakefield’s statements on the aims and objectives of the New Zealand Land Company as it pertained to the Maori proprietors.

Te Wharepouri

TE WHAREPOURI – How old was he?
    With no baptismal registers or family Bibles to go by, estimating the age of individual Maoris was a matter of guess work
    The date of Te Wharepouri’s birth is a case in point.
    E J Wakefield recorded in his journal that his age was about 35 years of age.   In an article published in The Dominion on August 27, 1966 Mr Wi Hapi Love, a descendant of Te Wharepouri, begged to differ with Wakefield as the genealogy handed down within the family disproved this estimate.
    Further, the genealogical record showed that Te Wharepouri was the senior and elder chief.   This made him an ariki with Te Puni being his younger cousin.

DIED
    According to the Love family, Te Wharepouri was about 60 years of age when he died at Ngauranga in 1842.
    This would have made Te Wharepouri’s age 58 when Dr John Dorset drew the original of this sketch on his starched shirt cloth
    The moko or tattooing gave an impression of age and severity to a countenance which fooled the best of observers.
    There is also the possibility that Wakefield got his wires crossed and mistook Te Puni who had a more elaborate moko for Te Wharepouri at their first meeting.

BOMBASTIC
    E J Wakefield’s description of the haranguing between the pro and anti lobbies together with Te Wharepouri’s bombastic claims of how Colonel Wakefield had come to the country form afar especially to see him allows later generations to enjoy being onlookers at an old time korero.
    All told, 60 Maoris took part in the korero with youngsters and those not entitled to take part increasing this number.
    The following day the old time public forum was continued at Petone but this does not disguise the fact that it was at Ngauranga Pa that the main spade work, for the ceding of land so that the Company’s first settlement could proceed was accomplished.
    Like other land purchases made by the company’s agent, this was by the rough and ready means of line of sight.   The area purchased for an assortment of merchandise extended along the coastline from Rimurapa in the west (Sinclair Head) to Turikirae in the east (termination of the Rimutaka Range).
    In the north-east direction the area ranged from the sea to the Tararua Range at the head of the Hutt Valley.
    Though his contact with New Zealand was less than two months, E J Wakefield was aware that tribal boundaries did not run in straight lines and that village sites and cultivation grounds were not part of the bargain.
    But like his uncle who was soon to become the company’s agent in New Zealand and his father, Edward Gibbon Wakefield, who was busy lobbying members of parliament, he was unaware that rangitiras did not have the sole rights to dispose of tribal land.
    No estimate was made of the population of Ngauranga Pa in 1839-40.
    Dr E Dieffenbach, naturalist and scientist accompanying the exploratory party, simply listed all the settlements together and arrived at the neat and tidy figure of 500 inhabitants residing around the harbour.
    His reason for doing this was that all villages were associated with the Ngati Awa.
    In 1842 the population of the pa was listed as 48 inhabitants.
    By this time some of the younger and more enterprising inhabitants had no doubt availed themselves of the opportunities offered in improving their circumstances by accepting work generated by the influx of settlers.
    A Majorbanks who arrived at Wellington in 1840 mentions this point in his book, Travels in New Zealand.
    The nature of the land at Ngauranga would have meant that any community living there would have to be small because of the limited area suited for cultivation.
    However, this was not such a limiting factor for the Nga Motu tribe as their kinsman, Te Puni, allotted then land for cultivation at Petone.
    What is of interest in the 1842 figures is the composition of the population.   These figures show that the village was far from thriving with the population of 48 consisting of 18 males, 22 females, 7 boys and 1 girl.
    After Te Wharepouri’s death in November 1842 at Ngauranga Pa the village went down hill.
    The figures and information included in H Tracy Kemp’s census taken in June 1850 to determine the conditions of the pas in the Wellington area and the moral state of the native inhabitants tells the tale of a village that was becoming a ghost town.
    The statistical information was published in the New Zealand Government Gazette of August 21, 1850.
    By this time the population had declined to 34 residents.   The small figure comprised 13 male adults, 10 adult females, 6 male children and 5 girls.
    The columns headed “Moral State” show the religious denominations as being 21 Church of England and 11 Wesleyans.
    Seven of the older members of the society had been married according to native custom while 13 of the community were unable to read or write.
    The detailed report then went on to give a brief report on the condition of the village.   It speaks of fences being down although things were not altogether in disarray as the huts were in reasonable order.
    Comment is made that “the population does not seem to be on the increase”.   For a livelihood the inhabitants “reared a small quantity of poultry, procured firewood and fish for the market.”
    To convey merchandise to the market both from the pa and the land carrying crops at Petone, the residents of Ngauranga had the services of five horses, eight cattle and two war canoes as means of transport.
    The reference to trade is a reminder of the important role the Maori community played in colonial society.

Price of Wellington
    In his submissions to a select committee of the House of Commons appointed to look into the state of affairs in New Zealand E G Wakefield stated that the price paid for the land transaction negotiated at Ngauranga and finalised at Petone a few days later was fair and reasonable.
    In 1839 prices, the goods were valued at 400.   To the thinking of the directors of the New Zealand Company, the price was right as only settlement could give the land value.
    Taken into reckoning was only a minute percentage occupied by villages and cultivation grounds; the remainder to European thinking was wastelands that were not being made proper use of.

Price of Wellington

FINISHED
    After the surveyors had finished cutting up the land soon after the founding of the Wellington settlement the canoe landing place and pa became designated as Section 6, Wellington Harbour District.   Together with the adjacent Section 5 it provided a 200 acre native reserve.
    Under the policy of the New Zealand Company these constituted tenths.   It was the practice of the company wherever possible to let the Maoris live in their pas, retain their cultivation ground as well as access to water for fishing and transport.
    As the settlement grew, this policy together with an understandable desire not to move from villages and land important to their way of life could upset the town and country planning of the migrants.
    Fortunately through the results of a declining population and provision being made for settlement elsewhere, no problems were encountered when the main highway had to be rerouted up the Ngauranga Gorge.

 


 

Ngauranga Road work of navvies

By WILLIAM SECKER

This article was first published in the local community newspaper Kapi-Mana News on 6th November, 1979, pp20-21.

The serious shortcomings imposed by the steep gradient of the Porirua Road from the harbour shoreline at Kaiwhara to the district then known as Upper Kaiwhara (Ngaio), from the early 1850s brought about mounting clamour to have the main route of Wellington directed up the Ngauranga Valley.
    Looking back in retrospect 130 years later, the task confronting the Wellington settlement in getting the authorities to place this project high on the list of public work schemes needing immediate action was a daunting one to say the least.
    However as the proposed deviation of the highway was to be a section of the main trunk road connecting the scattered settlements of the Wanganui, and Rangitikei districts as well as Hawkes Bay, the issue was far from being a parochial one.

Ngauranga in the 1850s

NGAURANGA IN THE 1850S
    How things were at Ngauranga in the 1850s is well depicted in this oil painting by John Rollason.
    Though few settlers of the time have given it much thought, it was fortunate for the progress of the province that when agitation forced the powers that be to redirect the main trunk road out of Wellington up the Ngauranga Valley, no consideration had to be given to the question of native land rights.
    For by this time the Ngati Matunga hapu of the Ngati Awa had abandoned their village on the banks of the Waitohi Stream, which under the new scheme of things had become designated Nos 5 and 6, Harbour Survey District.
    In 1888 the question of compensation did arise but Judge MacKay of the Native Land Court when pronouncing judgment had cause to state that the complainants has no deep ties with the locality and in fact had forsaken the area in 1848 to reside on Crown land at the Hutt.
    In addition they had earlier been awarded land up the coast to compensate then for severing title to the tenths which the New Zealand Company had awarded them in 1842 and which became sections 5 and 6, Harbour Survey District.
    The two buildings are examples of early colonial inns.   The hostelry on the left is the Ngahauranga Inn while that on the right was Wallace’s Inn.
    At this time Ngauranga was an important stage post as the road between here and Petone was often impassible in southerly conditions, due to seas coming right up to the cliffs.
    In the great earthquake of February 1855, the cliffs along the big bight in the harbour shoreline came down and formed a natural roadway.   The sea bed was also raised three feet.
    From the scars visible to the right of Wallace’s Inn, the scene of activities at Ngauranga was after the 1855 earthquake.
    Once the Wellington and Manawatu Railway Company opened their line to Longburn, Ngauranga’s inns ceased to become places where travellers stopped overnight.

Contested
    It was just as well that this was the case, for when agitation for the vital abandonment of what originally had been Captain Daniell’s private cart road to his country sections, Trelissick Farm at Upper Kaiwhara, reached a crescendo, allies were at hand to contest the provincial engineer’s report against the practicability of the Ngauranga route as the main access out of Wellington.
    Soon after his appointment as the Wellington Provincial Council’s first engineer on the then attractive salary of 400 per year, John Roy carried out a survey of the proposed route up the steep and narrow defile of the Ngauranga Valley, stating in this report “that the grade need not exceed 1 in 20”.
    He then proceeded to ride his pet hobby horse which was the proposal to make the main route out of Wellington the Mangaroa-Waikanae road.
    This is the line of the present Akatarawa-Waikanae highway which today is expensive to maintain as it threads its way through the foothills of the southern Tararua Range.
    Fortunately for the progress of the province the country members of the council did not buy the engineer’s scheme that even today runs through sparsely settled marginal hill country.
    Today the provincial engineer’s report has a familiar ring about it for it concerns the principle of just where a public servant who is engaged in a professional capacity to advise the elected representatives of the people should pursue his own ambitions.
    The local agitation for a new route out of Wellington and the formation of an association to press the claims has been well recorded in Arthur H. Carman’s book Tawa Flat and the Old Porirua Road, where some of the reports of the settlers’ meetings that had been published in the Wellington Independent have been printed in full.
    From the published reports of the public meetings held by concerned residents along the Porirua Road, an insight is gained of how democracy functioned in New Zealand when it was still a Crown colony ruled by benevolent officials domiciled in Auckland who owed their appointments to the Colonial Office in London.
    The community living along the Porirua Road was a good cross-section of colonial society and among the ranks of the pioneers who had selected to live away from town were some well educated and articulate settlers who knew how to go about getting things started.

Subscriptions
    The message inserted by the Ngauranga Johnsonville Road Association in the public notices column of the Wellington Independent, October 22, 1850, advertising a meeting to be held at Mr John McKain’s Halfway House, Porirua Road, with the intention “to raise subscriptions and solicit aid from the Colonial Government to construct a branch line from Ngauranga on the Hutt Road to a point at or near Johnsonville on the Porirua Road” shows how pressure groups and lobbying worked in those formative years.
    After the meeting, the newspaper gave an account of what took place at the Halfway House.
    The report of the meeting which was held in the late afternoon would have been supplied by W E Taunton, a member of the Settler’s Constitutional Association, at a later date to become Tawa Flat’s first salaried school master and who at the time was much in demand as a stenographer.

On the Ngahauranga Road, Wellington 1857

GORGE ENTRANCE 122 YEARS AGO
    On the Ngahauranga Road, Wellington 1857.

This painting by William Fox shows the scenery along the Ngauranga Road at the locality where it left the valley floor and began its climb along the banks of the gorge.
    In the foreground is the section of four furlongs and seven chains which was completed to coach road standard before 1855.

Bridle path
    Beyond this point the route to Johnsonville was a bridle path which would have only limited use.
    At the time Fox recorded this scene the Provincial Council was constructing the coast road that was to be part of the province’s main trunk route through the then still heavily wooded valley.
    The rock from here to Johnsonville was hard greywacke and would have made heavy going for the gangs of navvies working on its construction.

Preferred
    However the navvies who were enticed to emigrate from the British Isles were used to this work and preferred no other life until the years caught up with them.
    It was also more economic to recruit labour in this way as their services were sold at a cheaper rate.

Dangerous
    The Press report stated that at the inaugural meeting of the Ngauranga Road Association it was moved “That it is the opinion of the association that the present line of road up the Kaiwhara Hill to the Halfway House is so steep and dangerous as to render it almost useless to the community and that a more practical and more available line may be easily obtained along the Ngauranga Valley by which most of the hills could be avoided and the trade of the coast considerably increased”.
    To ensure that action would come out of the meeting, a committee was appointed with power to act.   To further emphasise the resolve of the community, a fighting fund of 150 was raised at the meeting.
    To ensure that the Ngauranga Johnsonville Road Association was not to become stillborn, the news story concluded, “That a second public meeting was to be held at the same venue at 7pm on November 11, so that progress could be reported and future strategy planned”.
    The newspaper report of the second meeting records “that the attendance was again numerous and respectable.   The fighting fund had now been increased to 250 and that it was decided to form as association, the name of which was to be the Ngauranga Road Association.

Memorial
    It was at this meeting that it was proposed and seconded to present a memorial to His Excellency the Lieut Governor on the needs of a road from Ngauranga to the Halfway, the deputation to consist of Messrs Brown, Taunton, Ashmore and McMannaway.
    The memorial was duly presented on November 20 and the deputation was pleased to receive the encouraging news “that His Excellency promised to refer the matter to the Surveyor General forthwith.
    At this time there was considerable ill will towards absentee landowners who under the rules were not obliged to pay rates even though any improvements brought about that would upgrade living conditions in the area would increase the value of their properties.
    This matter came to a head on the occasion of the third meeting of the association held at the Rainbow Tavern, Kaiwhara, on December 2, 1850 when it was moved that “the Country Roads Ordinance be brought into operation and cause absentees to contribute to the road”.
    Due to the short space of time that had passed since His Excellency the Lieut Governor of New Munster had passed on the association’s memorial to the Surveyor General it was appreciated that it was too early to expect a reply from his office.

Misgivings
    Unfortunately things came to a rest for three years.   Later at a meeting held at the Halfway House on Boxing Day 1853, grave misgivings were expressed about the state of progress.
    The New Zealand Constitution Act 1852 had now been enacted and the problems connected with the settlement’s main trunk road had been transferred from the Surveyor General’s office to the Wellington Provincial Council.
    The cause for concern expressed at the meeting revolved around the provincial engineer’s survey of the new sections of the Porirua Road.
    After the subject has been fully discussed it was decided “that as the new route was not the best that could be obtained, it was requested that the Provincial Superintendent cause a correct survey to be made as soon as possible of the proposed line”.
    Roy’s report could be described as a tactful letter to the Provincial Executive.   For thought his report stated that the gradient of the proposed route would not exceeds 1 in 20, his heart and soul were wrapped up with his scheme to make the Mangaroa-Waikanae route to main access to the north.
    Fortunately for the prosperity of the province which then included Hawke’s Bay, there were enough wise heads sitting on the council who came out firmly against the engineer’s grandiose scheme.
    Once difficulties and procrastination had been overcome, the work on constructing the new road commenced.   As a project it can be regarded in the same light as Canterbury’s rail tunnel through the Port Hills for, considering the terrain and resources of the province, the new access way was a costly business that placed a strain on provincial finances.
    The Ngauranga Road came under the provisions of the Wellington Provincial Council’s Main Road Act 1856.

Authority
    This Act gave the Superintendent with the advice of his Executive Council the authority to continue a main trunk road from Wellington to Waitotara and also a road from Wellington to Ahuriri.
    The Act gave “the power from time to time to make such alternations and abandon such section as was considered expedient to do so.
    In effect, this meant that landowners living along the old Porirua Road between Kaiwhara to Johnsonville had to arrange for its upkeep once it ceased to be the main trunk road.
    Contrary to popular belief, the Ngauranga-Johnsonville deviation was not tackled as a single project.
    Money had to be found, the appropriate ordinance authorising the work to proceed had to be passed by the council, and of utmost importance a work force had to be recruited who were willing to endure the kinds of discomfort work of this nature entailed.
    This last piece of planning was accomplished by engaging a force of navvies enrolled by the Provincial Agent resident in London.
    Today the term “navvy” has a snobbish ring about it but as late as the 1850s it had a totally different meaning for its origin referred to the gangs of workmen who dug the navigation canals and did the earthworks for the British railway network.
    Roughnecks the navvies may have been, but this does not mean they were regarded by the community as being of abysmal intelligence who were incapable of performing any other type of work.

Report
    Work commenced in the spring of 1853 and in the report tabled in the Wellington Provincial Council in 1856 was the information that for the period October 1, 1853 to December 31, 1855 the sum of 797/10s/6d had been spent by contract on completing 4 furlongs and 7 chains of formed and metalled road, this work being done by local contractors.
    From the end of this short stretch of highway, the going became harder and more expensive.
    Though Roy’s findings for the best route out of Wellington was ruled out by the council, the provincial engineer left some monuments to his professional competence, not the least of which was changing the practice of calling a halt to all public work schemes during the winter.

Expenditure
    In the annual report tabled in 1857 Mr A Ludlam, chairman of District Roading, stated that in the 12 months ended December 1856 further expenditure of 1082/9s/0d had been incurred in forming a further 2 miles and 6 chains of the Ngauranga-Johnsonville Highway.
    This however was of limited use as it was only a bridle path.
    The estimates for 1857 included a further allocation of money of which 4931/2s/2d was expended.
    The last of the big spending years was 1858 when the project accounted for 2893/17s/5d of the road vote.   With the deviation completed, the minimal figure of 102/14s/9d was spent in 1859.
    Spending rose again the following year when the sum of 661/0s/7d was allocated towards making a new section immediately north of Johnsonville that would avoid the steep gradient dubbed as “Russell’s folly” which was becoming increasingly hazardous for traffic and expensive to keep in order.
    Thus at long last, the Porirua Road from Wellington to the Halfway was build to coach road standard, which could meet the demands imposed by an increasing population.

 


 

KAIWHARAWHARA – the gateway to the north

By WILLIAM SECKER

This article was first published in the local community newspaper Kapi-Mana News on 19 August, 1980, p22.

‘DOG’S EAR’ WAS A FORCE TO BE RECKONED WITH
    Kaiwharawhara, which up to 1858 was the junction of the Porirua Road and communities to the north, provides another interesting chapter concerning the early formative years of the Wellington settlement.
    In October 1839 when the New Zealand Company’s survey vessel Tory was anchored off Petone while negotiations were underway for the purchase of land from the tribes belonging to the Ngati Awa federation so that a site could be obtained for the first of the planned settlements.   Kaiwharawhara was the site of Te Kaeaea’s pa of the Ngati Tama.
    Today, except for historians, Te Kaeaea’s name is largely forgotten but in his heyday Taringa Kuri as he was often referred to by Europeans, was a force to be reckoned with.
    Numerous Europeans with the New Zealand Company officials, government officers or ordinary citizens, summed him up as a ferocious and cunning savage who in Wellington’s early years was to cause a great deal of mischief that was to culminate in the loss of Maori and European lives when hostilities between the races broke up at the Hutt in May 1846.
    Te Kaeaea’s second name of Taringa Kuri or “dog’s ear” was stated to have come about through his renowned facility of hearing which was stated to be so acute that by placing one of his auricles to the ground he could pick up the stealthy tread of approaching marauders.
    However, another account states that the name was intended to be anything but complementary as it was bestowed on him after what in Maori eyes was considered to be treachery after he failed to support his kith and kin in time of peril.

Kaiwharawhara Pa, Wellington 1857

Kaiwharawhara in the late 1830s
    Kaiwharawhara Pa as early settlers living along the Porirua Road knew it.   Like other villages around Wellington it was nothing more than a small hamlet.
    E S Halswell, the New Zealand Company’s Protector of the Aborigines and Commissioner of Native Reserves in a census return of July 4 1842 put the population of the pa as 60 of which only seven were children.
    In a further census taken by H Tacy Kemp on August 21, 1850, the population had declined to 44 of which 7 were children.
    These figures were so small that it could easily be construed these days that the authorities of the time and the local populous were over acting to the native question.
    This summing up overlooks the point that the Maori villages around Wellington waxed and waned in numbers.
    If trouble was contemplated towards the colonists their numbers could easily be increased by an influx by relatives and allies from up the coast.
    This was the grave risk that the Wellington settlement faced with the outbreak of hostilities in 1846.
    Further statistical information about the economic state of Kaiwharawhara Pa shows in the 1850 census when the published data mentions that all told, 22 acres were under cultivation.
    This was mainly on land at the Hutt where 9 acres of wheat, 3 of maize, 6 of potatoes, 3 of kumaras and a further acre were devoted to other crops.
    This produce helped to add to the growing prosperity of the Wellington settlement.
    Civilisation was taking effect as the religious state of the inhabitants reveals that 32 were Christians, although none had been married in the English custom.
    Also of interest is the fact that after a decade of contact with the settlers, no weatherboard dwellings had been built at Kaiwharawhara Pa.
    The building of the right bank of the Kaiwharawhara is the native chapel erected to serve the spiritual needs of the Church of England and Wesleyan converts.
    The whare on the left however, with its centre doorway does show that even with these so-called hovels, European influence was taking hold.
    The name of the artist who recorded this scene is not known.   It has been suggested that Brees was the artist but this is most unlikely.   It has also been suggested that the scene is Ngauranga, but the hills in the background can be identified as British Peak on the left and Kau Kau on the right.

FENCE
    This places the locality at Kaiwharawhara.
    At this stage the Hutt Road at the Porirua turnoff had not been constructed.
    In the centre behind the dilapidated pallisade fence, a horse is grazing, emphasising that well before 1840 changes to the old life pattern were underway.
    The rickety jetty and schooner at anchor throws some new light on the early history of the suburb which once was the gateway to the north.
    Elsdon Best on his writings on Maori Wellington records that in this locality whalers had a lookout halfway up the southern slopes of Paerau Hill called Tutaeweera.
    This placename is obviously anglicised Maori.
    Its historic significance recalls the time not so long ago when whales entered Wellington Harbour to calve.
    The circle marks the whaler lookout.   The dotted line traces the pathway to the lookout as it wends its way through fern and scrub.
    The whalers of Kaiwharawhara must have lived miserable existence with a landlord possessing a disposition of Te Kaeaea to contend with.
    Another interesting feature of the sketch is the old time Maori track ascending the leading ridge near the commencement of the gorge.
    If this route was travelled today it would led to the commencement of Cockayne Road, Ngaio.
    This was the route used by the first surveyors and travellers who had reason to visit the Porirua District.

OBJECTOR
    In the early annals of Wellington’s history Te Kaeaea of Kaiwharawhara pa was one of the main objectors to selling the tribal land surrounding Port Nicholson to the New Zealand Company.
    However Te Kaeaea was human with all the frailties and inconsistencies which go to make up a person’s character, a point well emphasised in E. J. Wakefield’s “Adventure in New Zealand”, when he records that “after land negotiations had been completed Te Kaeaea did not hesitate to accept his share of the purchase price which ranged from fire arms to assorted merchandise and bric-a-brac that included lead molds for making bullets, nightcaps, jews harps, and beads.
    In all, his share was stated to be one-sixth of the merchandise.
    E J Wakefield gives another insight into Te Kaeaea’s character when he further records in his journal for October 24, 1839, that “after serious discussion had finished, one Te Kaeaea diverted us much by his active menacing gestures, hideous grimaces of defiance, leaping about like a monkey and bringing a long spear within an inch of our bodies, then retreating in a raw of laughter every time he saw us shrink back from the thrust”.
    After the New Zealand Company had completed there surveys of the Wellington country, Kaiwharawhara pa was located on the map as part of the Harbour Survey District.
    This was part of the company’s policy not to disturb the native inhabitants by removing them from their villages and cultivation grounds wherever possible.
    Consequently by their own free choice, three sections at Kaiwharawhara comprising 440 acres more or less became tenths or native reserve.
    At the time of the founding of Wellington, Maori politics was very much in a state of flux.
    Te Rauparaha of the Ngati Toa of Porirua regarded the land at the Hutt and that adjacent to Port Nicjholoson as being his tribal domain.
    In effect this meant that the Ngati Awa and associated tribes that had been his allies on the shift to Cook Stait were his grace and favour tenants whose occupation was subject to his pleasure.

FAVOUR
    This attitude the Taranaki tribes did not agree with and overtures made by Colonel Wakefield to purchase land so that pakehas could be settled in their midst was viewed with favour by the majority of local chiefs.
    At the same time the Ngati Awa were living in a state of nerves due to the Ngati Kahungunu of Wairarapa – Hawkes Bay endeavouring to wrest back the lost tribal land of their kin’s folk the Ngati Ira who were defeated in battle in 1827.
    Soon after the establishment of the settlement, Te Kaeaea came to the viewpoint held by his fellow chiefs that a European presence was desirable for the benefits it would bring his people with regards to trade and the introduction to his tribe of new skills and industry.
    William Wakefield obliged and in December 1840 a shipload of Scottish emigrants from the Blenheim were put ashore at Kaiwharawhara.   Heaphy in his work “Residence in New Zealand” which gives an account of the first two years, suggests that this was the luck of the draw as at that time the Wellington emigration barracks were chock-a-block.
    In the main the clanish Scots were satisfied as the scheme enabled them to start off in the new homeland on their own.

SIEVE
    The whares erected to receive the emigrants by Te Kaeaea leaked like a sieve and those of middle class backgrounds were far from impressed.
    Road building was the lot of the Blenheim men and it was not before long that some of the more enterprising left the plan to make a go of it on their own.
    Te Kaeaea was somewhat put out and gave vent to his feelings that he had been slighted by the company depositing low class pakehas on the opposite back of the stream, a point that was all too obvious as many of the emigrants went about bear footed.
    Friction between the two communities soon occurred.   This was brought about by the colonist’s cattle and stock being allowed to wander at will which resulted in the destruction of the Maori’s crops.

BREAK DOWN
    Squatting and encroachment on wastelands whose ownership was vague were other causes of a breakdown of friendly relationships.
    Te Kaeaea’s people certainly had just complaint as they were being got at from Thornton, from the colonists on the opposite bank of the Kaiwharawhara and the pioneers along the Porirua Road at upper Kaiwharawhara.
    At the invitation of the Hutt Valley chief Kapatarea, Te Kaeaea left Kaiwharawhara in 1844 to reside in a new pa, Makaenuku.
    The reason for leaving the locality was stated to be due to the continual destruction of their cultivations by the colonists and their domestic stock.
    However, E J Wakefield was soon after informed by Te Rauparaha at Waikanae, that the uprooting was on his advice.
    Wakefield records that when this was mentioned to Te Kaeaea he at first denied it, but then admitted that this in fact was what caused the turn of events.
    Makaenuku pa was built on a section that William Swainson, a stipendiary magistrate considered he had legal title to.

Kaiwharawhara Pa

Portrait of a noble savage
    Te Kaeaea, sitting in the old time Polynesian manner outside is whare at Kaiwharawhara.
    A distinguished worrier, Te Kaeaea was compelled to leave his ancestral land in North Taranaki and take up residence at Waikanae.
    The name of Taringa Kuri which was the form of address used in Wellington and Government circles was said to have come about from a sarcastic remark past by Rangihaeata after he departed from a trouble spot before things became serious.
    On this particular occasion Te Kaeaea explained his departure from the scene of the impending battle as due to his misunderstanding the directions, to which Rangihaeata retorted “that anyone that failed to understand must have dogs ears” (tiringa kuri).
    E J Wakefield when he first encountered Te Kaeaea referred to him by this name.   This would have been the name that Dicky Barrett, whaler-cum-interpreter for the New Zealand Company, first knew him.
    Though cruel and cunning, Te Kaeaea played politics in the way things were played in the New Zealand of pre 1840.
    The well intentioned actions of the authorities in not taking firm measures with him after the building of his new village on W. Swainson’s farm at the Hutt could only be regarded as a sign of weakness to a Maori of his generation.
    Similarly Fitzroy’s attitude in not taking vengeance on the perpetrators of the Wairau incident, what ever the rights and wrongs of the business, could only regarded as another sign of weakness, as the spilling of blood required the retribution of kind.
    For all his harassment of the settlers at the Hutt, Te Kaeaea was not present when the attack was made on Boulcott’s farm at the break of dawn on May 16 1846.
    At this time he was paying a visit to Auckland at the invitation of Governor Grey.

DESTRUCTION
    Not being able to obtain any redress, Swainson suffered great provocation and financial loss due to the destruction of his crops and property that was in the process of being planed as a model farm.
    At the time it was understood in official circles that Te Kaeaea was at the Hutt with the noble intention of growing crops to meet the needs of the colonists.
    It was also understood that he would depart from the scene once the harvest was in.
    Further evidence of the cunning of Te Kaeaea came to the fore when in February 1846, after a prolonged stay, he departed from the disputed land at the Hutt to take up residence once more at Kaiwharawhara pa.
    On October 18, 1847, Lieutenant McCleverty who at the time was investigating Wellington land claims gave judgment under Deed No. 9, that 167 acres and 1 rod of the five hundred acre of the 500 acre Kaiwharawhara Block were to belong to the Kaiwharawhara Maoris.
    Under Deed No. 10 pronounced on November 1st 1847, a further 134 acres was to be transferred to the natives of Pipitea.
    Deed No. 11 to which, due to a human error no date was given, announced further land to be given to the Kaiwharawhara natives.
    This included Section No. 4 Harbour Survey District which was purchased on their account to compensate for land transferred to the settlers.   The new title contained 440 acres.
    The McCleverty award further more guaranteed the security of their pas at Kaiwharawhara and satellite hamlet of Tiakiwai (Thorndon).

400
    In addition to the country land the natives of the Ngati Tama tribe residing at Kaiwharawhara, Tiakiwai and Ohariu were guaranteed a part of the native reserves nos. 659 and 660 in the town of Wellington (Tinakori Road).
    These transactions did not put the problem over land ownership to rest.   In 1855 land Commissioner W Spain who regarded Te Kaeaea or Taringa Kuri (as he referred to him) as “cunning to a high degree”, put paid to everything once and for all by persuading the Government to make payment of 400 and allocate land at Upper Hutt for the surrendering of all claims to the Ngai Tama’s ancestral lands in North Taranaki.
    This offer was accepted by Te Kaeaea and together with a less bellicose attitude towards the local community, a tempestuous part of Wellington’s history was brought to a close.

 


 

Tempestuous days along the old road to Porirua

By WILLIAM SECKER

This article was first published in the local community newspaper Kapi-Mana News on 21 July, 1981, p35.

… MAGISTRATE TOOK NO ACTION
    The low level to which relationship between Maori and colonist sank within two years of the founding of Wellington is well portrayed by the trials and tribulations of those who wished to take up residence along the Porirua Road.
    The opening of the Porirua (bridle) Road in May 1841 did not bring about the immediate benefits to the struggling Wellington settlement those in charge of the colonising venture had hoped for.
    In these formative years the bush clad hills beyond Kaiwharawhara signified territory where for the time being the Queens writ did not have full reign.
    Where the best laid plans of the New Zealand Company went astray was that no account was taken of the Maori attitude towards this path of progress passing through their tribal domains at a time when second thoughts were being increasingly entertained about the desirability of the European presence.

FRICTION
    The inability of the settlers to appreciate and understand Maori ways and customs also resulted in a great deal of friction which could have had disastrous consequences for both races if wiser council had not been heeded.
    The first settlers to set up home along the Porirua Road came within the category of squatters, timber thieves or industrious mechanics, depending upon which way a person considering their reasons for setting up home in the primeval-forest placed them.
    However, whether they happened to be hardy pioneers or trespasses whom the law could wink a eye at the inescapable fact remained that endeavoring to make a fresh start the New Zealand, they placed there own and their families’ lives in peril.
    For unwittingly they had become involved in Maori politics due to the Ngati Toa chief Te Rangihaeata causing mischief.

Crofton 1857

William Fox in this painting of the Porirua Road near his country estate of Crofton in 1857, records the benefits the community obtained from the practice adopted immediately after the founding of Wellington whereby tenants were given leases by landowners, with timber rights.
    They renegotiated the leases over a suitable period, developing the land and productive small farms.
    Crofton Road was originally a logging track along which bullocks dragged fallen trees to the mill.
    After Captain Daniell’s other tenants had constructed his private cart road to his country sections at Upper Kaiwhara things became a bit clearer as it was found that by constructing a short section of roading, Daniell’s private access and the logging track could be connected so a new and improved highway out of Wellington became a reality.
    Some of the fences depicted in the scene were the work of tenants honouring their contracted obligations.
    The absence of stumps indicates this expensive and laborious operation was also part of the contract.

DESTRUCTION
    These pioneer timber workers enlisted a great measure of public support for on April 20, 1841, they suffered the destruction of their unfinished buildings that were to be their homes and sawmill together with the loss of tools and materials to the estimated value of 50.
    This outrage which had been conducted by Te Rangihaeata and 50 of his tribe would have put the fear of God into the first wave of pioneers as the party was well armed with horse pistols, guns and tomahawks.
    Apart from a severe fright and some bruising, no other harm was enacted on their persons.
    This was borne out when after their nerves had recovered, they went back into the bush and at a new site completed their mill by October 1842.
    A public meeting was immediately called, with the outraged citizens subsequently passing a resolution that a deputation should wait on Mr M Murphy, the police magistrate, conveying their feelings, while at the same time giving an assurance of their support in assisting to maintain public order.
    Their approaches were politely fobbed off by the official utterance that he (the magistrate) would avail himself of their services when in his opinion recourse to them was considered expedient.
    The magistrate was certainly in somewhat of a dilemma for although it was essential for him to uphold the majesty of the law, his will to maintain order was hamstrung through his being very much a man of war without guns due to the fact that he did not have the men at his disposal to make arrests out of town.
    At the same time he was all to well aware that the native population outnumbered the colonists and if justice was to be done, it must also appear to be done with the conflicting interests of both parties to the incident taken into consideration.
    In addition, the magistrate’s approach to his office was not particularly enamoured of the policy of the local officials of the New Zealand Company as he owned his appointment to prevent excesses being undertaken by these gentlemen under the premise of keeping law and order.
    This concerned the setting up of local law courts in early 1840 and the organisation of a militia to protect the settlement’s interests from wrongdoers of both races, all acts which were regarded by Governor Hobson as tantamount to open rebellion.
    Troubles concerning the Porirua Road did not cease here.
    In the columns of the local paper it was reported in the court news that on July 1, 1841, travellers who had cause to journey along the Porirua Road had their progress impeded by the destruction of bridges and the felling of forest giants across the pathway.
    This was under the instigation of Te Rangihaeata.
    These travellers at once made formal application to the Police Magistrate to forbid Te Rangihaeata and his people from any further destruction of bridges or the placing of trees across the thoroughfare.
    Once again Mr Murphy took no action apart from what the newspaper termed “handling the complaint in a very easy and diplomatic style”.

CUSTOMS
    The underlying cause of this mischief lay with the inability of the colonists to appreciate or understand Maori customs that were far removed from their own code of behaviour.
    In his statement the police magistrate remarked that “he deeply regretted the inconvenience to the travellers” but that he had no power to interfere with what was an unmeorial and recognised usage among the natives which was that of tapu.
    Here he was referring to a tapu being placed on the Porirua Road because of the drowning of Koraia, a chief near the Rangitikei.
    In those times the whole coastline from Wangnui to Porirua was an ancient walkway and the road constructed by the New Zealand Company was simply an extension proceeding up the Kenepuru and then on to Wellington.
    Seen in this light the police magistrate showed great understanding of Maori customs and was adhering to the terms of his appointment, however annoying his pronouncement appeared to the colonists.
    For in his final sentence he remarked, “that to attempt to violently break through it (the obstructions) would involve greater feelings of hostility and inconvenience to the settlers”.
    The vexed question of harassment towards the pioneer community and travellers along the Porirua Road was not allowed to rest here.
    Further legal proceedings were taken of October 4, 1842 when Mr W V Brewer, a lawyer whose practice specialised in looking after the interests of the landowners and tenants, renewed his earlier application for a bench warrant to be issued for the arrest of Te Rangihaeata in order that he might be brought before His Honour and held to bail from the ensuing session.
    The application for the bench warrant marked the date when the sawmill at upper Kaiwhara had been rebuilt and relocated.
    In his plea for a restraining order to be placed on Te Rangihaeata, passed history was resurrected by drawing to Justice Martin’s attention how the chief had taken the law into his own hands by violently taking possession and demolishing certain buildings in the Porirua district.
    Once again Mr Brewer’s attention to his clients’ interests was unsuccessful as his Honour declined to issue a warrant.
    Though the feelings of the settlers remained ruffled, the court’s decision proved to be a wise one for no other mischief and harm was done to the pioneers whom E. J. Wakefield termed enterprising mechanics.

SYMPATHY
    New Zealand wad fortunate to have a man of the caliber of William Martin on the bench for he had a deep sympathy with the native race in these early years when Maori culture was under great stress from a more advanced civilisation.
    His Honour’s judgment was ex parte as in his view only one side of the argument had been heard.
    Mr Justice Martin did not come to a decision straight away.   To give the defendant a fair hearing he invited members of the bar to submit arguments on behalf of the natives.
    The invitation was duly taken up by Dr Evans who proceeded to make submissions as amicus curiae (friend of the court) but for all his seeming altruism, the barrister could hardly be termed a disinterested observer.
    On hearing the submission, Martin reserved his decision.   Three months later after completing his southern circuit the Judge made his pronouncement from Auckland that in giving his reason for the refusal of such a warrant was a matter of discretion and that he could not be acting soundly in allowing a warrant when the matter had not been fully and formally argued on behalf of the native.
    The finding took a further six weeks to reach Wellington and was received by the community with anger and foreboding.
    In the 18 months that passed since the mechanics had fled to town to seek guidance from educated and informed members of society on how to go about obtaining a redress, circumstances along the Porirua Road had changed.   By the end of 1841 clearing of the bush was being undertaken by G Swainson, W Buchanan, Major Hornbrook, P Johnson, J Johnstone and P Hay.
    To this group of money bags in the following year could be added the names of L Daniell and T J Drake.   At the time of the next assize of the High Court in Wellington, the list was further expended by the brothers J and R Hammond and the cousins C Clifford and W Vavasour, all immigrants who arrived in port on the George Fyfe in October 1842 and without undue delay decided to settle along the Porirua Road.