William Harding letters 1857-8

The following transcriptions are of letters from William Harding to his employer Frederick Whitaker (and later a Prime Minister of New Zealand). The letters are to be found in the Whitaker-Heale Papers at the Auckland Museum library. There are more letters yet to transcribe. Harding is also mentioned in the Barrier Journal of 1858. Many thanks once again to Graeme Murdoch for pointing out their existence to me. - Don Armitage
Last updated 15th July, 2008. 

Great Barrier                       July 7th  1857

To Fredk Whitaker  Esq.

            Sir, The Rover McLoad is here cut firwood I do not know you gave liberty to cut. She was here ons before so I have wright a Note this morning which is so follows

            To Cpt McLaud of Rover

            Sir, I ham left in charg of this Place so when you com to cut firwood hear you would a Blage mee to get a Not From Mr Whitaker to mee so I shall not alow no one to Cut Firwood without it for my [?]

So no more at Present

                                    Your oofiegient[?]

                                    Your obedient Servant

                                    Thas.[?] Harding



   Great Barrier Island   August 10th 1857

      Fredk Whitaker Esq.

                                    Sir,   I wright this Note I was over to KIKORA taken after the Cattle I found 5 head of and 2 calfs and my Cow was Calfin and I could tuck the Calf home But it was no good to me with out the cow Cattell coulte sum Brought to with outher Cattel now there is 6 vessell Dawn hear and 2 mor to com there is 300 Natives and soon there be mor and the have one Part is up the guly weare I have been Claren for to Plant and sone are the wither get fine I shall Burn it of and it will Burn there huts and there will be Row and wat will be the commence I do not know the have eat all the Turmets up the guly wich Robiston* and my self was days dig up and the have do com in our will to wash there self and if we say anything to them the say LUD it is very a noin to us. Halfer workin from morning to Night and then to have it Nothing for our Pains the other Bay would be for Better for them But the do take Delight in comin to anoin the Wight Peple so no more at Present.

                                                                                    from your obedient servant

                                                                                                Wm Harding

           Great Barrier                                                                                        Nov 20th 1857

Fr Whitaker Esqr

                        Sir I wright this Note to let you know that it is luckin very Bad with us the Patatos up be hind the house is a faliur I do not think wee shall get the seed out of it sense the Natives left wee went up the Guly the first flat wich is little mor then half acker wich wee fence in and Plant it and the slugs have heat all the turmets Carrits onions and now in the Patatos and Corn so every thing is goin Bad with me I hav at the Reumack in my back very Bad But it is Beter now Miller was to get something of Mr Fisher for me for my Back  I think I have great faith in Mr Fisher gobulus [god bless] for he give me one wich removed the Pain in my Brest wich I had mor than 20 years and I have not ad no Pain there since now 2 years a go so if should see Mr Fisher and if he woute give you somein for mee Back the vessel is comin Down a gain Be for Critmas biefor the Com wee ad no Tea Butter in fack everything is got in short the  is eaten in the sand mullet is comin in the larg Mullet will soon be in the I will cure som for you the first wee are Clearin the ground for the swain we must Do something for I  get in out of everything one year Down ear now and have got nothing wee have at very Bad weather the Native Chife wich I wright in my last not was hear 3 weeks ago he is Plantin on the Flat Island wich William the Chiefs in MORI Bay give him liberty Sir I Tole Miller to call for my wach wich I left at the wachmakers nex Door to Michells and to lieve it with you there is Nothing to Say on it wen the fin wether set in I should like to go over the hills so no mor at Present from your obegent servant

                                                                                                Wm Harding


Great Barrier   April 4th 1858

Fredrick Whitaker Esq.


                                    I wright this not [note] to in form you that the Cattle is got so wild since I went to Town that I cant see them. I have been over twise cant see them four Cannoes and 20 dogs and lots of Natives was over to KIKORO 5 days and you would not have any Cattle left if I speke to them [unreadable words….] that is all the have Pluck all the Quinchs and Paches befor the was rip and tuck them to the mine But no one wauld Buy them so is to get them a mori letter and send them far the wauld not take no notice no other way the rats have eat all the Peas but I send a Pickell cabbish and sam Koacombers and sam carrots for send if you like.

            I remain your obedient sarvent

                        Wm Harding

            I shall have sam time now to get sam fish so no more.



Great Barrier          Aug 23  1858

Fr Whitaker Esq.

                        Sir, I writ this not [note] to let you know that on the 11th of this month wee seen a vessel in Nagells harbour and on the 15th Sunday it proved to be John        Miller he ad been cuten Builder [?] Blocks for houses I tould him that he was Dowen very wrong for Mr Whitaker sent mee to go to your house and I wourn you not to Cut no wood of no sort.

…….wat you tould mee that Blind Bay

            Purapura or any ware in your land that you should Pruscout him Monday 16th & 17th it Blow very hard But the Wensday 18th tuck aur Punt and went aut the inner passage

Millers men was cutin Firwood on the Kikoro the Millers beg of mee not to wright to you I tauld him that you wauld be Dawn hear in 2 or 3 weeks and I shall tell him of it or ayney one els so he sead he wauld go to you himself  Sir if you shauld com dawn Mind here is no loaf Sugar at the mine nor are so far your comfort you ad Better Bring sam loaf sugarand a little good Tea for aurs is not very good so no mor at Present

                        From your obegent sarvent

                                    Wm. Harding  







            Great Barrier         18/9/58

Fredk Whitaker  Esq.


                        The Natives hafe got all the Paches and Quinch and the have Ben to the KIORO and the take 10 pigs and Robinson was over But he could Not see all the Cattle one mor is missen so if you Do not send a letter to the Natives and stop them all to gather there will not be any cattle in a little time.

So no more at Present I have tauld them wot you tauld mee and the said that the sold the land to you But not the Trees so no mor at Present

                        Your obegent

                                    Wm Harding






                                                                                                                        Great Barrier Is.

                                                                                                                        Sept. 21st 1858

To F.Whitaker Esqs.

Sir, I received your letter by the Midge and we have give Richards a lode of firwood and we have a lode of firwood left so if you should want to send Down the Midge at anytime with things to the mine there is a back lode for her I see Richards have paids to Daldy and Combs for your firwood wich he took to the mine Richards - the Receat of Rowe for 23 tons firwood 96 feet of spars at 6 Per foot 23 at 5

                                                                                                Spars £5-15  0

                                                                                                                 2  0

                                                                                                                8   3

                                                                                           you paid          10

                                                                                           Left Due       7  13



 Don Armitage ©



* There was an old Swedish sailor named Robinson who was a ship's carpenter till about 50, when he married a London woman of about 40, who was an excellent cook and housekeeper. George Frederick Allen noted this on the back of a painting he did of Great Barrier from above the eastern shores of Fitzroy harbour in September of 1862. Allen said that he and Captain Young had boarded at the Robinsons’ cottage at the head of the Kai-arara Bay for three months, after their first arrival, in early 1860, and after they had got their own cottages up, Mrs Robinson had continued employment doing washing and baking bread.



George Frederic Allen wrote the following caption on the back of this painting - which measures around 20 cm x 13 cm:


"Captn. Young and I boarded at the cottage of an old Swedish sailor named Robinson, during the first 3 months

we were at the Great Barrier Island in 1860. He was a ship's carpenter till about 50, when he married a London

woman of about 40, who was an excellent cook and housekeeper. When we got our first cottages built, Mrs

Robinson used to do our washing and bread baking.


This view is sketched from the track leading from Robinson's Cottage, at the head of Kai-arara Bay at Port

Fitzroy, Great Barrier Island, to Kiwi-riki Bay.


The highest hill is Hirakimata (2,330 ft.), called on the Admiralty Chart, Mount Hobson, and the sharp peak on

the right is Steeple-peak, and the hill with the flat top Tower-peak. In the middle distance, to the right of

Tower-peak is double peaked Mount Young, so called after my partner, Mr John Young.


Immediately under Hirakimata is Allen's Peak. The climb to this is difficult and somewhat dangerous. I was glad

when I had got down from it. I afterwards climbed Hirakimata, the ascent of which was not dangerous, but very

difficult on account of the countless trees and shrubs blown down by the wind. I got to the top at sunset, and

made a fire and slept there. - Nothing to eat since breakfast. In the morning there was a magnificent view in all

directions. I had a telescope, and could make out the Windmill at Auckland, St. Paul's Church, and (of course)

Mount Eden. I got down to where I had left my lunch at 11:00 a.m., and to the Bay by 2:00 p.m. rather hungry. I

was accompanied by my faithful Newfoundland, Flora.


The surface of the foreground and middle-distance is stunted bracken (rarahue) which to the left has numerous

isolated rewarewa trees. The dark 'blobs' in the forest below Allen's Peak are kauri trees many of the 4 and 5

feet in diameter. The green flat below Mt. Young is a raupo swamp."


                               (Signed:) "Geo. Fred. Allen, Sept. 1862."