1842 - Latest Information from the Settlement of New Plymouth - GENERAL REVIEW OF THE PROCEEDINGS IN THE COLONY

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  1842 - Latest Information from the Settlement of New Plymouth - GENERAL REVIEW OF THE PROCEEDINGS IN THE COLONY
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(Where not otherwise stated, the Extracts are from the Journal of Mr. Cutfield, the Emigration Agent.)

THE Settlement having been thus finally chosen, "All hands, also four natives, commenced on the morning of the 9th of March, to build a house upon the bank of the Ewatoki."

Agreement with the Natives.

On the 10th, Mr. Carrington writes, I took an interpreter with me the first thing this morning, and clearly explained to the natives who were upon the spot where I wished to build the house, and about the land being sold to the white people, which they all admitted. I then drew squares upon the ground, and made them comprehend the value of their reserves, with which they were very much pleased, and immediately went to work for me, cutting and clearing the wood. I agreed to pay them with tobacco.

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Arrival of the William Bryan with the Pioneer Settlers.

March 30.--The men employed in removing their luggage from this place to the town. At ten o'clock A.M., I was told a vessel was in sight (the William Bryan),--went to the commanding rocks, and tried to make out her flag--could not--too far off--saluted her with a couple of guns as she opened the anchorage; she was distant at this time about four miles. I immediately took Mr. Barrett's whale-boat and crew, went off to her, and at six o'clock P.M., she was safely anchored about three-quarters of a mile north-east of Centre Sugar Loaf. Fine clear day, with fresh breeze from south-east.

Landing of Passengers and Stores.

On the 1st of April the passengers and stores were landed from the William Bryan, and, next day, a meeting of the agent and the emigrants was held to determine the rate of wages, which were finally fixed at 5s. per day for labourers, and 7s. for mechanics.

Allotments of Land to the Labourers.

On the 21st Mr. Cutfield moved one of the tents from Nga Motu, to a piece of ground near the town, which he named Holsworthy Hill; 1 and in order to encourage the workmen in the Company's service, on this hill I have allotted each man in the expedition a small spot for building a house, with permission to hold it for two years, at a rental of 6d. a year. At the expiration of two years, the land to be given up, or a superior rent demanded by the Company's agent.

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Trade with the Waicato Tribe.

May 7.--A Waicato chief, and some of his people, who have been here for some time, building two houses on speculation, offered them to me for a certain quantity of goods, or in New Zealand phraseology, 'trade.' At the appointed time, between twenty and thirty natives, men and women, assembled round the storehouse door, where, having seated themselves, they remained with great composure till the different articles were brought out and shewn them. The 'trade' offered for one house consisted of two pair of blankets, a double-barrelled gun, six shirts, three red caps, two pair of trousers, and a camblet cloak. After thoroughly examining the 'hentro' (price), and holding a consultation with the women, they complained of there being nothing for the females; they, however, modestly requested in addition, four pair of blankets, some iron pots, and some pieces of print. This was quite out of the question, and on its being intimated to them, five or six rose and carried the different articles into the storehouse, and the business was at an end.

As the chief Terobia was to leave the next morning, and being a man of considerable influence with his tribe, I thought it advisable to stand well with him, considering the reports which are in circulation relative to the tribe coming down 'for no good.' I therefore consulted with Mr. Barrett, on the propriety of making him a present. This he advised me to do, observing that it would be returned in some way or other on a future day. I accordingly made him a present of the cloak, requesting Mr. Barrett to say, that, notwithstanding we could not make a bargain, we were not to be the worse friends.

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Terobia is a fine man, very quiet in his demeanour, but has been a great warrior.

First Whale for the Season.

May 18th.--The weather getting very cold in the evening. The thermometer standing generally at 8 P.M. about 40 deg. Mid-day warm and pleasant. The first whale for the season made its appearance between the Sugar Loaf Islands.

Preparation of the Ground for the Wheat.

May 22.--Commenced turning up the ground for the wheat. The soil is rich in the extreme. Our old agricultural labourers say there is no gentleman's garden in England anything to surpass it. It is not, however, merely this spot: every part which I have yet seen, for some miles round, is the same; there is no choice of soil, only locality.

The best tool for clearing the fern-root is what our labourers call 'bittocks,' or 'mattocks,' similar to those sent out under the name of 'potatoe-axes.'

Weather on 30th of May, (corresponding to 30th Nov. in England.)

May 30.--A most delightful day, and warm enough to induce us to sit out of doors after an early dinner, enjoying the beautiful scenery around.

Progress of Vegetable Growth in Two Winter Months.

June 23.--It will be remembered, that on the 21st of April, I sowed, for experiment sake, various seeds in the cleared piece of ground in front of the Store-house. I will now state what success I have met with. The radishes are very good, and fit to

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draw. Of fine plants which have met with a favoured spot, one is as large in circumference as a shilling, the others something less; but the generality of the plants are as large as any one could wish, for the table. The turnips are progressing very well, and some will be fit to draw in about three weeks from the present time. The onions are small, but I think will stand the winter, and come in early in the spring. The mustard and cress came tolerably well, and would have succeeded much better with a little temporary shelter from the cold winds. The lettuce plants will stand the winter, and come in early like the rest, in the spring. The ground on which the Store-house stands not having been chosen for the sake of the land, but for situation, was perhaps one of the worst for the experiment, being of too sandy a nature, and open to the N.W. winds.

A "Strike" amongst the Workmen.

July 19.--This morning, at the hour of going to work, the labourers assembled in a body at the Store, and demanded an increase of wages, on the plea that provisions had risen in price, particularly flour. Flour has hitherto been sold at 3 1/2d., fresh pork at 7 1/2d., and sugar at 4d. Flour is now selling at 4d., fresh pork at 5d., sugar at 6d.; tea, of which we have but little, at 4s. 6d. It will be seen that I have purchased American flour from the Lapwing at 35l. per ton, and Colonial at 25l.; these I had mixed, and sell at 4d., it having cost the Company 3 3/4d. nearly, leaving a farthing per lb., or 2l. per ton for landing and drawing to the Store. Being perfectly satisfied that wages, when compared with the price of provisions and the number of hours the men work, are too high rather than too low, I declined entertaining

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the slightest idea of a rise in wages, at the same time explaining to the men that flour, sugar, &c., were sold at the lowest possible price. After much grumbling they left me, and I observe that nearly all, instead of taking the road to the wood, returned home. From this I understood it to be a 'strike.'

July 21.--At the usual hour for work four men, who were at work on the 19th, came as usual for orders, much to my surprise, for I had been given to understand that no man dare go to work on pain of having his house pulled down. These men intimated that they had no intention, and never had, of refusing to work. At 10 the remainder of the people came down for a parley. Having called together the Company's officers, and Messrs. Baynes and Douglas (settlers), we met them; and, after an hour's conversation, pretty well convinced them of their error, and further, that they had been too well treated.

Effects of Frost.

July 30.--This unfortunate frost, after so much rain, has cut off all my English potatoes, planted on the 7th of May, which were six inches above the ground, and looking well. This is a convincing proof that potatoes cannot be grown here in the winter months, at least with any degree of certainty. Turnips and radishes, however, thrive well, and may be sown at any season.

Capture of a Whale.

Mr. Barrett's boats were after a whale this morning, which was killed; but sinking, it was anchored about 4 miles from the land, till decomposition causes it to rise, which is generally the case in about 48 hours.

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For the last two days there has scarcely been a wash on the shore. This fortunately does not agree with Col. Wakefield's dispatch, 'that Taranake cannot be approached from the sea except after a long calm.' Experience tells me, that one day, with the wind off the land after a N.W. gale, and which is generally the case, makes the shore practicable for landing goods.

Mr. Weekes, the Colonial Surgeon, writes on November 13th, 1841:--

The following abstracts from my Journal, which I have made for your inspection, will perhaps enable you to form some idea of the weather we have experienced since our arrival in this Colony.

The first table contains the temperature and quantity of rain; the second, the state of the winds. The thermometer was kept at the south end of an apartment without a fire place. The white frosts were always dispelled with the rising sun. The winds which render the roadstead dangerous are the N. and N.W. The best winds for landing boats are from S.W. to N.E. inclusive. The months of September, October, and November, are more windy and unsettled than those at any other period of the year.

As Medical Officer to the Company, I have merely to add that the climate is very healthy, and very little sickness has occurred, notwithstanding the damp houses most have hitherto been obliged to live in. Two deaths only have occurred; the one from a kick of a horse, the other from excessive drinking.

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[Temperature and weather.]



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Arrival of the Amelia Thompson and Regina.

On the 4th of September, the Amelia Thompson reached the settlement, and just in time, it would appear, from Mr. Aubrey's account.

Sept. 4.--"The Amelia Thompson reached this on the 4th inst. We hailed her arrival with delight, the provisions of the William Bryan being nearly exhausted; and, had not Mr. Cutfield succeeded in purchasing some from a small schooner that was trading round the coast, I scarcely know what might have been the consequence. No flour had been served out for more than a fortnight previous, and we were beginning to be very anxious for the safety of the ship, as she was due long before she made her appearance."--Mr. H. R. Aubrey to Mr. Woollcombe, Sept. 26, 1841.

It happened most unfortunately that both the Amelia Thompson, which arrived on the 4th Sept., and the Regina, on the 3d of Oct., reached the settlement in the most tempestuous season that the natives remembered to have seen. The consequence was that much delay took place, and much risk incurred in landing the passengers and goods from both vessels; and when the last advices were dispatched, it was doubtful whether the Regina would be got off from a bank, on which, missing stays, she had been stranded. No doubt the deficiency, in respect of shelter, must be taken into account; but the opinion of all, who have yet written home, seems to be, that in ordinary seasons mooring-chains and a jetty would be amply sufficient to guard against accidents of the above kind. It is by no means clear that the accident to the Regina is to be attributed entirely to bad weather.

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It appears from the official report that she was lying within half a mile of the shore, and that when the anchor was hove up, she canted the wrong way, and struck on the rocks. The probability is, that had she slipped and stood out to sea in time, no accident would have occurred.

Captain Liardet writes to the Directors:--"I am told by every one here, that the weather has been unusually bad this month; so much so, that several people who have been from seven to ten years at Taranake, state that they have never seen any thing like it before. Mr. Barrett (well known to the Company) is amongst the number."

In the meantime, the work of laying out the town and suburbs appears to have been forwarded briskly: the surveyor writing, on the 13th of October,--

"The suburban lands will, it is possible, be ready for clearing in a month or six weeks,--certainly not before. Lines now extend from two to three miles at the back or south of the town, and nearly the same distance south west.

Suburbans will soon be opened for choice there, and for early numbers those will be the most desirable situations; but the undulating country to the north, will, I think, be found the best suited to those who have late choices. It is a most beautiful district; the whole distance between the Enui (the limit of the town to the north) and the Waitera, is ten miles distant, well irrigated by innumerable streams, and, for the most part, covered with beautiful shrubs, a certain indication of good soil. The rural land will come in at Waitera, and it is said that a second township will be formed there hereafter. The district of Waitera certainly possesses many advantages; the

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greatest is the size of the river, which, although it has a bar at the mouth, is capable, in fine weather, of admitting vessels of small tonnage.

I shall give out the town in a few days, as soon as the vessels are gone. I have as yet given out only six of the suburban, but in a fortnight or three weeks shall be able to give out many. I have several miles of cutting done."

On the subject of the surveys, and of the different localities for town and suburban allotments, the following remarks of Mr. H. Aubrey will be found worthy of attention.

"The town sections immediately on or in the vicinity of the Ewatoki river, are, as far as I can judge at present, likely to be the most sought after. Some of the individuals holding early choices, talk of selecting theirs at the back of Holsworthy, 2 where I had at one time an idea of fixing mine: that situation possesses, with the exception of the timber, every advantage which it is possible to have here. The clearance may be effected at a comparative trifling expense, and the soil equals any I have seen. Had I chosen my section there, I should not have thought of bringing it into cultivation. Its vicinity to what is likely to be the most flourishing part of the town would cause it to be eagerly sought after by persons in business for their storehouses and dwellings, &c.; and the course I should have pursued would have been to divide it into a quarter or half acre allotments, and reserved or sold each allotment, as might have been found most advantageous."--Mr. H. R. Aubrey, Letter to Mr. Woollcombe, Sept. 21, 1841.

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On the 10th November the town was all given out, and it was then anticipated that within a few weeks the suburban lands would be also ready.

Arrival of the 'Oriental.'--Prospects.

The last accounts from the Colony are contained in the following announcement in the Messrs. Halse's letter, from which we have already quoted:--

"On the 7th November, the Oriental arrived; and Captain King, who boarded her, returned immediately with Captain Liardet, to our surprise and pleasure. He is a man of spirit and talent. One hundred and five emigrants landed from the Oriental. Captain Liardet had come from Port Nicholson, and the mate (Watson) of the Amelia Thompson, came from the same place, and intends to settle. Dawson, the captain, intends to return to settle; and besides the mate, his steward, second mate, and three or four of the crew, are already in the colony. All this looks well for the settlement."

1   Vide Frontispiece.
2   This is the spot on which the labourers of the Pioneer Expedition built their huts.

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