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.
  • 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.
  • LOOKING BACKWARD. Northern Advocate , 18 June 1914, Page 11
  • Family papers and documents










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