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Nelson Historical Society Journal, Volume 1, Issue 5, December 1961

Original Sale of Land

Original Sale of Land

From the memories of the oldest living residents, and from the stories handed down from the pioneers, it seems that the Stoke land was devoid of any areas of native bush except in the gullies. A large part of the area in the vicinity of Saxton's Road was flax and raupo swamp, and it is recorded that the land between Wakatu and Maitlands was referred to as fern flats. The flax was finally cleared out and most of it was sent to Rutherford's Mill at Brightwater. In Poorman's Valley, tutu, manuka and fern are said to have abounded.

An interesting point is that, although there seems to have been no big timber in the Stoke area in comparatively modern times, there is unmistakable evidence that at some time in its history, parts at least were very heavily wooded. Mr Chisnall reports that, when digging a well recently in his Nayland Road property, he found it necessary to cut through a buried log which was fully four feet thick. Mr E. Saxton also reports that one of his paddocks, on the right hand side of Saxton's Road going up, has never been able to be ploughed owing to the huge logs which are lying just under the surface.

However, all this was long before 1842, because the early settlers had to cart their wood from as far away as Foxhill. Nelson, too, had to depend on the country area for its firewood, and sometimes as many as thirty wood carts would be halted at the foot of the hill, so that the horses could be spelled before attempting the ascent.

There were no flax mills or other industries started in Stoke and the people, in the main, made their living by tilling the soil after it had been cleared of flax and scrub.