Early Auckland History


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Early Auckland History

  1. 1. ==== ====Find The Best Deals on Land Mann Fire Pitwww.landmannfirepit.com==== ====This site is on the early history of Auckland and is particularly dedicated to those early aucklandsettlers and pioneers who made the dangerous voyage from the other side of the world to settle inAuckland, New Zealand. In particular it is dedicated to my own ancestors who were early settlersin Auckland and helped create the early history of Auckland.Pre-1840.Auckland had a substantial Maori history and settlement prior to white settlement. Just walkingaround the many volcanic cones of the city one can see the many kumura pits, terracing and othersigns of what were once substantial hill pahs (forts). By 1840 these no longer existed and the areawas relatively vacant. In fact some local Maori invited and sold land to Europeans in the hope ofobtaining protection from further violent wars from tribes of the North. The crown would lateroverturn these land deals for its own benefit. Prior to 1840 most Europeans settling in NewZealand lived in the Wellington area (approx. 1600) where a settlement was established by theNew Zealand Company and in Northland at Russell (about 600) and around the Bay of Islands.Few would have predicted that Auckland would become the pre-emienant city in New Zealand withonly 2 white settlers in the Waitemata at this time.Hobsons Choice.All that was to change when in 1840 Governor Lt. William Hobson chose the isthmus as the site ofhis future capital. With fertile volcanic soils, twin habours, rivers to the North and South and a goodclimate it was an inspired choice. 3000 acres were brought from the local Maori chiefs - the NgatiWhatua. The Crown paid £341 for the original land handed over for the settlement (3000acres). Six months later, just 44 acres of that land was resold by the Government to settlers for£24,275. (not a bad profit and this same crown/state expects the tax payer today to forkout to settle Maori land claims, the irony is not lost on this writer). Shortly the first ship the Platinaarrived from Wellington with Hobsons pre-fab. house (Mannning Frame House) and 3 days laterthe Anna Watson from the Bay of Islands arrived with the first group of internal settlers. At 1:00pmon Friday 18th day of September 1840 Captain Symonds, also a chief Magistrate raised the UnionJack, both ships fired their guns and Auckland was founded.At first living in raupo huts and tents these mechanics (tradesmen) and officials (governmentbureaucrats) began to build the beginnings of a town.The other side of the world.Imagine now if you will you are on the other side of the world. You decide you are sick of living incrowded impovised conditions in Scotland. Thanks to the combination of many factors includingindustrialisation, the throwing of people off lands, and increasing birth rate, there are now large
  2. 2. overcrowded slums. You hear of the opportunities that exist on the other side of the world, newlands with man eating natives. To get there you will have to spend at least 3 months on a sailingship and you have no guarantee you will get there. Ships sunk on a regular basis and even if thevovage was without incident you had a 1 in 15 chance of not making it to your destination (givenon average on a ship of 300 persons approximately 20 died on the way, I dont think many of uswould get on a 747 if given those odds). Perhaps now we should have a greater respect for thoseearly white settlers. Not only would the trip be dangerous, on arrival only hard work awaited.Despite this 306 settlers got onto the Duchess of Argyle and 255 onto the Jane Gifford and leftGreenock Scotland for Auckland and an uncertain future. They arrived in Auckland 16 weeks lateron the October 8th 1842. The Duchess of Argyle arrived first but got stuck on a sandbank and theJane Gifford sailed past, it wasnt until the following day with the high tide that the Duchess ofArgyles passengers made landfall. With the arrival of the first overseas immigration ship thesettlement really took off. Despite Sir Logan Campbells view that these new arrivals with not of therich capitalist class Auckland needed for investment, in truth these were just the kind of peopleAuckland needed, average plebs, hard working tradesman, farmers, labourers and artisans,people with the neccessary skills to create a useful economy. (On the Duchess of Argyle a young10 year old Robert Laing had arrived with his mother Anne McDonell Laing COX and his step-father to begin a new life and so one of my ancestors became a first settler and helped buildAuckland. He would die in 1925 aged 92 during which time he had lived to see Auckland becomeNew Zealands major city.)These were the first of many more overseas immigrants who would help swell Aucklandspopulation, along with the fact these early immigrants themselves had large families.What was early Auckland like?By 1852 Auckland was a town with its own society. A population of 4,500 in the town itself andanother 3,500 listed in the borough in surrounding farmlands.Despite its relatively small size it considered itself as having a considerable society. As the seat ofgovernment it had numerous government officials as well as the seat of most of the churches,including Bishopricks of N.Z (Church of England) and of Rome (Catholic) and the Seat of theMissionary societys pacific operations & the Wesleyan Mission as well. One shouldremember at this time in history churches still had a tremendious influence over the lifes of peopleand had large resources at their disposal to support missionary work throughout the pacific.As well as these there was the army with its officers, artillery, engineers. At this time the NewZealand fencible settlers were arriving in Auckland bringing in another 2,500 settlers between1847 - 1852 (these were retired soliders (721 in total) who volunteered for New Zealand on thecondition they gave part-time army service in return for a 2 room cottage and an acre of land, theyare now estimated to have over a quarter of a million descendants). They were brought toAuckland to help defend it against a possible Maori invasion from the strong Waikato tribes.Fencible villages included Howick, Onehunga, Panmure, and Otahuhu.(On the Inchinnan which arrived on 27th May 1852 was a John McNeil and his family who settledin Howick, Auckland and so began another branch of my family tree, one of his sons would followthe solider tradition and fight in the Waikato War).
  3. 3. In this small society there were many comings and goings. Soliders posted to elsewhere in theBritish empire, new settlers, others who cleared out deciding Auckland was not for them, visitingships and sailors, merchants and others who travelled the world. There was no landed gentry, notalot of old persons, and no old settled families and less formality as had been in England. In factthere was the beginning of a new society, a classless society that the whole of New Zealand wasgrowing into, not they had fully realised this yet. Consider this quote from the New Zealander"Pretension and assumption are quickly seen through, and valued at their worth. Rank, station,fortune, family connection, unless supported by character, ability, public spirit or liberality, receivebut small respect." This was going to be a city where who you were and what you did andachieved mattered more than inherited wealth and titles. Despite this servants were in greatdemand. One of the problems for ladies was the difficulty in getting and retaining trainedservants. One of the problems being with the lack of females in the colony they were constantlypoached away by getting married and taking on new domestic duties.Auckland was said to have no religious or political bickering, and that any dispute could be aired inthe two local newspapers, the New Zealander and the Southern Cross, which were publishedtwice weekly.Fashion was very much as it was in England though delayed somewhat, and the clothes whilstthe same designs tended to be made out of lighter fabrics like cotton due to New Zealands warmclimate (remember most of these people had come from England, Ireland and Scotland), withother changes like straw hats. It must have been difficult to keep clean with all the roads being dirt.Houses were small wooden cottages, or raupo huts. Few stone buildings of note yet existed andtransport was by boat or horse.Aucklanders didnt see a great city taking shape before them at this stage, Auckland only 12 yearsold and was seen as a watering hole to replenish ships, supplies, people, etc.In such a small town one of the greatest activities was gossip as this quote from the NewZealander 2/6/1852 states "New comers, especially those who have had no experience of the"tittle-tattle", common, all the world over, in small communities, are struck with the prevalence of"gossip". But finding that it is "neighbours fare" - that it is no respecter of persons - thats its equalpressure in all directions destroys its force - they soon become almost as unconscious of itsexistence as of the air they breath".In Summer once a week the Regimental Band played on the well kept lawns of government house(now site of Auckland University) for a couple of hours. Society had 3 to 4 balls. And once a yearto celebrate the Queens Birthday (Victoria), the Governor would throw a ball and invite 200 of themost important people. Families went on picnics, with boating, bush walking, horse riding beingthe favourite outdoor activities, and for the more adventuress trips to the Island of Kawau, or to thethe Waikato and the lakes of Rotorua awaited. Also popular were school feasts, lectures, andstitcheries. For the sporting minded there was an annual race meeting and cricket matches. Ofgreat importance was the Auckland Regatta (still going strong) in which sailing craft of all typestook part, there was even a races for native canoes, one for no more than 12 natives, and one forunlimited numbers.Regarding living standards Auckland was considered an expense place to live with rents beingdouble of a similar sized place in England. However wages were somewhat better, particularly
  4. 4. servants wages which were double. There were no rates, taxes or dues of any kind (whathappened?!). Clothing was more expensive, but wine, spirits and groceries were cheaper. Fishwas plentiful and cheap, (although they complained about the quality, not having refined theirenglish tastes to our local varieties yet). Bread and Butchers meat were about the same price as inEngland. Vegetables were abundant and Maori Natives brought in huge quantities of produce viacanoe - 20 tons of onions, over 100 tons of potatoes, as well as corn, cabbages, kumera andpeaches. (This trade was brought to a crushing halt by the Waikato wars). For the gardenerpeaches, strawberry, apples and figs, melons, plums, pears, gooseberries and cherries could begrown easily.Living in the countryside was considered cheap, but living standards were basic, a raupo hut(brought for 10 pounds), a couple of pigs and chickens, wheat, potatoes, pumpkins and a housecow were considered sufficient to live on.In fact Auckland was considered a good place to live with no beggars and the average citizeneating meat at least twice a day. For the average settler, life had become much better than backhome. If accident befell them their neighbours would pitch in to help.Crime was considered rare and on reading the papers they regularly published the results ofpolice court, e.g. two persons charged with being drunk, one for swearing, one for parking theircart as to block a road, would be a standard weeks matters. Capital punishment was still availablebut rarely needed.Local relationships with the Maori were considered excellent at this stage, being a healthy tradebetween the two peoples, food as mention before brought from Maori farmers (normally communalfarms), and horses, boats, imported goods, flour mills being brought in turn by the Maori. Furtherthey provided a source of cheap labour. It was not uncommon to see numerous maori canoes ineither habour. Maori were seen to be "Good humored, ever ready to enjoy a joke, and a laugh,and always appearing self satisfied and contented." (THE NEW ZEALANDER). Past battles anddeaths were seen as a thing of the past (how wrong they were).One of the most important events was the arrival of a ship. Auckland habour was a center of tradeand of vital importance to the growth of the city. With the coming of a ship came the muchappreciated letters from home and news of the world (abet already 3-6 months old). Such was thisanticipated that a large crowd would wait outside the post office for it to open. Further with theships came necessary imported goods and in turn goods were exported to the world, in particularwheat and wood to Sydney, Tin and whale products.With the arrival of further immigrants Auckland continued to grow. From the original settlers by1860 there were 8,000 in the city and 14,000 in the surrounds, by 1880 both those numbers haddoubled, by the turn of the century those numbers had doubled again to 38,000 in the city and68,000 in the metropolitan area. Merchants grew and with the finding of Gold in Victoria and thenin Thames wealth was brought into the region and back by gold miners. Imports and exportscontinued to grow as did the importance of the habour and surrounding industries.Sailing ships of all sorts, brigs, barques, clippers and even the new steam ships made regular callsto auckland.
  5. 5. Most internal transport was on dirt or metaled roads via horse and cart, though eventually railwaysand tramways were laid.Important structures like the customs house, post office and others were made of stone and weremulti-storied and gave Auckland the feel of a large town.Merchants such as Samuel Cochrane who had immigrated from the United States of S.Cochraneand sons build up business and spread into auctioneering, boat transport, mining and much more.(Another early ancestor of mine).As Auckland continued to grow a multitude of problems emerged. As can be seen in the abovepicture roads were dirt. Ineffective local government, funding problems and a lack of basicplanning meant some of the basics we take for granted today were not available. Early watercame from what is now the duck ponds in the Auckland Domain and then western springs, but itwasnt until the first dam was established in the Waitakeres in 1907 that the first reliable andquality water began to flow though the pipes. Likewise electricity began in 1908.Soon would come motor cars would come and they would change the face of Auckland. Roadsand Motorways would turn Auckland from a city into an urban spawl, particularly after the secondworld war.Old Auckland continued to grow and to change over the years, old businesses went and new onesstarted. In fact much of old Auckland would be unrecognisable to the modern Aucklander. Takethis view of Queen Street with the Town Hall taken in 1923. Everything else in the picture haschanged greatly. The Aotea square now fills most of this picture and the street going up the otherside of the town hall is gone. Buildings such as the town hall and the customs house make moresense in their original context for which they were built.One should remember for the much of the last century much of Auckland was farmland. As seenfrom this 1912 view from One Tree Hill passed Manukau Road towards Hillsborough. This samescene now would be a mass of houses. What will it look like in another hundred years time? (seeoriginal webpage)Short bio on some of my early Auckland ancestors and pioneers -Robert James LAING - arrived on the first immigrant ship the Duchess of Argyle, became a sailor,ropemaker, Justice of the Peace, Lay preacher and gentleman. Buried amongst the earliestsettlers in the Symonds Street Cementary.John McNEIL - He was recruited in 1823 at Inverness into the 91st Reg. at the age of 17yrs(underage) for one year without pay. From 1824-1831 the reg. served in Jamaica, the conditionsresulting in constant deaths from yellow fever. The reg. was relieved and returned to Englandmonths before the slave rebellion in 1831. On the 5th Jan 1835 John married CatherineColCLOUGH nee McGRATH. He was either Corporal or Sergeant at this time. After another moveto St. Helena he was promoted to Corporal but was court marshalled and reduced to the ranks.The charge was over charging in the companys account book. In 1842 the reg. served time at thecape of good Hope but John was unfit on account of his rheumatism and respiratory problems, sohis return to England was recommended and he was duly discharged. Age. 39yrs his heigh 57",
  6. 6. dark hair, grey eyes and sallow complexion. The couple settle in New Ross, Wexford, Irelandwhere two children were born, Eliza.b.1839, Alexander b.1847. In 1851 they arrived in NZ withbaby John b. 1849 and settled in Howick in Waterloo Road. John was granted his land in 1858 atHowick, which he transferred to his widowed daughter Eliza STUART in 1879. John also purchase6 arces near pigeon mountain which he later sold. Catherine went to live with her sons atCoromandel until 1886 when she passed away.THEY WERE FENCIBLE SETTLERS.Samuel COCHRANEs ObituaryOn Sunday Morning at 3 oclock Mr Samuel Cochrane, the well known auctioneer breathed his lastat his sons residence, Remuera. Though not belonging to what may be regarded as the oldidentities the founders of Auckland, Mr Cochrane was a very old resident in the Auckland District.He has reside amongst us about 21 years, and during that time has been an active and usefulman of business. He was born in New York in the year 1815 during a short residence of hisparents in that city and was thus in the 6th year of age. On the return of his parents to Ireland hewas brought up in the vicinity of Londonderry and was there engage in the linen-trade. Hesubsequently settled in Montreal and there carried on business for a number of years. Hearing ofthe more genial climate of Auckland from some relatives of his who had settled here Mr. Cochranewas induced to cast in his lot amongst us in the year 1858. During the greater part of his residencehere he has earned on the business of auctioneer and land agent, and gathered an extensivebusiness, which his sons carry on still.From 1860 to 1863 Mr. Cochrane took a very active part in developing the mineral resources ofthe Coromandel district, in connection with Mr Keven, Michael Wood and others. With this objectin view he purchased from the goverment the steamer sandfly, after better known by the name ofthe Tasman Maid, which he ran in the coromandel trade for a number of years. He was also theprincipal owner of the steamer Waitemata now known as the enterprise no. 2, which was at firstintended for the purpose of opening up regular steam communication with the North shore, whau,hobsonville, etc. His other and last enterprise in connection with steam was the SS Jane, in theearly days of the Thames Goldfields. Mr Concranes object in these various ventures was theadvancement of the auckland district and to secure fast and regular steam communicationbetween this city and the various districts. In political life Mr Cochrane took little part. For a shorttime he ahd the hnour of a seat in the Provincial council, but he seemed to delight in morepractical work than conducting debates in the council chamber. On one occassion we think in1863 he recieved a special vote of thanks of the provincial council for his offer to provide them withaccomodation in which to carry on the business of the province. He was chosen in connection withMr. T. Cheeseman as a commissioner to settle the compensation claims which arose in regard tothe auckland and drury railway.In reference to the political which Mr. Cochrane occupied it may be meintioned that he was amember of the first harbour board that was selected for Auckland. Advance of the Drury Coalmines. He also started a wool-scouring establishment at the whan and he owned the prince alfedbattery, grahamstown. During a short visit back to Ireland he was granted the post of NZemigration agent for the north of Ireland. He selected many colonists for NZ. He died of cancer ofthe bladder. The great fund of humour which he possessed was often times exhibited whiledischarging his duties as an auctioneer. He was altogether an exemplary and energetic citizen.
  7. 7. http://early-history-auckland.blogspot.comArticle Source:http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Alastair_Harris