Nelson Historical Society Journal, Volume 6, Issue 6, 2008
Gawcott Man Reports Home From the Empire
The following letter was published in a Buckinghamshire historical journal. William and Charlotte Small came to Nelson on the Sir Charles Forbes in 1842. They raised a family in a mud cottage with attic bedrooms on land along from the Tod Valley turn-off at Wakapuaka. The farm was called Sunnyside. The Smalls were friendly with Maori from the local Pa, and Maori ovens remained on the property, near the creek, for many years. William served on the Suburban North Education Committee. Henry Small was awarded a first prize after the examination by school inspectors in 1858.
Nelson New Zealand February 20th, 1855
Dear Father & Mother, Brothers & Sisters
Not having received a letter from any of you since I received one from my brother Tom I now take up my pen to let you know how we are getting on in this quiet corner of the Globe. We have one of the most abundant harvests that we have ever witnessed and finer weather could not have been wished for, for which we have much to be thankful to God for. As for myself I have had a beautiful crop of both Wheat and Barley. I suppose I have Wheat enough to last eighteen months and plenty of barley for feeding pigs of which I have a good stock, and everything else that heart could wish for. We have an abundant year for fruits of all descriptions.
Now as regards ourselves we are all in enjoyment of good health. We have four in family now two fine lads and two girls. Harry is nine years of age. He attends to all the milking. Lads of his age are getting five shillings per week with board and lodgings. What a contrast to wages in England. The great drawback to the provinces is the scarcity of labour. Labourers wages are as high as eight shillings per day and not many to be got at that. We have 27,000 pounds of public money to be expended in the province in public works in the next twelve months. The surveyors have started today to explore the road to the Dun Mountain Copper Mine. It is only five miles to the town. Some of the Ore has been shipped to England where it has been tested and proved to be the richest Ore that has ever been discovered. A company is formed in London for working it and a bank order for 10,000 pounds has arrived in Nelson for making a road and other necessary arrangements for working the mine.page 15
Mr Williams and myself have government work in hand now to the amount of 120 pounds at which we can earn from 12/- to 15/- per day and not overwork ourselves. There is a great deal of work at a standstill for want of labourers and mechanics. We have had some down from Melbourne but not having been brought up to work they are of very little use to us. We want some of your good agricultural labourers who might get from 60 to 80 pounds per annum and their board.
Dear Father remember me and wife to all our old acquaintances. Give our love to John and his wife and family and tell them we often think and talk of them. Tell John not to forget to write to me for though absent ever dear hoping you are all in the enjoyment of good health as this leaves us. Allow me to subscribe.
From your affectionate son & daughter
William & Charlotte Small
Direct Mr William Small, farmer, Sunnyside, Wakapawaka, Nelson, New Zealand.
Let Mr Watts of Banbury know that you have heard from us. Be sure you pay for your letters before you post them or they will not come. Write as often as you can.
Tuesday Evening, Feb. 20th 1855. Past 10 o'clock, good night.
To: Mr George Small, Brazier & Tin Maker, Gawcott, nr. Buckingham, Bucks, England.
Thankyou to Jean Van Ginkel and Sheila Oening for the copy of the letter. The added information came from Early Tide to Wakapuaka by PV and NL Wastney.