1958 - Torlesse, C. O. The Torlesse Papers: Journals and Letters... 1848-1851 - [Front matter] p 1-28

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  1958 - Torlesse, C. O. The Torlesse Papers: Journals and Letters... 1848-1851 - [Front matter] p 1-28
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Sketch Map
of the country intended for

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The Torlesse Papers



Christchurch: The Pegasus Press

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First published 1958 in a limited edition, of which 750 copies are for sale

Printed at the Pegasus Press
14 Oxford Terrace, Christchurch, New Zealand


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THE VALUE of these journals and letters lies in the fact that they are primary source material for a period of Canterbury Settlement history which has been greatly neglected--that is, the two years preceding the arrival of the so-called 'first four ships'. Torlesse gives us a day to day account of these two years together with a number of letters to his family in England and to E. W. Stafford in Nelson. The publication of this material should do much to fill a gap in the story of the development of our province, and to correct a popular misconception that the Canterbury Settlement began with the arrival in Lyttelton of the Charlotte Jane.

It was one evening in July 1955 at the home of Mr K. A. Webster, a New Zealander now living in London, that I had the good fortune to see the journals and letters of Charles Torlesse for the first time. My thanks, therefore, go primarily to Mr Webster, an enthusiastic collector of anything to do with the early history of New Zealand. Secondly they go to Admiral Torlesse who, at my first request, agreed to lend all his grandfather's papers to the Canterbury Museum. He has given me other assistance since and I am much in his debt for allowing me to publish this important historical material.

In the preparation of this portion of the Torlesse papers for publication I have received help of various kinds and it is with pleasure that I acknowledge this. Mr David Macmillan has given me encouragement and generous assistance throughout. Mr C. R. Straubel has put me in touch with manuscript sources and helped in other material ways. Mr Herries Beattie has helped me with Maori place names, Dr F. A. Bett with the footnotes relating to Nelson, Dr Basil Howard with those of Otago, and Mr G. R. Macdonald with notes on early identities. Mr J. C. Wilson, archivist to the Canterbury Museum, has assisted with manuscript material and with the illustrations. My thanks are due to Dr Roger Duff, Director

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of the Canterbury Museum, to Mr R. C. Lamb of the Christchurch Public Library, and to the staffs of the Alexander Turnbull and Hocken Libraries. I am indebted also to Mr H. R. Hornsby for useful suggestions, and to Mr Johannes Andersen for permission to reproduce his sketch of Torlesse's map of South Canterbury.

I am grateful to the Commissioner of Crown Lands for permission to quote from the records in the archives of the Lands and Survey Department, Christchurch. In particular my thanks go to two members of this department, Mr H. Quirk for his willing co-operation, and Mr J. Hayward for assistance with the drafting of three of the maps published in this volume.

In the hunt for original illustrations I have had assistance from Mr A. T. Campbell, Public Relations Officer at New Zealand House, London, also from Mr Rex Nan Kivell and Mr W. J. Gardner. I am indebted to Mr G. C. S. Oliver for allowing me to use his grandfather's delightful sketches.

My wife deserves special thanks for she has had to cope with much of the tedious work necessary to produce a book of this kind.


New Zealand
January 1958


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Editor's Note and Abbreviations.....27

1 Arrival in New Zealand
2nd November - 11th December 1848.....31

2 Selecting a Site for the Canterbury Settlement
12th December 1848 - 18th February 1849.....39

3 Exploring South to the Waihao River
19th February - 19th April 1849.....59

4 Marking Time
20th April - 30th June 1849.....76

5 The Settlement Begins
1st July - 31st August 1849.....85

6 The Survey of the Mandeville District
1st September - 31st December 1849.....101

7 Surveying the Ashley and Oxford Districts
1st January - 16th May 1850.....121

8 Winter in Lyttelton
17th May - 31st August 1850.....146

9 A Holiday in Otago
1st September - 20th October 1850.....162

10 Spring in the Canterbury Settlement
21st October - 31st December 1850.....172

11 From Surveyor to Farmer
1st January - 6th April 1851.....188


1 Letters from E. G. Wakefield to J. Thomas and J. R. Godley, 1848.....215

2 Letters from J. Thomas to C. O. Torlesse, 1849-50.....217

3 Letters from T. Cass, C. O. Torlesse and J. C. Boys to J. Thomas, 1849-50.....222

4 Survey Equipment issued for the first district surveys in Canterbury.....226

Notes on Sources.....227


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i Charles Obins Torlesse.....80-1

ii Torlesse's Journal, July 1848....."

iii 'Canterbury Pilgrims', a sketch by Sir William Fox. 18th December, 1848 (Hocken Library, University of Otago)....."

iv 'Camp on the Waikahouri, Rakahuri', by Sir William Fox, 20th December 1848 (Hocken Library, University of Otago)....."

v Tainui, the Waimakariri ferryman, and Karata, by Sir William Fox, December 1848 (Hocken Library, University of Otago).....96-7

vi Cavendish Bay, a sketch by Walter Mantell, 21st July 1849 (Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington)....."

vii Two sketches by Walter Mantell, showing Wills and himself surveying in North Otago, November 1848 (Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington)....."

viii The Deans Brothers' farm at Riccarton, by Sir William Fox, December 1848 (Hocken Library, University of Otago)....."

ix Thomas Cass, a portrait by Samuel Butler, 1868 (The Canterbury Museum) .....112-3

x Sketches of the Torlesse and Puketeraki ranges, by J. C. Boys, 1850 (Lands & Survey Department, Christchurch)....."

xi Bishop Selwyn at the helm of his yacht, Undine, probably by Cuthbert Clarke, 6th December 1849. (The British Museum)....."

xii Hay's Bush, a sketch by J. E. FitzGerald, November 1852. (The Canterbury Museum)....."

xiii 'Rakawakaputa, P. Cooper Plains', a sketch by Sir William Fox, 20th December 1849. (Hocken Library, University of Otago)....."

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xiv Settlers camping in the bush behind Lyttelton, a sketch by Commander R. A. Oliver, December 1850. (G. C. S. Oliver, Esq.)......128-9

xv 'Opposite the town of Lyttelton. Waste land. canoes, huts and mountains.' Sketched by Commander R. A. Oliver, December 1850. (G. C. S. Oliver, Esq.)....."

A scene behind the town of Lyttelton, by Commander R. A. Oliver, December 1850.(G. C. S. Oliver, Esq. )....."

xvi 'Rangiora. Mr Chas. Torlesse's House', a sketch by W. J. W. Hamilton, 11th November 1855. (The Canterbury Museum)....."


'Sketch Map of the Country intended for the Settlement of Canterbury', signed by J. Thomas, Principal Surveyor, Canterbury Association. This map was drawn by C. O. Torlesse in February 1849 and shows the routes of the several exploring parties. For the sake of legibility the original lettering has been recast......Front Endpaper

The Oxford. Ashley and Mandeville Districts, showing the trigonometrical stations established by Torlesse and Boys in 1849-50. Compiled from a tracing, dated November 1852, of a 'General Map of the Surveyed Districts, Canterbury Settlement'......Back Endpaper

Part of Banks Peninsula and adjacent plain, as it was in 1850, showing localities mentioned in the text......28

South Canterbury, based on the original sketch map by C. O. Torlesse, showing the route he followed during his explorations in 1849......62


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ON THE 15th December 1848 four men rowed across the harbour from the Rhodes's home in Purau Bay, climbed the steep slopes of Mount Pleasant, and scanned the wide stretch of country which opened before them. Immediately behind and below lay Port Cooper, a long inlet almost severing the base of Banks Peninsula which in itself was hilly, rugged and bush-clad, but boasted a number of native villages and a sprinkling of British, French, American and German whalers and farmers. By contrast, on the plains which stretched away in front there was one solitary group of buildings in view, the Deans brothers' farm at Riccarton. Some fifty miles west across the plain in the foothills, John Hay was installed in a shanty at Kowai Bush; and as far north again, in the coastal hills, was the Greenwoods' sheep and cattle station at Motunau. For the rest, besides a few scattered native settlements, that great sweep of land was untouched. Joseph Thomas, William Fox, Thomas Cass and Charles Torlesse were viewing the Canterbury Plains of the South Island of New Zealand for the first time. They were not disappointed with what they saw.

Earlier the same year in London, on 27th March, the Canterbury Association for the founding of a Church of England colony had met for the first time. Edward Gibbon Wakefield and John Robert Godley had been at work since November 1847, planning, organising and rousing interest in this offshoot of the New Zealand Company, a concern which already had to its credit settlements at New Plymouth, Wellington, Nelson and Otago. Little progress could be made until a block of land suitable for the proposed colony was obtained. With this in view, the New Zealand Company signed a contract with

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Captain Joseph Thomas, engaging him as their Principal Surveyor for such a period as in the opinion of the Directors of the Company might be necessary to complete the surveys and works.

A few weeks after the inaugural meeting on 27th March 1848, Lord Lyttelton, one of the Association's most active and influential supporters, wrote to the Colonial Secretary, Lord Grey, and informed him that the Association intended to send out to New Zealand a preliminary expedition under Captain Thomas, who was to act as the Association's Agent and was empowered by the New Zealand Company to accept from the Governor a grant of a million acres of land. 1 Lord Grey furnished Thomas with the necessary letter to the Governor to facilitate the transaction, and Thomas left on 7th July in the Bernicia with Thomas Cass and Charles Torlesse as assistant surveyors. Two days later, while the Berniciawas in the Channel, Thomas received a last minute briefing by Gibbon Wakefield. Torlesse tells the story in his journal: 'Sunday, 9th July. Captain Thomas went ashore in a Deal gig at 11 a. m.: no one knows where exactly. He received a letter this morning from E. G. W. at Boulogne asking him to go over. 10th. Captain Thomas came on board at 3 a. m., at which hour we commenced heaving up our anchor.'

Lord Lyttelton's letter to the Colonial Secretary stated that the proposed site for the Church of England settlement was the Ruamahanga Valley in the Wairarapa district of the North Island. It is probable, however, that the 'Port Cooper plains' had already been discussed as a possible site. On arrival at New Plymouth on 2nd November 1848, the surveyors were greeted with the news that the Wairarapa was to be their destination, and then we hear no more of it. The Bernicia called next at Nelson, and there they had first-hand information of the 'Port Cooper plains' from settlers such as Duppa and Barnicoat, and it is likely that Thomas was strongly advised in favour of them. In any case he expressed the opinion before leaving Nelson that it was now Port Cooper or nowhere in New Zealand, 2 and the day after the Bernicia

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arrived in Wellington he wrote to Bishop Selwyn informing him of his arrival and of his intention to proceed forthwith to Port Cooper.

Captain Thomas had received strict instructions that he was to select a site in conjunction with the New Zealand Company's Chief Agent, Sir William Fox, and it was then to be approved by both the Governor and the Bishop. Fortunately the Governor, Sir George Grey, paid a visit to Wellington shortly after the Bernicia arrived, and Thomas had the satisfaction of learning from him that he would not interfere in the selection of the site, and further that he considered the Bishop's duties should be 'spiritual' only. 3

Francis Dillon Bell had been sent by Fox to treat with the natives of the Wairarapa in an attempt to purchase some half-million acres of their land, and it appeared early in November that he would be likely to succeed. The premature anticipation of his success seems to have given rise to the news which greeted Captain Thomas's party at New Plymouth.

In April 1848 H. Tacy Kemp, the Assistant Native Secretary, had been sent by the Governor to bargain with the Ngaitahu chiefs of the South Island. He had succeeded in purchasing from them a vast area of country stretching from the Molyneux River in the south to a line drawn north-west from old Kaiapoi in the north, but excluding Banks Peninsula which he considered the French Nanto-Bordelaise Company had already bought. His deal was completed on 12th June. No word of the intention to carry out this transaction appears to have reached London before the Bernicia sailed, but it was welcome news to Thomas on his arrival in New Zealand. His instructions were to find a site of about a million acres, with a good and commodious harbour, and in a district with few natives and as removed as possible from other settlements, so that it might be formed into a separate province. Small wonder that Thomas expressed himself strongly in favour of Port Cooper.

The Fly, a cutter of twenty-five tons, was chartered in Wellington and without more ado Thomas, Fox, Cass, Torlesse

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and five men sailed on 13th December for Port Cooper. They arrived almost two years to the day before the Charlotte Jane and the Randolph.

A rapid, but comprehensive, traverse of the plains followed, and left the party in no doubt that they had found an ideal place for the Canterbury Settlement. They were surprised that the land had not been taken up by one of the earlier New Zealand Company ventures. Torlesse in his letter to Stafford, on 3rd February 1849, writes in a postscript, 'Tuckett must have been blind to pass over this place... Providence interfered with him and saved this for Canterbury.'

There was, however, one doubt in Thomas's mind. The French Nanto-Bordelaise Company laid claim to the whole of Banks Peninsula, and this, coupled with native claims to land round Port Cooper which had not been included in Kemp's deal, left some uncertainty as to whether this port could be obtained for the Settlement. Without it the country would be of little use as no other natural harbour existed which could be developed as a gateway to the plains. In order to seek the Governor's assistance and to obtain his and the Bishop's official sanction to the site, Thomas went to Auckland with Fox, leaving Cass and Torlesse at Port Cooper. The Governor arranged for W. B. D. Mantell, who had recently travelled overland from Kaiapoi to Otago, to deal with the native claims in the Banks Peninsula area, and after tedious negotiations he brought these to a satisfactory conclusion. Meanwhile, in England, the New Zealand Company was arranging the purchase of the entire property and interest of the Nanto-Bordelaise Company and when completed this put an effective end to French claims to land within the colony.

Captain Thomas obtained official sanction to the Canterbury site early in May 1849, and notified the Association in London accordingly. The Association was then in a position to obtain its Royal Charter, granted on 13th November, enabling it to act independently of the New Zealand Company and to go ahead actively with plans for the despatch of its first fleet of emigrant ships. On 12th December Godley, with Jerningham Wakefield as his secretary, sailed in the Lady Nugent to take up the post of Chief Agent in New Zealand.

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He left behind him an Association beset by monetary difficulties. Gibbon Wakefield with the assistance of Lord Lyttelton, Cavendish and Simeon overcame these by making themselves personally responsible for a considerable sum, and by obtaining more suitable terms with the New Zealand Company and the government in connection with land sales to intending Canterbury settlers.

Once these arrangements had been made the Association resumed operations with increased activity. The Company itself was moribund and discontinued its work as a colonizing and commercial body in July 1850. Some of its functions and responsibilities were taken over by the Association, the position being legalized by the hurried passage through Parliament of the Canterbury Settlement Land Act of August 1850.

There was now nothing to delay the departure of the first body of emigrants. It had been hoped to send a fleet of about twelve ships, and as late as November 1850, Godley, then in Wellington, wrote to Thomas at Lyttelton telling him, 4 by advice received from the Phoebe Dunbar, that 'not less than six, if not eight, large ships must have sailed...' In fact, four ships had set sail on 7th and 8th September, the first two of which arrived in Lyttelton on 16th December 1850, and the other two soon after.

The work done in Canterbury during the two years which had elapsed since Thomas's party had their first view of the plains from Mount Pleasant forms the substance of this volume. As a result of this busy period of preparation the immigrants found a thriving settlement. The port of Lyttelton had begun to take shape, the plains and foothills had been explored and surveyed, towns had been pegged out. Several squatters had taken up cattle and sheep stations, and stock in increasing quantities was being shipped from Australia. A constant procession of ships during 1849 and 1850 had brought individual settlers and labourers, timber and stores of all kinds, even prefabricated houses. Those who arrived in December 1850 had reason to be pleased with the preparations which, in the face of many difficulties, had been made for them.

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Charles Obins Torlesse was twenty-three years of age when he boarded the Bernicia at Gravesend on 6th July 1848, to set out on his second voyage to New Zealand. The Torlesse family history has been recorded by Charles's youngest sister, Frances, in a scarce volume Bygone Days, published in London in 1914.

Charles, born in 1825, was the second child and elder son of a family of nine brought up at Stoke-by-Nayland in Suffolk. His father, Charles Martin, had been Captain of Harrow and then entered the Church. He was Rector of Stoke from 1832 until his death in 1881. Charles's mother, Catherine, was particularly devoted to him, and he to her. She was the eldest of the Wakefield family of which so many members were to play an important part in the early colonization of New Zealand.

Charles was educated at Blackheath Proprietary School and at Stanmore in Middlesex, where Edward Ward, who was later to emigrate to Canterbury, was his greatest friend. In 1840, at the age of fifteen, he went to the College of Civil Engineers at Putney. He had been there only one year when his uncle, Arthur Wakefield, offered to take him as a survey cadet on the expedition which was about to leave to found the New Zealand Company's settlement of Nelson. Charles appears to have been adventurous by nature and the thought of such a trip must have appealed greatly to him. His family accepted the proposal the more readily because their old nurse, Naomi (Mrs Songar), and her husband, William, were among the emigrants.

At Nelson, Torlesse was employed on survey work, laying out the country into sections. He got on well with the Maoris in the district, spent some time at a pa in Massacre Bay, and lived close to them at Motueka. He appeared to be making good progress when the Wairau Massacre, in which his uncle and other prominent Nelson settlers were killed, led to his return to England. His parents considered him too young to remain without supervision in the colony. One of those who returned with him was his friend John C. Boys, a year older than he, and also a cadet on the survey staff. They were closely associated again in 1849 when Boys had completed his professional qualifications and returned to join Thomas's staff in Canterbury.

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Torlesse arrived back in England in May 1844 and spent some months surveying railway lines in various parts of the country with Frank Moline, another erstwhile Nelson settler. He then joined his uncle, Edward Gibbon Wakefield, attending him whilst he recovered from a severe stroke, and acting as his private secretary. It was at this time that Charles learnt to write a good hand by copying out Cobbett's English Grammar. His work with his uncle must have brought him into close touch with the founders of the Canterbury Association, and it is not surprising, in view of his previous experience of New Zealand, that he was offered employment with the preliminary expedition to choose and prepare a site.

It was not until eight days before the Bernicia sailed that Torlesse received official notification from the Secretary of the New Zealand Company, in these words: 'At the recommendation and request of the Association for founding the settlement of Canterbury in the Southern Province of New Zealand, the Court of Directors of the New Zealand Company has appointed you an Improver on the Surveying Staff of that Settlement...' 5 At once Torlesse wrote to his uncle, at the Chateau Mabille, Boulogne, informing him of his plans. Gibbon Wakefield reacted rapidly, and unexpectedly, writing a strongly worded letter to Captain Thomas detailing Torlesse's faults (see Appendix I), and following this up with one to Godley complaining that he had not been consulted, and that the appointment of his nephew was an improper one.

Gibbon Wakefield's letter to Thomas is a most illuminating one, though it is difficult to see why Jerningham Wakefield should have published it. It suggests that Torlesse and Gibbon Wakefield, both possessed of strong personalities, had had a stormy association. It also provides sufficient reason for Thomas and Torlesse failing to get on with one another.

The choice of Captain Thomas as a leader of the preliminary expedition would appear to have been a sound one. Born in 1803, Thomas was a large, burly man of considerable drive and resolution, but overbearing and unable to brook advice or opposition. Little is known of his early life other than that he served in the army, the 87th Regiment of Fusiliers, according

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to Hocken, 6 and he is reported to have been aide-de-camp to Sir John Malcolm in India. Thomas arrived in New Zealand in the Adelaide in 1840 and joined the New Zealand Company's survey staff. Probably the most interesting account of this part of Thomas's life is to be found in the unpublished diary of a well known early Nelson settler, who wrote on 15th November 1848: 'Rode to town over-taking Captain Thomas and young Jollie. Captain Thomas told me he had come out with the first Wellington settlers "like a fool", and had suffered with them, being reduced most deplorably. He had for a long time been on the coast with the whalers and natives, in distress along with other young men of family and education, but so poor that there was only one or two pairs of shoes between the whole of them. One was the son of a baronet, and another had taken high honours at College and was afterwards ordained and had become a leading Puseyite in England. He himself had been assisted by Colonel Wakefield with such little surveying jobs as occurred until he gave him employment at Otago.'

In Otago Captain Thomas worked on Mr Kettle's survey staff in the Molyneux district. He is reported to have taken up some land there and to have farmed it for a short while before returning to England about 1847. Of Thomas's connection with the Canterbury Association the Nelson settler's diary continues under the same date with these surprising observations: 'He said he had no particular interest in the Canterbury Settlement but had had to come here about some business and had been requested to inspect and report on the best site. Knowing what he did he thought it was now a question of Port Cooper or nowhere. Of Port Cooper he had heard unfavourably from Dr Monro's journal. There were better places in New Holland and North America. He would wait in New Zealand no longer than to receive the first settlers. He could endure no diplomacy nor public meetings.'

Just before he left England, Thomas had received a letter from H. F. Alston, Secretary to the Canterbury Association, as follows: 'Sir, I am instructed by the Committee of Management of the Canterbury Association, to inform you that, so

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soon as the Association shall have obtained a charter of incorporation, they will appoint you their Agent." 7 Torlesse from the start had his doubts as to Thomas's suitability for the post of Agent. In a letter to his mother written on 19th September 1849, after detailing Thomas's shortcomings, he adds, I am very sorry for all this, as though I always thought him a very peculiar man and totally unfit for the agent's business, yet I thought he would manage the surveys well enough.' Again to his mother on 15th July 1850, he says, 'You can hardly imagine how anxiously everybody is looking forward to Mr Godley's arrival, for Thomas is a man in whom no one can place any dependance, so much is he actuated upon by caprice and impulse of the moment...'

There is scarcely a letter of Torlesse's at this period which does not refer to Thomas's odd behaviour, and the fresh light which these throw on his character is of the greatest interest. One is left with the feeling that Torlesse failed either to understand or appreciate the fine qualities Thomas undoubtedly possessed.

The third member of the 'preliminary expedition' was Thomas Cass, a Yorkshireman, born in 1817 and educated at Christ's Hospital. He went to sea and after three years in the East India trade he became an assistant in the tithe commission office at Somerset House and acquired a sound knowledge of survey work. The New Zealand Company appointed him to their survey staff in 1841 and he set sail in the Prince Rupert. She was wrecked at the entrance to Table Bay, and Cass completed his journey to New Zealand in the Antilla. In 1844 he had to leave the Company owing to their retrenchments. He joined the Government brig Victoria and had several adventurous years on the New Zealand coast, including the transport in custody from Otago to Wellington of Langlands and Davis, two of the three men who had robbed the Greenwoods at Purau in 1845.

In 1847 Cass returned to England and made representation to the New Zealand Company of the loss which he had suf-

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fered through his agreement being terminated in 1844. As a result, the Company appointed him assistant surveyor to Captain Thomas. On arrival at Banks Peninsula Cass was employed surveying Port Cooper and the approaches to the estuary of the Avon and Heathcote rivers. The Port had been charted by M. Fournier of the French corvette Heroine in 1838, but Cass made the first detailed survey. He was then employed on the survey of the Christchurch district preparatory to the laying off of the town itself. When Captain Thomas departed precipitately in January 1851 Cass succeeded him as chief surveyor in Canterbury. He filled this post with distinction and played a prominent part in the life of the community. Alfred Cox wrote of him as 'the lightest-hearted and youngest man that ever went through thirty years of the toughest work'. 8 He had no children and died on 17th April 1895, aged seventy-eight.

One of the first things Torlesse did, after his arrival at Port Cooper and the completion of the exploratory traverse of the plains, was to take a small party up the Waimakariri River to climb the mountain which bears his name (Otarama as he called it). Miss Frances Torlesse in recounting this episode in Bygone Days gives us an interesting example of the way in which an event can grow in the telling and pass into family history. Miss Torlesse writes, I have often heard the story of Charles's ascent of Otarama. When the surveying party mounted the hills above Lyttelton, and looked across the plains to the long range of the Alps, he said to Captain Thomas: "I should like to go and see what is the other side of those mountains." Captain Thomas gave him leave to make the expedition, and finding a Maori boy from the Kowai Bush Pah to act as guide, with a donkey to carry provisions and instruments, and a dog for company, he started up the mountain-side. When he reached the saddle, it was only to see that the mountains stretched one beyond the other, and that there was no other side to be seen. He travelled, however, for some days, until all their provision was spent, and reached a point still known as Starvation Gulley. He then felt he must return, and tossed as to whether the donkey or the dog should be killed for food.

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The toss determined that the dog was to be the victim, but at that moment it caught a "Weka" and so saved its own life and its companion's! On their way back down the mountain side they were met by a party of Maoris from the "Pah", who had come out to rescue them.'

After reading this colourful story it is difficult to agree with Admiral Torlesse who remarked that his grandfather was no raconteur! The reader will enjoy the account the more after reading the journal entry for 1st January 1849.

Published references to Charles Torlesse's early work in Canterbury are few. Thomas and Jollie are frequently the only two early surveyors to receive any recognition, although Torlesse played a more important part than Jollie during the first two years of the Settlement. His work is not mentioned in Scholefield's Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. It is therefore of historical interest to recount here some details of his life in Canterbury after the period covered by the journals published in this volume. 9

The Cressy, which arrived in Lyttelton on 27th December 1850, had among its passengers Mr and Mrs James Townsend and their six daughters. One of these, Alicia, soon became engaged to Charles Torlesse, and their marriage took place in Christchurch on the first anniversary of the Cressy's arrival. Charles took his bride to his farm at Rangiora where he had built a house on the north side of the bush, on what later became King Street south. In July 1851 he had applied for a run of 70,000 acres between the Ashley and Cust rivers, and this had been granted provisionally by Godley.

In January 1853 Charles's younger brother, Henry, arrived in the Minerva, accompanying his uncle, Edward Gibbon Wakefield. Henry made his home with them at Rangiora until 1856 when they moved to a new homestead at Fernside, on the Mairaki Downs on the south side of the Ashley River. Henry managed Fernside station until 1857 when he gave up farming and studied for ordination. As a vicar he was stationed at Okain's Bay for many years, and became a well known figure in Canterbury.

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In March 1853 Charles rode up to Mason's sheep station and crossed the Hurunui to the head of the Pahau. In July the same year he rode south to the Geraldine district and on to Timaru, which he had not visited since 1849. On this occasion he describes it simply as a 'wretched hole', giving no reason for his opinion. In October he was assisting Kennaway and Delamain to cross their 800 sheep over the flooded Ashley River, the incident being recorded under the heading 'No Bridge' in Kennaway's book, Crusts.

In January 1856 Torlesse and Duppa rode to Nelson via Jollie's Pass, and Torlesse returned by the same route. April saw him exploring the headwaters of the Ashley, and it was later this year that he took possession of Birch Hill station in the foothills north of the Ashley.

In April 1857 a son, Arthur Ward, was born. During the ensuing months Charles was busy with C. Beswick reporting to the Provincial Government on 'harbours on the coast of the Province for small steamers, &c'. They inspected Motunau, visited Timaru again, staying at Sam Williams's accommodation house, and then returned along the coast to Banks Peninsula. In September he went to Wellington in the Acis, and on the return journey came ashore at Fyffe's whaling station at Kaikoura on 22nd October, a week after the Havannah had been wrecked, 'the vessel that day having left Reilly's fishing. All hands drunk and turned in and SE. gale having come on she was driven ashore.' From Fyffe's, Torlesse and F. Revell walked overland via Hawkswood, and Jollie and Lee's station at Parnassus, to Robinson's at Cheviot Hills, and so back to Rangiora.

In 1858 Torlesse took up another run, Snowdale, as a result of having been persuaded by Dobson to map the headwaters of the Ashley River and explore the Puketeraki country. This expedition he made with W. Townsend, and was no sooner back from the trip, which had given him a view of the upper Waimakariri Valley, than he was off again with his old friend Revell. He had, as he puts it, 'arranged with Mr Ollivier, Provincial Secretary, that I should go and sketch the Upper Courtenay [Waimakariri] country for 10/- per 1000 acres that should be taken up'. They forded the Waimakariri below the

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gorge, followed up the Kowai River, turning up the westerly branch at the main fork, 'near Porter's Hut', and then over 'Lyndon Pass' to Lake Lyndon, across the Broken River to 'Iona Pass' and down to Lake Pearson. They travelled up the Waimakariri 'to nearly the head... or where it issues from the main range of mountains and where its tributaries enter with such a rush as to block up their channels leaving the water to ooze underneath'. On their way back they explored the 'northerly branch', probably the Esk, to near one of its headwaters, before returning to the plains by the way they had come.

Torlesse made no further excursions until 1860 when he rode to Lake Tekapo and stayed with John Hay and his wife, renewing an acquaintance which had begun in 1848.

In January 1861 the Torlesse family left for England, returning to Canterbury the following year. Charles then gave up farming and having sold his stations, entered into partnership as a stock agent and sheep inspector with Henry Matson, who had arrived from Melbourne in the Omeo in July 1862. Charles built a house in Rolleston Avenue, Christchurch, on the site of what has since become College House. With characteristic energy he entered into the life of the city, serving as a churchwarden and vestryman, on the School Committee, Mechanics' Institute, Church Property Trust Committee and the Acclimatization Society, besides supervising the building of two office blocks.

The strain was too great for him and in 1864 he became seriously ill. He recovered enough to return to England with his wife, son and three daughters the following year, but remained in indifferent health and died in his forty-second year, on 14th November 1866. He was buried in the churchyard of his old home, Stoke-by-Nayland.

Charles Torlesse was an earnest Christian and scrupulously straight in all his dealings. He described himself in one of his letters to his mother as a 'plain, blunt man', and this is confirmed by his journals and letters which contain no frills. It is remarkable, however, that he managed to write as painstakingly as he did, under the rough and difficult circumstances which prevailed. He has left us what is undoubtedly the most comprehensive record of the Canterbury Settlement during its first two years.

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CHARLES TORLESSE'S journals and letters, at present held by the Canterbury Museum, cover the period July 1848 to April 1863. Part only of the first journal, and a small portion of the second, is printed here. The letters which Torlesse wrote to his family in England, and to Edward Stafford in Nelson, are printed between the relevant journal entries. These letters have been heavily pruned of family matters. Otherwise they are as written. The journals are printed as written except for the correction of some spelling mistakes, the expansion of many contractions, the addition of some punctuation, and the omission of a few brief redundant entries and one or two that are indecipherable. Thanks to Cobbett's English Grammar, Torlesse's handwriting is generally excellent. Names in every case have been printed as written. The 1848-50 journal is a stout little cloth and leather bound volume of some 220 pages of blue paper, now very faded, but otherwise in a remarkably good state of preservation.


C. A. L. --Canterbury Association letters in the archives of the Lands & Survey Department, Christchurch. For those that have been catalogued the number is quoted.

C. A. L. B. --Canterbury Association Letter Book C in the archives of the Lands & Survey Department, Christchurch.

C. P. --Canterbury Papers, London, 1851. (Numbers 1 to 11.) C. G. L. --Letters from Early New Zealand, by Charlotte Godley. Privately printed. 1936. (The page numbers refer to the second edition, published by Messrs Whitcombe & Tombs Ltd., 1950.)

F. G. S. --Writings and Speeches of John Robert Godley, edited by J. E. FitzGerald, 1863.

J. H. E. C. --Reminiscences of Earliest Canterbury and its Settlers, by James Hay, 1915.

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Part of Banks Peninsula and adjacent plain as it was in 1850 showing places mentioned in the text
1   Correspondence between Lord Lyttelton and Earl Grey. Canterbury Papers,Nos. 1 & 2, p. 39.
2   Manuscript diary, early Nelson settler, Alexander Turnbull Library.
3   The journal of C. O. Torlesse, 27th November 1848.
4   Letter dated 14th November 1850, Canterbury Association Letter Book, Lands & Survey Department archives, Christchurch.
5   Original agreement, Canterbury Association records, Lands & Survey Department archives, Christchurch.
6   Hocken, T. M., Early History of New Zealand, 1914, p. 214.
7   Letter quoted in a pamphlet Thomas had published in England on his return in August 1852. The pamphlet is entitled Correspondence showing the reason why Mr Thomas quitted the service of the Canterbury Association.
8   'The Press, Christchurch, 3rd May 1930.
9   The following biographical details and quotations are taken from C. O. Torlesse's manuscript journals, 1851-63, at present held by the Canterbury Museum, Christchurch.

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