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IT appears to be a well-established fact that the most readable diaries just happen. Of her own Jane Welsh Carlyle writes: "I began quite promiscuously without any moral end in view, but just as the Scotch professor drank whisky, 'because I like it and because it is cheap'." Fred Bason whose fourth published diary was edited and introduced by Noel Coward some years ago had this to say: "It is imperative that the genuine diarist has complete sincerity.... The fake diary is compiled with publication in mind."
No journal writer ever had publication farther from his mind than did Vicesimus Lush. His grand-daughter, Aroha Ruddock, a daughter of the beloved "Annette", made this point when there was some prospect of publication - she stressed that he had preferred to keep this record for the eyes of his family, and an entry in the early days when it was being circulated among friends in England supports this view. The first entry was written in a raupo whare at St John's College the day after landing in Auckland from the ship Barbara Gordon. Having promised to share his colonial experiences with his brother Alfred and his sisters Eliza and Anne, he wasted no time in keeping his word; by the time he had been in the country three months he was a dedicated New Zealander as The Auckland Journals of Vicesimus Lush make abundantly clear.
It is perhaps unfortunate that the Waikato journals should be published out of sequence - The Thames Journals of Vicesimus Lush followed the first of the trilogy. At the time of editing this seemed for the best in spite of the risk of some slight repetition necessary as a connecting link. The state of the original Waikato journals may be described fairly as an
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editor's nightmare. For reasons that can be no more than guesswork there are some wide gaps that it would be presumptuous to attempt to bridge and probably unwise to speculate upon. All that could be done was to strive for continuity and even that modest aim was frustrated by the fact that at one period at least the mind of the diarist does not appear to have been on his journal; one can only surmise that his work, better suited to a man twenty years younger - hard riding in all weathers, rough living conditions and irregular meals - was taking its toll. And any editor must feel a surge of gratitude to long dead Eliza Lush when she chided her brother for leaving many sheets of the quarto writing-paper (thin, and yet tough enough to survive travel, and more than a century of storage) either incorrectly dated or not dated at all.
The detective work that the state of this Waikato manuscript has entailed has been considerable: it has had to take into account the colour of the writing-paper and the ink used, also the penmanship of the diarist, who employed both a steel nib and what appears to have been a quill - certainly Vicesimus Lush was near enough to the eighteenth century to make his own pens with the help of a penknife. Some degree of help, and further complications, are provided by an unknown hand that has dated a number of the pages; many of them are followed by a question mark that has too often turned hope into despair.
A helpful source of background information has been a collection of letters, copies of which were sent to me by a descendant of Charles and Caroline Abraham. Charles Abraham, an old Etonian as was his close friend Bishop Selwyn, eventually became the first Bishop of Wellington. His wife Caroline kept up a lively correspondence with friends in England - preserved in what is now called the Marriott collection together with letters from Mrs Selwyn, Lady Martin and others.
According to Caroline Abraham the year 1864 ended on a helpful note. Confidence was believed to be returning "to the Native Mind. Tauranga chiefs are about to lay down their arms -- and our Soldiers and Sailors rejoice in the prospect of a hateful war coming to an end." Lady Martin's husband Sir William, lately first Chief Justice of New Zealand, believed
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that the war was becoming unpopular even with such settlers as had approved of it, "all but the few who want to keep up high prices". By 1865 the Bishop's lady was writing: "Wellington is now the seat of Government. One perceives a marked difference in the appearance and Demeanour of the people in the streets already. We hear that the rough swaggerers with bandit sort of hat and air are Australians - come to enlighten our benighted world."
Governor Grey was blamed for blunders that had offended both Maori and pakeha. He and General Duncan Cameron disagreed over estimates for the cost of continuing the Great South Road into the Waikato. "And now he [General Cameron] finds even in Peace that, in making the road into the Waikato, he has had the utmost difficulty in maintaining an advanced post only a few miles beyond the metalled road! Does it not seem curious that men did not have common sense about such things?" Another dilemma was the prospect of unexpected violence on the home front. The Revd J. F. Lloyd presents a picturesque view on Auckland's peril: "The Enemy may come from the Waikato - but they will be white-faced Waikato Regts that will be the enemies. This Waikato force was drawn chiefly off the Police rolls at Melbourne, the consequence is that numbers of them are now under arrest.... The existing Police is no match for them."
Lady Martin was a shrewd observer of the colonial scene during these troubled years. She and her husband were friends of the Lush family who shared Vicesimus's views on the fallacy of the war. "We have a Governor sent for his special gifts for conciliating native peoples - and he is trusted by nobody. We have 10,000 troops sent into the country with all the appliances of modern warfare to see what force can do when moral persuasion has been supposed to fail - and after more than two years' fighting the country is not conquered, and the Papers own that the War has been a failure.
"Nor on the other hand do the insurgent Maoris behave like men who have got up a rebellion and glory in their success. William Thompson has just sent in his petition to the members of the Assembly at Wellington, that there may be arbitration conducted by just and good men. He names the present Chief Justice and Mr Beckham as men who will be just judges between the Races; or if this can [not] be allowed, he begs
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the Queen to appoint some good and wise man to come out, that her laws may be confirmed here in peace.... Soldiers who came two years ago from India with the Mutiny fresh in their minds now unite in praising this gallant foe....
"The Minister quarrels with the Governor. The Governor quarrels with the General, the General with the new Ministers, and the Papers abuse everybody by turns."
As a final commentary on the year 1865 by Lady Martin: "Times are not cheery and the greed of the late Ministers has poured in immigrants into this province to occupy confiscated land.... Several of the struggling settlements will dwindle away when the Troops leave. The Maoris are not conquered but exasperated.... And we are all, the General and Provincial Governments included, as poor as Church Mice."
When appointed by Bishop Selwyn as Minister to the Inner Waikato, Vicesimus Lush was living at Ewelme Cottage, the house he had built eighteen months earlier on what was then called Grammar School Road. For some months before his appointment in July 1865, he had continued to serve Howick parish as Vicar; he was also taking services at Papakura, Wairoa South (Clevedon), Wairoa Road (Ardmore), Drury and the Queen's Redoubt at Pokeno. Having welcomed a further fifty of military pensioner families at Howick, he set out for his new headquarters at Drury with the eventual prospect of long rides from what was known as "the Bishop's house" to the various settlements springing up across the country from the Wairoa district on the east to the Pukekohe, Waiuku and Mauku area on the west coast. His parish ran southward from Papakura (then included as part of the Inner Waikato) to Port Waikato and down that wild coast to Raglan. The dangers and discomforts of bush travel and uncertain meals, often scanty though offered with generous hospitality, were difficult problems. The offer of shelter for the night sometimes meant the hosts had to sleep on the floor. Even at the best of times, the seasoned bush traveller was uneasily conscious of the fact that those who fed him often went without food themselves. 1
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During the war years the New Zealand Government passed a Bill intended for the protection of "well disposed Inhabitants of both races". A proposal was made for the establishment of settlers, grouped in numerous small settlements, who would be required to defend themselves and to serve wherever they might be ordered to go within New Zealand. One year later in December 1864 the Government proclaimed the acquisition of all lands taken by Her Majesty's armed forces, and the confiscation of all Waikato country east of the Waikato River and north of the Puniu. This meant that apart from about six thousand acres near Waiuku nearly all the previously Maori-owned land was ceded to the Crown; no attempt was made to wait for the sitting of the Maori Compensation Court. By 1864 the Waikato Regiments were established on military settlements as far south as Te Awamutu, and the Government was able to give its attention to the Special Waikato Immigration Scheme.
Early the same year the ship Light Brigade, bound for England, carried two men who were to advise agents in England, Scotland and Ireland on the selection of suitable immigrants to be located on land south of Papakura and in the outer Waikato. These were John Martyn of Ramarama and Joseph May of Auckland. Later William Berg of Capetown sponsored a small group of South Africans, to be known to their fellow-settlers as "the Cape pigeons".
Arrangements for the reception of these people were not entirely without imagination. An effort was made to consider their comfort on the voyage out and it was promised that "the scale of dietary shall be liberal". The intending emigrant was warned that at first he would not be able to live upon the land granted to him. An "amount not exceeding £15" was offered for the building of his house - to be repaid by monthly instalments. At this stage the inevitable happened and the Government of New Zealand discovered that a hoped-for loan of £3,000,000 was not viewed kindly on the London stock market. Consequently the estimate of settlers to be accepted declined from twenty thousand to a mere three thousand.
The first ship to leave Britain was the Helenslee from Glasgow, on 10 September 1864. She was followed by Resolute and Viola, also from the Clyde, and the Bombay from London. The Bombay contingent named their settlement after this ship,
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though it does not seem likely they would wish to remember the storm that caused her to be towed into Auckland on 18 March 1865, dismasted, with her sails in shreds - and four hundred passengers aboard. Ships carrying emigrants from the Cape of Good Hope for Mr Lush's new parish were the Steinwarder which came into port without incident, helped by favouring winds and fair weather, followed by Alfred, Maori, Reihersteig and finally Eveline. In all there were thirteen ships, two of them from Ireland.
As usual there had been delay in surveying allotments for newly-arrived settlers. Arrangements made for their reception had one characteristic in common - the accommodation was universally uncomfortable. Some of the South Africans were taken over to the North Shore to occupy a corrugated-iron shed (formerly used for Maori prisoners), where they stayed for some weeks; others were housed at Onehunga and were fortunate enough to find work in Auckland. They went on to Drury where they lived for a time in disused barracks and worked at roadmaking until their permanent settlements were ready at Tuhimata, Pukekohe and Maketu (now called Peach Hill), east of Drury. The Viola's passengers had the distinction of being loaded into small boats from their ship and taken up the Wairoa River to Clevedon, Otau (Ness Valley) and Papakura, though they too had their share of miserable lodgings.
Of all the places Mr Lush visited the favourite of the new Minister was Maketu. He admired the fertile, gracefully shaped valley heavily planted with peach trees, particularly when the trees were in blossom against a background of sombre bush, apparently quite unaware that this effect was due to the Maori owners from whom the land had been confiscated. From 1815 onward the Bay of Islands mission stations had given peach stones (originally imported from Australia) to all returning travellers from the south; they germinated and flourished, as did Cape gooseberries, and were much valued by both races. It is still possible to glimpse the original charm of this lovely valley today and to feel real sorrow for the dispossessed Maori tribe who had no quarrel with their supplanters.
It was not long before the Minister felt the difficulties of the newscomers weighing heavily upon him. The established settlers at such centres as Mauku and Waiuku were beginning to find their feet again after the losses caused by the war
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troubles of 1863 but the new migrants had nothing but hope to sustain them and that was wearing thin. Equipped with unostentatious gifts of food and clothing - and with such advice as he could conscientiously impart - Vicesimus Lush steered his way through his parish where only a handful of settlers were in a position to contribute to his small salary, much less subsidise their new neighbours by offering money for work that would have been of value to both parties.
By 1866-7 the immigrants were not the only ones to find themselves in serious difficulties. In a depressed Auckland people were queuing at soup kitchens, but within the Inner Waikato farmers, barely recovered from the war but thankful for small mercies, were beginning to come forward with practical help. Odd jobs that earned the little the employer was able to pay were offered and accepted thankfully. Church attendance improved; ragged garments kept many a mother from church though she could send her bare-footed children in cut-down remnants of her own dresses and feel they did her credit. It is awesome to recall that even the simplest garment meant hours of hand-sewing - that the practice of "turning" a dress or coat required careful unpicking of all seams until the material could be reversed and sewn up again with the close, fine stitches that hard wear demanded. This turning process was sometimes done as many as three times.
As was the custom in the nineteenth century, practical members of the community took it upon themselves to start what may be compared with the English "cottage industries", which not only encouraged skill and self-respect but in time actually brought in money. Edward Constable, who appears to have been Waiuku's leading citizen, started a flax-mill and others grew up around it. The Minister and the Resident Magistrate at Port Waikato, R. O. Stewart, worked diligently at introducing a method of "retting" the flax - scraping the green leaf and freeing the fibre, which brought in the handsome sum of £25 a ton - for the benefit of those living far from a mill. With more enthusiasm than commonsense, realising that no family possessed the necessary iron kettle for boiling the green blades, the benevolent pair suggested the family camp-oven should be used; how the housewife was to cook without it was completely overlooked. But their declared faith that God who sends hard times also supplies cushions was justified
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-- even while teachers and pupils were discussing the difficulties a government agent rode in and announced the imminent arrival of a number of "go-ashores" - large iron boilers of great practical value.
At the beginning of 1867 gum-digging also started in earnest. Camps were set up in such likely places as the Papakura Valley, where the great kauri trees had been lying undisturbed for centuries, and at Waiuku Peninsula. But August 1867 saw the turning of the tide: gold was discovered at the Thames, bringing work and hope to the distressed Waikato settlers. More than thirty years earlier, on 31 December 1833, an entry in the journal of the Revd J. A. Wilson, C. M. S. missionary and retired naval officer, had recorded the first mention of gold in the vicinity of Thames; the Wilson family were then living at the Puriri mission station: "Revd William Williams arrived from a tour in the direction of Tauranga. He showed me a stone containing mineral seemingly gold, less than a walnut in size, which he picked up after crossing the Ohinemuri, a small river which flows into the Waihou some miles from this." But now the situation was full of promise - within a few months men from the Inner Waikato who had flocked to the goldfields were sending home money to their wives with orders to buy pigs and cows, hens and turkeys and geese, so that the empty allotments soon had well stocked farmyards even if the dwellings on them were still raupo whares and slab huts. Those who had endured and survived the bad times became the founders of later prosperity.
At the beginning of his itinerant ministry Vicesimus Lush noted with approval that most of his parishioners were of a sociable habit of mind, if without the opportunity to indulge it as much as they would like. The Speedy family of The Grange 2 (Mauku) were dedicated party hosts, from Major James Speedy, Resident Magistrate, and his wife Sarah Mason Speedy (nee Mellsop) to their youngest daughter Rose and her pet monkey, an amiable animal with a taste for cake. A retired Imperial officer who had served in India with the 3rd Buffs, and one of those early settlers who were on excellent terms with the Maori people, Major Speedy usually arranged a Christmas entertainment for his friends as well as taking
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considerable interest in their religious welfare. Although The Grange was not a particularly large homestead it was amazing what could be done with wide verandahs sheltered by tarpaulins and lanterns hung from trees in the garden on fine moonlit nights.
The Speedy hospitality had a strange sequel when war came to the Waiuku-Mauku district in 1863. A massacre is said to have been planned and a time chosen when it was realised that Princess Sophia, daughter of the Maori King, was visiting her relations at Mangere. It was feared by the conspirators that she might be in danger, apart from being a useful hostage if captured, so another night was chosen. This coincided with one of the settlers' gayest celebrations -- that marking the marriage of the Prince and Princess of Wales 3 - and the countryside was well lit with bonfires on all the principal hills in the district. The Maoris abandoned their plans and retired to their settlement to keep watch during the night. The settlers knew nothing of this episode until some time later when an old Maori lay-reader told Major Speedy of the danger that his family had escaped.
The first quarterly report received by Bishop Selwyn for the Diocesan Records in September 1865 outlines the strenuous life of his new priest "The following districts, viz. Waikupa Creek, Turanga Creek, Wairoa [Clevedon], Wairoa Road [Ardmore], Drury and Papakura - and the new settlements of Kerikeri [Kirikiri], Maketu, Bombay, Paparata, Williamson's Clearing and Tuakau I have visited, I think I may say thoroughly, for I believe there is not a family belonging to the Church residing in them which I have not called upon and many of the families two or three times. Bombay (or Paparata as Mr Bowling calls it) is the new Immigrant settlement about a mile beyond Williamson's Clearing on the East side of the Great South Road. I have also visited, but as yet in a less thorough manner, Waiuku, Mauku, Pukekohe, Pokeno and Otau [Ness Valley] and, for the sake of learning the route and distance, I have also paid a hurried visit to Port Waikato. I have stated to the people at Maketu and Bombay my willingness to hold a week day Service once a month, directly the government have erected the School house
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promised to each settlement.... Mr Donaldson, the Manager of the Maketu settlement, pointed out to me a very desirable site for a Church the top of a knoll in the centre of the village. He thinks it can be purchased as a Church site for a very moderate sum.... At Waiuku the highest spot in the village, the spot on which the Redoubt was made, is now for sale."
This well compiled assessment appears to have impressed the Bishop though it is likely to have stirred some uneasiness in the minds of those Diocesan officials who controlled the almost non-existent finance available for even the most modest schemes. But a century ago both self-help and enterprise were usual and successful. On 22 August 1866 Mr Lush and Mr Kempthorne were out early in the morning "begging for our new Church of St Peter's in the Forest [Bombay]" from the citizens of Auckland and even farther afield as this extract from a letter dated 23 September 1868 from Mr Lush to his cousin Selina shows:
"At this present moment we have but one ill in our family - dear little Anne, and she is convalescent: but at times we have had much and serious illness: especially with poor Charles. By the way, Selina, I have to thank you for a donation of £5 to any one of my numerous (poor) churches - many thanks, very many - I have devoted it to St Peter's in the Forest and intend it as the very first commencement of an endowment for that Church - a sort of 'nest egg' around which other gifts may accumulate. If you see your way I shall have no objection to your making the gift Annual - There now - call O'Connell the big beggar man - have not I surpassed him?"
The reference to "poor Charlie" is timely. He suffered from violent attacks of illness that ended in a period of unconsciousness, diagnosed by the family physician as a legacy from that scarlet fever epidemic of 1854 when his brother Alfred and two sisters, Charlotte and Mary, died within one week of what appears to have been a very virulent form of that disease; Charles recovered but his health deteriorated steadily as he became older. In 1864 as a boy of fifteen he was attending the Church of England Grammar School. The time spent at school was broken, though he appears to have done well when fit to attend, but his presence at Ewelme Cottage was
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invaluable to his harassed father as he showed considerable ability in dealing with the builders when alterations were required and in attending to the simpler work himself. He also kept a journal that is of great value as a check on his father's letters as well as being of considerable interest in its own right.
"January 22nd: 1864. Kerr's cart came in the morning and was loaded with things we had packed up last night to go to our new house near Parnell. Then Wagstaff's horse and light cart came here [to Howick] in which Papa drove Martin, Mrs Cole, Edward and me into Parnell: and we all had dinner at our new house." The new house offered great scope for the handyman Charles was becoming. He fitted various rooms with simple furniture, organised the winter's wood-supply, arranged a supply of fodder for his father's horses, and undertook the religious education of Mrs Cole, the family's housekeeper, who could not read. "May 27: The men put up the bridge at the bottom of the road [St George's Bay Road] today and I daresay we shall feel the advantage of it. I ran down at 12 o'clock to see in what way the men were making it. 28: When school was over I went to Elley the butcher to order some meat, and then to Watts at Mechanic's Bay to order one tun [sic] of firewood. They both came here this afternoon. Twenty bundles of quicks 4 came here today containing altogether 2000, and I put them into the seller [sic] to prevent their being stolen. I also put the fire wood in with Mrs Cole's help. June 1: I went into Hunter's workshop and saw one of his machines working I had not seen before. I also bought two penny worth of fly kooks 5 for Martin."
Vicesimus Lush's sincere admiration for - and occasional clashes with - his somewhat dictatorial Bishop are a recurring theme through these journals from 1850 until 1868 when George Augustus Selwyn and his wife Sarah sailed for England for the last time. The previous year they had gone home to attend the Lambeth Conference, travelling by the new Panama route and making an excellent impression on both the Conference and the British public. An offer of the See of Lichfield was both unexpected and unwelcome; on 1 December the Bishop of New Zealand preached at Windsor and the Queen added her
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considerable weight to the wishes of the Archbishop of Canterbury. Sarah wrote in her Reminiscences: "I remember his return from Windsor and how sorrowful he was, saying as he walked up and down the room, 'They don't know how much I love New Zealand'." Three weeks later he was enthroned in Lichfield Cathedral.
To quote one of Selwyn's biographers, 6 his return from New Zealand in 1868 had been felt by many "like a blast of fresh and wholesome colonial air let in abruptly upon a somewhat close, and asphyxiating atmosphere of old world precedence and custom". Another 7 writes: "Leaving the lungs of Lichfield full of fresh and colonial air, Selwyn sailed via Panama, on what turned out to be one of his most perilous sea journeys. On landing at Aspinwall on the Isthmus of Panama he was nearly thrown into the water when the landing plank broke. They arrived safely at Wellington, but were shipwrecked on the way to Auckland."
News of the shipwreck in Tory Channel of the ship Taranaki with the Bishop and party on board had considerably more impact on the population of Auckland than it did in his secondary diocese. On 27 August 1868 the newspaper Southern Cross issued extras, though the arrival of the seafarers on the same day at Onehunga by steamer did not prolong the suspense. The Bishop, his son John and a friend, Lord Burghley, were all at home in Bishopscourt that afternoon; also the Bishop's wife, who next morning wrote to Jane, wife of Bishop William Williams of Waiapu:
"My dear Mrs Williams, Last night I received the kind letter of welcome which you sent to Wellington to meet us. You will have heard since then of our disaster in Cook's Straits. After coming rapidly and safely from England we were wrecked in the Tory Channel on the way up the West Coast. Herein however mercy predominated as the ship struck while it was yet day and when the weather was calm and fine. The injury was so severe that we did not feel sure that the ship might not at any moment fill and sink yet all the helpless part of her passengers, and they were very many, were safely landed under the cliffs, and in effect she did not go down till some hours had passed. During these the Bishop, our son and our
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young friend Lord Burghley worked very hard with the others to save all they could. The mails and such luggage as there was in the cabins was secured. The bulk of that below was very soon unapproachable, and thus many suffered a serious loss. I spent the night with a helpless set of beings, and those of the male passengers who could not swim, on the top of the cliff. The night was dry and still. We had a grand fire and were quite as comfortable as our Bishops have often been in the bush. At midnight (it was five when we landed) my Husband arrived. I never was more glad to hear his voice than I was then. The Airedale was sent with wonderful speed from Wellington, being with us at 7 the next morning.
"We had a full and very hearty thanksgiving service at St Paul's last Wednesday evening.... The welcomes here are full of pleasure and of pain, but still we hope to see all our friends and I trust therefore that you are thinking of coming up with the Bishop at Synod time. We fill our house to the utmost and shall specially look for you."
Somewhere between this arrival and the departure date for England, Bishop Selwyn's last General Synod was organised, household goods were assembled and packed, farewells taken, sorrow and good wishes expressed and at least one decision made that affected the Lush family vitally; the last appointment sealed by their friend and Bishop was of Vicesimus Lush as the first Vicar of the Thames Goldfields. The late Minister to the Inner Waikato had travelled a long, hard road for four years but there can be no doubt that he had profited by the experience. Close association with settlers of all classes, sharing their burdens and their daily lives, had developed and enriched his capacity for dealing with his subsequent ministry at Thames as his mainly pleasant country parish of Howick could never have done. He was ready for the noisy, colourful life of the goldfields and the part he was to play in it.
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