In the beginning of 1852, Mr. E. J. Lee (1) took a notable journey from Wairau Valley to Canterbury by way of the Awatere and Barefell’s Pass and down a stream called by Mr. Weld the “Leader” and then by a river called the Acheron by Messrs. Dashwood and Mitchell (2) to the Clarence or Waiautoa River.
(1) Edward James Lee (1822-1883), subsequently Jollie’s business partner 1852-1875.
(2) Indian Army Captains William M. Mitchell and Edwin Dashwood using the Waihopai, Awatere, Acheron and Clarence Rivers, crossed the Kaikoura range to North Canterbury. They had found a way from Nelson to Canterbury, but it was not a suitable as a stock route.
He followed this last river down a few miles and then struck through the hills on his Right, which after much difficulty he managed to penetrate and descend on the South side to the Waiau and Hanmer Plains near where the Matai River joins the Waiau. These plains he crossed and after about fifteen days journeying alone he reached Canterbury all safe.
The first journey made nearly along this route was by Messrs. Dashwood and Mitchell in 1850, they had been officers in the Indian Army and having nothing better to do in Nelson they started in an exploring trip. After much hardship they got to the Canterbury Plains somewhere near Kaiapoi and were found nearly starved by the Māoris and without their horses.
I happened to be with Captain Thomas at Cass’s Riccarton house when two very rough, dirty looking men, with packs on their backs arrived at the door, which was open. Thomas, who was taken by surprise at their appearance, immediately shouting out, “Who the devil are you?” To which they meekly replied that they were from Nelson overland. As they spoke like gentlemen they were at once welcomed and each supplied with a glass of grog and dry clothing, which they much required, having each fallen into a spring hole between the Waimakariri River and Riccarton.
Soon afterward Captain Mitchell imported a lot of cattle and placed them on a run at Mount Grey, but he died shortly afterward. (1) Dashwood (2) went back to Nelson and had a run in the Wairau, which he afterwards sold. Returning to England he came into the baronetcy on the death of this father, and married, but I heard was soon separated from his wife.
(1) William Mitchell's station at Mount Grey, near Leithfield, was about thirty-six miles from Christchurch. It was sold by auction in May, 1852 to a Major O'Connell. The run of 20,000 acres, with the improvements, was purchased for £400.
(2) Sir Edwin Hare Dashwood, 7th Baronet (1825–1882). During his time in New Zealand, like his father and uncle, Dashwood became an alcoholic. He inherited the Baronetcy in 1863, but found himself financially strapped for the remainder of his life.
Mr. Weld had also explored this route in the summer of 1850-1851, with a view to sending sheep to Canterbury from Flaxbourne; his and Clifford’s run at Cape Campbell. He examined the country to the South of the Waiau River and had then gone by sea or along the coast to Flaxbourne and started up the Awatere River, crossing Barefell’s Pass to the Guide.
From near where the Guide stream joins the Acheron he thought that he recognised the same country as he had seen from the South, but in this he was mistaken as between the stream (the Leader), which he saw in the South and the stream which he took for the Leader in the North, there was about thirty miles of very rough hilly country.
On returning to Flaxbourne he started for Canterbury with a flock of seven hundred wethers [male sheep] under Drovers along the route that he had explored. But they got puzzled among the hills where Weld’s map and description were in fault, and leaving the sheep the drovers returned to Flaxbourne. Two years afterwards a score or two of the sheep were collected by Caverhill, but the rest were lost and never regained.
But to return to Mr. E. J. Lee. I heard soon after his arrival back in Nelson that he was preparing to drive a flock of sheep to Canterbury through the country that he had explored, or at least to the South of the Snowy Hills, with the intention of stocking country on the Waiau River.
As I had to take my sheep from Watts and had no place to put them, and not being able to sell them at what I considered a fair price, I determined if possible to join Lee. On proposing this to him he at once agreed. I think it was in February, 1852 that Lee got his flock together and began to move them on the road to the South.
In the same month I started from Nelson on my horse “Charley” for the Wairau. Charley was a fine old horse, very good in a river and sure on his legs. That is until about eight years afterwards when age began to tell upon him. Well made, but not handsome, and a good slave on a journey, but altogether averse to going in harness as I found out afterwards. However, he could carry a heavy pack as I soon proved by placing upon him huge saddle-bags, which I filled with stores to be used on our overland journey. Between the bags I mounted, having first of all strapped my roll of blankets in front of the saddle and a long tether rope round Charley’s neck.
I fancy that I was a queer sight as I rode through Nelson after getting hoisted into my saddle at the door of the Whakatu Hotel and certainly I did not feel either happy or comfortable. However, I jogged along my weary road by myself at the rate of about three and a half miles an hour and in three days I arrived at Sweet’s Station, where Watts had taken the sheep to dip them. Here I took a delivery of about nine hundred sheep and joined them to about an equal number which Lee had.
About the beginning of March we got fairly started on our journey. Our party consisted of Lee and myself, with a shepherd named Simpson, who was drowned in the Clarence River about four months afterwards and also a man named John Berry, who had been one my men when surveying in Christchurch. We had also three sheep-dogs and three horses and a foal with us. Our stores were flour, tea and sugar as necessaries and as luxuries a cheese and a lot of fine onions which Lee abstracted from a friend’s garden, which we passed on the road.
Our chief trouble in driving was getting the sheep over the rivers until they got used to it. The “Wild Irishman” (a prickly shrub) and the Spaniard; a very strong spear grass, also delayed us very much. The sheep did not get used to them, but on the contrary the more they felt them the less they appeared to like them. These noxious plants also delayed us by making many of the sheep lame, so that we always had a lame lot at the rear of the flock, which neither the dogs nor men could move faster than they considered fit. The country had not been burnt at that time and it was too late to do so when we were travelling through it. Fires since then have made it easy enough to travel over.
Lee and the shepherd did the chief part of the driving, Berry the cooking and packing up etc., while I gave assistance to both when required. In the afternoons I would ride for a few miles ahead and look out the beast road to travel next day. I also surveyed the line of our route of which I afterwards made a map. Sometimes it took all hands to force the sheep through some of the roughest parts, and the average distance we progressed, after hard work each day of ten or twelve hours, was not more than about three and a half to four miles.
After we had got some day’s journey past the settled part of the Awatere and beyond what are called the Fairfield Downs, we were surprised by the appearance of a traveler, who turned out to be Augustus Perceval, (1) a Canterbury settler, who had gone to Nelson with me in the Lady Nugent.
(1) Augustus George Perceval (1829-1896) was living at Akaroa by 1857. Mount Egmont (Taranaki) is named after his Great Grandfather.
Perceval had heard that we had started overland for Canterbury and followed us up. He had been lost for some days in the Fairfield Downs and when he joined us he was nearly done in, but soon recovered when plentifully supplied with mutton and bread. He continued with us throughout our journey and though of very little use to us in getting the sheep along, he was a pleasant companion sometimes, but sadly incommoded us in our small tent, which was at first made quite little enough for four persons.
We followed the line which Lee had travelled until we got to where the Guide, a stream running from Barefell’s Pass falls into the Acheron River. Lee had gone down the Acheron, but he did not think that we could get sheep down on account of the thick Wild Irishman scrub. We therefore crossed the Acheron and I went on ahead ascending a range on the right and going along it for about four miles from where I could see through an opening in the Snowy Hills. These were the yellow grassy hills beyond the Hanmer Plain. I was very pleased with this view and I took the compass bearing of the opening, the direction of which we in future drove the sheep as near as the nature of the country would allow.
It was near here that we crossed the sheep into a valley, which we christened the Spanish Main on account of the immense number of “Spaniards.” As it was otherwise very thick with snow grass etc., we decided to take the sheep over the mountains to the Clarence River. We sent the horses in charge of Perceval and Berry through the Spanish Main to the Clarence and down that river to a point where we expected to meet them.
The sheep were driven all day over the mountains and towards evening we descended to the Clarence River just above where it joins the Acheron. Leaving the sheep there, we started off to find the horses, so that we might get some supper and our blankets, but we could not find them before darkness came on.
We lighted a fire and passed a cold night on the mountain side, with empty stomachs. Lee thought the horses must be down the river, but I made a plan of our route from compass bearings that I had taken and demonstrated that they must be above us. So we started up the Clarence and after a very prickly painful walk of two hours we met Berry coming to look for us with refreshments in his hands. In a few minutes we reached the camp, which had been pitched in the exact place where I had wished. It was where a small stream coming down from a great gap in the mountains led us to believe we should be able to get the sheep through.
I soon had a good breakfast and with Perceval started off up the pass, reaching the top in an hour and looked down a great depth into the Hanmer Plain. On the top of the Pass the vegetation was composed of stunted forest trees about two feet high, with horizontal branches ten or twenty feet long. But on descending to the Hanmer Plain we got into a Black Birch forest, which however by keeping to a ridge we soon passed through. After descending about fifteen hundred feet we reached the level of the Hanmer Plain satisfied that with a Lucifer match and a few cuts with a hatchet we could get the horses and sheep through. After resting awhile we set the grass and scrub on fire and then re-ascended the pass and got to our camp well satisfied with our day’s work.
The next day the fire was still raging furiously, so we left the sheep where they were on the other side of the Clarence, which was a boundary across which the fire could not cross. It was not for several days that we found that the fire had sufficiently burned itself out to allow us with safety to move the sheep. In the meantime we employed our leisure in clearing the road through the Black Birch bush and other parts of the Pass. We thereby eventually had no great difficulty in landing the flock safely in the Hanmer Plains where our difficulties were over. Here we found on counting the sheep that our loss had not been great; about fifty or sixty I think.
We had been about a month on the road after leaving the last station on the Awatere River and for some days we had been on a very limited allowance of flour and sugar. So as soon as we got through the Pass - which has since been called “Jollie’s Pass,” I started off with Berry to visit Hunter Brown’s Double Corner Station to obtain a supplies, leaving Lee and Simpson to look after the sheep, Perceval going with us.
After travelling for two days, the last one in thick rain, we fell by accident upon a hut (near the present Horsley Downs), which some men were putting up for Mr. Sidey. (1) Here we stayed the second night and went on next morning to Hunter Brown’s, where we were kindly received and supplied with what we needed to take back with us. Here we left Perceval to pursue his journey to Christchurch and in company with Brown we returned to the Hanmer Plains and gladdened Lee and Simpson with the sight of flour once more, after we had been absent five days.
(1) Partners Sidey and Mason established Horsleydown or Horsley Downs as a sheep run between the Waipara and Hrunui rivers of North Canterbury. At its height the station covered 122,000 acres and shore 75,000 sheep. The Sidey family continue to reside in the district.
Lee told us on our return that fifty sheep were missing, so we had to stay and hunt them up. This delayed out further movements for a few days. We had about despaired of seeing them again, but on counting the flock one morning, we found they had joined, so we at once made a fresh start.
I forgot in its proper place to state that while the sheep were in the Hanmer Plains, Lee and I came across Caverhill and David Innes (1) who were going to try and find the wethers, which had been abandoned the year before the Clifford and Welds’ manager. We showed them the road into the country where they had been left and I believe they got a few of them. Caverhill, who was always a kind, obliging fellow, advised us to drive our sheep in the meantime on some country, which we he had taken up, now called Cheviot Hills. It fronted the coast and was between the rivers Waiau-au and Hurunui, where we should have little difficulty in landing provisions and other stores on the beach in Gore’s Bay.
(1) Described as a pleasant sort of man, David Innes (1830-1865) subsequently owned the Pareora and Holme Stations. He later lived at Springfield, a house on twenty five acres in what is now the Christchurch suburb of St Albans.
Having determined to accept Caverhill’s offer, we drove the sheep, after crossing the Leslie Hills, down the left back of the Waiau River, crossing the summit of a hill which I afterwards occupied and called Mount Parnassus. Then driving the sheep over the Waiau to its right bank we reached the Cheviot Hill country and settled temporarily about three miles from the sea on a stream called the “Jed” and on the site afterwards occupied by Mr. W. Robinson (1) as his homestead when he became possessed of the property.
(1) William "Ready Money" Robinson (1814-1889) Pastoralist, Sportsman and Politician. Robinson purchased land between the Hurunui and Waiau rivers, on the Cheviot Hills run of J. S. Caverhill. By 1888 he had acquired 92,928 acres upon which a large homestead was built.
Here we stayed for more than a year, when Caverhill, being prepared to place stock on his country, we moved over the Waiau and occupied the Parnassus country. We lived for the first winter in a tent which we erected on an island in a stream called the Tuahuka. But prior to our moving I had, at the end of 1853, gone up to Nelson with Mr. G. L. Lee (1) and brought down nearly three thousand sheep for Duppa (2) who was about to take up the Lowry Peaks run.
(1) The Honourable George Leslie Lee, J.P. (1814-1897), elected to represent the Amuri district by 1856, he was a member of the Canterbury Legislative Council 1862-1870. Elder brother of Jollie's business partner Edward James Lee, he was also Returning Officer for the electoral district of Christchurch, Chairman of the Rangiora and Mandeville Road Board and committee member of the Canterbury Acclimatization Society.
(2) George Duppa (1819-1888) made no secret of the fact that his guiding ambition was to make a fortune so that he could return to England to live at ease. The self-confident, crudely selfish, unscrupulous, and at times parsimonious manner in which he pursued this purpose finally led to the material success he sought; but it never endeared him to his fellow colonists.
In the meantime we placed Duppa’s sheep on Parnassus and the next year they were placed on the Lowry Peaks run, except for six hundred ewes, which my brother Frank bought from Duppa and which I delivered to a gentleman named Pike (1) who took them down to Peel Forest on Frank’s account and looked after them there for some years on thirds.
(1) Brothers Samuel and Bayly Pike had land holdings in the Elephant Hill - Waihao Downs area of South Canterbury by 1853.
From the year 1852 to May, 1855 I am rather doubtful to the course of events as I have not been able to find my diary of that interval, and writing this in the year 1873 my recollection of matters occurring so long ago is rather confused, but I will relate them as nearly, with the correct dates attached to them as possible.
While we were living at Cheviot Hills in 1853, Lee having gone to Christchurch, he there met the Reverend Mr. Paul (1) and family, who had lately come out from England and who were living at a place called Casterton in the Heathcote Valley. This family comprised four daughters, one of whom was engaged to Mr. S. Bealey (2) and afterwards became Mrs. Bealey.
(1) Ship's Chaplain aboard the 1851 emigrant vessel Midlothian, the Venerable Archdeacon Robert Bateman Paul (1798-1877) was Vicar of St John's, Latimer Square, Christchurch, Author and a city property speculator. By 1857 Robert Paul had sold his fifty acre Casterton estate to Robert Waitt (aforementioned in Jollie's memoir).
(2) Described as a shopkeeper in mind and manners, Samuel Bealey (1821–1909), Pastoralist and second Superintendent of Canterbury, married Rose Ann Paul (b.1834) in 1852 and returned permanently to England in 1867. A decade later he was waiting on the dock to welcome the Jollies back to London.
Lee lost his heart to the second daughter (1) and received hers in exchange, and as Mr. Paul objected to a long engagement, they were married at St. Michael’s Church, Christchurch. I think in March 1854. After his marriage, Lee lived at Casterton for a year or two while Mr. Paul moved into Christchurch. I had consequently to look after the sheep and station, Lee occasionally coming up to see how we were getting on.
(1) Edward James Lee married Harriett Maria Paul (1831-1899) at St. Michael and all Angels Anglican Church, Oxford Terrace, Christchurch in September, 1853. They had five sons, four daughters and 154 direct descendants by 2007.
We were as economical as possible in our expenditure, but found that the expense of starting a station for sheep was considerable. Especially in such a far-off, out-of-the-way place as Parnassus was in those days, without roads or proper boats for landing and shipping goods through the surf. I therefore occasionally took in hand surveying work when my presence was not much required on the run, by which means I earned £100 in making a compass survey of the country about Lake Coleridge. This was in 1855, and in the autumn of 1856 I surveyed and laid out the runs taken up between the Rakaia and Rangitata Rivers.
I also did work nearer home and surveyed a lot of land for Duppa on his Lowry Peak station, and also the Cheviot Hills for Robinson. By this work I managed to find means to keep from getting very much into merchant’s debt. But with even the addition of our wool proceeds, of some money we had from England, and about £800 for which I sold the sheep (which Hunter Brown had of mine), we were far from being out of debt.
I think it was sometime about the beginning of 1855 that Mr. W. Robinson came from South Australia with the credit of being a very rich man. He had some time previously sent a friend and sort of dependent of his (1) over to New Zealand to examine and report upon the country and this friend had come up to Parnassus among other places, where I received him hospitably, and where he stayed for several days. He reported so well of the country that Robinson came to see for himself and was so much taken with it that he immediately announced his intention of buying a lot of land.
(1) John Jackson Oakden (1818-1884) is reputed to have always dressed like a gamekeeper and looked like one. He later managed the Acheron Bank Station on the south side of Lake Coleridge for William Robinson.
At that time Government land was selling at the price of five to ten shillings an acre, so that with a few thousand pounds a buyer could secure a good large estate. Thereby practically driving off a poor man who might be occupying a large extent of country by renting it at the very small rental, which was then required - provided it was stocked with sheep or cattle.
Caverhill, the occupier of the Cheviot Hill run, which Robinson wanted, had not the means to compete with him in the purchase of the land. Caverhill came to terms and agreed to let Robinson have the run provided Robinson would get him another. This he did by buying Woollcombe, Hanmer and Wortley’s run called Hawkswood, (1) a good piece of country adjoining Parnassus. Robinson also tried hard to get me to turn out of Parnassus, but I declined all his blandishments and stuck to it, and eventually he lent me a thousand pounds to purchase three or four thousand acres of the best land so as to secure the homestead.
(1) Commander Belfield Woollcombe (1816-1891), James Frederick Stuart-Wortley (1833-1870) and Thomas Hanmer (d.1867) were partners in the New Zealand Wool Growing Company Ltd. at Hawkswood in what was then in the Nelson Province, just over the Canterbury boundary.
After Robinson began to purchase land in the Amuri District it became better known and men with money turned their attention to land buying as an investment. Lee and I became alarmed that purchases might be made on Parnassus, which might spoil the run, so we determined to purchase the best parts if possible. Lee went up to Nelson and bought altogether about fourteen thousand acres, with what we had previously purchased the land amounted altogether to about eighteen thousand acres, which was nearly one-half of the whole run. This could only be done by borrowing the money to pay for the land, so that we found ourselves after the completion of the transaction about ten thousand pounds in debt. This required a yearly payment of interest of a thousand pounds, which was a pretty large drain on our resources.
When employed on the South Canterbury survey I was elected as member of the General Assembly for the Cheviot District. This electoral district was a very large one in area, but very small in population at that time. It began, if I recollect rightly, at the Waipara and included the country north of that river to beyond the Kaikoura Peninsula. I was returned without opposition and without being present at the election. I made no speeches and no promises. Elections in those days were not considered of much consequence. (1)
(1) The document of nomination, dated the 7th of September, 1859, is signed by twelve of his neighbouring land owners (only land owners had a right to vote until 1879).
Settlers had so much to occupy them in attending to their own affairs and were so widely scattered about, that but few electors and then only those in the immediate vicinity of the place of nomination cared to attend. In the towns there was often considerable excitement, but generally more personal than political.
I had some experience of country elections when I was sheep-farming while living at Parnassus. I was the returning officer for the Amuri district for some years and as such conducted the elections, but not I fear always according to law as the following instances will show.
A writ had been forwarded to me commanding me to return a member for the Amuri District to the Provincial Council of Nelson. I advertised that on a certain day an election would be held in accordance with the requirements of the writ. Day after day passed and I heard no rumour as to any candidate coming forward.
I was almost alone at Parnassus; George L. Lee who had been staying with me for some time having gone to Christchurch and only the cook John Riggs and W. Charleston, the shepherd, were at the station. Fearing that there might be no election, if I did not see after it myself, I asked Charleston if he would propose Mr. George Lee as a candidate and to this he agreed. I then asked Riggs if he would second Mr. Lee, but Jack immediately replied that he would be damned if he would as he did not like Mr. Lee. This was the day before the nomination and I had not time to hunt up any one else to come to the rescue.
The next day at noon, as required by the writ, I stood at the door of the cottage and with only Charleston and Riggs as audience I read the writ and then asked if anyone had a candidate to propose. To this no one replied, so I had to ask directly of Charleston if he did not intend to propose Mr. G. Lee. On being thus appealed to he said he would propose Mr. Lee. I then asked if anyone seconded Mr. Lee, but as there was no response I turned suddenly to Riggs and said, “Jack, won’t you second him?” Jack, who was standing close to me, took the pipe slowly from his mouth and replied with an air of magnanimity, “Oh, yes, I’ll second him.” Upon hearing which I immediately declared Mr. George Leslie Lee duly elected Member of the Provincial Council for the Amuri District. This election was no doubt illegal, as Mr. John Riggs was not an elector, but I was not supposed to know that at the time, as no instructions or regulations for my guidance were sent with the writ.
At another election, Mr. John Tinline (1) was duly proposed and seconded as the Amuri member. I was about to enter his name in the writ as having been duly elected when several horsemen rode up. When they heard what had happened, declared that Mr. Tinline had stated he would not agree to request that he should be a candidate. And that as another gentleman in Nelson, named Dr. Muller, (2) had written stating that he would gladly represent the District, it would be better to have the nomination over again.
(1) John Tinline (1820-1907), arrived in the colony in 1840, Magistrate's Clerk at Nelson from 1844, in 1850 the Government sent him to find a suitable land route between Nelson and the Wairau. Tinline resigned as the member of the Provincial Council for the district of Wairau in 1858. Mount Tinline, the Tinline River and Tinline Downs are named after him.
(2) Stephen Lunn Müller (1814–91), Ship's Surgeon aboard the 1850 emigrant ship Pekin. Müller was Nelson Provincial Secretary, 1856, Resident Magistrate and Returning Officer for the Wairau District, 1857, Collector of Customs at the port of Wairau, 1865 and a Justice of the Peace, 1866.
I had already declared Mr. Tinline elected, but to save further expense and trouble I thought it would be best to agree to the proposal of the new comers if possible. So, having got the consent of the proposer and seconder of Mr. Tinline, who were only dummies in the matter, to quash the first proceeding.
Having had a consultation with all the watches at the time, and decided that it was hardly twelve o’clock, and therefore the first nomination was informal from having been held before the hour of noon (the time required by the writ for the election to take place), I immediately called another meeting of the electors. There being three of four present at the time, I again read the writ, and as no other candidate was proposed, that Dr. Muller was duly elected. He represented us for some years in a most unsatisfactory manner.
These two elections were no doubt both illegal and might have been set aside, but no one was likely to take the trouble. I daresay had the newspapers of Christchurch and Nelson got hold of the facts, I should have been held up to public odium as an official of the most lax principles and most unlawful practices, etc. The Lyttelton Times did once insert an article in which I was quizzed upon the free and easy way I conducted elections, stating among other things that I read the writ sitting on the top rail of the stockyard, but as there was nothing illegal in that, and I was not much alarmed for the consequences.
In the first-named election the proceedings nearly came to an end from the ill-feeling, which Jack Riggs the cook had for Mr. Lee. This ill-feeling arose a few days previous to the nomination and as it illustrates life in a colony, I will relate the incident.
With several men Mr. G. Lee and I had one day been very busy dipping the sheep and as the dipping place was about a mile from the house we took something with us to eat in the middle of the day and did not return home until late in the evening. Jack as cook was of course left in the house to carry on his ordinary duties, and we after our hard work all day naturally expected a good feed when we returned.
When we got to the house, Jack was standing in the doorway, his hands in his pockets, his cap on one side of his head and a pipe in his mouth, with a smiling and shining face and looking as happy as a king. He looked very tipsy. I asked him if dinner was ready. He said of course it was. I said, “Then bring it in.” Upon which he went to the kitchen and in a short time placed a leg of mutton on the table, which it seems he had tried to cook, but failed, as it was hardly even warm on the outside.
The dinner for the men was also uncooked, so besides a severe lecture from Mr. Lee, Jack also received sundry anathemas from the men in the kitchen. In his jolly state he cared as little for the one as the other.
After a while, the liquor which he had drunk made him very noisy, singing and yelling at the top of his voice. I went into the kitchen to order him to be quiet, but the only result was that he added cursing and swearing and other bad language to his other sins. This I could not stand, so I got a bucket of water and having placed Jack on his back on the floor, I stood over him and as he opened his mouth to yell etc., I tipped the bucket so the that the water fell right into his mouth.
This made him worse than ever for a time, but after a few buckets of water had been expended on him he gave in and was quiet for a time. However, he shortly afterwards broke out again, before I could interfere one of the men gave him a back-hander across his mouth. As he still continued his noise the men walked him out of the house and tethered him to a post about a hundred yards off, leaving him there to get sober. In the morning he resumed his work with a swollen face and a great down on Mr. Lee, whom he believed was the cause of the punishment he had received.
Jack had shown some skill in getting the spirit which made him drunk. The only place where we could lock up anything was a small box in which we kept a bottle or two of brandy. We thought no one would find the key, if we dropped it into a bag which held chessmen, but Jack had made a thorough search and found it.
While living in Parnassus and until I had to be long absent on surveying work, I held the office of Registrar of Births, Deaths & Marriages for the Amuri District. The payment attached to this office was the fees alone, so I got nothing for it as I never received any fees. I also acted as Deputy Commissioner of Crown Lands in the District, receiving the assessment money on the runs, on behalf of Major Richmond, (1) the Commissioner who resided in Nelson, forwarding the amounts to him. This I did as a friend of Major Richmond and not as a Government official. In 1854 I was gazetted a Magistrate of the Nelson Province, but my duties in that capacity were very small.
(1) Major Matthew Richmond, (1801–87). Commissioner to examine land claims, 1840. Chief Police Magistrate for the Southern District, 1843. Superintendent of the Southern District of New Zealand, 1844. Resident Magistrate at Nelson 1847-1853. Commissioner of Crown Lands in Nelson, 1853-1858. Member of the Legislative Council, 1853-1879.
In 1857 I did not reside for any length of time at Parnassus, being engaged in surveying work in the Canterbury Province, as I have already related. During the five years of my residence on the run I was very actively employed and altogether I enjoyed life. There was always something which required attendance, such as house building, fencing and gardening, sheep mustering, shearing and dipping, road making, getting up provisions from the beach and carting wool down, keeping the outstations supplied with stores, etc. All this kept one from feeling lonely or low spirited.
Then we had neighbours to visit and entertain. The nearest were Woollcombe and Hanmer who lived five miles from the Parnassus house at a station called Hawkswood. This station Robinson of Cheviot Hills bought and sold again to Caverhill. After the sale Woollcombe went to Canterbury and was appointed Resident Magistrate at Timaru and Hanmer went to Queensland where he engaged in pastoral pursuits.
Our other neighbour to the south was Caverhill for two of three years and then Robinson. The station house was about ten miles off from us. To the west our neighbour was Mr. G. L. Lee, my partner Mr. E. J. Lee’s brother. He occupied country lying between the Stanton and Mason rivers, the Stanton being the boundary of Parnassus to the west, the Tuahuka River on the north east and the Waia-ua River on the south.
The Parnassus run contained about thirty eight thousand acres of good pasturage, the highest point was called Mount Parnassus and I believe it still retains that name. Its height is about two thousand feet above the sea. The way the name was given to it was as follows.
While we had the sheep on the Cheviot Hills run and before we occupied Parnassus, Lee and I were standing at the door of the hut when looking towards and pointing out the high Hill on the other side of the Waiau River he said to me, “What shall we call that hill?” I immediately replied “Mount Parnassus”. This was the first name that came into my head and it has since been called so, and the run around it is called the Mount Parnassus run.
A year or two after we had occupied the Parnassus run, I engaged a shepherd in Lyttelton and sent him to the run. At the time I was employed on some surveying work in Canterbury. The man by the name of Cameron, a Highlander, got safely to the station and began his work as shepherd.
About a fortnight afterwards when all hands were mustering the sheep, he was one of them. The main part of the flock had been got together on to the level land, when someone on looking up the hill saw a few sheep that had been left behind, these Cameron said he would fetch down and he started up the hill for that purpose.
This was the last that was seen of him. He did not get to the station that night, so next day Mr. Lee sent another shepherd to see if he had gone to the outstation hut, but on arriving there the shepherd found only Cameron’s dog, which had returned to its master’s home. Mr. Lee immediately ordered a search to be made and he and all the hands on the station made a thorough examination of the country, but no sign could be discovered by which his disappearance could be explained.
After a fruitless search of a fortnight, the attempt to find him was given up, and his loss is to this day is a mystery. Just about the same time a somewhat similar circumstance occurred in the Malvern Hills, where I was surveying. I was told that two men were living together in a hut when one of them disappeared suddenly and no trace could be found of him after a long search. I afterwards heard that many weeks after he was lost, his body was discovered close to the hut at the bottom of a small creek, which ran down the valley. It was supposed that when leaning down to get a vessel filled with water, he had fallen in head first and thus been drowned.
Our other neighbours at Parnassus were a few Māori families living a mile or two north of the Amuri Bluff at what in the South Island is called a kaik or village. This in the North Island would be called a kainga. “k” in the one case being equivalent to “ng” in the other. Thus tokata (man) in the south is tangata in the north and raki (day) is Rangi.
This kaik, though nearly twenty miles off from Parnassus, was still considered by us as a neighbouring place. It was also useful to us in the early days as we got potatoes form there. The chief of the place was called Wahitau, but he usually went by the name Kaikaura. (1) He was a very fine looking man, six feet tall, stout and well made. He had two wives and two daughters, one of whom was married and the other single when I knew her.
"Old Kai" held the loyalty of his people and vigorously voiced their grievances when the Government neglected to consult them, the rightful owners, before leasing and selling land to the pioneer pastoralists.
I slept at this kaik once or twice and they treated us very hospitably. As soon as I was descending the hill which overlooked the kaik, I heard the women shouting at the top of their voices, “hai ra mai, hai ra mai” (come here, come here). Then I could hear the order given to put the kettle on as the Pakeha was coming.
After tethering my horse, I was conducted into a whare, or hut, where I was served with supper, consisting of ship’s biscuits and mint tea for first course, and a newly opened bottle of Whybrow’s mixed pickles for second course. I did my best with these victuals and, although nearly sick with the mint tea, I tried to look as if I had enjoyed my supper.
Just as I had completed my repast, Kaikaura came into the hut and invited me into his whare, a small but tolerably clean hut of one room. When having carefully closed the door to keep prying eyes away, he pulled out from a secret place a bottle of square Gin, or Hollands, which had not yet been opened. Having placed it in my hands with an air as much as to say, “What do you think of that,” told me to take a drink of Wai-perau (in English “stinking water”). This I was very glad to do after my experience of the mint tea and having drunk, I handed the bottle back to Kaikaura (kai, food - kaura, crayfish), who declined to drink any, but carefully hid the bottle again.
We then lighted our pipes and had a long talk. I could talk a little Māori then, but for all that it took a long time for us to gain each other’s meaning. He seemed to think that, as I was a magistrate, Registrar of Births, etc. and Returning Officer, that I was a man in authority among the Pakehas. And as he was a chief among the Māoris, he proposed that all the country about the Amuri Bluff should belong to us two. This of course I had to decline.
We then prepared to turn in for the night. Kaikaura and his wife Catherine lying down together on a mat on the floor and I alongside them on another mat. Just as I was about to fall asleep, his other wife Kiori (rat) opened the door and came in with the evident intention of taking up her quarters for the night with her lord and master, but as I was evidently occupying her usual place, Kaikaura desired her to go elsewhere.
Although I expressed a desire that my presence should not interfere with the usual night arrangements of the family, she had to retire and find some other sleeping place. I then asked Kaikoura how, he being a Christian, could reconcile it to his conscience to having two wives. To this question he did not seem inclined to give an intelligible reply, so we all went to sleep. In the morning about sunrise I was awoken by a tinkling sound. Turning out I found a Māori beating a bar of iron hung up by a string with another piece of iron, which produced a noise like a cracked bell.
When I appeared the tinkling ceased and I was invited into the house for morning prayers. All the inhabitants of the kaik were there. Kaikaura conducted the service by reading a chapter in the Old Testament and commenting on it in his own way. He had evidently not forgotten what I had said the night before about his having two wives and had chosen a chapter from the Bible bearing upon the subject. He wound up his discourse by stating, with his eyes fixed on me, “Abraham had two wives, Isaac had two wives and Jacob had two wives, so why should not I also have two wives?” To this of course I had nothing to say. So, like preachers in other places, he had it all his own way.
It seems to me that to have printed and published the Old Testament and to have distributed it among savage races was a great mistake of the missionaries. A short account stating the main features of the old dispensation and showing how the New Testament was connected with it would have been all that was needed. Had this been done, instead of the savage mind being excited by the cruel wars of the Jews, and the numerous immoral stories etc., which may be said to disgrace the Old Testament, it would have been fixed on Christ’s teaching.
I don’t think Christianity has yet advanced very far into the New Zealand mind. If it had, Hau-hau-ism (1) and other superstitions would not have gained so many supporters and disciples as they have done during the last few years. I recollect in 1847 staying over a Sunday at a house of a Wesleyan Missionary, the Reverend Mr. Creed, (2) who had charge of the natives at Wai-ko-whiti, he admitted to me that during the several years that he had been teaching the natives, he could not point out one whom he considered a sincere Christian, except perhaps an old man who was then dying in the Māori Pa. Mr. Creed took me to see this man who was dying of consumption, but how far Mr. Creed’s judgment of him was correct I could not tell.
(1) Hauhauism was an 1860s cult adopted by some of the Māori when their own religious beliefs were being abandoned and some Christian ones were being accepted. The goal, if realised, of total destruction of Pakeha and non-Hauhau Māori believers would have seen all the Māori dead rising from their graves and confronting the prophet and founder, Te Ua Haumene. All sick and crippled Māori people would have been cured and knowledge of all the best in European culture taught to the Māori.
(2) The Reverend Charles Creed (1812–79), arrived in the colony in 1839. A Methodist missionary at Waikouaiti from 1844, he had a strong physique and overflowed with energy, but the strain of the work, the constant travelling under difficult conditions, and the privations he endured, exhausted his vitality. Reluctant to leave the work he loved and for which he had given so much, his transference to Wellington in 1853 was providential for his own sake.
I must now return again to Kaikaura, he was very proud of a suit of clothes which Sir G. Grey, the Governor, had sent him, but I never saw him wear them except once, which was on the occasion of a visit he paid me when we were shearing our sheep at the landing place near Amuri.
On this visit he had to walk between two and three miles and when he appeared at our camp he was dressed in coat, trousers and waistcoat complete. The perspiration was running from him, and his clothes must have been well sewn, especially the buttons, otherwise they could not long have contained him. The cook soon placed a roast shoulder of mutton before him, with plate, knife and fork etc. Whereupon he drew the whole joint towards him and began to eat from it. I suggested that he might cut off what he required and eat it off another plate, but to this he objected, and he was not long in finishing the whole shoulder together, with a proportionate quantity of bread and potatoes.
Fortunately, his buttons still held and he managed to get once more on to his feet, but he was warmer than ever. I pressed him to have something more, he hesitated for a moment, but declined, and suddenly saying Good-bye, he started off home again. I watched him round the corner of a cliff where he went into a gully and in about five minutes reappeared with his fine clothes in his hand. Wearing only his shirt on his body, he continued his walk home well satisfied with the lightness of his clothing.
Another time I met Kaikaura was in travelling with Mr. Charles Knyvett. We were going down to Christchurch and had just crossed the Waiau River when we saw Kaikaura and several other natives including women and children preparing to cross the river. Kaikaura was in a great state of excitement marshalling his forces, and the rest of his party was as usual talking loudly. When he saw us watching the proceedings he became very demonstrative and commenced running along the bank of the river shouting and gesticulating like a demon.
Suddenly this came to an end by an uncalled for interruption on the part of a small wiry-haired sheep dog of Knyvett’s which accompanied us. The dog suddenly rushed forward and seized Kaikaura from behind (who had only a shirt on). Kaikaura there upon gave a yell such as a savage only can give, clapping his hand on the injured part. We rode off as fast as we could, leaving him to arrange his party for the crossing without the assistance of the dog.
When Māori women and children have to cross rivers, especially when the current is rapid, a long pole is obtained and the women and children hold it against their bodies, while the strongest man holds on to the upper end, against whom the stream breaks and thus the current is broken for the rest. A man also holds the lower end of the pole and helps to keep the whole party from being washed downstream. In this way very rapid and deep streams are safely crossed by the Māoris.
When the river is too deep to ford, they choose a place for crossing not far from where Raupo (a sort of Cooper’s flag), or Korari stalks (the seed stem of Phormium Tenax, the New Zealand flax). With these materials they construct what they call moki-his [mōkihi] or rafts shaped something like a boat and with which they can cross the deepest and widest streams. They can descend long distances in them, but being unwieldy they cannot paddle them against a current.
I am afraid I’m getting rather diffuse in my reminiscences. But I thought the best way to give an idea of the sort of a life I passed in the early days of colonial was to give a description of a few of the scenes I passed through. These scenes and adventures were of constant occurrence, but those I have related will be sufficient to show my children the kind of life their father lived before they were born. That is if they should take the trouble to read what I have written.
I was elected to the General Assembly to represent the Cheviot District in 1860. In the winter of that year I attended the Parliament in Auckland, which town was then the seat of Government. Colonel Gore Brown was then the Governor, E. W. Stafford, Premier, the present Judge Richmond treasurer; Whitaker, Attorney-General; Tancred, Postmaster-General, and Weld without office.
One of the many Māori wars was being mismanaged at Taranaki and party feeling ran high both as to the mismanagement and the cause of the war. General Gold was commander for some time, but matters did not progress very well under him, so he was superseded by General Pratt, who did no better than General Gold. As Mr. Crosby Ward put it “General Gold is not very old and General Pratt is not very fat, but from the actions of General Gold, you would suppose he is very old and from the actions of General Pratt you would suppose he is very fat.”
However, though these two Generals were a good deal laughed at for the way in which they conducted the war, they did as well as any other General has done when fighting the New Zealanders. A history of the several New Zealand outbreaks, explaining the causes which led to them and the conduct of the wars, which followed will, when written, be an instructive book, but the time has not yet arrived for such a history to be impartially written.
The other members for Canterbury who went to Auckland to attend the Assembly were W. S. Moorhouse, (1) Isaac Cookson, (2) Crosby Ward, (3) Hunter Brown, and I think Henry Sewell. (4) Another gentleman who also went to Auckland with us was Carleton Baynes, a financial and negotiating agent for an English firm of railway contractors who had sent him to Canterbury to examine and report upon the proposed tunnel under the Port Hills.
(1) William Sefton Moorhouse (1825-1881). In March 1855 Moorhouse was elected to the Canterbury Provincial Council and in 1857 was elected Superintendent of that Council. Bill Moorhouse, as he was known upon embarking for NZ in 1851, was a partner in Moorhouse and Macfarlane, Barristers and Solicitors of Cathedral Square, Christchurch. Sefton, as he subsequently preferred to be known, built a clapboard palazzo, which he named Merevale in an area now known as Merivale. The sheer expense precipitated bankruptcy. Although completed, only a substantial half of his grandiose folly survives.
(2) Isaac Thomas Cookson, J.P., (1817-1870) Partner in Cookson, Bowler and Co, leading Christchurch merchants of the 1850s. Cookson was Member of Parliament for Kaiapoi 1861-2.
(3) Crosbie Ward (1832-1868) Pastoralist, Journalist, Businessman, Politician and satirical Poet.
(4) Henry Sewell (1807–79). Coloniser, diarist and politician, Sewell became the first Premier of New Zealand.
This work had been often discussed and considered. First by Captain Thomas as early as 1849, when he decided against making the attempt for two reasons; he had not money to do it with and secondly he did not wish any other scheme of connecting the Port with the plains to interfere with the road he projected by way of Sumner.
This road Thomas considered ought to be made at once, and by his instructions I laid off the line over Evans’ pass to Sumner. This line was partly formed the whole distance, but afterwards stopped for want of money. The road was afterwards made to Christchurch from Lyttelton by way of Sumner, but by keeping another line to the one I laid off.
In 1851 an auctioneer in Lyttelton named Tullock, wishing to be informed what would be the length of a tunnel at a low level so that it would do for a railway, employed Boys (1) and I to make a survey. After leveling and measuring over the Hill, we supplied Mr. Tullock with a plan and section of a proposed tunnel, which we took at a higher level than the one afterwards made, so as to shorten the distance and consequent expense of construction. I believe this section was sent to England and exhibited there in the Canterbury rooms, but it did not produce any immediate fruit.
(1) John Cowell Boys (1824–89) Surveyor and breeder of Romney sheep. Boys served on the survey staff of the New Zealand Company, 1842–5. He returned to England and completed his professional qualifications before returning to New Zealand in 1849. Boys advised the introduction of the hedge sparrow to combat the caterpillar in Canterbury.
The necessity of a good communication by road between the port and Christchurch was a matter constantly discussed by all parties. All heavy goods had to be taken round by sea to Sumner in small vessels and at great risk. The cargoes were then into the Sumner estuary and up the Heathcote River, where they were landed at Christchurch Quay. (1) The goods were then carted along the Ferry road for three miles to Christchurch.
(1) The Port of Christchurch at Woolston flourished from 1851, when up to six vessels a day were unloading cargoes at the wharves. By 1859 there was a direct passenger service to Wellington. The port appears to have enjoyed it hey day in the late 1860's when up to eighteen vessels a day were arriving at the twelve wharves and three shipyards on the river. The Sumner Bar claimed thirty-six of them, including a new paddle steamer (which is still there). The adjacent suburb of Phillipstown was renowned for its brothels.
This sort of communication might do for a very small population who had few exports, but as soon as people increased and goods had to be exported as well as imported, it became apparent to all who thought upon the matter that the early success of the settlement required the formation of a good road or railway between the plains and the Port. Having this object in view, Mr. Fitzgerald, the first Superintendent of Canterbury, appointed a Commission of engineers and surveyors to report upon the matter and I was one of this Commission. A report was sent in, but its terms I cannot now remember.
The recommendations contained in it were not however carried out. The funds then at the disposal of the Province were not sufficient for any great work, so Mr. Fitzgerald contented himself with making the Sumner road passable for wheeled vehicles. He first opened it in 1859 by driving a trap through from Christchurch to Lyttelton.
When Mr. Fitzgerald’s term of office had ended, Mr. W.S. Moorhouse was elected Superintendent. This gentleman had great faith in the natural capabilities of the Canterbury Province, but saw clearly that without a quick and easy means of communication between the fine agricultural and pastoral land of the Plains and the Port of Lyttelton, those capabilities could not be profitably made available.
Immediately after his election he therefore began to enquire as to the feasibility of a tunnel through the Port Hills in connection with a railway line form Christchurch to Lyttelton. Satisfying himself that the engineering difficulties could be overcome, and the money raised by loan, he declined to bring the project before the Colonial Parliament and to ask for an Act empowering him to construct the work. Previous, however, to asking for an Act, it was thought advisable to examine the hill through which the tunnel would pass.
With that view Mr. Moorhouse made an agreement with an English firm that they should test the hill by commencing the tunnel, and that they should contract to do the work for a certain sum. After due examination, by actual tunnelling, they considered that they could do it at the price agreed upon. This English firm, at the time of the meeting of the General Assembly in 1860, were engaged in testing the work to be done and the nature of the rock to be cut through. Mr. Baynes, their Agent (as I have already said), went with the Canterbury members to the General assembly to assist in pushing the Bill through Parliament.
Soon after the commencement of parliamentary business Mr. Moorhouse requested me to move for a committee to consider the Bill. This I did, and a committee was appointed of which, as mover, I was Chairman. After one or two short meetings we reported favourably and the Bill was soon passed into an Act. Mr. Moorhouse was then legally entitled to proceed with the work.
A difficulty, however, arose with the Contractors, who through their agent Mr. Baynes declined to do the work at the price named in the contract, on account of the very hard rock which had been met with in excavating the tunnel. Mr. Moorhouse refused to advance on the price named, so the contractors were paid for their expenses
Towards the end of 1860, or beginning of 1861, Mr. Moorhouse went over to Melbourne and returned with a contractor, Mr. George Holmes. (1) Holmes , who after inspecting the proposed line and tunnel, agreed to complete the whole work, I believe, at the price which the English contractors had declined to do it for. Mr. Edward Richardson (2) was Mr. Holmes’ partner and they together executed the work and eventually managed the line for some time on behalf of the Government.
(1) George Holmes (1824-1879). Previously an engineer in Britain, Canada, America and Australia, built an extant house at Opawa, Christchurch, reinforcing it with rails originally used by the Lyttelton tunnellers.
(2) Edward Richardson (1830-1913) Civil Engineer, Businessman, Politician and Pastoralist. By 1882 Richardson owned land valued at £132,000, but the 1880s depression ruined him. By 1890 most of his property had been taken by the Bank of New Zealand. After his retirement from politics in 1899 he was manager of the Wellington Patent Slip Company.
I am afraid I am not getting on very fast. I have written more about the tunnel than I intended, so now I shall hark back to my arrival in Auckland in the winter of 1860.