Life in Early Poverty Bay
Gisborne the Golden — How the Town Came into Being — Sequel to the Hau Hau Rebellion — “Utu-Rau-Patu”—(“Spoils to the Victors.”)
Gisborne the Golden
How the Town Came into Being
Sequel to the Hau Hau Rebellion
“Utu-Rau-Patu”—(“Spoils to the Victors.”)
The initial steps in the creation of a town are, oft-times, enshrouded in mystery even in so young a country as New Zealand. It is, of course, easy to account for the birth of settlement in respect of the coastal towns. Originally, they were trading stations and ports of call for vessels from Sydney in search of timber, flax, etc., and of overseas vessels sent to lift oil and whalebone. Such, indeed, was the case in regard to Gisborne. or, as it was known to the Natives, “Turanganui.” Very different was the origin of the inland towns, which came into existence on account of the development of some industry, as, for instance, sawmilling, where a small mill and a few slab huts were quickly supplemented by other mills, a smithy, store and the inevitable “pub.” Mining townships arose in a like manner. Christchurch, to take another type of town, was actually designed in England and the settlers knew, before they migrated, where their sections appeared on the plans!
First Purchase Of A Town Section.
Consideration Includes Gunpowder.
As it so happened, however, the earliest residents of Gisborne, with but a few exceptions, could not, for a long time, obtain a “title” to a section near the port from the Natives. They made the best terms they could with the Natives for the right of occupation. It seems that the Natives could not understand why anybody should require more than the right to use a piece of land. The position was not different in respect of the country land suitable for grazing and farming.
It fell to the lot of Capt. J. W. Harris, grandfather of Mr. Frank Harris, to acquire the first section of land from the Natives. The section was the site where the Turanganui Hotel now stands and it was required in connection with the whaling station which he desired to start in the river. Officially the property became known in the State records as “Harris's Homestead.” It was bought from Kahutia (grandfather of Lady Carroll), Pototi, Turanga and others, and the consideration was:—
29lbs. of gunpowder.
6lbs. of tobacco.
Only 79 Pakehas in District in 1854.
On more than one occasion, Mr. (afterwards Sir Donald) McLean paid a fruitless visit to Gisborne in an effort to induce the Natives to part with some of their lands. His description of Gisborne in 1854, for instance, is most interesting. He reported to the Government that the Turanganui river would admit vessels of 40 to 50 tons and that with a little blasting at the entrance vessels up to 100 tons would be able to enter. He estimated the Native population of the district at 2,500 and that there were in addition 79 Europeans, including children, besides 25 half-castes from 1 to 18 years old. The exports in 1850 he computed as being worth £2,890, including 10,000 odd bushels of wheat, together with maize, pork and other products. On their part, the Europeans had 202 page break page 185 head of horned cattle, 20 horses, 20 weather-boarded cottages, 105 acres in cultivation, and a number of excellent fruit gardens, including that at the Mission Station, and those of Mr. King and Capt. J. W. Harris… . The Natives possessed 100 horses and 150 head of horned cattle, but, except for a few neatly carved cottages, their homes were of a very inferior description. “As yet,” he said in his report, “I do not consider the Natives are sufficiently unanimous to enter into a formal treaty for the cession of their land, which they will probably be better prepared to do in another year.”
Natives Sell Town Proper to Crown.
It was, indeed, not until after the Massacre in 1868 that Sir Donald McLean succeeded in breaking-up, in large measure, the system of Maori landlordism in this district. Then it was that the Government decided upon confiscating a lot of the lands held by the Native rebels. According to Colonel Porter he met the chiefs in conference at Gisborne and told them that, as they had ignored former warnings, he was going to treat them according to their own custom. He was the conqueror and would confiscate portions of their lands as “utu-rau-patu,” literally, “spoils to the victors.” Sir Donald, in a memorable address, proceeded:—
“I won't take all your land but each tribe must cede me part of its country, and I want a plece now for the establishment of a town on the river bank—part of your possession of Wai-o-hiharore (Water of the Mushroom).”
After a lengthy korero the Rongowhakaata tribe agreed to cede the Patutahi block as their part of the payment for their misdeeds. The Te Aitanga Mahaki tribe ceded the Ormond block. Then arrangements were made with Riperata Kahutia, mother of Lady Carroll, and other Native chiefs and chieftainesses to sell to the Crown what became officially known as Turanganui No. 2, extending up the left bank of the Turanganui as far as the junction of the Waimata and the Taruheru rivers, and thence up the Taraheru almost to Lytton road, then striking towards the Waikanae swamp and east along the Waikanae (Mullet Stream), the purchase money amounting to £2000.
Houses on Sleds
In the early seventies whares, houses and huts were seen on various sections, but all, or practically all, were built on sleds. The reason for this course was due to the uncertainty, in many cases, of the ownership of the land. In those days timber was cheap, kauri, for instance, being bought at 6/- a hundred feet. When the real owner demanded a rental, friends got together and the house was pulled on to the next section, and so on.page break
Gisborne Borough Council—1925–1927.
Front Row.—Mr. A. Young (Borough Engineer), Cr. H. H. DeCosta, Mr. G. T. Wildish (Mayor), Cr. D. W.
Coleman, Cr. T. E. Toneycliffe.
Back Row.—Cr. C. E. Bickford, Mr. R. D. B. Robinson (Town Clerk), Cr. H. E. Maude, Cr. L. T. Burnard, Cr. J. Bullard, Cr. T. E. Todd, Cr. J. Blair,
Naming of Gisborne.
The township was named Gisoorne in 1870 after the Hon. W. Gisborne, Colonial Secretary in the Fox Minstry, from 1869 till 1872. He came to New Zealand about 1848 and was Commissioner of Crown Lands till 1853, when he was promoted Under Secretary, holding that office until 1869. He was a member of the Leg islative Council in the sixties, and in 1877 was elected a member of the House of Representatives while in London.
Laying Out the Township.
According to Colonel Porter, Turanganui No. 2 was not then considered quite a suitable spot for the town. It was really desired that the town should be founded on the Kaiti side, but its ownership was in serious dispute as between Riperata Kahutia and her people and Hirini Te Kani and his people. Otherwise Gisborne might have been founded on the other side of the stream.
In 1870 the town was surveyed and was found to contain approximately 1200 acres. It was the late Mr. Munro who surveyed the town and laid it out, and the land was offered by auction, the upset prices being very low in February, 1873.
First Sale of Township Sections.
The highest priced section was at the corner of Lowe Street and Gladstone Road, the site of the present Masonic Hotel, the sum of £51 being realised for the quarter-acre. This was followed closely by the site where the Union bank now stands, which brought £50. On the corner, Mr. Horsfall later erected a store. A quarter-acre site where McKee's buildings stand at present opposite the Melbourne Cash changed hands at £19, the purchaser being Colonel Porter, who, later, erected there the first Masonic Hall. The site on which the Poverty Bay “Herald” now stands was given as compensation to a loyal chief, Mokena Kohere, and later with the buildings upon it was sold for about £200.
Government Gift to Major Ropata.
The quarter-acre section on which the Coronation Hotel stands now, was given to the noted Ngati-Porou loyal chief, Major Ropata. The Government added to its generosity by erecting for him a four-roomed cottage with a verandah, the house being brought up in frames from Wellington and fitted together, the building facing Lowe Street. Major Ropata's garden is now covered by Tattersall and Bayly's tobacconist's shop. Subsequently Major Ropata sold the place to Mr. Alex. Blair, who owned the Coronation Hotel adjoining, and later the whole property was sold for about £600.
Unsold Sections in 1874.
By June, 1874, there were still a number of the town sections unsold, and the late Mr W. Deane Lysnar (father of Mr Lysnar, M.P.), records in his diary that he obtained from Mr Graham the following particulars—
Section 29, Rangi Road, 39p upset value £34.
Section 30, corner of Lowe Street and Rangi Road 30p, £34.
Section 29, Rangi Road, 39p upset value £34.
Section 30, corner of Lowe Street and Rangi Road, 30p., £34.
Section 31, adjoining, 29p., £20.
Section 61, Peel Street, just below Police Station, 1r., £20.
Section 62, adjoining, 1r., £20.
Section 63, lower down, 1r 11p., £10.
Section 64, two sections below Opera House in Peel Street. 1r 20p., £25.
Section 65, next Opera House, 1r., £23.
Section 66, Opera House site. 1r., £23.
Section 67, corner of Peel Street and Childers Road, opposite Opera House, 1r., £28.
Section 68, section nearer Gladstone Road, 1r., £25.
Section 69, Power Board site, 1r., £22.
Section 70, Sheridan and Adair's, 1r., £30.
Section 71, Townley's Corner, £29.
Other sections on the list run from Townley's corner round Gladstone Road and half way down Bright Street, but the upset prices are not given.
Great Strides Made By 1874.
According to the late Captain Ferris, when he returned in 1874 to Gisborne, he found great changes had taken place. The township had been sold, and houses were going up in all directions. The Masonic, Argyll, Albion, and several other hotels had been erected. A public board had been formed, and was battling with the task of forming streets and footpaths. Several comfortable, and, for those days, pretentious residences had been built, notably the house at Te Hapara, erected by Captain Read. Another was the fine two-storeyed house put up by Colonel Porter in Customhouse Street, later destroyed by fire, and a house built for Mr Edward Harris, senr.
Birth of Municipal Government.
The first election of Mayor and Councillors took place on the 25th and 27th of June, 1877, when, out of a nomination or two for the office of Mayor, and 19 for councillorships, the following were elected: Mayor, W. F. Crawford, 95 votes, beating W. W. Wilson 38 votes), and Crs. T. Adams, Wm. Adair, E. K. Brown, Henry Clayton, J. R. Morgan, C. Smith, S. Stevenson, W. Teat and J. Townley. The estimated receipts for the first year of the Council's work totalled £1657, made up as under:—General rate at 1s in £ on a rental value of £13,397, £669; subsidy £350; Customs £270; rents £337, and sundry licenses £31, whilst the expenditure was estimated at: For public works £1153, and for administration, including office furniture, £504.page 189
The first road loan of £10,000 was raised in 1878 and a special rate of 6d in the £ on the rental value was pledged. The water shortage was acute in the early stages of the Council's career, and one of the first works was the sinking of an artesian well in search of water to supply the town. In the year 1880 the Council's endowment comprising 21 sections, averaging an acre, were put up to auction for 21 year lease with an upset price of £2 per acre. The Borough Council also undertook the function of Harbor Board administration until 1885, when the offices were separated, Mr A. Graham becoming the first chairman of the Harbor Board, his successors, in turn, being Mr W. Sievwright, Capt. Tucker, and Messrs C. D. Bennett, J. Townley, F. J. Lysnar, Geo. Smith and W. G. Sherratt.
Population Quadruples in Decade.
The population of the municipalitv at the time of the formation of the Borough in 1877 was between 400 and 500. Nine years later it was computed at close on 2,000, having grown four fold. The failure of the City of Glasgow Bank in 1882 did not, of course, tend to maintain prosperity. The growing problems from the '80's onwards were how best to provide good roads and bridges, furnish an adequate water supply, and deal in a proper manner with the sanitary needs. On its small annual income, as compared with today, and with the help of but small loans, it battled away as best it might for over a quarter of a century. The Borough built the Kaiti bridge and a structure linking Whataupoko to the town was provided, by private enterprise thanks to the energy and optimism of the late Mr. W. L. Rees. By the middle '90's, the Borough was getting well knocked into shape and the time became ripe for more extensive efforts in the direction of supplying it with the comforts of civilisation in a much greater degree.page break
Town Now in the City Stage.
The development of a permanent water supply then followed, together with a comprehensive sewerage scheme, tramways, electric light and power, station, improved roads, bridges, etc. But, once again, there is now need to augment these facilities. To-day the Borough is considering the advisableness of securing a more adequate water supply, and special reports have been obtained on the matter. As the town grows, so does the need arise for an extension of the sewerage and the outer areas are now clamouring to be served. The electric power and light station has fallen into the hands of the Poverty Bay Power Board, which has agreed to take a bulk supply of juice from the State works at Lake Waikaremoana and is now busily engaged reticulating the district. As regards roads, a re-construction policy is in progress, up-to-date methods being employed to provide good wearing, smooth surfaces. The town's two main bridges are not surpassed elsewhere in the Dominion. As regards the tram system it was not a happy financial venture and bids fair to be replaced in time by 'buses, some of which are now being operated by the municipality. Much further municipal work requires to be done, but it is being tackled in a business-like way. Up till date the Borough has expended £694,498 on municipal works. Its annual interest bill is £33,323. Its accrued sinking funds total £55,260.
A Record Export Year
A remarkable export record was put up by Poverty Bay district in the year 1915. According to figures supplied by the Collector of Customs for the year 1915 the value of exports from Poverty Bay reached the huge total of £1,941,736. This easily placed Poverty Bay, as the principal exporting district in the Dominion, on a population basis.
The official Year Book for 1915 gave the population at a total of 21,158 for the district and the total figures would thus work out on a population basis at £96 13s 3d per head and this no doubt constituted a Dominion record.
How Population Has Grown
In 1886 the population of Gishorne was 2210. During the ensuing ten years the town and suburbs were amalgamatel, and the enlarged area showed at the 1896 census a population of 3826. Ten years later it had risen to 5687, and according to the census of 1911 the population of the Borough was 8196, and to-day it would be safe to say it had increased to over 12,877, and with the suburbs to 15,365.
Administrators And Officials
Past and Present.
|W. F. Crawford||1877|
|T. W. Porter (Col.)||1878–1880|
|C. D. Bennett||1881|
|E. K. Brown||1882|
|T. W. Porter (Col.)||1883|
|C. A. deLautour||1884|
|T. W. Porter (Col.)||1886|
|W. H. Tucker||1887–1888|
|C. A. deLautour||1889|
|W. D. Lysnar||1908–1911|
|Jas. R. Kirk||1913|
|W. G. Sherratt||1914–1918|
|G. T. Wildish||1919–1927|
|C. E. Armstrong||1927|
|C. D. Bennett||1877|
|R. D. B. Robinson||1891–|
(Commenced service 1888 and at present in office.)
|R. J. Reynolds|
|R. M. Skeet|
|E. Harvey Gibbon||1906–1909|
|A. J. Paterson||1910–1914|
|F. W. Mansfield||1915–|
|De Gennes Fraser||1916–1917|
|J. A. McDonald||1919–1922|
|J. G. Alexander||1923|
Poverty Bay Power Board, 1925–27.
Standing: C. H. Bridge, T. Todd, A. C. Steele, W. H. Buswell (Resident Engineer), T. Corson, J. Templin (Consulting Engineer), C. H. Williams, M. J. White (Clerk).
Sitting: B. J. Holdsworth, I. Mirfield, G. Wildish, F. R. Ball (Chairman), L. H. Maclean H. F. Toogood (Consulting Engineer), F. S. Bowen. (Messrs. Wildish and Todd have since been replaced by Messrs. Aislabie and Nicol.)
Aggregate Valuation Increases Twenty Fold.
|Unimproved value, 1911—|
|Unimproved value, 1915—|
|Unimproved value, 1927—|
For the year ended March, in each case, the amount of money spent on new buildings in Gisborne was:—
The following works have been carried out by the Borough:—
|Electric Light (now owned by Power Board||75,805|
|Streets and Bridges||206,647|