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Life in Early Poverty Bay

Life in a Small Shack

Life in a Small Shack.

Prior to taking up a Patutahi township section, in 1878, Mr Hills had been employed by the late Mr Maynard in the butchery trade at Ormond. When surveyed, the township was in heavy rushes and the sections ran, in size, from quarter acres to lots comprising several acres. There was quite a rush for sections, but few went out to live upon their newly acquired properties. As much as £70 was paid at the sale for a quarter acre. Mr Hills, therefore, considered himself lucky in being able to acquire an acre close to where the hotel now stands for £54. At that time, Mr Maynard owned, at Ormond, the first stone house built in Poverty Bay. The builder was Daniel McNair, one of Mr Hills' shipmates, and the stone was obtained from Ormond Valley. Mr and Mrs Hills had been married at Ormond in January 1877, and they were brought over to Patutahi by George (“General”) Jackson in a bullock waggon. At first, they had only a 2-roomed shack, and they are sure they have never been happier since. For ninen onths trey had no chimney and then Mr Hills and his brother-in-law went to where the Patutahi Quarry was, later, opened up, and, from stone obtained there, burned sufficient lime to enable a chimney to be built. It was the first occasion an which the stone had been so used.

Mr. J. E. Hills, of Patutahi.

Mr. J. E. Hills, of Patutahi.

Asked as to the state of the Patutahi district in those days, Mr Hills said that in the Lower Patutahi there was to be seen pasture of English grasses that would have been hard to beat anywhere in the world. The whole district was studded with sheep on account of the fact that free grazing was permitted. When scab broke out in 1878, however, a great change came over the scene. It then became necessary for stock page 155 to be kept within fenced areas and the Inspector proved very strict. Dipping with lime and sulphur was carried on continuously at the yards on Opou and many sheep died in the depth of winter after having been treated. Large numbers of sheep were destroyed as the easiest method of dealing with the menace. The land in the Patutahi district was, for the most part, confiscated land.