Topic: The 'Landing' That Wasn't: How the Katikati Pioneers Arrived
In this story by Katikati historian Ellen McCormack, we learn that the 'landing' of the Katikati settlers in 1875 was not the one off event that some believe it was.
The early ships with the Katikati pioneers on board arrived in New Zealand at the port of Auckland. The settlers then took another boat to Tauranga.
Those that could afford it rented houses or rooms in Tauranga but after the land ballot, which was held several days after their arrival, most went directly to Katikati in whatever small craft was available.
There were no wharves or landing places as this was an entirely new settlement with no facilities whatsoever.
Vesey Stewart had arranged for Peter Grant to build thirty-six whare’s, twelve near Aongatete, another twelve near the Uretara Stream and the other twelve near the mouth of the Tuapiro River. These whare’s were pre-sold to most of the settlers at ten pound [20 dollars] each prior to arrival in New Zealand.
However, the rest of the settlers landed at any spot closest to their land where they scrambled up the banks with wives, children and possessions and made their way to their land [for some it was a long walk].
The channel had still to be charted and pegged, so this was an entirely new experience for everyone.
There was no shipping service.
Settlers built their own wharves where required and in the early days there were four wharves mentioned in early reports. One of the wharves was Louch’s at Kauri Point.
Remember Katikati is in the Tauranga Harbour so the area is tidal and definitely not suitable for bigger craft.
Many stories have been told regarding boats landing on sand bars or stuck in mangroves and being stuck there until the tide the following evening or next day.
There is a huge difference in what would have greeted the first settlers in 1875 to those who arrived in 1878.
The fist party who arrived in Auckland on the Carisbrooke Castle in 1875 had huge obstacles to overcome, so it was indeed fortunate that they arrived in early spring and were able to plant crops to survive. Many of these settlers were tenant farmers who were very capable of subsistence living.
Great credit is due to these first settlers who during the next three years worked extremely hard, built houses, ploughed the land and planted crops.
Even the surveyor’s wife had her baby in a tent [Jessie Margaret Patrick 1878-1943 born in Katikati to Joseph Kedward and Mary Jane Patrick nee Nelson who married in 1876].
By the time the Lady Jocelyn settlers arrived in 1878 it was impossible to even imagine how life had been three years earlier.
There was now a store, a Highway Board and an elected School Board. The land was now grazed with cattle, horses, sheep and pigs. Many miles of fencing had been erected.
An accommodation house was available and the settlement had made an amazing transformation from fern, tea-tree and bush to farmland.
No 1 School at Kauri Point had opened and No 2 School in Beach Road was in the process of being built.
The Lady Jocelyn settlers supposedly arrived with a total of over 100,000 pounds [$200,000] in their pockets, however this money soon disappeared in the building of houses and fences as well as buying farm equipment and procuring animals.
The influx of this money was of great benefit to the first settlers as much of it was used to employ them to assist with house building and farm work for the new arrivals.
Ploughs and other farm equipment were lent all round the settlement and the barter system worked very well. When a sheep or beast was killed and butchered, any portion surplus to family requirements was sold or bartered to neighbours. All of this was activity took place via horse and over long distances.
Children rode horses from a very early age and were used to take messages from house to house, to the “post” which was the mail coach and to the Uretara for anything required.
In Mrs Johnston’s diaries [Frances Palmer nee Murphy c1841-1938] she continually mentions family members riding to the Uretara to dances and other activities, returning home early the next morning and then going straight to work milking the cows.
Mrs Johnston also mentions in her diary the birth of her 14th child born at home [Adela May Johnston 1882-1898].