LE BON'S BAY
There are different tales in explanation of the manner by which Le Bon's came in possession of its name. One is that the whalers in the very early days were accustomed to bring in the whales to the Bay and there try them out. In the course of time the beach was covered in whale bone, and the place was called the Bone Bay.
Another story tells how Captain Le Bas came in his ship to Le Bon's, mistaking it for Akaroa. He sent a boat's crew ashore, and one of the crew was named Le Bon. The Bay was named after him. Captain Le Bas stayed in the Bay for some time.
There were a great many whalers of all nations about in those days (during the fifties), but they seldom called into the Peninsula bays by all accounts, generally making Akaroa Harbour their head quarters. Le Bas' ship is supposed by some to be the first ship that was anchored in the Bay.
There was a Maori pah on the beach before white men came into the Bay, but they had all gone before the first settlers arrived. Skeletons are often found in the sand, and some curios, such as greenstone tomahawks, ear-rings, etc. Traces of the pah still remain, and lead to the conclusion that there was once a large number of Maori inhabitants. Abundance of stumps of Totaras were found about the Heads. The trees had evidently been cut down for canoes.
As in most bays where the Maoris lived, strata of bones of all kinds are found where they had been heaped up after a feast, mixed with fish bones and shells. A close examination proves also that the natives did not confine themselves to this food. Piles of human bones, which are all separated from one another, and piled up close to the kitchen middens, disclose the fact that cannibalism was a common practise amongst them.
Mr. Cuff, father of Mr. Cuff of Cuff and Graham, was the first settler in Le Bon's. He went there with his family, and lived in a tent for some time, and eventually built the house now on Mr. Henry Barnett's property. It has been added to, however, and so much improved that there is little of the old house left.
When Mr, Cuff came, the Bay was covered in dense bush and heavy timber, that was in 1857, Le Bon's being much later settled than most of the Peninsula bays. Mr. Cuff saw that there was a great deal of valuable timber, and started a sawmill on the banks of the creek close to his house.
Mr. Cuddon, now in Christchurch, brought the engine down, and the vessel was floated up the creek. There was a great difficulty in getting the engine ashore, as it sunk in the mud, and it was some time before the mill was got into working order. It came on to blow severely, and the vessel that brought the engine was detained a month in the Bay.
When it did start the mill had plenty of work. The flat was covered with white and black pines as thick as they could stand, and the sides of the valley grew immense Totaras and other timber. Mr. Cuff brought cattle with him, and improved the land about his house. The walnut trees still standing were planted by him, and are nearly as old as those on Muter's place in German Bay.
The Maria Ann and Gipsy, ketches, were the first vessels that carried the timber from the Bay Lyttelton. Messrs. Thomas Oldridge and Stephens owned them, being partners. They came to Le Bon's about 1860, and soon afterwards went to Laverick's, returning to Le Bon's some years afterwards.
Mr. Stephens, it will be remembered, lost his life on the brigantine Lizzie Guy. The ketch Maria Ann was sold afterwards in Lyttelton, and the Gipsey (or Gypsy), on her way from Lyttelton to Le Bon's, was run down by a steamer off Long Look-out. A man well known (a Dutchman), by name Charlie Smith, commanded her at the time. No lives were lost. These two vessels carried an immense amount of timber to Lyttelton. The vessels anchored in the Bay, and punts and rafts were floated down the creek laden with the timber from the mill, which was situated about a mile from the sea.
Some years afterwards, during a great storm, two vessels were wrecked the Breeze and the Challenge. The Challenge was sunk while at anchor. The Breeze was driven into Nor'west Bay and smashed up. Their crews managed to get ashore. At a quite recent date the Gipsey and Diligence, which replaced them, were also wrecked; and the Hero, well-known from her several narrow escapes, met her fate also in Le Bon's.
Messrs. Saxton and Williams took the mill from Mr. Cuff about 1861, but only worked it for six months. Mr. John Cuff, son of the owner, then managed it. Messrs. Oldridge and Stephens ran the mill for some time, and after that Mr. Drummond McPherson, well known in Canterbury, bought it. A man named Rouse bought it from him. In 1865 Mr. John Smith took it over. He had a great many men working for him, who are now settlers in the Bay. He also introduced the Danes, who now own among them a good portion of the land in Le Bon's Bay. Mr. John Smith got the contract from the Provincial Council for building the old jetty and the tramway to it from the mill.
About £1,000 was thrown away on this work. The tramway could never be made to act, and a ship-load of timber never went down by it, punting and rafting being resorted to as of old. An attempt once to get a shipment of cheese away by sending it down the tramway to the jetty proved a failure. The tramway was never of any use whatever, and was left to decay. Some portions of it are still to be seen.
About this time Mr. Hartstone, in company with a man named Savage, who acted as engineer for Mr, Smith, for some time, started a mill on the headland above where the new jetty has been built. Mr. Dalglish, who previously to this had been working for Mr. Piper in Duvauchelle's Bay, soon afterwards took this mill, and still owns the property. Mr. Dalglish made the mill much larger, and exported a great deal of timber. Mr. Smith, when he had worked out the timber in the Bay, rented Mr. Dalglish's mill for some years.
The greatest event that ever occurred in Le Bon's was the tidal wave of 1868. It came at one o'clock, and caused much terror. Mr. Bailey's house was carried bodily up the Bay, and deposited on the tops of the trees on the flat. There was three feet of water in Mr. Smith's house on the flat, and all day the waves kept coming up. A whaleboat was carried out of the river and placed on a bridge. The bridge was loosened and carried out to sea, and again the boat and bridge were brought back.
Following on this was the renowned gold fever. It appears Miss Gladstone, the sister of Mrs. Smith, found a piece of quartz well impregnated with gold close to the house, which, it was supposed, had been washed up by the tidal wave. The news spread like wild fire, and became known in Christchurch. A company was formed there, and two men were sent down to examine the Bays.
These men prospected Waikerakikari and Le Bon's, and found no signs in the latter, but there were traces of gold in the former. The men belonging to the mills were all the time in a great state of excitement, and shovels and dishes, and all the articles appertaining to gold getting were in great demand. It is generally supposed that some man wished to play a lark, and placed the quartz there. No result came at any rate from the discovery of the one piece of quartz, and the men gradually settled down to their work again at the mills, after every gully and bank in the Bay had been thoroughly examined.
As may be supposed, there were many strange characters in the Bays in those days. Sailors were continually deserting the vessels, and kept in hiding in the bush until they had gone. Men of all classes and description worked together, and some of them were men of no mean ability.
The bush was so dense, that a trip to Akaroa was quite an expedition. Very often parties lost themselves for days, which can hardly be credited now. The first track was cut by Mr. Cuff, for which he got £100. It can still be traced, running along the ridge on the South side of the Bay across the ranges to German Bay, where it ran almost in the same place the present road lies.
About 1864 the Okain's, Little Akaloa, and Le Bon's Road Board came into existence. Mr. Henry Barnett was the first representative for Le Bon's, and Mr. George Hall acted as Clerk to the Board. In 1870-72 the present road to the Akaroa side was formed. Harry Head fixed the grading. He also laid out the road to Nor'west Bay. Harry Head never lived in Le Bon's for any time, although he was passing through and staying at the settlers' houses. Few were as well acquainted with the bush as he. As most of our readers know, he lived in Waikerakikari and Gough's, then almost inaccessible.
Butcher's meat was a luxury little known to the early people in the Bay. Wild pigeons abounded, however, also Kakas. The creek swarmed with eels of great size, and monsters of 40 lbs or 50 lbs were quite common. The general plan was for the men to go out on Sunday, and in an hour or so shoot enough game to last the rest of the week. As the bush disappeared, the land was sown down, and cattle introduced. The destruction of the bush was also the destruction of the game.
Messrs. Piper, Duvauchelle and Howland came early to the Bay, and worked in the mill. Mr. Bailey arrived in 1861. The Barnetts came in '63, Mr. G. Hall in '60, and Mr. D. Wright, now in Okain's, in '62. There were, of course, heavy bush fires, but the inhabitants lived on the flat, which was first cleared, so little damage was done to property. Mr. Bailey was once burnt out, but he was the solitary exception.
The first dairy was started by the Messrs. Barnett, Mr. Thomas Oldridge soon followed suit, and is still carrying it on. Messrs. Hartstone, Leonardo and others soon afterwards began making cheese, but it is only during the last twelve or thirteen years that dairying has become general. Mr H. Barnett first introduced sheep into Le Bon's to stock his fine property.
The present church was built in 1869: before that the preacher delivered his address from a timber stack. Mr. Smith had a school for the children in the Bay. Miss Pauer was the first mistress. Mr. Tom Berry, a well known character on the Peninsula, was master afterwards. The present school was built about six years ago.
Some years ago a man named Norris started in a boat for Okain's. It came on to blow, the boat was capsized and Norris drowned. Another accident occurred not long ago. Mr. Dalglish shot his timber down a shoot into the Bay, and still does. A man named Nielsen was at the bottom of the shoot when timber was being let down, and kept in check by a chain. The chain broke and came down on Nielson, killing him.
With the exception of a few occurrences of this sort, the Bay has had a very quiet history. It is the old story of men building up a settlement isolated from the rest of the world. The Bay prospers from year to year, and grass seed and cheese have become, its chief exports. The low price produce commands at present causes depression, but those who have property in Le Bon's are confident that it has a prosperous future before it.
Most of the Bays have got their names from some trifling incident. Okain's is no exception. Captain Hamilton, well known in the early times, and who used to trade between the Bays and Lyttelton, was passing this Bay in his vessel one day, and happened to be reading a book on deck. The book chanced to be by Okain, the Irish naturalist. Captain Hamilton therefore called the Bay after the author, and it has been Okain's ever since.
Okain's is perhaps the largest of the Bays round the Peninsula, being much wider than any of the others. The creek which flows down the valley and empties itself into the Bay, can be dignified with the title of river without misapplication. The flat rises so gradually from the beach that the tide is felt for more than a mile from the mouth of the creek, and fairly sized vessels can navigate it. The beach is a great stretch of sand, and the constant work of reclamation is doing on.
There are two Okain's, Big Okain's and Little Okain's. Little Okain's lies towards the East Head. It is a small narrow Bay of a ragged nature, and is remarkable for the many giant Karakas that thrive there still. It was here that Moki, the renowned chief of the Ngai Tahu, landed first on the Peninsula during his expedition against To-Te-Kawa, the great Ngati Mamoe of Waihora (Lake Ellesmere).
It is not exactly known whether the Maoris had a pah in Okain's itself. It is certain, however, that they visited it a great deal in their hunts for provisions. Their headquarters were Pah Island, a small islet lying round East Head. It contains about three acres, and its formation rendered it a splendid natural fortification for the natives. The Maoris inhabited it to the time when the first settlers came to Okain's, and traces of them are visible to the present day.
The population of the Bay at the commencement of its settlement consisted chiefly of runaway sailors, and people who had reason for leaving the busy world for a time. There, safe from discovery, they employed themselves in sawing timber, which was plentiful, dense bush covering the whole Bay, a large proportion of it consisting of immense trees.
As many as twenty or thirty pairs of pit sawyers worked at a time. Their mode of living was a very reckless one. They would saw a quantity of timber, send it away, and with a portion of the money it fetched, buy a quantity of provisions to last them until they could get another lot of timber. The rest would be spent in grog. When they got over the spree, back they went to work again, and repeated the same process. These men, had they liked, could have become wealthy, as timber sawing was a very profitable employment in those days, but they preferred the wild mode of existence, and there is no single sample of a man who departed from the rule.
It was chiefly in Okain's that the whalers in the early days got their spars, and shiploads of them were continually cut and sent away, the Bay being famed for its fine timber.
Very dense was the bush. It was in fact difficult to travel far through it in any direction. When a track wanted cutting, all hands in the Bay set to work for the common good. About two years after the first real settlers came that was about 1850 a track was cut over to Robinson's Bay for the purpose of communication with Akaroa. It was a very rough one, and those that are now in the Bay that travelled it think it would have far from satisfied the present inhabitants.
It was better, however, than the untracked bush, and the hardy pioneers were too accustomed to difficulty to think much of the hardships a journey to Akaroa cost them. Before this track was cut it was nearly impossible to get to the harbour, and, as in the other bays, men continually lost themselves while attempting it.
The first people who really settled in Okain's were Messrs. Fleury, Barley, Mason, and Webb. They were there before 1853. They bought up fifty acres among them. Mr. Thomas Ware, who soon afterwards arrived, bought one-fourth of it from them, and still owns it. Mr. Webb afterwards went to Laverick's, and died in that Bay. Mr. Mason remained in Okain's until his death, which has only recently occurred.
The tidal wave of 1863 is well remembered by the old settlers. It spread a long distance up the Bay, flooding the houses on the flat. It left behind a thick sandy deposit, covering all the herbage, and it was some time before the latter grew again. A vessel that was being built down close to the river was carried off the stocks and floated round the Bay. No harm, however, was done to her. As may be supposed, the event caused great consternation.
There have been few casualties in the Bay. In the very early days a boat belonging to Mr John Roberts was capsized, and two men drowned. A boat, also coming from Le Bon's was lost, and two men met their fate. Those who have passed through Little Okain's in late years may have noticed the wreck of a small vessel lying half buried in the sand. She has now been completely broken up, Her name was the Sea-devil, and she once belonged to Mr. Thacker. Soon after he sold her she was driven ashore during a gale, and became a total wreck,
Messrs. Moore, Sefton, Gilbert, and others were also very early settlers in Okain's. They took up land on the same principle as Messrs. Webb, Mason, Fleury, and Harley, three or four of them buying up a fifty-acre section and going into partnership.
As the bush was cut down fires became frequent, and a great deal of damage was done at times. The great fire which started in Pigeon Bay about five and twenty years ago, spread to Okain's. The fire lasted for a long time, and for weeks the sky was scarcely seen through the thick volumes of smoke. There have been several bush fires started in Okain's, but none as bad as this one. The summer had been a dry one, and the wind was favourable to its spreading. The whole Peninsula was ablaze, and after it had died out many wild pigs were found burnt to death. The native birds, besides, were never so plentiful afterwards as they were before the fire.
As in Le Bon's, the creek swarmed with eels of a great size, and in the bush, pigeons and kakas were plentiful. It was no difficult thing for a man with a gun to live in the bush in those days.
About three years after they came, Messrs. Mason and Fleury commenced dairying, their old partners, Messrs. Webb and Harley, having left them and sold out their interest in the property. Messrs. Ware and Thacker soon started other dairies, and year after year as the bush was cleared others went in for dairy farming. Mr Ware brought the first sheep into Okain's about seven and twenty years ago.
Mr. J, E. Thacker came to Okain's about thirty- eight years ago from Christchurch, and gradually bought up land, the six thousand acres purchased in all, now forming a magnificent estate. He erected a sawmill about fifteen or seventeen years ago, and soon cut all the suitable timber in the Bay. It was the largest sawmill ever at work on the Peninsula, and could cut 70,000 feet in a week, so that it did not take long to clear the land, a large number of hands being employed.
The building in which the engine and machinery were once located is still in good preservation, and is now used as a wool-shed. The tramway to fetch down the logs to the mill went away to the top of the valley, and parts of it are still to be seen. The Alert, Jeanette, and Elizabeth were the vessels employed to carry the timber to Lyttelton, and they had all they could do to clear it away as it was cut.
The Okain's Road Board was formed in 1864, and the present road to Akaroa was made in 1878.
Okain's has settled down to a quiet peaceful existence, the inhabitants being chiefly dependant on the production of cheese, grass seed, and woo], and as long as these commodities command any price this fertile Bay is bound to give generous support to its healthy and happy sons and daughters.
One would naturally think Akaloa was a corruption of Akaroa. Some of those who have been connected with the settlement of this Bay, state that it received its name from a resemblance to Akaroa, and also from its position, as it lies directly opposite the harbour. The oldest settlers declare, however, that Akaloa was the original Maori name.
No Maoris have actually dwelt in the Bay since it has been settled. A great many of them, however, lived at the Long Look-out, and during the raid of the North Island Maoris on the Peninsula tribes, Maoris came from all the Bays round to Little Akaloa for shelter. They hid in the bush, and on the ridges between the Bays. There was a great slaughter on the Long Look-out, in which the local natives were almost annihilated. Traces of this event can be found on slopes of the cape.
The first settlers to arrive were Messrs. Bennetts and Rix, fathers of the settlers of these names now in and about the Bay. Before they came there were sawyers in Little Akaloa, which, like the other Bays, was a refuge for runaway sailors and men of all descriptions. Seventeen or eighteen pit sawyers were once at work on the timber in the Bay.
Messrs. Bennetts and Rix came from Wellington with Captain Thomas. The latter was a Government surveyor, and came to lay out Lyttelton and Christchurch. This was in 1850. Messrs Bennetts and Rix came to Little Akaloa to saw timber for Captain Thomas.
In September of the same year Mr. George Ashton arrived. Mr Jones came soon afterwards, and purchased the first section of land sold in the Bay from the Canterbury Association, Mr. G. Ashton now resides on part of it. Amos Green, commonly known as Toby Green, was an early settler. He was a cripple. It seems he escaped from a whaling ship, and fled to the Maoris, with whom he lived for some time. Two settlers came to the pah and engaged him for work on their land, and as he was stepping aboard their boat he stepped on to a loaded gun, which shot him through the leg. He was always a cripple afterwards, though he did a great deal towards settling Little Akaloa.
Mr. George Boleyn, father of Mr. James Boleyn, of Stony Bay, Mr. McHale, of Raupo Bay, and the Waghorns were also very early settlers.
As everywhere else on the Peninsula, the bush was very dense in Little Akaloa, indeed it was perhaps more thickly covered than any other Bay. Mr. G. Ash ton possesses a photograph of the Bay in those early days. It is greatly different from the present appearance of the locality, showing the settlement on the beach, and the valley and hills covered with heavy timber.
It was a hard day's work to penetrate a mile into the bush, and find your way back again. It came thick down to the water's edge. Akaloa abounded in very fine pines and Totaras, and gave plenty of employment to the numbers of pit sawyers who flocked there.
A saw-mill was built in about 1860 by Messrs. A. Waghorn, Mclntosh and Turner. Mr. Mclntosh afterwards became sole owner. A man named Fenly, who had had charge of the mill in Duvauchelle's, then managed it. Messrs. Brown and Fraser afterwards took the mill from them. They started the public house in a building which had been intended for a dwelling house. The firm is still in existence in Christchurch.
The saw-mill found work for many years, as valuable timber covered the whole surface of the valley. A tramway ran afterwards right up to the head of the Bay on nearly the same site on which the road now runs.
Messrs. W. Pawson, H. Mclntosh and J. Mclntosh cut the first track over to Duvauchelle's Bay, commonly known as Shaw's line. It ran on the opposite side of the valley to that on which the present road lies.
Messrs, George Boleyn and John Bennett cut the first track to Okain's. The manner in which a road was tested in those days, to judge whether the contractors had done their work in a proper manner, was by taking a bullock along it laden with clay. This was done to test the track to Okain's.The Rev. Mr. Torlesse, clergyman at Okain's and Little Akaloa, was judge, and his report was unfavourable, and he wouldn't pass it.
This gentleman got the church built in Okain's, and was schoolmaster there also. He frequently came to Little Akaloa, and preached in the open air. Mr. Waghorn's barn was then used as a place for worship. Bishops Selwyn and Harper both preached in this barn. The former anchored off the Bay in his schooner, and put a boat ashore. The inhabitants all collected on the beach, eager to see who their visitors were.
On the boat arriving, the Bishop called out, “Do you know who I am? I am Bishop Selwyn, the travelling Bishop," and he jumped first out of the boat up to his middle, and helped drag her ashore. He then went up to the barn, and preached to them, and also christened several children who are now residents in the Bay. He did not stay long, but left behind him a great admiration for his abilities and plain speaking, Bishop Harper made periodical visits to the Bay.
In 1862 the school-room was built, Mr. Bishop being the first master. In the following year the building was made the church, and still remains so.
In 1853 Toby Green started the first dairy on the place where the Messrs. Waghorn now live. Mr G. Ashton soon followed his example, and as the bush was cleared so were fresh dairies commenced. Mr. G. Ashton kept up regular communication with the outside world by sailing a whale boat between Little Akaloa and Lyttelton, and carrying the mails. He also carried the Okain's mail, which he conveyed by the track, and rough times he had now and then. The main road to Duvauchelle's was made about 1868, and was a great boon to the inhabitants.
Of course there were some heavy bush fires in Little Akaloa, but no harm is known to have been done, as the settlers were always on the alert expecting them. The historical fire which spread from Pigeon Bay about twenty-five years ago will not be soon forgotten by those who were in the Bay at the time. It was difficult for days to breathe in the smoky atmosphere.
Like the rest of the Peninsula in the early times, provisions in the shape of wild pigs, birds, and fresh and salt water fish were plentiful, and we are assured they were needed, as it was difficult to get anything in the Bay at the time of its settlement. Whalers sometimes came into Little Akaloa, but they did not stay long, their principal places of stoppage being Port Levy and Akaroa.
Mr T. Duncan who lately died in Christchurch, was the first who settled in Decanter Bay, afterwards owned by Mr W. Ashton, but since sold by him. There was a Maori pah on Decanter beach, and it was these Maoris who acted as guides to the pioneers of the other bays, having an intuitive knowledge of the way to reach them through the trackless forest.
The tidal wave was felt here, as elsewhere on that side of the Peninsula, pretty severely. A vessel by name the Struggler had been wrecked just before this, and endeavours were being made to float her again. The wave took her away up the flat, then out to sea and back again, not doing the least damage to her.
Mr Mclntosh's house was battered about, and one end of it was lifted up bodily by the water, the piles being washed from underneath it. It is considered that if the water had risen half an inch more it would have wrecked the house completely, as the wave would have come through the front windows. A sandy deposit was left all over the flat, and the houses there had half an inch of mud on the floors. The real harm done, however, was very trivial to what might have been expected.
Very few casualties have occurred in Little Akaloa. The vessels Minnie, Rambler, Caledonia, and Mary Anne Christina, the latter a schooner built in the Bay, as also was the ketch Minnie, were at times driven ashore while employed in taking timber to Lyttelton.
The wreck of the Clematis (brig) was off the Long Look-out, and is of comparatively recent date. It was a calm, clear day, and she ran close in to the Look-out to shorten her voyage to Lyttelton. She struck on a sunken rock, and stuck there. The crew left her, and she stayed in that position for a day or two, when a fresh sea came and broke her up. The place where she struck was very close under the headland, and it was peculiarly daring of the Captain to attempt so short a cut. The rock is a sunken one, about five or six feet under, and the sea breaks on it when there is any wind. It seems remarkable that she struck in the only place where there was no escape.
The old wharf was built about 16 or 17 years ago; a Mr. Barnes was the contractor. It was in a position, however, where it was totally undefended from the sea. The new wharf is in a more secure place, and there is deeper water off it.
Perhaps the most exciting event in the Bay was the burning down of the public houses, and it is no doubt fresh in the memory of most of our readers. The first building was unoccupied when burnt. A bar was fitted at once in an out-house. This met the same fate. A stable was then used, and that was also burnt, and no more attempts to sell liquor were made. The daring incendiaries, whoever they were, must have been wide awake to escape detection,
The great floods were perhaps more severely felt in Little Akaloa than anywhere, and were attended with loss of life: a child of Mr. May's being drowned, and another narrowly escaping. The creek bed was so clogged with debris that it dammed itself continually, and the water came down in great waves.
Mr. William Ash ton lived on the flat, and the creek made a bend round his dwelling. An out- house, which a day or two before had been filled with provisions, was completely washed away to sea. Mr. Ashton would not leave the house for some time, but finding the creek was dammed above, and fearing danger he shifted over to his father's house, the bridge by which he made his escape going half-an- hour afterwards. In the morning he found the house completely undermined and unfit for habitation, and he was indeed lucky to have taken his family and himself out of danger. The roads even now bear testimony of the havoc done, several bridges being washed away.
Little Akaloa is a happy valley, and now the bush is all cleared is the home of many settlers, who do not regret their choice. Cheese, grass seed, and wool are the chief exports, and a good quantity of firewood even now finds its way out of the Bay.
German Bay, lying close to Akaroa as it does, is closely associated with its history. It was settled as soon as any other Bay on the Peninsula, and when the whole place was a forest wild was considered as one of the most fertile and convenient spots for habitation by the pioneers.
It is not exactly known when Akaroa, German, and the other Bays round the harbour were first chosen as places of settlement by white men. It must have been very early in the century, however, when runaway sailors sought a home in the bush in preference to cruising after whales. Several of these men lived with the Maoris and took Maori women for wives.
Some stray sailors lived alone in the bush, and German Bay was one of their retreats, it being then easy to live on the natural products of the land. This Bay was of course no exception to the rest of the Peninsula as regards the bush, which was once very thick and heavy. The space, however, we are informed, which is on the seaward side of the present road, was fairly clear, and here the first settlers built their whares. Wild pigs, besides pigeons, Kakas, and other birds abounded, and fish was plentiful, so it did not require much exertion to obtain a supply of provisions.
As we all know, Captain L'Anglois is said to have purchased from the Maoris a great part of our Peninsula, a block consisting of many thousand acres. This block of land extended from Peraki to Pigeon Bay, and included all the land round the harbour with the exception of one or two small places. A boat, it is believed, and some articles of merchandise were the payment for the land.
£240 was to be the value of the goods given in exchange for this great stretch of fertile country, but it was never proved that anything like that amount was given to the natives, and the Captain gave up his rights on returning to France to a company by name the Nanto-Bordelaise Co. Captain L'Anglois brought out the Comte de Paris for this Company with immigrants. The vessel arrived in Akaroa Harbour on 16th August, 1840, just seven months after the New Zealand Co. brought out emigrants to Nelson and Wellington. There were sixty emigrants by the Comte de Paris, and the Company granted them five acres of land on arrival, to be chosen where they pleased, and eighteen months' provisions and all necessary tools. Mrs. Malmanche and Mr. Waeckerle are the only residents remaining who came here under this Company. Mr. Lelievre came about the same time, but he arrived in a whaler.
There were six Germans who came out with the French settlers: Messrs Waeckerle, Breitmeyer, and Peter Walter were among them. All the Germans formed a settlement in what is now German Bay, the place thus getting its name. They chose their five acres apiece there. A track was cut to Akaroa, and the timber in the bush being so good, the settlers employed themselves in pit sawing. The land was excellent for cultivation, but growing vegetables on a large scale didn't pay, as there were no people to whom to sell them, although the Maoris would grow and then buy potatoes!
Patches of ground in the clearing were sown down in wheat, as flour was a rarity, and the settlers felt the want of it very much, only being able to get a little when a whaler anchored in the harbour. The yield was very great.
Even when these early settlers came, the Maoris round the harbour were not numerous The French thought, however, that it was as well to take precautions, as their man-of-war could not always stay in harbour to protect, so a guard house was built in German Bay close to the beach, but luckily it was never required for the purpose intended.
Just after the arrival of the immigrants, the N.Z. Company sent down a Mr. Robinson to act as a Resident Magistrate, and a Constable. This was rather officious on the part of the British, as New Zealand was not declared a British Colony until 1841. This gentleman afterwards bought land in German Bay.
By degrees, as the bush was cleared in German Bay, the English flocked there, and soon out- numbered the original settlers. As may be supposed, there were some large bush fires, but little damage was done to the inhabitants, who took precautions in time.
Captain Muter, afterwards Colonel Muter, arrived in 1851. He was the first to purchase land there under the Canterbury Association. The property is that now occupied by Mr Phillips. Captain Muter built the house. He planted out trees, which are about the oldest of their kind on the Peninsula, and have always been remarkable for their growth. With him came Mr. and Mrs. Funnell, Senior, and Mr, and Mrs Hammond.
Captain Muter had the misfortune of losing nearly all his implements and goods in Lyttelton. They were put in a boat, which sank after leaving the ship. Commodore Lavaud also lived in German Bay.
Kuebler was the name of one of the original settlers who died in the early years. Mr. Wool was the name of a man who has long since left. Messrs. Hempleman and Whelch, father of Mr Thomas Whelch, of Akaroa, were among the first to take up land in German Bay. Mr Libeau, Senior, was the first to start a dairy, and he found a good sale for his produce among the other settlers.
Mr. Waeckerle lived in the Bay until 1842. He then married and came to Akaroa, where he built a flour-mill on the site of the Chinamen's house. Mr. Breitmeyer was the only original settler who had a family, but most of the others in time married and settled down. Almost as soon as cattle were introduced from Sydney, dairying commenced; on a very small scale at first, each calf being of great value, and beef an enormous price. As the land, however, was cleared and sowed down, it became the settlers' chief employment, and, with the production of grass seed, has remained so to the present day,
German Bay was very beautiful when covered in bush, and, unlike many other Bays, has kept its beauty. This is chiefly owing to the early settlers taking care to plant out English trees as the bush, was burnt. The Willows, which are an important part of the landscape, were grown from slips brought by the emigrants from St. Helena, where they were taken from the tree over Napoleon's grave.
This bay received its name from the man who first bought land there. Mr. Robinson was sent down to Akaroa to act as a Magistrate by the New Zealand Company, being accompanied by a constable to enforce his authority. This was in 1840. Mr Robinson bought 100 acres, and the land is that where Mr. Saxton now resides. He never lived in the Bay for any length of time.
The Bay is a large one, and covered with heavy timber as it was then, it was soon seen that a mill would pay there. The early history of Robinson's Bay is the same as that of the other Peninsula inlets. Runaway sailors here found a refuge, and lived by pit sawing. It was no difficult matter in those days for sawyers to make £5 or £6 a week, and then not exert themselves very much.
The life they led, though lonely, was not an unhappy one. Building a whare in a convenient place by a creek, they stored up a good supply of provisions and necessary tools. They varied their fare, and spun out the quantity by occasional raids on the wild pigs and birds, and they had not far to look for these. When they got a decent cheque they revisited the haunts of civilisation and after knocking it down, went back and repeated the same process.
The Pavitts put up the first saw-mill in the Bay. Mr. S. C. Farr built it on the same site as that on which the mill afterwards worked by Messrs. Saxton and Williams stood. Mr. Hughes also possessed a mill here about the same time. These mills, however, did not cut much timber.
In 1865 Messrs. Saxton and Williams bought the land now occupied by Mr Saxton. The old mill was found to be in a rather dilapidated state, and not capable of doing much work. The new owners entirely renovated it, employed a great many men, and in a short time produced 1,000,000ft of timber yearly.
The timber was punted out to vessels in the Bay. Messrs. Lardner and Sims carried a great deal of it away in their pant. Captain Malcolmson, in the well- known Antelope, and Mr. E. Latter's vessels, among which were the Foam and the E. and U. Cameron, were kept busily employed. The s.s. Beautiful Star once took a cargo to Dunedin, and also the s.s. Wainui. There were a great many vessels employed at different times. Mr Hughes built the Isabella Jackson on the spot where Mr. Johnstone's house now is, The Pavitts built the Thetis on the beach.
Nearly all the old settlers now in the bay and many in different parts of the peninsula worked for Messrs. Saxton and Williams, thirty hands being employed by the mill. About fifty bullocks were used in dragging the big logs down the hills. The flat, of course, was first cleared, and here forty acres of hay were annually grown for the bullocks. The house of the Pavitts was situated a few yards away from Mr. Saxton's present dwelling. During a bush fire it was burnt, and they had to build a whare in the bush. The bush fires at times were very severe, and once the whole Bay was in a blaze, the inhabitants having to camp out in the open close to the beach.
Mr. Johnstone was one of the earliest settlers in Robinson's Bay, Mr. Barnett, of Le Bon's, also lived there before going over the hills. Mr. Piper, of Duvauchelle's, was in the Bay in the first year of its settlement, and Mr. E. S. Chappell was an early inhabitant. Messrs Whitfield, Duxbury, W. N. McDonald (deceased), Kingston and Tizzard came in a vessel called the Barracouta from the Otago gold fields. Mr. Gundy owned the place now occupied by Dr. Fisher, and was one of the first settlers, Mr. B. De Malmanche rented a large portion of Messrs. Saxton and Williams' land, that principally which was cleared. The Currys and many others came soon after the mill was started.
Mr. Johnstone, who was bullock driving for the mill owners, and Mr. L. Le Valliant were the first to start dairies. Messrs Saxton and Williams commenced a dairy which they rented to Mr. B. De Malmanche. In this dairy as many as eighty cows were milked, the buildings being where Mr. Saxton's house now stands. As the land was cleared, the men in employment in the mill bought it up and started dairying. The first sheep were brought into the Bay about twenty years ago.
Mr Saxton came out in the ship Westminster in 1858, in which ship also came Messrs A. Rodrigues, J. Wilkin, and others. Although in the Bay in that year he did not settle there until 1865, when he went into partnership with Mr. Williams, and they started the sawmill.
The only fatal accident which happened in the Bay was that by which a man named Tozer lost his life. He was cross-cutting with Mr. Kingston, and was on the lower side. On being sawn through, half of the log rolled on the unfortunate man, and crushed him to death. Mr Tolly, now living in Ashburton, once had his leg broken when turning a log drawn by bullocks.
The owners of the mill put up the jetty, which has gone to ruin. They bore all the expense of having it done, besides supplying all the timber. A tramway was laid up to the mill and extended up the valley three miles. This saved a great amount of labour, as vessels came and loaded at the jetty, and the nuisance of punting was done away with, besides saving a lot of work with the bullocks.
The owners of the mill built a school for the children of the men at work, on the site of Mr. Morgan's house, Afterwards, when Mr. A. C. Knight was Minister of Education, the Government bought land and erected the present school.
It is not many years ago since all the valuable timber was cut. The old jetty and tramway hare gone to ruin, but a new wharf has recently been put up. The mill property is now a sheep station occupied by Mr. Saxton. Dairying is the chief occupation of the settlers in the Bay.
DUVAUCHELLE'S BAY SOUTH
Duvauchelle's Bay is not single like the others, but contains two distinct valleys, each having its own watershed, and separated by a distinct ridge. In this article we propose to treat of that portion nearest Robinson's Bay, all of which (with the exception of a few sections) is occupied by Messrs. Piper Bros.
The name was derived from two brothers who held a couple of sections under the Nante Bordelaise Company. They never lived in the Bay, and yet it still bears their name. It was never a French settlement at all, and the first that is known of it is that Rauparaha had a big cannibal feast just where the tramway crosses the main road.
When forming the tramway, Messrs. Piper and Hodgson disinterred many old bones and other relics of these terrible festivities. Messrs. Narbey, Jandroit and others were living in the valley later on, sawing timber.
The first section disposed of by the Canterbury Association was one of 200 acres, which they gave on their collapse to Lord Lyttelton, Lord Cavendish, and Lord Charles Simeon in part payment of money advanced to the Association. These 200 acres were first held on a nominal lease from Mr. Harman, agent for the nobleman in question, by William Augustus Gordon, brother of the great "Chinese Gordon," whose death at Khartoum startled the civilized world. He resided in the Bay many years, working some time for Mr. Piper. He eventually went to Invercargill, where he died.
The first land bought under the Canter bury Provincial Land Laws was bought by Messrs. Cooper, Hodgson and Wilson. It was purchased in 1857, and consisted of fifty acres. They were sawing there for some eighteen months, and then Mr Harry Piper made his first purchase in the Bay a thirty-acre section where his house now stands.
The history of the Bay, as all Peninsula men know, is intimately connected with the gentleman we have mentioned. He had arrived in Canterbury in July, 1852, having come out in the "Old Samarang" with Sir John Hall, Mr A. C. Knight, Mr Wright (chief postmaster of Lyttelton), Mr Brown (brewer of Christchurch) and many other old settlers. Mr Piper came down to the Peninsula in November of that year to Mr T. S. Duncan, the late Crown Solicitor, who was then cockatooing in Decanter Bay. The following May (1853) he went to Mr John Hay in Pigeon Bay, and stayed till that gentleman left for Home, at the end of that year.
All the Pavitt family were sawing in Pigeon Bay at that time. There were seven of them, three pairs sawing and one man cooking. There was a great flood that autumn, and boats could float where the present road now runs. In those days Mr. E. Hay had pigs by the hundred, which were known by their tails being cut. They were fetched down to feed by blowing a cow horn. Wild pigs were of course distinguished by their long appendages. They were very plentiful, and used to come and feed with the tame ones, and strange to say the pig dogs (a breed known as Mclntosh's, half bull and half kangaroo) when let loose, never touched a short tailed pig, but always went straight for the wild ones.
One day Captain Thomas, of the Red Rover, and old "Skippy" (a whaler) saw a big wild boar running from the dogs up the road, and valiantly tried to stop him, but he quickly threw both over on their backs, strange to say without inflicting the slightest scratch. This pig was killed by Mr. Tom White ten minutes after. To show how bad these wild pigs were, Mr. Turner was stuck up for a long time on the fence at Hay's corner by a big boar, and a man named Joe Scott, coming round from Sinclair's to Hay's, was stuck up on top of an old saw pit for several hours.
After leaving Hay's, Mr. Piper went sawing with Mr. Hillier in Pigeon Bay, and after that went boating with old "Skippy," and afterwards sawed with Mr. Turner in Pigeon Bay. Mr. James Pawson, of Little Akaloa, came over to Robinson's Bay to flitch tor the Pavitt's at the saw mill, and Mr. Piper went mates with him, and then went to Hendersons, at the Commercial Hotel, Akaroa, where an immense business was then doing, LeBon's was the next place visited, where he joined Messrs Cuddon and Wilson in a small sawmill, the first erected there, but previously worked by the Cuffs. He afterwards sawed for some months with Eugene, the Frenchman, in Radcliffe's Gully, Ger man Bay. Mr. Piper afterwards sawed in Pawson's Valley.
In 1859, whilst residing in this place, Mr. Piper was induced by Messrs Hodgson, Cooper, Wilson and Henderson to join them in erecting a saw mill in Duvauchelle's, near his 30-acre section. At first the speculation was a total failure, owing in a great measure to defective engineering, Mr. Henderson then failed, and his fifth was sold to the other four proprietors, to whom the late Mr. Robert Heaton Rhodes proved on that occasion a good friend.
The first two cargoes of timber were lost, owing to demurrage charges caused by Mr. Henderson's failure. Some three years after that, Messrs. Piper and Hodgson bought out Messrs. Cooper and Wilson, and became sole proprietors. From this time the mill progressed favourably, and in a few years was improved and altered, the firm going to the expense of over a thousand pounds. The partners had sown down the logging roads and where the fire had run through the tops, with English grass, and the first cocksfoot Mr. Piper bought wag from Mr. George Armstrong, who had purchased it at Wellington, and let a bag go as a favour at a shilling a pound (alas there is no such price now a-days) It flourished exceedingly, and Mr. Piper sold many tons afterwards at from 6d to 6½d per Ib.
Indeed Messrs. Hodgson and Piper and the Messrs. Hay were the principal producers of cocksfoot in the days of its introduction. In 1874 Mr, Piper bought Mr. Hodgson out, but kept the mill running about six years after. Altogether some 20,000,000 feet of timber were sawn out of the valley, nine tenths of it being Totara, and grand Totara at that. Mr. Piper purchased the rest of the valley after Mr. Hodgson left, and has since remained sole proprietor, but eighteen months ago let the property to his sons, Messrs. Harry and James Piper.
Mr. Piper married in June, 1859, his wife coming out with Mr John Hay in the old Caroline Agnes. Mr. Piper was one of the old Peninsula boat's crew who held an unbeaten record of victory for seven years against all comers, both in Akaroa and Lyttelton. There were three Pawsons and W. Cormick in the Lyttelton crew besides Mr. Piper, and one of the Mclntosh's pulled in Akaroa. Mr. John Barwick, the well-known and esteemed Clerk of the Akaroa and Wainui Road Board, is another resident in this part of Duvauchelle's, besides Messrs. Piper. He lives upon one of the original Duvauchelle sections, of which he has been the occupier for many years past. Mr. Libeau's pretty home is in the corner of the Bay.
When the mill was in full swing, forty men were always employed. Clearing was very expensive in those days, the first lot of 70 acres being let to some Maoris for £4 an acre, and a bag of sugar and a pound of tobacco for every ten acres.
Mr. Piper has been associated with the local Government bodies since their start. He helped before the Road Boards were established, and has served well and faithfully both in them and the County Council, holding the position of Chairman in both bodies.
The Duvauchelle's of to-day is a very different place from that of the old times, when the saw-mill was first established. Where the mighty Totaras once proved a home for thousands of native birds, good succulent grasses nourish stock, which brings wealth to their proprietors and revenue to the Colonial Government. Many regret the passing away of the old order of things, and sentimentalise over the loss of those timbered solitudes where supple-jacks were thick, and the wild pig luxuriated, but we cannot help fancying that to the thinking person the present landscape is far more gratifying.
True gloomy Rembrandt- like shadows have disappeared, and the Tui no longer plumes his jewelled wings on the summit of some forest monarch, but in the stead of the past beauties are smiling slopes of grass, which carry in thousands those gentle friends of man, whose feet are truly said to make golden the soil over which they pass. It must not for a moment be thought that the settlers in Duvauchelle's have had no idea of preserving the original loveliness of the valley. A large patch of bush has been saved near the Summit, and endeavours have been made to encourage all vegetation sheltering the water courses with most satisfactory results.
The Konini, the Tutu, the ribbon wood, and dozens of other aboriginals spread a grateful shade over the waters, and lessen evaporation, while giving intense satisfaction to the artistic taste. Nor is this all, for on all sides rise plantations of trees from other countries. Of these the blue gums have best repaid their growers. In one place on the flat they reach an altitude of at least an hundred feet, rising side by side straight and graceful. The Pinus insignis has also done well, and the Macrocarpa fairly, but the Larch does not seem to thrive with that luxuriance, which might have been expected from the soil that contains the remains of so many thousands of its giant predecessors.
The creek is all protected by Willows on its banks, and many other forest trees, including Oak, Silver Poplar, Sycamores, and Scotch pines. There is a nice garden and orchard, and a tennis court, which we think will fairly challenge comparison with any on the Peninsula. In the future the Bay will be far lovelier than it is now; the old stumps will gradually disappear, and the many old buildings connected with the mill be destroyed, and covered with the sheltering grass whose silent march conquers so many scars on the bosom of old mother earth. Smooth and smiling with a peaceful English look will be the Duvauchelle's of our grandchildren.
But to those of the present generation, by whom the wilderness was reclaimed, these very stumps have all an interest. “From this tree," your guide will say, "Came all the fluming for the mill; from that we cut 2,100 feet of 8 by 1 inch boards from a single length." To them each old stump is a reminiscence of a victory of industry, a symbol of honest profit for hard toil, a part of the old Peninsula life which has, with its many toils and troubles and pleasures, passed away forever amongst the things that were. This is a valley which formerly supported a few hundred pigeons and a score or two of wild pigs, most of which were unfit for human consumption unless under very trying circumstances.
The great floods of 1886 did much damage in Duvauchelle's. A tremendous slip from the Okain's road covered the rich alluvial flat with clay, and the creek brought down boulders and rubbish till the woolshed was threatened, fences covered to the top rail, and much good pasture ruined for the time. Many of the young gum trees died from the lower portion of their trunks being covered, and it will be many years before traces of the disastrous event will be obliterated.
Messrs. Hay and Sinclair were the first settlers in this Bay. It was in the year 1844, in the month of April that these gentlemen, leaving their families in Wellington, sailed in a schooner from that port to seek land in the south, where they had heard of fine plains. They had originally left Scotland in 1839, and were going first of all to settle in the north, but the tales they had heard of the Canterbury and Taieri Plains made them very anxious to explore them. On arrival at Lyttelton, their first port of call, they did not know the exact locality of the Plains, but seeing the hills low at the head of Governor's Bay, they thought that must be the road.
Accordingly they climbed to the saddle of what is now Gebbie's Pass, but on arrival found to their disappointment only what they thought was sea on the other side, which was of course the waters of Lake Ellesmere. They then determined to try for the Taieri and accordingly sailed for Port Chalmers, and landed up b Anderson's Bay, but they were again unsuccessful, not going far enough to find the level land. They then determined to return north again, and sailed for Pigeon Bay, whither they had been driven by stress of weather on the way down. Here Mr. Sinclair announced his intention of making his home, as he was tired of wandering, and Mr. Hay decided to do the same.
It was then agreed that Mr Sinclair should occupy that part of the bay now known as Holmes' Bay, but then as Sinclair's, Mr. Hay taking the main bay itself. They then returned to Wellington, and brought down their families and some four head of cattle, and farming and other implements, amongst which were a plough and harness. At the time of the landing Mr. and Mrs. Sinclair had three sons and three daughters, and Mr. and Mrs. Hay two sons (Messrs James and Thomas Hay, then three and two years old respectively. The two families lived together for nearly two years, first in a tent, and then in a thatched whare.
We may here say that the inducement to settle in Pigeon Bay was that there was a settlement in Akaroa considered likely at that time to become one of the principal in the South Island. Finding they had not enough cattle, Messrs. Hay and Sinclair purchased some from Messrs. B. and G. Rhodes, for whom Mr George Rhodes was then managing a run consisting of the land since occupied by Messrs. Armstrong, Rhodes, and Haylock. We must not forget to mention that the schooner that brought the Messrs. Hay and Sinclair and their families to Pigeon Bay, also brought the Messrs. Deans, Gebbies, Mansons and their families, all these old settlers so well known to our readers arriving at the same date.
The cattle did wonderfully well in the bush, there being little clear land except at the points. As may be supposed, the living at those times was very primitive. There was no store nearer than Wellington, and consequently our settlers were sometimes out of flour, sugar, tea, and other things we consider necessary. Their principal meat food was pigeons and wild pork, and occasional ducks and teal. The pigeons were numberless, the old whalers having given the bay the name it bears from that circumstance. There used to be a good deal of exchange, too, with the whalers, who used to give slops and stores in exchange for vegetables and the beef, which was killed as the cattle increased.
About three or four years after the landing, Mr. Sinclair built a cutter of about eight or ten tons, with the intention of taking the produce of the Bay to Wellington. When she was completed she was loaded with all the produce in the Bay the result of a year's labour and sailed for Wellington.
The crew consisted of Mr. Sinclair, his eldest son George, Alfred Wallace, and another young man. Terrible to relate, the cutter never reached Wellington, and nothing was ever heard of her again. It was indeed a severe blow to the new settlers thus to lose the heads of one family and the whole result of so many months of arduous labour.
Mrs. Sinclair was inconsolable, and let the place to Mr Mclntosh, and went to Wellington. She returned after a time, however, and resided in Akaroa, and then again came to Pigeon Bay, Mr Mclntosh taking up the Bay now known by his name. Eventually in 1862 she sold out to Mr George Holmes and went to the Sandwich Islands, where she recently died at the advanced age of over ninety years.
About the beginning of 1851, Messrs. Sinclair and Hay built new houses, the former in Holmes' Bay, and the latter where Annandale used to stand. Mr. Sinclair's house was burnt, it will be remembered, only a few years ago, and Mr. Hay's house formed the kitchen at Annandale, and was of course destroyed by the slip.
Immediately after the Wairoa massacre, the Maoris agreed to murder all the whites in the South Island. They arranged to make fire signals, known as the old Maori telegraph, and begin with killing the Deans at Riccarton, then the people at Port Levy, Pigeon Bay, Akaroa, and elsewhere. The massacres were all to take place on the same day, and the natives were afterwards all to meet at Akaroa to destroy the whaling settlements.
It was a time of great terror, and Mr. Hay hardly knew what to do. However, he determined to remain with his family in the Bay, and sell his life as dearly as possible. He loaded all his guns and pistols ready, and, strange to say, the pistols remained loaded for no less than twenty-one years!
Luckily the plot was frustrated. First of all there were among the whalers and settlers men who had Maori wives, and these told their husbands. A chief named Bloody Jack, too, wrote to the chief at Port Levy, telling him that he would be his enemy for life if he touched the whites. There was some hesitation and delay, and eventually the plot was abandoned.
The next great event was the arrival of the first four ships on the 16th December, 1851. Need we say our settlers were delighted. Now there was no need to fear the Maoris, and there was a probable near market for produce and the advantages of society. It was indeed a red-letter day, and was duly celebrated.
After the founding of the settlement, Mr Hay had considerable trouble in getting his land secured to him. His original grant was for the North Island, where he had been unable to settle. However, his claims were at last allowed. At this time Messrs. Cuff, Stewart, Tom White, and a host of other settlers came to the Bay, and Messrs. Hunt, McKay, and others followed.
There was a fortnightly mail at that time, and the want of a school began to be keenly felt. Mr. Hay had some private teachers, not, however, of much ability, and then came Mr, Knowles and established the first school. Mr. Gillespie followed, and immensely increased the reputation of the school, and then came Mr. Fitzgerald, and to him came many pupils from Christchurch, and in fact all Canterbury. It was then, indeed, a most successful enterprise.
The gold discoveries of Australia began to have a very beneficial influence at this time. Besides clearing out a great many of the old dissolute sawyers and whalers, it increased the price of produce enormously. Oats went up to 8 shillings a bushel and potatoes to £8 and £10 per ton, and the settlers thrived. Afterwards the Dunedin diggings broke out, and so prices never got very low for years after.
The cocksfoot industry on the Peninsula was started by Mr Hay. He gave at the rate of 2s. 6d. per Ib. for the first seed, which he found did wonderfully well in the Bay. Soon it spread, and a demand set in, and in one year Messrs. Hay Bros, sold no less than, 70 tons at 8d per Ib. Mr. Hay was never covetous of land. He always wished to see neighbours around him, and encouraged them to settle.
When he died in 1863 he had only really acquired between 900 and 1,000 acres, but he had the preëmptive right over 2,000 more. During the subsequent trusteeship the estate enormously increased in value and acreage. It was eventually purchased by Messrs. James and Thomas Hay, the eldest sons, from the rest of the family, and is now, as all Canterbury settlers know, one of the finest estates in the colony.
Some years ago, however, a great misfortune occurred. On the 18th August, 1886, a terrible slip came from the hills above the Annnadale Homestead, and utterly overwhelmed it, burying the gatherings the relics of forty years in a sea of mud. Luckily it happened in the day time, and there was no loss of life.
The bay is one of the best on the Peninsula. It’s well managed Road Board has secured good roads for it. It has been well and thoroughly cleared and grassed, and if a future is fully assured, as all can see who visit its many smiling homesteads.
The following is an interesting account of an attempt amongst Maoris to break the "Tapu" in Pigeon Bay in 1853:
It appears that late in the year two sealing boats, carrying about twenty-five Maoris and half-castes, amongst which were some very pretty girls, arrived in Pigeon Bay from Dunedin. Most of these settled in the Bay, and as a good proportion of the men had been whaling, they were superior in their ideas to the old Maori superstitions, and laughed at the idea of the "Tapu."
A well-known Maori, named Toby, who had been a headsman in whaling boats for many years, took the lead in the movement, and after many and many a "korero," he and those who doubted the virtue of the "Tapu," resolved to test it by attempting to seize two large sealing boats over which the sacred Maori halo had been thrown, viz,, the one from which Bloody Jack had been knocked overboard and drowned whilst trying to land at Timaru, and another owned by the young chief Hapukuku.
These two boats were each under a bark whare upon the small flat near the present wharf, and the reason for wishing to utilise them was that the natives at that time nearly supplied Lyttelton with firewood and potatoes, which they hawked round from house to house upon their backs, and that these two boats would carry quite as much as five whale-boats. At this time there were two Kaiks in the bay. Thiah's occupied the flat near the wharf, with a population of about seventy-five. The other (Kingston's) was at the head of the bay, with some 150, besides a few at Sinclair's, and four whares in the gully below the wharf, called Hapukukas.
The old natives were quite alive to the proposed sacrilege, and had taken steps to prevent it, and this too in such a manner that the break- down was an utter surprise. Runners were sent to Kaikoura (north), and to Temuka (south), taking in the intermediate Kaiks, with instructions to go to Pigeon Bay at a certain date. In the meantime the breakers of the "Tapu" had hauled the boats to Gilbert's shed to be repaired and painted, Gilbert did not commence at once, which possibly saved some trouble, but the day of meeting saw some 400 to 500 strangers arrive in hot blood ready to fight for the old custom, and it nearly came to a contest, only the renegades were too few; so that after three days' feasting, koreroing, and blazing away powder, it was decided to cremate the boats. The boats were hauled to low water, covered with dry scrub, and burned, the natives, during the conflagration, doing a cry. Thus ended the largest native gathering on the Peninsula since the white man's time.
HEAD OF THE BAY
Although the bays called Duvauchelle's and Head of the Bay are often called by each other’s name, the bay in which Messrs. Piper, Barwick, and Libeau live is strictly Duvauchelle's. That in which the County Council Office and Post Office is, is really the Head of the Bay. They are in reality one bay, though two distinct valleys run back.
Mr. Libeau was the first white man who lived in Duvauchelle's or Head of the Bay. He came ashore from a whaler and built a whare on the spot where his son's house now stands. He arrived a year after the French immigrants came out to Akaroa, and was the father of the present resident. For many years the only inhabitants of the Head of the Bay were a number of sawyers. Many of them afterwards became settlers. Among them were Peter Connelly, Joseph Bruneau, Cortner, Nicholas, Louis LeValliant, Bernard and his nephew, and James Piper.
The timber in the valley was nearly all Totara and black pine, white pine growing on the flats close to the sea shore. Like the rest of the Peninsula, the Head of the Bay was covered in dense bush, which ran down to the water's edge. Even in those times, when pigs were plentiful all over the country, the Head of the Bay was famous as literally swarming with them. Many and exciting are the tales told of pig hunts in this locality, in the old days, by the early settlers.
The Pawsons arrived in the Bay in 1850, and cut the timber for the public house about to be built. Mr Pawson, Senior, came out to Port Nicholson in 1840, at the same time as Mr. James Wright, of Wainui, in the Coromandel, after a very stormy passage of nine months, six weeks of which were spent in the cove of Cork repairing the damage caused by a terrific gale the vessel experienced shortly after commencing the voyage.
The family remained in the Wellington Province for nine years, and then left for Lyttelton in the Queen. From Lyttelton they came to Little Akaloa in a ketch commanded by Captain Bruce, of Bruce Hotel notoriety. The boat belonged to the Maoris, and was probably the same that Hempletnan bought the Peninsula from Bloody Jack for, The Pawsons did not live in the Head of the Bay until 1857.
The Pawsons came over occasionally for a time to cut timber. They saw the fine timber the bay possessed in these visits, and bought a mill from Mr Bryant in Barry's Bay. The three brothers, Messrs. Jonas, John, and William Pawson, worked it together for a number of years, erecting it a good way up the valley, close to the house in which the latter now lives. Mr. John finally bought his two brothers out, and worked it himself for a time, afterwards building the big mill at the bottom of the Bay. Messrs. Saxton and Williams afterwards bought the mill, and worked it very profitably. Mr. Shad bolt, who arrived about the year 1855, was the last owner of the mill, taking it and cutting out all the timber in the bay.
Nearly all the old settlers about the Head of the Bay were employed in those times at this mill, and a great quantity of timber was cut annually. The vessels that took away this timber were all built in the bay. Mr. Robert Close first started a boat-building yard, close to where the jetty has been built. He built the vessels Sylph, Sea-devil, and others. The latter is very likely the boat afterwards owned by Mr. Thacker, which came to grief in Little Okain's.
Messrs. Barwick and Wilson afterwards opened a yard in Duvauchelle's. They had come to the colony from Tasmania. Mr. Barwick is by trade a shipbuilder, spending nine years at it, the earlier portion at Sunderland and afterwards at London.
The partners, before coming to the Head of the Bay, had built the vessel Foam at Red House Bay. At Duvauchelle's they built the vessels Vixen, Breeze, Spray, Dart, and the Wainui, afterwards converted into a steamer. They also built the first three boats for Timaru lighterage. The Spray is the only one of these vessels that is now heard of.
Messrs . Barwick and Wilson dissolved partnership when they had built these vessels for Mr E. O. Latter, and Mr. Barwick worked the yard himself for two years. During that time he built a large punt, which was afterwards turned into the ketch Alice Jane, that is so well known all over the Peninsula.
Mr. Wilson was a very peculiar character, being very mean in scraping together all he possibly could, and very generous in distributing it, "giving the shirt off his back," as one who knew him well puts it, "to the first man who asked him." He was the first man to open a store in the bay, but it did not prove very profitable to him, as he gave away most of his goods. While Messrs. Barwick and Wilson worked the shipyard, they employed over thirty men. After working the yard by himself for two years, Mr. Barwick gave it up as there was no work to be done, nearly all the timber in the bay being cut.
Bush fires were pretty common in those early days. At the time the whole Peninsula was on fire, starting from Pigeon Bay, the whole of the bush in the Head of the Bay was killed, and the fire, bursting out afresh at intervals, was burning from January to May. The settlers in the Bay have been very fortunate, as there has never been a fatal accident there, the only serious one remembered being that by which a man lost his legs through having them crushed under a tree when he was bush felling.
The public house was first owned by Messrs. Tribe and Selig. Afterwards Mr. Pawson, Senior, became owner, and Mr. John Anderson took it from him. Mr. Shadbolt then bought it. Messrs. Vanstone, Barker and Brookes each managed the hotel after this, Mr. Shadbolt taking charge of it again when they had left it. Mr. Cooper had it after it was re-built, after being burnt down during the ever memorable hotel burning period. Mr. and Mrs. Wilson now rule there most worthily.
During the early years in the history of the bay, the want of a school was much felt, for there were many children in the bay, belonging to the men working at the mill, and a place of worship was also much needed. Lord Lyttelton therefore gave half an acre for the purpose, and the men clubbed together and gave timber and work until they had erected a suitable building. The half-acre is that on which the church now stands, though it has been re-built.
The Akaroa and Wainui Road Board was shifted from Akaroa to the Head of the Bay in 1878. The office stood where the Courthouse now is. The permanent road to Little Akaloa from the Bay was made about 1864. At the same time the road from Akaroa to Christchurch was made up Red John's Gully. The evidence of the Board's usefulness is visible everywhere, and the bay is perhaps the most central position where its headquarters could be situated. The County Council offices were built in 1879, and the Post and Telegraph Office in the same year.
Messrs Barker (father of Mr Beilby Barker) and Fry established the line of coaches running from Christchurch and Pigeon Bay to Akaroa, Mr S. Lee has owned the business for some considerable time. During the last few years communication with Christchurch has been considerably facilitated, and until the railway touches on Akaroa Harbour it is unlikely we shall be able to reach the capital of the province in a shorter time than we can at present.
There are interesting associations of the past in this bay, lying, as it does, over that rugged coast, between Peraki and Land's End, as the West Head of the harbour is called.
It receives its name from a towering rock guarding the entrance, and rising up out of the troubled waters like an old castle. The bay is lonely and deserted, and the traces of those who lived there long ago are fast disappearing. It is open to the sou'west, and heavy seas roll in there at times, as the cave -worn sides and the heaps of smooth boulders on the beach testify well.
Island Bay was inhabited by whalers in the early days; those brave men who lived hard lives and thought danger a pleasure. Since the whales left the coast the bay has been deserted and lonely.
The Maoris had a pah here. Traces of their stone walls and huts are still to be seen, and greenstone to be found. The writer picked up a small chisel of this substance, and many handsome implements formed of it have been discovered from time to time. These Maoris, in fact all of them along this coast, were a wild race. Horrible stories are told of their cannibalism, and some of the white men earliest in the bays have witnessed their ungodly feasts.
When the Maoris wanted to settle a quarrel they went about it in a quite business-like manner. Over they went to Wakamoa, the next bay towards the Heads, and after they had had enough and buried their dead, came home. The ridges, graves of many a stalwart warrior, are conspicuous yet.
The natives living in Island Bay had a fine natural fortress, for it was almost impregnable. Thick heavy bush behind, steep walls on either side (for it is quite a stiff climb into the bay), and a beach on which it is comfortable to land only when the weather is fine. A slip while climbing the rocky sides would be dangerous.
A story is told of a Maori woman who was collecting firewood on the spur* She tied a bundle to her back and commenced to descend; slipping, she rolled from the top to the bottom, and little life was left in her when she stopped rolling.
The cheese from Mr. McPhail's dairy, before the road was made, was carried down on men's backs to the beach. However, they did it is a puzzle, and a very few trips up and down would satisfy an ordinary Hercules. When climbing the side, and thinking of it, one fancies that it would have been a great temptation to let them roll in spite of all consequences. The bay, however, is little visited except by the cattle on the runs. There is a fine creek running down the valley, though on the tops of the spurs the land is very parched in summer.
About 1840 whaling stations were established all along the coast, at Ikeraki, Peraki, Oauhau, and Island Bay. Whales were plentiful at that time, and there was always plenty of employment for the boats of the whalers. Two large boilers, set in stone, are still in the bay, and there were others, which have disappeared.
There is also an arrangement for hauling the whales on shore, fixed on the same principle as the capstan of a ship. Heaps of whalebone litter the beach and the sides of the creek. A great quantity of it has, it is said, been carried away to bone-dust factories. Staves of innumerable casks are piled up around the boilers.
One can imagine the wild scene the bay presented on some dark night, from the sea, when the whalers were busy boiling down; the fires blazing up, and showing their forms distinctly against the back- ground of heavy bush. The stormy seas which frequently roll into the bay show signs of having been far up the creek, where lie embedded great pieces of whalebone.
Messrs. W. Green (after whom Green's Point is named), C. Brown and Hall were the first owners of the Island Bay fishery. After leaving the station, Charlie Brown went away in a whaling vessel never afterwards heard of, and supposed to have been wrecked on the coast. Hall left Akaroa one day in a whale boat with a quantity of provisions for the bay. The boat and its crew were never seen again. It is supposed that they got fast to a whale and were capsized, as the last time the boat was seen, it was close to one that was spouting about the head of the harbour.
The next owner of the fishery was Mr. George Rhodes, brother of Mr. Robert Rhodes. Samuel. Williams, commonly known as Yankee Sam, whaled for him. When the gold diggings broke out in Melbourne, he went there. Mr. James Wright, the hearty old Baron of Wakamoa, got the tri-pots from him, and whaled there until the persecuted whales left these waters to seek some quieter home.
At times when a school of whales appeared the whole coast was very busy. About thirty boats were often out. Casks were bought at Lyttelton, and when filled at the bay were sent back again in small vessels. The Maoris were employed on the stations, and some of them were expert whalers.
No wrecks have actually occurred in Island Bay itself, A brig was lost between it and Land's End some years ago, and all hands drowned. She was laden with timber, great quantities of it floating up Akaroa Harbour. Snufflenose, where the ill-fated Clyde was lost, is a little way round the coast towards Peraki. It is believed that other vessels have met their fate on this point, as wreckage has been found from time to time.
There would be little hope for mariners whose vessel dashed on the rocks under those cliffs on a wild night, for the wind blows with terrific force into the bight, and it has been supposed that a current sets into it from the open ocean, so that the danger was fearful indeed before the lighthouse was erected.
The spurs slope gently down from the tragic Bossu, connected with so many weird disappearances and mysterious horrors. The extent of the country on that side of the hills surprises one who has just come up the steep side that rises from the harbour. There is much ploughable land there; thousands of acres, and all of the settlers in those parts grow their fields of oats and vegetables in ploughed land.
The residents in Island Bay are: Messrs. James Wright, McPhail, Niblett, and Randall. The property formerly occupied by Mr. A. J. Knight is now farmed by Mr. Randall. The Baron of Wakamoa was the first to settle in the bay. After him came Mr. J. McKinnon, who lived on the property now owned by Mr. McPhail. Mr. H. Niblett was next, and Mr, Randall arrived recently. The land is very valuable for dairying purposes, and for pasturing sheep and cattle. The settlers now have a road as good as any on the Peninsula, and the difficult labour of shipping from the bay is done away with, as they can easily cart their produce to Wainui. It was to Mr. McPhail's house the survivor of the Clyde came, that being the nearest to the scene of the catastrophe.
The view from Mt. Bossu is a grand one on one side the harbour, on the other the bight, across which are seen the snow-clad Alps, and, terminating the coast, the waters of Ellesmere. There are many picturesque spots in the bay, and the bracing winds from the open ocean make it a healthy place. There is a waterfall close to Island Bay two hundred feet high, which is a grand sight.
Little River was one of the latest settled portions of the Peninsula, although it is one of the most important places now. It is the outlet from the harbour to the Plains, and all of the Bay roads converge towards it.
The settlement, consisting as it does of large valleys and fertile flats, well watered, was, it is not difficult to perceive even now, covered in dense bush. Since the mills have been at work, it has been a lively go-ahead place.
There is still a large quantity of timber to be cut, but year by year the bush is disappearing. When it is gone, the chief export from the place ceasing, Little River will have to depend on its grazing and its cocks- footing, and as there is such a large area suitable for dairying purposes, the export of cheese from the Peninsula will be largely increased when the bush land is cut up into dairy farms.
The Maoris in the early times had a pah at the mouth of the Little River. Tikawilla, or a person of some such name, was the chief. These Maoris obtained their food supplies from where Little River now is, hunting the wild pigs, and killing the wild birds.
Little River was famous for its birds. The traveller through it in former years was always enchanted by the songs, scarcely ever ceasing, of the denizens of the bush. It was also a most beautiful place prettier than it is now, and some of the largest trees on the Peninsula grew there. The Maoris were rich in provisions, for the river and lake swarmed with tunas and other native fish. When Rauparaha came down with his warriors, he sent some of his men over to Little River, but hearing of their approach, the natives did not await their arrival, but left their home for a time. It has always been, however, the district where the Maoris were in the largest number. A great many still live there, are on terms of equality with the European settlers, and own much of the best land about there. The Maoris annually grew large patches of Kumaras on the hills above Harman's bush.
Mr. Price was at Kaiapoi as early as 1881. Shortly afterwards he was whaling along the Peninsula Bays, and while at Ikeraki came over to Little River. Seeing the excellent timber there, he set two pairs of sawyers at work in 1840. The whalers at the stations in the Bays about Peraki often came over to the River, either walking over the hills, or sailing round to the outlet of Lake Forsyth into the sea. Messrs. Smith and Robinson (the latter of whom was the first Magistrate in Akaroa) owned that property now belonging to Mr. H. D. Buchanan. Mr. Buchanan's father came over from Ikeraki and bought them out, Smith going to Australia. This was about 1850.
Mr. Birdling also came from the fisheries, and bought up land about the River, forming that grand property now possessed by him, and from which some of the best stock in New Zealand is sent to the Addington market.
There was a good deal of sawing done in Little River in the old times, a great many runaway sailors from the whaling vessels around the const congregating there The lower flats were covered with Tutu, Maori cabbage and other vegetation, and it was difficult travelling to reach the valley. William Wood, commonly known as Paddy Wood, who started Oauhau whaling station, was in Little River early, and had land there. Messrs. White and Coop were the first to start the sawmill. The old building is still to be seen just opposite the Railway Station. To start a sawmill there was a much more difficult matter then than could be considered possible now. The engine was dragged from Christchurch by bullocks, and a great undertaking it was. When the mill was fixed up, there was no lack of material for it to work on.
A tramway was made to Lake Forsyth. This carried the timber, which was punted over the small lake to Birdling's Flat. Here it was put on another tramway, and conveyed to Lake Ellesmere, over which it was taken in punts and crafts to Hart's Creek, Leeston.
At one time there were several vessels employed on the lake for this purpose. A steamer also was built at Stony Point. There is very little left now to remind one of these doings. A jetty is still standing, which runs into Lake Forsyth, where the Christchurch Regatta is now held. The tramway has disappeared. The timber had to undergo a lot of handling, but its scarcity, and the good price then ruling, justified the labour. As may be supposed, a great many men were at work in connection with this mill, and these with their families settled the place.
A school was built for their children close to where the Forsyth Arms Hotel now is. There was another school built at Stony Point, of which Mr. Dowling was master. The house now belongs to Mr. Birdling. About thirty years ago the road from Christchurch to Little River was made by Messrs. Radford, Buckingham and Edmonds. Before this travelling was guess work, and those who wished to go to Little River, travelled round the points and over the lake flats, making the journey much longer than it is now.
The first dairies started in Little River were those of Messrs. Stanbury and G. W. Joblin. These dairies supplied the men working at the timber, and were very profitable then. As the bush was cleared the land was sown down and cocksfoot cut, As soon as the railway line was made to Birdling's Flat the Terawera sawmill was started, and is still doing a lot of work, The Western Valley mill was started some years ago, but has now completed its work. Mr. Stanbury made the road over the hill into the harbour. Little River has a Road Board of its own, and it has charge of a large district.
The new school was built about 1880, and the English Church before that, also the Maori Church on the Maori reserve. Both of these churches are prettily situated on the top of small hills, and are very picturesque. The Maori Hall, a commodious building, was erected in 1885, and is a great boon to the settlement, for here public amusements can take place. Formerly the inhabitants were badly off in this respect.
The Forsyth Arms Hotel was built many years ago, and it was unfortunate for travellers that it was not built nearer the spot where the railway ends. The horrible murder which took place at this hotel will be long remembered. The settlement of Little River has been a quiet one, and unfruitful of startling events It has been a history of quiet prosperity. Some day perhaps the railway will be extended to the foot of the hill, and the tunnel bored to the harbour, tapping the Peninsula.
Little River has a prosperous future before it, and in time it will be like the rest of the Peninsula a collection of fine farms, whose export will be cocksfoot, butter and cheese.
Perhaps the most picturesque of the bays on Lyttelton Harbour is that known as Charteris. It is so called from the surveyor who originally measured its area, and is of very considerable extent.
Separated by a spur from the head of Lyttelton Harbour, it is in reality the valley of Mount Herbert, the highest peak of our Peninsula, whose giant summits are far loftier than those famed heights of which Macaulay sang in his glorious verses that tell of the fiery warning that flashed through England when the Armada was seen approaching.
As seen from the bay, Mount Herbert has two great peaks, The one of greatest altitude is smooth to the summit, and towers in calm serenity over a frowning rocky peak, which at the first glance appears the real monarch, but in reality is some 200 feet lower. The saddle between these two is really the commencement of Charteris Bay; and from the very topmost tier of the hard rocks that crown the latter, gushes the spring that is the source of the large creek which finds its way into the harbour in the centre of the bay. It is said this spring is so near the peak that a very little work would cause it to flow in the opposite direction. However, after a somewhat precipitous course it reaches the head of a beautiful valley some three miles in length, along which it runs to the sea, forming many a cool pool and miniature waterfall in its fertilising progress.
Half way down the valley its course is confined within rather narrow limits by a great barrier of volcanic rock that almost closes the upper flats from those below. Very little labour indeed would make this a stronghold such as Blackmore tells us of in Lorna Doone, a place where, in the days gone by, a stately dame could in perfect safety dish up those storied spurs which warned her husband and sons that it was time to proceed on another cattle stealing expedition. From this point the valley rapidly extends in width, and is exceptionally fertile and well grassed.
The floods of a few years ago did considerable damage, bringing down great masses of shingle, and widening the bed of the creek vary greatly, but year by year the soil is gathering over the stones, and the grass is creeping over their grey sides, so that before long the emerald carpet will be as wide as ever. The creek is not untenanted; besides the eels, the trout that have been placed there have thriven, and in cool pools at the end of rapids can be seen gliding in the clear water.
At the end of one spur that embraces the bay (that on the Purau side) is a magnificent pinnacle of rock. It is fitly denominated Castle Peak, and so strong is the resemblance of ruined towers, that were it on the Rhine it would doubtless furnish many a tale to an imaginative guide.
These hill sides show no traces of having ever been entirely clothed with the "forest primeval," but in nooks of the mountain are many patches of Kowhai, Ngaio, Matapo, and other beautiful native trees that flourish exceedingly in these sheltered recesses.
No part of the Peninsula can be more beautiful than Charteris Bay when we saw it last, in an autumn sunset, the great rocks that cast no shadow here in a thirsty land, but hoard their liquid treasures to their summits, frowned in the deep purple of imperial majesty, and a thousand various shades flickered and faded over brown hill side and bright green valley, till a sombre haze shrouded all in the soft greys of approaching night.
It was Dr. Moore to whom fate allotted Charteris Bay when the sections were drawn for in England, and he came out to Lyttelton in the Sir James Pollock in 1851. He had neighbours on both sides, for the late Mr. Manson, Mr. Gebbie, and their families had settled at the Head of the Bay in 1845, and Mr. Fleming was located at Port Levy, and Mr. Rhodes at Purau.
Dr. Moore brought some good cattle out with him, and it was in Charteris Bay that the nucleus of those Peninsula herds which afterwards became so famous for their production of butter, cheese and beef, were first reared. Brother Phil, Cranberry, His Honour, and General Wolfe amongst the bulls, and Flash, Duchess, Creamy, and an Alderney named Dunny amongst the cows were household words amongst the Peninsula pioneers, and for a long time no female scion of the famous herd found its way into other hands, but has not this been already recorded in the " Stories of the Peninsula " by the Rev. R. R. Bradley.
There was another owner of properly in the Bay, a Mr. Rowe. He had a section in the early days, but went away, and was heard of no more. Five or six years ago, however, news came he had been living in Victoria, where he had prospered, and Mr. Helmore, a Christchurch lawyer, took possession of the property as his attorney.
Dr. Moore did not make a permanent home in Charteris Bay, and sold his property to the Rev. R. R. Bradley in 1858. Mr. Bradley was clergyman at Papanui before this, and after he became a farmer, he preached at Purau on alternate Sundays for seven consecutive years. Dr. Moore, after the sale, returned to England, where he had many connections, his father having been Mayor of Salisbury.
From October, 1858, to his death, a period of more than thirty-three years, the Rev. R. R. Bradley resided at Charteris Bay with his family, and the principal part of it, some 2000 acres, was in his possession. A great part was once owned by the late Mr. Manson, but he disposed of it finding he had too large an area to manage. There are a few small settlers in the Bay, the Simpsons and Hays, and very comfortable little homesteads they have, and lead happy and contented lives.
The house is pleasantly situated on rising land about half a mile from the beach. In front is a fine view of the bay, Rabbit Island, and the long peninsula which nearly joins it, and so much reminds one of Onawe in Akaroa Harbour. In the foreground are newly grassed paddocks, a few stately trees, the pretty homestead of Mr. Hay, and the school buildings, which are very neat.
At the back of the house is a splendid plantation of gums, with here and there a Pinus insignis and a Macrocarpa. In the bank at the back a cellar has been dug out, and very cool it is in the hottest weather. A neat Macrocarpa fence bounds the flower garden, which is rich in many flowers. The roses look particularly nice, and amongst the native shrubs and trees are specially to be noticed some grand specimens of the mountain palm, the giant cabbage tree, which here flourishes most luxuriantly.
Winding down the path to the left, past the garden, we come to the stockyard, which is very massively fenced and paved with stones. The stables are most spacious and excellent, as might be supposed, from their being under the management of Mr. Orton Bradley, the present owner of the estate.
The lower part of this beautiful Bay was the property of the Messrs. Masefield Bros, when the first edition of "Stories of Banks Peninsula" was published, but it now belongs to Mr. V. V. Masefield, Mr, William Masefield having gone to the Sounds.
The Native name of the Bay is Okururu, and the Messrs. Masefield quite agreed with the writer that it is a great pity the Maori appellation was ever altered. It appears that the present designation was given to it from a man named Gough, who lived there for many years among the natives.
These north-east Bays were amongst the last settled on the Peninsula, owing to the difficulty of access, and of getting away stock or shipping produce. This was so particularly the case with Okoruru, that during the great Kaihuanga or eat relation feud, many Maoris fled there in hopes of escaping the visits of their enemies by seeking a locality, the paths to which were almost inaccessible, and known to but few.
Enterprising Europeans, however, soon ascertained the exceeding richness of the soil, and a French settler, named M. Guin, purchased a section on the flat, and sent M. Peter Malmanche there to occupy it, and took some cattle over. The difficulty of landing, however, on the Gough's Bay beach was proved in this case, for the boat conveying M. Malmanche and his things was capsized in the surf, and although all hands landed safely, a large box, containing his wife's clothes and some other things, went to sea. M. Malmanche was in despair, but next morning, on visiting the shore, he was delighted to see the box high and dry on the sand. His spirits immediately revived, and he ran towards it, but what was his horror to find it was merely a shell, for the treacherous ocean had dashed out the bottom, and the valuable contents were, alas "full fathom five."
Peter Malmanche lived there some time, but a mysterious accident occurred, which for a period gave the bay an evil reputation. One night he retired to rest as usual, but when his wife awoke in the morning he was missing, and after a long search he was found by her in the bush, some distance from the house, in an insensible condition. There was a fearful wound on his head, and by his side was an axe covered with blood and hair. It was with great difficulty his life was saved, but when he recovered he could throw no light on the matter, always declaring he remembered nothing from the time he retired to rest till he recovered consciousness after the accident.
Investigations were attempted, but the matter remains a mystery to this day. He returned to the bay after the accident, and the whare got the reputation of being bewitched. The most mysterious and appalling noises were heard in the night, and are testified to by many persons above suspicion.
On one occasion Peter Malmanche nearly met with another accident that would probably have proved more disastrous than its predecessor, for one night, after being terribly annoyed by a succession of these mysterious and unaccountable noises, Mr. William Masefield took down a gun, and vowed he would shoot anything he saw in the neighbourhood of the house. Opening the door, he observed a dim figure near the whare, and, taking aim, had his finger on the trigger, when a loud cooee caused him to stop, and he found it was Peter Malmanche, who had walked over from Akaroa. It is thought that these strange sounds must have been the work of persons who were anxious to prevent the Messrs. Masefield settling, but if so the fraud was very skilfully devised and carried out, for to this day there is no clue to the mystery.
It was in company with Harry Head that Mr V. V. Masefield first explored the valley. Harry Head then lived at Waikerikikeri, and at that place the Messrs. Masefield bought some sections. Harry Head's wonderful powers of finding his way through the bush made him a splendid companion, and on exploring Gough's Bay Valley, and finding how fertile it was, Mr. Masefield determined to have it, and the brothers then commenced purchasing it.
They exchanged the sections at Waikerikikeri with Mr. John Smith, for some land he had purchased in Gough's Bay, and the owners of the sections bought by M. Guin and Boirreau disposed of them, so that gradually an estate of 1,200 acres was formed, containing some of the best land on the Peninsula. This land is divided into four paddocks of about 300 acres each, and there are several smaller enclosures for working the sheep easily.
Besides an excellent dwelling house, there is a large woolshed, excellent yards, and all the other usual appliances of successful sheep farming. Of course there is a dairy; and speaking of this, when the Messrs. Masefield first went to the bay they had cattle on the place, and a nice job they used to have with them, for the Bay was then of course all bush, and it was a terrible worry to get the cattle out, for horses could not be used in such country.
To hear the marvellous adventures of one snail-horned bullock that would persist in preferring Gough's Bay to the West Coast, is enough to make one's hair stand on end, but it is satisfactory to know that after all his extraordinary capers he eventually gladdened the hearts and stomachs of the Hokitika miners.
The house is a comparatively new one, the former erection, in which the mysterious noises used to be so prevalent, having been burnt down. This fire had very nearly a fatal termination. The origin was unknown, but Mr. Valentine Masefield, awaking one night, discovered the place was burning. He made for the outer door and got it open, and then called to Mr. W. Masefield, who was sleeping in another room. The door was fastened on the inside, and no doubt was jammed, and Mr. W. Masefield, after trying it, was obliged by the smoke to retreat to his bed, where he threw himself down, expecting to be suffocated. Mr. V. Masefield, however, never lost his presence of mind, but running to the outside window, he broke the panes of glass, and tore out part of the sash by main strength. The fresh air rushing in revived his brother, and he came to the window, and somehow was dragged through, badly burned, but safe. It was only just in time, for five minutes later the house fell in, one great mass of flame.
There is a clump of Ngaios and other native scrub at the back of the house, and a few Gums planted amongst them have grown wonderfully well. Going to the beach, which is half a mile from the house, one skirts a beautiful piece of bush that the Messrs. Masefield have left for ornamental purposes. These gentlemen deserve the thanks of all lovers of nature for the care they have exercised in this respect. Every here and there groups of the finest trees have been left, which add to the beauty of the scene, afford shelter to the stock, and a thousand times repay the grazing value of the land they cover.
Barbarous vandalism and a desperate greed for every blade of grass has spoiled the beauty of many a Peninsula home, and the efforts that are now being made to raise plantations of Pinus insignis and other trees, show what a wise thing it would have been to have spared a few patches of that unrivalled native bush that, once destroyed, no art can replace.
The creek is crossed by a bridge of a very long single span, the great Kowhai stringers of which show their elasticity, as well as their strength, as one passes over. The road is that by which the wool and grass seed is taken to the shipping place, and winds round the base of the hills. There is sand on the borders of the creek. It is a black sand, like that of Taranaki, and is full of metal, which can easily be separated from it by washing.
A little out of the road is an interesting Ngaio tree, on which a disappointed Maori ended his troubles not many years ago. It appears that he swung grimly in the air, like an old highwayman on a heath for many a day, but that at last his friends scooped a deep hole in the ground beneath the tree, and, severing the rope by which he was suspended, let him fall into it. These bones, however, were not destined to rest for long, for a medical gentleman of Akaroa wanted a good skeleton, and hearing of this, disinterred it and carried it away in triumph.
Maori bones are common in Gough's, and the sitting-room was once decorated with the bleached skulls, and huge femurs of two grim old warriors, the desecration of whose remains in "Kai Huanga" times might doubtless have caused a thousand deaths. The tapu surrounding them, however, has now lost its power, and the little hands of children have turned into playthings these mouldering frames of mouths and eyes, from which many an order for death and many a glance of hatred may have issued.
After passing this "dule tree" one comes to where a wooded valley gives birth to a creek, which here joins the main one. At the junction of the creeks grow a number of wild potatoes. Year after year they spring up with great luxuriance, and when I saw them were in full flower, and doubtless had large tubers underneath. It must be the site of an old Maori garden, and the sandy soil be peculiarly favourable for the growth of the tuber.
Here is a saw mill, which has now been busy for some years cutting the Totara, Matai, and Kahikatea, which abound on the table-land above, known as Crown Island Gully. It originally belonged to M. B. Malmanche, but is now in the hands of a company. Past the mill we come to a pathway hewn out of the rock, and leading to the shipping place. It cost some £150 to form this short rocky track, and put down the tramway and erect the crane. It was hard work, but it has answered well, for a steamer can now come in to within a few chains of the place where the produce is lowered into the boat j and besides that, shipping can always go on except in southerly weather.
The scene here is very grand: a great flat rock partially protects the haven where the boats are loaded, and against this the sea breaks in most imposing waves. There are some curious caves in these rocks, and one goes right through the cliff. It was through this that Mr. W. Masefield once came after a rather dangerous swim. Mr. Pilliett had said no man could swim through the surf, and one day, when a nasty sea was rolling in, and Mr. Adams was present, he resolved to prove to the contrary. He got through the surf all right, but the drawback was too strong for him to return; and, finding he was getting exhausted, he made for some fiat rocks outside the Heads, and thence by climbing and swimming he reached the other side of the cavern, and, watching his chance, came through. Those who have seen the place can alone realise the difficulty of the feat.
On another occasion he swam off to the Red Rover, which was coming in to take away cheese and bacon. It was blowing hard from the south-east, and he remained on board all night. The Red Rover was then undecked, and they had to lay all night in the cold, covered over with what they could get. Next day, in spite of the gale, he swam ashore, and in a lull in the wind some produce was got aboard and some stores landed. Crossing the creek, one can visit the site of the old Maori pah. It is of large extent, and it is said some seven hundred natives once lived there.
The sea mast have encroached a good deal on the land here, for the waves reach where some of the whares formerly stood, but a peculiar grass, sown and cared for by Mr. V. Masefield, has checked the encroachment of the sea. The earthworks surrounding the pah are still easily traced. They enclose a space fully two acres in extent, and this is again subdivided.
An immense amount of work must have been done, and the side of the hill on the south shows traces of having been cultivated from base to summit. Heaps of the bones of fish, dogs, seals and other animals testify to the enormous feasts once held here, and when the Messrs. Masefield first went there, the poles on which fish were stretched to dry were still standing. At every step sharpening stones, pieces of greenstone, stones ground into implements, and other curiosities can be found in the sand.
A great Cedar log was washed ashore here, and is inscribed with many initials from visitors. The stern of the Crest was dashed on these sands, and parts of the vessels wrecked at Timaru. The limb of the Ngaio tree on which the Maori hung himself is a part of the boat used for shipping, and the piece of the Crest is a part of the dairy.
A few Maoris were living here to within twenty years ago. Some ten years before this the natives then residing there purchased a boat of a man named Howland, living in Okain's. The boat was principally putty and paint, and proved a terrible bargain to the unfortunate purchasers. One day all the resident Maoris, with the exception of three women, went out in this boat to fish on the bank, which is some two or three miles out to sea. They caught a great number of huge Hapuka, and these flapping about in the boat, soon opened a number of leaks, and she sunk, and not a soul was saved,
The unfortunate women, whose husbands were aboard, saw the catastrophe from the cliffs, but were powerless to aid. They refused to quit the spot, however, and go to Onuku, though repeatedly urged, saying that they would remain to bury the bones of their husbands when they came ashore.
Many a weary year they waited, but the bones never came, and at last one of the faithful creatures died, and the others were then removed by force by the other natives. When their friends were drowned these women took all their valuables, placed them in two canoes, and buried them in the creek. They never divulged the secret of the hiding place, and though the Maoris from Akaroa have spent many a day in endeavouring to discover them, their efforts have been unsuccessful. Some day perhaps the wind in its freaks will lay them bare, and then what a host of Maori relics will reward the finder!
Speaking of canoes, this was once a great place for them, and the best Totaras all through the bush have been felled to construct them. One just finished is still to be seen on the top of a lofty ridge in the middle of the dense bush, and there is another commenced on the Waikerikikeri side. Think of the immense labour it must have cost to get these vessels down, after the tedious work of making them with fire and stones! No white man would have dreamed of such an undertaking.
The old landing place was under the south head. Here it was only possible to ship in very calm southerly weather, and even then was very dangerous. There is a great cave here under the cliff, and at the time of our visit a grand king penguin occupied a ledge in it, and blinked at us as we lay watching the waves roll in.
There is a curious cleft in the cliff here, about 15ft above the level, and one day, curious to find what it contained, the Messrs. Masefield took down a ladder and inspected it. Inside, within the once warm folds of a cloak of pigeon's feathers, lay the mouldering bones of a little child. How many years had passed since tender hands had reverently placed it in this remote situation?
The view from this place is remarkably fine. The bold cliffs of the northern head, which rise 600ft sheer from the sea, the many rocks in the Bay against which the waves dash sheets of foam, the southern head with its 400 feet of overhanging rock, and inland the peaceful valley and gentle spurs, with patches of bush here and there, and above all, the great peaks of the main range form together a most imposing picture, and it was with regret I turned my steps towards the house.
Going back on the south bank of the creek, through the flat, no one can help noticing the extraordinary growth of grass. All the posts in the 60 acre paddock you go through came from one great Totara tree, and there were some left over.
The walk up the valley is very delightful, the trees being of exceptional beauty. There are a great number of Nikau palms, and a curious kind of broadleaf growing here, which I have never seen before. It takes root in the forks of the big pines, and gradually grows down till it reaches the earth, where it roots, and gaining fresh strength, gradually embraces and strangles the tree like the Rata. It is very beautiful, its leaves being larger and brighter than those of the common broadleaf.
The Messrs, Masefield turned out turkeys and geese in the valley. Three of each were turned out. The turkeys increased so fast that in a few years there were hundreds, but of late they seem to be declining in numbers. We saw several healthy broods. The geese have always done wonderfully well, and there is a great flock of them. The native birds are still numerous, but the Kakas and pigeons have disappeared. Mr. V. Masefield does not believe that these birds have been shot out, but that they have migrated to the West Coast. He says that the kakas disappeared in a very short time: that one month there were thousands and the next none; so that they cannot have been destroyed, but must have sought some other locality.
Gough's Bay was once the home of innumerable Wekas. For some years every tussock and every piece of bush was thick with them, and the dogs used to kill as many as twenty a day. A few years ago these also took their departure. From making enquiries, Mr. Masefield traced the arrival of these birds. They came in one immense line from the west, round Lake Ellesmere, and their course to the east must have been stopped by the sea at Gough's Bay.
The red- headed parakeets also suddenly disappeared. There were some of the native rats nine or ten years ago. They were fond of living in the trees, and one was caught in the fork of a tree as it was being felled. The Norwegians, however, have since appeared, and the natives seem to be extinct.
The other residents in the Bay are Messrs. Geo. Kearney and Jules Lelievre. Both have fine properties, stretching from the end of the flat to the summit of the range. In the years to come, we have little doubt that all these gentlemen will have many tenants, and that this beautiful Bay as in the days of old will support a large population.
Very beautiful is the head of the Peraki Valley. Thick bush spreads out just below the summit, and here were still to be found, a very few years ago, the wild pigs in considerable numbers. Here also is one of the last haunts of the native pigeon, and the Moko Mokos, Tuis and other birds swarm in thousands.
The track winds on the left-hand side of the gully going down, and crosses the first tongue of bush running out on to the tussocked peaks pretty near the summit. In making this road a strange thing occurred.
Though the track was cut through the virgin bush, where none had been known to go before, the largest tree at the creek crossing, a large broadleaf, was found to have been carved with the letters L, y, A, r. The gully was thereupon called after the lady who was then Miss Lucy Aylmer, and it bears her name on the Government maps to this day.
The hills on the right hand side of the valley are very steep in places, and there is one great beetling crag that overlooks the valley, out of which springs a marvellous stone steeple, a splinter formed by some convulsion of nature into an exceptional shape. Above this again towers the Devil's Gap, a great double rock, between the pinnacles of which the road to Little River passes. Grey and stern as they are at the summit, near the base these rocks are clad in the loveliest foliage, and wherever a fissure in their sides gives room for a root to penetrate, there is a curtain of emerald leaves.
For a long way the beauty of the scene is unmarred by the so-called improvements, and we feel we are really travelling under the shadow of "the forest primeval," but, on a corner being turned, the usual hideous array of trunk-covered ground and bare sticks, which look what they really are the naked skeletons of burnt trees tortured in the fire, spring up around us.
On reaching the burnt ground, we come to a creek that has had its rocky bed torn into strange shapes by a great slip from the top of the overlooking spurs* Mr. Worsley was camped near when the slip came down, and woke and listened to the terrible thunder of the descending rocks, but they spared him, stopping their mad course, however, only a few yards from his tent.
It must be remembered that the writer fully recognises the absolute necessity of clearing the bush away, but he cannot help regretting it. The reason that the upper part of the Peraki Valley is certainly more beautiful than any other place on the Peninsula, is that it is so completely in a state of nature one great mass of varied foliage, "musical with birds." It will go soon, and with it will vanish the wild pigeons, and the majority of the other birds.
Messrs. Snow and Anson did their very best to save some of the handsomer trees in the valley. A few groves left here and there will, at any rate, remind one in a year or two, of a beauty that will then have passed away forever.
But, to resume. On and on we go down the long valley, the beautiful harbour being full in sight, its sheltered water smooth as a mill pond, while white crests ornament the waves outside. There is a calm beauty in this scene too, different of course from the mighty grandeur of the peaks, and the wondrous variety of the forest tints, but yet of exceeding merit.
The centre of the valley is still here and there dotted with scrub, and wherever water has seamed the side of the spurs a line of green bushes marks its course. Here and there the picturesque tents and huts of the bush and grass seed cutters relieve the eye; and beyond all, the two long low spurs clasp in a loving shelter that historical sheet of water, on whose beach landed the first white settlers of this island.
Crossing numerous small creeks we at last reach the station, which is sheltered from the Nor’ west by a row of great Gum trees. The house is surrounded by a pleasant orchard, which was planted and tended with great care by one of those Carews who were its former proprietors. It is said that when he left he cut down two Pear trees, saying that the fruit was so delicious he could not bear to think of strangers eating it.
There are convenient buildings all round, and good paddocks for the cattle. The yards and woolshed are some little distance down the flat towards the sea. There are some five thousand acres on the Peraki run, which is now the property of Mr. F. A. Anson, Mr. Snow, who was formerly in partnership, having gone to the North.
The great historical interest in Peraki centres in the old whaling settlement that once existed on the bench. From Mr. Anson's house to the sea, one cannot take a step without being reminded of the incidents recorded in Hempleman’s famous diary. It will be remembered that it was at that place the brig Bee landed Hempleman and his men to prosecute the whale fishery in the year 1835.
There are still thousands of the bones of whales to testify the success of the party. Great heaps of them are all around one, standing at high water mark, and there are more sad memorials also in the mounds that mark the spot where some of these adventurous men, who met their death by drowning, lie buried.
On the left hand side, looking seaward, is a rock called "Simpson's rock," where that veteran whaler used to look out for whales, and nearly underneath it is the point where the unfortunate steamer Westport received the injuries that eventually caused her total loss. The site of the "Long House," the principal building in the old whaling times, is still visible, and so are the places where the caldrons were fixed, in which the oil was tried out.
It was here that "Bloody Jack" came with his followers to demand the lives of those North Island Maori boys that were working there; the safety of one of whom was purchased by Hempleman and his men by the present of a boat.
By the by, we have all beard that Hempleman saved the life of one of these boys by heading him up in a cask, and so hiding him from his enemies, but an altogether new version of this story is now current. It appears it was not one of the boys at all, who was headed up in a cask, but a young fellow who came from Wairewa to Peraki, and who, knowing that Bloody Jack and his party were coming to Peraki, kept it a secret from Hempleman.
When the party did come, and the boy Jacky was killed, and the other lad ransomed for the boat, Hempleman was so angry at not having received warning from this man of their danger, that he headed him up in a cask as a punishment, and kept him there for weeks, feeding him through the bung- hole. It was only at the intercession of some other Maoris he at last consented to his release; and when the cask was broken open, and he was liberated, he was nearly dead with the frightful stench and the cramped position in which he had been kept so long.
Mr. Simpson told me that a Maori girl was also killed here, and that the flesh was distributed; so that it has been the scene of more than one dark tragedy. It must indeed have been a lonely place in those days, and the brave fellows who lived there showed great courage. The bush then came down to the water's edge, and rude and toilsome was the path leading to the Harbour of Akaroa.
Even when they got there, it was a great chance if they could have had any aid, as for many months in the year there were no vessels there, so that it may be said they carried their lives in their hands. Hempleman must not only have been a courageous, but a very politic man, to save his little settlement in safety, when the fierce natives could have murdered them whenever it suited their will.
Many a weary night he must have spent, fearing the worst, and he certainly had a just claim on the Government for a good grant of land after surmounting so many perils. His first claim was, I believe, the whole of the Peraki valley, bounded by the crest of the two spurs and the summit of the main range; but, as we know, he afterwards grew more ambitious, and claimed a huge slice of the Peninsula.
Simpson tells me that the men had very hard times when they first landed at Peraki, Hempleman brought some boards for his house, but the others had to sleep in casks for some time, and afterwards they put up such very temporary erections, being entirely unused to whare building, that they had to be stayed by lines, which had to be shifted when the wind changed, so that they should not be blown over.
Hempleman’s first wife was buried there, but I do not know the exact spot; in fact, the sand has drifted in patches over what seems to have been the principal part of the settlement, which was not far above high water mark. One large mound is said to denote the grave of a Maori chief, but Peraki has never been a great Maori burying place.
In the adjoining bay, on Mr. Buchanan's property, known as Tumble-down Bay, there are great numbers of human bones, which are sometimes laid bare by the action of the sea, and then again covered by the friendly sand. Peraki beach is a beautiful smooth and sandy one, without rocks, and shelving so gradually, that we had to walk out a very long distance at low water before we could get far enough to bathe. The Bay abounds with fish, and Mr. Thomas Brough and others often used to go there to catch Moki, Kawhaia, and butter and Crayfish, with which latter the rocky ledges absolutely swarm.