Sunday, 20 December 2015

Robert Burns - and his influence over the Blue Beyond with Scottish Immigrants in NZ

Robert  Burns  1759 - 1796

With courtesy from In The Life of Robert Burns by Rev. George Gilfillan, August 1886


A man's a man for a' that

Is there for honest poverty
That hings his head, an' a' that?
The coward slave, we pass him by -
We dare be poor for a' that!
For a' that, an' a' that!
Our toils obscure, an' a' that,
The rank is but the guinea's stamp,
The man's the gowd for a' that.
What though on hamely fare we dine,
Wear hoddin grey an' a' that?
Gie fools their silks, and knaves their wine
A man's a man for a' that.
For a' that, an' a' that,
Their tinsel show, an' a' that,
The honest man, tho' e'er sae poor,
Is king o' men for a' that.
Ye see yon birkie ca'd 'a lord',
Wha struts, an' stares, an' a' that?
Tho' hundreds worship at his word,
He's but a cuif for a' that,
For a' that, an' a' that,
His ribband, star, an' a' that,
The man o' independent mind,
He looks an' laughs at a' that.
A prince can mak a belted knight,
A marquis, duke, an' a' that!
But an honest man's aboon his might -
Guid faith, he mauna fa' that!
For a' that, an' a' that,
Their dignities, an' a' that,
The pith o' sense an' pride o' worth
Are higher rank than a' that.
Then let us pray that come it may
(As come it will for a' that)
That Sense and Worth o'er a' the earth,
Shall bear the gree an' a' that,
For a' that, an' a' that
It's comin yet for a' that,
That man to man the world oe'r
Shall brithers be for a' that.
Robbie Burns
This Burns song, proclaiming the equality of man, was sung at the opening of the first Scottish Parliament for nearly 300 years, on 1 July, 1999. The poetry works of Robert Burns were a favourite   of James Stewart, evidenced in his involvement with the Auckland Burns Club. 
 
Stewart loved this poem -   A man's a man for a' that. - in fact the Works of Burns was a treasured book.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Women of the Empire in 1914 -1918 WW1 - Those on the Home Front in NZ

Notice for Women of Empire Exhibition held Thames  November 2015 - photo courtesy Chris Ball 2015

Visiting the Women of Empire Exhibition being held at Thames, New Zealand for ten days during November 2015 , was an awesome experience - having an opportunity to see the costumes worn by women in that era, see the memorablia and read the stories of those women who stepped outside the square and did incredible service as doctors, nurses, farm work, running businesses . Not only did New Zealand Women fufill these rolls but in addition to, many at the same time took part in fundraising activities via town groups, the Women's Patriotic League, the Victoria League, the Navy League , NZ Branch British Red Cross Society and  Order of St. John.

This Women of Empire Exhibition at Thames was thought provoking, for those in  own family who as with many many New Zealand families, had family members away fighting - some never to return. These women as with many other women in many families took up roles that were outside their usual role.
 
One of the first of these fundraising and support groups was the small town of Cambridge in the Waikato, where under the auspices of Alice Rochfort, then matron of Te Waikato Sanitorium, a Women's Patriotic League was formed in 1910. One of this group's first activities was to raise £70  towards a battleship's bell.
 
A year later at a meeting of the Waihi Patriotic League, it was decided to form a ladies committee with the mayoress ( Mrs Newth)  being first convenor .  Those Patriotic League Groups established after the Boer AKA South African War continued on into WW1.
 
 
Waihi Railway Station where soldiers in WW1 were farewelled and welcomed home to Waihi - photo 2000 courtesy Chris Ball
 
The Auckland star reported in May 1915 that a Red Cross Committee headed by Mrs G R Bloomfield was being supported by Mrs Parkes and  Mrs Coleman of  Auckland City, Mrs  Eliot Davis of Parnell  ,  Mrs Oliver Nicholson of  Mount Eden, Mrs Ernest Bloomfield of Remuera, Mrs Edger of Ponsonby, Mrs J B Macfarlane  of Epsom, Mrs W R Wilson of Takapuna, Mrs Mclean of Mount Albert, Mrs Napier of Devonport and Mrs W Lloyd of Otahuhu.( Auckland Star 22/05/1915)  What then would have been a good coverage of Auckland Area.
 
 
My own great grand aunt, Edith Mary Macfarlane ,threw her energies into fundraising for the hospital ships Maheno  and Marama, along with many other women. They followed on with fundraising for medical supplies for these ships and the hospitals such as Brockenhurst in England and the Red Cross hospital at Malta -  wheelchairs, bandages, beds and equipment.  Edith was very active in the joint Red Cross / St. John Committee formed in New Zealand by Lord and Lady Liverpool in 1916
.
 
Typical of the many women left to keep things going, Edith as with her brother in law in Christchurch , enlisted other family members to assist. My paternal side great grandmother, Henrietta Stewart, sister- in- law of Edith, became involved in bandage rolling, Red Cross stalls and knitting. Other relatives in the country areas of the Auckland Province - the Hanna's of Paeroa-  were also coopted to do fundraising activities and providing comforts for the soldiers. No doubt encouraged on as with many other families by the many sons, nephews, cousins  and three nurses away serving on the war fronts. ( the nurses being Annie Moody, Ethelwyn Carruth and  Mary Ethel Mandeno)
 
There was plenty to do  - hampers of home comforts  for soldiers which required packing. By the end of 1915 the country areas of the then Auckland Province had become galvanised with the fundraising activities and competition of a Queen Carnival.  The grand sum of £900 was raised at Waikino at a gala and fete when Miss M Vercoe was duly crowned Queen . At today's real price value in 2015 , this would equate out at £64,410.00. The money received from the country areas of Coromandel / Hauraki  for the Patriotic Fund was plentiful, with that raised sent to Auckland.  The New Zealand Herald reported in the same article as that raised from Waikino, Paeroa  £500,Thames  £4500, Turua £560 Whitianga £300 Thames Valley Dairying Company  £1000,  £200  Waikato Farmers' Union , Karangahake Bowling Club £70.
 
 
 Tairua - a small settlement on the Coromandel's Eastern Seaboard were reported as contributing a monthly subscription to various funds that supported the sick and wounded, home comforts. With twenty five families said to be involved in bush work and logging and only able to donate a small amount, the plan was felt successful. ( NZ Herald  09/04/1915 p 6)


In Tripp, L.0.H. 1923. The War Effort of New Zealand. Auckland: Whitcombe and Tombs Limited p 184 photo courtesy NZETC  under creative commons


 
The New Zealand Herald reported   a  Red Cross shop opened by  July 1916 and continued with until 1918:
During this time the shop cleared the remarkable sum of £12,000, credit for which is given to the splendid support given by country members. The branches at Kokukoku, Mangonui, Kaitaia, Awanui, Warkworth, Parua Bay. Tairua, Hirini, Puhoi, Te Puke, Ohaeawai, Manurewa, Orini, and Paeroa gave great assistance in making up garments and their help in other" ways was invaluable. The total number of garments sent away  is over 70,000, apart from bandages and other' smaller articles. The approximate amount of money received has been £20,000, which-has gone in buying material for making up and in donations. To  the British Red Cross a donation of £50 a month was given." ( Auckland Star 19/07/1919 p 9( supplement) )  Noted is the contributions from Tairua and Paeroa.
 
photo courtesy Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, AWNS-19150527-44-6
The Paeroa Ladies Committee, Paeroa Patriotic Committee and  The Paeroa District War Relief Association. The new Paeroa  District War Relief Association was formed in August 1916 with President, W. J. Towers; Secretary, A. H. Wilson; Treasurer, R. W. Evans., mata North, Mrs Alexander/; Paeroa Central, Capt. Gill Inglis; Western side of railway (including Puke and Junction Roads), J. W. Graves Northern side of the railway from Station Road, and including the whole area of Thames Road to Komata Stream, J. L. Hanna; Southern side of river, F. A. Balcke; from Thames Road, extending to the eastern boundary of the Borough, Mrs H. Bush. Another eleven elected were L. Cassrels  J. Cochrane, J. Couper, D. W. Dunlop, Mrs D. J. Evans, Mrs Frogley, M. J. Harris, Nurse Odgers, W. J. Potter, W. Turner, Mrs A. H. Wilson.
 
Throughout the war the women of Paeroa kept the soldiers of the 6th Hauraki supplied with parcels of home comforts. There was a 6th Hauraki Comfort Committee with many women of the area involved -Mesdames Porritt, Poland, Dean, Usher, Taylor, Lamb, Conolly, Cassrels, Quick, Hanna and Misses Hackett, McWatters, D. McWatters, E. Thorp.


James Blyth Macfarlane
James Blyth Macfarlane writing to his father James Buchanan and mother Edith Macfarlane in 1917 from the war front  asked if something could be done for the  Auckland Regiment based on the support received by the 6th Hauraki  men from the Paeroa 6th Hauraki Comfort Committee.

—"I was wondering if you could do anything in the way of getting funds sent out to the. Auckland regiment. You see it is this way. Each battalion has a fund drawn chiefly from canteen profits, which seem to be getting less and less lately. Owing to the extreme cold, we have been providing extra soups and beef tea for the men on duty at night in the front line', out of battalion funds, which funds will not last very long as things are now. This tea and stuff is really necessary now at present, as the snow has been on the ground for a fortnight, and it is so cold, that breath freezes as it conies out, and drops off in large chunks. Up to the present, Auckland has done practically nothing in the money line for the men representing them out here. Certainly they have done very .much good work in connection with the wounded, but the men who are still fighting, are in need of comforts, just as much, if not more and the best way to do this is by sending money to the battalion, which provides the soups and other things most required. I think we out here know better than anyone, what things are best, and most welcome, to the men. The Hauraki people have been in the habit of sending periodical cheques for their men, which have been paid into the battalion funds. We other company commanders feel it is not right for the Hauraki people to provide for the whole battalion: Major A., who is at present in command, and also the Padre, are writing to various people on this matter. The army ration although very good is only sufficient for three meals. All men admit that the rations are marvellously good for war  conditions. Any funds are to be spent on extra vegetables, and also dried soups mentioned before. I do not think the average person realises the conditions under which the men are at present working. If they did, I think they would give willingly, The men are splendid, always cold and always cheerful, and worth giving, too. I might mention that officers reap no benefit whatever out of this, as we pay for everything we get." ( letter and in  Ohinemuri Gazette, 04/04/1917 p3)

The volunteer support by the many many women at home did not halt with war's end but continued. There were memorials erected, sick and injured soldiers nursed and support of families in the back blocks. That is another story also a huge part of the past NZ History as was the war time support.

 
Reference:
 


 

 


 





 
 

 
 

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Whangarei and beyond - Early European Settlement

 
The Waterfront, Town Basin, Whangarei Harbour - photo Chris Ball February 2014
Whangarei in 2015 - a population of about  50,000 and the largest city in Northland New Zealand. Back 175 years ago,   a number of early European Settlers arrived in 1839 and 1840  - amongst them my own kin - the  Scottish families of Carruth, Gorrie, Morton, Wall,  and later in the 1850's to the area, came  the Wilson and McKenzie families.  These families were linked and interlinked by marriage, friendships, occupation, community and church. For those early  European settlers in 1839 and 1840 it was a time when the Treaty of Waitangi was being signed. For all it was a time when all were learning to live with each other in a place.  A period of adjustment to each other's ways and culture.
 

Waitangi Monument which has stood  at Te Tii Marae since 1880's bears full Maori text of Treaty of Waitangi 
 photo Chris Ball February  2014  
Those first  European settlers must have wondered what they had come to in the Whangarei area. For accounts tell of an area covered in  bracken, tea tree scrub and Tutu. William Carruth was said to have been the first  European settler to the Whangarei Area  and Gilbert  Mair the second. By 1845  twelve families were known to have lived  in Whangarei Area. Besides my own kin, were  also the families of Dent, Runciman, Greenhill, Pollock, Mair, Holman and German, Cook.
 
 
Voyage from Scotland to Australasian Waters:
Carruth Family :-
 
The first of my kin  arrived  from Scotland in 1835. They settled firstly in Illawarra in New South Wales before venturing further to New Zealand.  William and Robert Carruth arrived at Port Jackson, Sydney, Australia aboard Royal Saxon on 2 February 1835.  Both farmers, they followed farming pursuits until 1838  when the two brothers sold the  Illawarra farm,   along with the cattle.
 Robert Carruth headed back to London and home country , a passenger aboard the barque Hope on 23 February 1839. On 30th October  1839, Robert left Glasgow with his brother John aboard the Bengal Merchant, a ship bound for Wellington, New Zealand. A voyage chartered and organised  by the New Zealand Company, Bengal Merchant arrived at Port Nicholson, Wellington on 20th February 1840.
 
 Both brothers did not stay in the new settlement of Wellington, but headed up to Whangarei, joining their brother William Carruth, who by then was living there. Robert built  a little 6 ton cutter called Trial, which  he sailed regularly between Whangarei and Auckland.
 
William Carruth headed for the Bay of Islands, New Zealand, left at the end of February 1839 aboard the  cutter Aquila of 43 tons burthen. The newspaper  reported in the shippping intelligence:

 "Same day, the cutter Aquila, Francis master, for New Zealand, with sundries. Passengers-Messrs M'Leod, Fulloon, Bird, and Carruth."
 
The Sydney Monitor and Commercial Advertiser, Friday 1 March 1839 Page  4

The following year the cutter Aquila was shipwrecked with the loss of three lives:-
 
"We report the loss of the cutter Aquila, Captain Mark, belonging to Mr Scott, on Monday evening. 11 persons on board. She left the Harbour in the afternoon for the Thames, and almost ten or eleven o'clock in the evening the Captain mistook one island for another, in consequence the vessel was driven upon a reef. Three passengers perished. Mr McLeod, Mrs Garling and Mr Henry. The captain returned to Kororareka to announce the disaster"

July 2 1840 page 2 New Zealand Advertiser and Bay of Islands Gazette
 
By then , William Carruth was settled in the Whangarei Area, having made his way after arrival , down the coast in a hired 6 ton trader, from the Bay of Islands as the Kororareka area did not appeal. Anchoring at the heads overnight till morning, the trader then proceeded up river.

Gorrie Family:-
William Gorrie Snr arrived at Kororareka, Bay of islands, a passenger aboard the Brigantine Deborah on 26 November 1840. Captain Thomas Wing master of Deborah, was to make a valuable early contribution to the exploration , navigation and cartography of New Zealand Waters, one of his last roles being Harbourmaster of the Manukau, Auckland. William Gorrie Jnr. was born on arrival at Kororareka.

Sherrin, Richard Arundell, Wallace J.H. Edited by   Leys, Thomson W .  1890. Early history of New. Auckland, New Zealand: H Brett, printer and Publisher. https://archive.org/details/earlyhistoryofne00sher

With William  Senior ( previously a widower ) travelled,  newly married  second wife Mary  Gorrie ( nee Morton ) , and children from his first marriage - eldest son John Gorrie, daughters Elizabeth AKA Eliza, Mary and Dinah. Elizabeth AKA Eliza Gorrie married Edward Wall, shipbuilder, at Kororareka ( Russell) in 1841. Mary  Gorrie married Wellesley Hughes, merchant in 1846 at Auckland. Unfortunately Wellesley died in 1854 and Mary remarried Neil Murray McFadyen in 1861.  McFadyen, shareholder of the Mercury Bay Sawmill Company ( Auckland Saw Mill Company ( Limited),Coromandel Peninsula did not survive the shipwreck of the timber laden schooner Rapid in March 1864. Accounts in newspapers of the time, described the shipwreck as " calamitous" Mary  remained  a widow until her death.
 
John Gorrie, eldest son married Elizabeth Thomson Stewart soon after her arrival  at Auckland aboard Whirlwind in July 1859. Elizabeth was daughter of John Stewart and Christian Stewart nee Morton. Christian was sister of Mary Morton and Margaret Johnston Morton.  John became the first ordained Minister of the Presbyterian Free Church of New Zealand on 8 January 1862 . He returned to the Whangarei area where his father had first settled. Here Reverend John Gorrie administered to a widespread parish, riding around the churches of the district. From St. Andrews at Whangarei, to Mangapai, and Kaurihohore.
 
Whangarei Harbour - Photo Chris Ball February 2014
Morton Family:-

The Morton siblings originally came from Gallomuir, Forgandenny in Scotland.
Travelling to New Zealand, with their sister Mary Gorrie ( nee Morton), were Margaret Johnston Morton, Dr. Andrew Morton and brother William. Margaret Johnston Morton, youngest sibling of the Morton family married John Carruth at Kororareka in  1841.

The Morton brothers - Dr. Andrew and William, a vet, finding not enough remuneration for their occupations, moved to Queanbeyan, New South Wales, Australia. William Andrew Carruth, youngest son of John and Margaret Johnston Carruth was to settle in  Whangarei where he practiced as a solicitor.

Whangarei Area 1840 - 1845
William Carruth took up land which were the Awatawhiti and Tiongongo blocks between the Hatea and Waiarohia Rivers (now city  central, Whangarei ). William's brother John and his wife settled nearby. Peter and James Greenhill took up land on the Awaroa River, a short distance down harbour. Part of the Greenhill Land at Awharoa was sold to William Gorrie Snr. Gilbert Mair took up the  Hatea Block (now Mairtown, Kensington and Otangarei) and was a near neighbour of William Gorrie.
Times were difficult for those early European settlers with the friction that was occurring between Maori and these newcomers over belongings and property.  Finally in March 1845 when all was coming to a head at Kororareka and the settlers decided to leave Whangarei area for Auckland.
Robert Mair reminiscing at the opening of  Christ Church Parochial Hall in 1914   was reported as saying:
"The passengers who left Whangarei in the cutter Trial included the following: —Mrs Gorrie and 4 children;' Mr Carruth, wife, and child; Alison, wife and 3 daughters; Mr William Carruth; Mr Cook, wife, 'and 2 boys; Mr Runciman, wife, and. 4 children; Mr Holman, wife and child; Mr German; Mr Nelson and partner; Mr Mair, wife and 9 children.
This gives a total of 43 out of about 48 all told. The balance of the names Mr Mair was unable' to remember"
      LOOKING BACKWARD. Northern Advocate , 18 June 1914, Page 11
A number  of the settlers did not return to the Whangarei Area, settling instead in Auckland, Papatoetoe and for a time further afield overseas. Edward Wall took his family to America, returning to Auckland in 1848 when things had quietened down.
 
In The New Zealand Insurance Company Limited. Bold Century. Auckland: The New Zealand Insurance Company Limited, 1959. (Shareholders Copy)

Families Spreading Further Afield

 As most early settler families,  descendants moved to other areas. A number of my kin were to settle on the Coromandel Peninsula. Bought there by occupation, marriage, church, community. Their names sometimes overlooked or forgotten in this part of the past NZ History - William John Gorrie who settled at Tairua during the 1880's, where he was clerk and bush manager at the sawmill there. Morton Gorrie who settled at Coromandel for a number of years farming, taking part in Council and helping to start a Cooperative Dairy Factory. James Stewart, Charles Vickerman, Jack Longbourne Vickerman who played a part in engineering and railways of the area as Engineers and or Surveyors, Ethelwyn Carruth  who passed State nursing examinations at Thames Hospital in 1913 , nursed  on the New Zealand  hospital ship Marama during WW1 and later after marriage settled at Ngatea. Jessie Stewart ( nee Murray ) who attended school in Thames where her father was a long serving Bank Manager at Thames and  a long serving member of the volunteer militia Jessie married John William Stewart, a solicitor  in Auckland and who had also practised in Thames and Paeroa for a time.
 
Reference Source:
  • Reed, A.H., The Story of Northland, A.H. & A.W. Reed, Wellington, facsimile edition 1975
  • Rust, A.M. , Whangarei and Districts’ Early Reminiscences, Mirror Printing and Publishing Co., 2009
  • Sherrin, Richard Arundell, Wallace J.H. Edited by   Leys, Thomson W .  1890. Early history of New. Auckland, New Zealand: H Brett, printer and Publisher.
  • Ward, Louis E. 1928. Early Wellington. Auckland: Whitcombe and Tombes.
  • NZBDM
  • The Sydney Monitor  Wednesday 22 August 1838 Page  4
  • The Colonist Wednesday 27 February 1839 Page 2 ( Trove newspapers)
  • The Sydney Monitor and Commercial Advertiser, Friday 1 March 1839 Page  4
  • SHIPPING INTELLIGENCE. New Zealand Gazette and Wellington Spectator, Volume I, Issue 4, 2 May 1840, Page 3 
  •  New Zealand Advertiser and Bay of Islands Gazette July 2 1840 page 2
  •  The Colonist Tuesday 29 December 1840 Page 4  ( Trove newspapers)
  • Daily Southern Cross, 19 July 1859, Page 3  Shipping Intelligence. PORT OF AUCKLAND.
  • Daily Southern Cross, 29 March 1864, Page 5 DREADFUL CASUALTY TO THE SCHOONER 'RAPID '—SUFFERINGS OF THE CREW— SIX LIVES LOST
  • LOOKING BACKWARD. Northern Advocate , 18 June 1914, Page 11
  • Family papers and documents

 


 




 

 
 

 

 
 

 

 

 

Monday, 28 September 2015

Humpback Whales in Southern Pacific Seas

Hump Back Whales in Tonga Waters - photo Chris R Ball August 2015

29 September 2015 Today John Key ( Prime Minister of New Zealand ) announced plans for the Kermadec Trench to become an  Ocean Sanctuary. Several weeks ago we returned from a Tongan Holiday which included whale watching - Humpback whales who migrate from their Antarctic summer feeding areas warmer tropical waters such as Tonga for Winter calving. They travel long distances up largely  the Eastern Coast of New Zealand and through Cook Strait and along the West Coast. Following calving they return with their young to the Antarctic via along largely the West Coast of  New Zealand.
 
 The Kermadec from North Island New Zealand to Tonga provide a migratory corridor for humpback whales. The Kermadec Trench one of the planet Earth's  deepest trenches and its continuation - the Tongan Trench with its subduction is home to many fish, turtles and mammals such as Humpback Whale. From time way back and in the history of settlement in New Zealand they have been part of the many stories passed down.
 
Humpback Whale - Photo Chris R Ball August 2015

 
Anyway on with this Humpback Whale tale.  Saw Tom at the Supermarket after our return from Tongs.  Now Tom is a very keen fisherman off the shores of Coromandel's Eastern Seaboard. On hearing of our fortune seeing Humpback Whales with Deep Blue Diving in Tonga, Tom shared a sighting when fishing a couple of months ago, of a Humpback whale close to Whangamata Shores. Don't know whether this was one of those we saw at Tonga. However for the three of us it  recalled recent past history memories.
 
 A dead Humpback Whale being washed up on the Whangamata's Main  Surf Beach back in December 2011. There was another whale stranding on the South Beach, Whangamata back in the late 1990's near Hinemoa Street. Both the whales from these events were buried where found. Likewise for those that did not survive in the large pilot whale stranding further up the coast from Whangamata at Ohui near Opoutere in 2004. I remember that stranding very well and the joy felt when the surviving whale took the encouraging help and headed back out to sea on their journey towards Tuhua ( Mayor Island).
 
Island off Ohui Coromandel's Eastern Seaboard 1980's - Photo JM Stewart
Another such Humpback  was reported stranded and washed up on the Kapiti Coast at Waikanae Beach  in October 2014. Since people settlement on the coasts of New Zealand, strandings, wash ups or presence of large sea creatures such as whales, dolphins and sea elephants has always attracted great interest. In July 2014 a Humpback Whale visited   Reotahi reserve in Whangarei Harbour feeding on sprats - typical of Humpback for keeping close to the shoreline on their migratory route they feed on small fish, krill and plankton.
 
Humpback Whale seen from Deep Blue  Diving Tonga - photo Chris R Ball August 2015
Looking back in New Zealand's  papers online - Papers Past  New Zealand National Library one can find a number of articles on Humpback Whales.

 
Courtesy Papers Past, National Library NZ
Gone in recent times of New Zealand's past history  are the days of whalers and sealers who plied these coasts. Now it is people like us whale watching and in event of stranding or being washed up, community taking care of these whales.
 
 
Humpback Whale - photo Chis R Ball August 2015

 
My mother a DOC Wildlife Ranger with DOC ,organised in 1993 , a mammal  rescue seminar at Whangamata. We learned during this seminar the skills of assisting whales to survive and return to their sea travels. A rescue group was set up after this seminar, headed by coordinator Nobby Coxhead. No doubt some will have stories of this to pass down families - a relevant part of the Past NZ History on these coasts of New Zealand.


Mammal Rescue Seminar at Whangamata 1993  - photo HM Stewart
 
                                             Humpback Whale from Deep Blue Diving - Photo Chris R Ball August 2015
 
 Reference Source:
 

 



Thursday, 10 September 2015

Ponui Passage - Lighting the Way

NEW ZEALAND LIGHTHOUSES (No. 4) .—The lighthouse in Ponui Passage, at the entrance to Auckland Harbo... [truncated] Evening Post, Volume CXII, Issue 10, 11 July 1931, Page 23 Papers Past, National Library New Zealand 
Ponui Passage Lighthouse A Screw pile light, this was the other of the two sea wave - washed lighthouses that James Stewart , Civil Engineer, was involved with in design and superintending construction. The location of this lighthouse was on a flattish table bank of a sandbank known as “sandspit” to shipping which travelled to and from Thames in the Hauraki Gulf and Auckland on the Waitemata Harbour.
 

Map not drawn to scale and only approximate to show Lighthouse locations  ASB 2010
 
Determining the position, Stewart, just as with Bean Rock Lighthouse, enlisted the expertise of Captain Burgess, Chief Harbour-master, Auckland, before and during construction, with careful soundings being made to determine the geological composition of the sandspit. Imbedded timber at the bottom of the sandspit was a fear when screwing down the piles.
 
Mr. Heron’s (of Shortland) tender of £2,300 was the successful one for the construction of the Sandspit Lighthouse in the Ponui Passage. William Hammond ( AKA Toss ) in an article in the Ohinemuri Journal, writes of his father and Messrs Flatt, Heron, Morton, Craigie building this lighthouse.( Hammond, 1964)
 
Reading the description of the labour required to complete construction of the lighthouse in various articles and Stewart's own paper to the Auckland Institute reads like heavy labour ( none of the construction technology that is available today in 2014).

To effect the screwing down of the cast iron piles with a capstan, a temporary platform was built. The Daily Southern Cross reported the following on the method:

…”The plan adopted was to prepare long poles with a peculiar kind of screw thread, and screw them into the ground. The thread of the screw began at the point with nothing, and increased to l4 in. This, its greatest width, was attained in two and a-half turns, and then one full turn was given after it had attained that distance in the solid. The power to screw them down was applied by men with a capstan….” AUCKLAND INSTITUTE. Daily Southern Cross, Vol. 29 August 1871, P 3
 
Stewart estimated that the total weight of the lighthouse structure was about 60 tons and wrote that:-
 
….” The interiors of the piles are filled with good cement mortar, to preserve the iron from rust, and the heads and nuts of the joint bolts are imbedded in the same. Tubular cast iron braces, and the lower timber frame, three feet above high water, complete the foundation which has answered all expectations in the recent exceptionally stormy season…” ( J Stewart,1871)

Stewart was to write and read a paper to the Auckland Institute on the foundations of the lighthouse in Ponui Passage.  In this, he described the determining of a suitable site with Captain Burgess, Chief Harbour Master and screwing down the piles with the aid of a capstan and winch handles worked by four men.
 
 
James Stewart , Civil Engineer
The Cyclopaedia of New Zealand, Vol 2, Auckland Province. Christchurch: Cyclopaedia Company Limited, 1902.
 
 Both Bean Rock and the lighthouse at Sandspit in the Ponui Passage were completed in 1871, Messrs Fraser & Tinne having provided the ironwork. Both lighthouses were completed with a hexagonal shaped wooden tower which formed a cottage and storeroom for the Light house keeper.
 One of the first lighthouse keepers at Ponui Passage lighthouse, or Sandspit as it sometimes was known, was Daniel Macfarlane ( Archives NZ, ACFM 8180 46 870/76). MacFarlane - in some records spelled McFarland or McFarlane – common variance with this surname) was followed by Charles H.O. Robson as Principal Light house keeper and then John Marsh.

 
 
In those days before automation, lighthouses were manned by Lighthouse Keepers. One of the responsibilities was to keep the lights going for what had become a busy route with “coasters” – steamers and sailing ships plying with cargo and passengers.
The early years of operation of this lighthouse saw two collisions nearby – that of the cutter “Avon” with the steamer “Golden Crown” in December 1871  and in July 1877 the ketch “Adah” with the “Southern Cross.”

 
From newspaper accounts in later years, it would appear that in November 1896, some damage was done to this lighthouse. Evidently the schooner Huon Belle, owned by J.J. Craig was reported to have run aground against the lighthouse causing damage to two of the iron piles and the lamp glasses. The Huon Belle had been purchased by Joseph J Craig  to carry Portland Cement from Whangarei to Coromandel Peninsula for the new industrial mine batteries being constructed.


 

OLDEST VESSEL IN NEW ZEALAND.—The 25-ion ketch Huon Belle, bulk in Tasmania in 1864,.5ti1l plies reg... [truncated] Auckland Star, Volume LXV, Issue 191, 14 August 1934, Page 5 Papers Past, National Library New Zealand
 
According to New Zealand Lighthouse, the lighthouse at Sandspit in the Ponui Passage became automated in 1915 or 1916, ending the era of light house keepers here. In 1938 the wooden cottage was moved to Ponui Island nearby. (Website New Zealand Lighthouse, accessed 07/04/2010) Today in 2014 it is a different vessel navigating the route – yachts and fishing boats.
 

  From Tararu, Thames, NZ looking toward coast near Ponui Passage in March 2010, CRB photo collection
Reference Source:

•  Churchman, Geoffrey B. NEW ZEALAND LIGHTHOUSES. Government Printing Office, 1989.
 •  By J. STEWART, Assoc.Inst.C.E. “ART. XI.—A Description of the Foundation of the Lighthouse in the Ponui Passage.” In Transactions and Proceedings NZ Institute, from Volume 4. 1871:
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 •  OLDEST VESSEL IN NEW ZEALAND.—The 25-ton ketch Huon Belle, bulk in Tasmania in 1864,.5ti1l plies reg... [truncated] Auckland Star, Volume LXV, Issue 191, 14 August 1934, Page 5