Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Scandalous Maungaturoto Hotel of 1902

Few would ever suspect the local Maungaturoto Hotel could have caused such a scandal. Back in 1902 though it was a hot topic. It started off with the transfer of a license when it was brought by the colourful Moss Davis then owner of the Captain Cook Brewery from Mrs Margaret .J Sarah of the Cornish Arms Hotel at Kaiwaka. As the law stood then no licence could be transferred between licensed hotels more that a quarter of a mile away. Moss Davis must have had friends in the Waitemata Licensing Committee. Despite strong protests from some of the local Maungaturoto temperance movement the license was summarily granted by Stipend Magistrate Mr T. Hutchinson. This article appeared in the Evening Post of 18th June 1902

BY TELEGRAPH—Auckland Press Association)
AUCKLAND, 17th June 1902.

A crowded meeting was held in the Foresters Hall tonight to protest against the granting of a license at Maungaturoto. Mr George Fowlds M.H.R., the Rev. R. N. Davidson (Maungaturoto), the Rev. Mr Gittos (Wesleyan Missionary), Mr Wesley Spragg, The Rev. Mr Garland, Mr A. C. Caughey, and the Rev. Hugh Kelly spoke in favour of a resolution calling for enquiry into the declaration charging Mr. Hutchinson, S.M., with exhibiting bias in the conduct of the case. This was carried by a large majority.

The statutory declaration made by Mr. Fowlds, M.H.R., the Rev. Messrs Davidson (Congregational), and Gittos (Wesleyan), and Messrs H. Cullen and W. Spragg, states that they were present at the sitting of the Waitemata Licensing Committee, which was presided over by Mr. T. Hutchinson, Stipendiary Magistrate.

They then declare—that at that sitting an application was made in the name of Mrs Margaret Sarah for an accommodation license, to be issued for a new hotel building, at Maungaturoto, in lieu of one which was being allowed to lapse at Hakaru, over eight miles distant, Mr Moss Davis, brewer, being the declared beneficiary owner of the new house. That Maungaturoto is a Non-conformist settlement, with a history of nearly forty years, and hitherto taken pride in excluding the sale of liquor from its neighbourhood. That during the hearing of the application referred to Mr Hutchinson exhibited marked bias and unfairness in his treatment of witnesses.

Bias was shown by his complete failure to condemn a false description given by five carpenters, who were taken to Maungaturoto for the purpose of erecting the hotel building, and who would be leaving shortly after the building was completed, who signed the petition in favour of a license, describing themselves as “settlers, Maungaturoto,” the falsity of this description having been sworn to by a witness named Harrison, who had collected the signatures to the petition in favour of the license. That when the same witness for the applicant admitted, upon cross-examination, that at least four-fifths of the adult bona-fide residents of the whole of the Wairau Riding, which contains the settlement of Maungaturoto, were opposed to the granting of the License, the Magistrate again showed his bias by severely reprimanding the witness because he could not say that he had personally canvassed and carefully counted the numbers for and against the license, himself repeated a rumour which he said he had heard at Maungaturoto, “That many who had signed against the license would be very glad to see an hotel there, and would be the first to go for a nip when it was opened.” That during the examination of the Rev. Mr. Davidson Mr. Hutchinson asked of him from the Bench if he drank lager beer, and being told by the witness that he did not drink lager beer and did not know what it was, retorted, “You do not know what life is if you do not know what lager beer is.”

That from the beginning and throughout the hearing of the case, it was manifested that as far as the Chairman was concerned , the case was prejudged, and his influence was being used to discredit evidence from whatever source which was adverse to the application for the license. That it was given on sworn Testimony that the opposition of the residents of the district immediately concerned to the establishment of a house licensed to sell intoxicants was so strong that settlers had refused to sell sections for its accommodation, notwithstanding that high and tempting prices were offered. It was further proven before than Licensing Bench that 88 bona fide adult residents within the Wairau Riding (including a radius of 4½ miles from the proposed hotel) had petitioned against the granting of the license, while only about 20 similar residents had petitioned in favour of it. That the Magistrate, in giving his judgement, said that people living outside the Wairau Riding, but within a nine mile radius, of the proposed licensed house, had a right to an equal voice in locating the hotel with the bona fide residents with the affected settlement. That the Magistrate then declared that a majority of the settlers of this extended area had petitioned in favour of the license (a statement which we believe to be contradicted by the petitions then before the Court). That finally he did, in violation of the Act, which expressly provides that licenses may not be transferred from house to house when such houses are separated by a distance of more than a quarter of a mile, and against the petition of an overwhelming majority of the settlers of Maungaturoto proper, and to the grievous annoyance of many within the district, announce the license granted.

The matter didn't end there. George Fowlds took the matter all the way to parliament charging the Stipendory Magistrate T. Hutchinson with bias and for his removal - stating Mr Hutchinson 'was unfitted to hold the office of Stipendory Magistrate."

The Minister for Justice however didn't seem so convinced the charges would stick:

On the first charge of Bias the Minister replied

"If the Petitioners are in a position to prove the charge of bias their proper remedy is by way of proceedings in the Supreme Court which has the power to quash the license if to be illegally granted."

On the second issue of Mr Hutchinson's removal the Minister had this to say

"The petitioners allege that they believe the Magistrate is unfitted to hold the position, but it must be obvious that the Government would not be justified in acting upon such an expression of belief unsupported by any concrete facts or specific instances."

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Gittos Cathedral at Tanoa (Kakaraea)

Standing on the shores of this silent place it was hard to imagine that once, over a century before, here at Tanoa was a hub of activity. The settlement of an Uriohau Chief Arama Karaka was here and later the Wesleyan missionary Reverend William Gittos.* So much history to be told . What went on there during those early years that shaped the lives of the generations that have followed since. It is what stands there now as silent perhaps, an almost a shadowed testament to those events of the early days of settlement.

Tanoa was once known by the name of Kakaraea and just beyond Oahau, now called Batley.

In 1874 on the shores of Kakaraea a fine gothic-style church made of the mighty kauri was built. Its siting had a particular significance. According to Dick Scott in his book "Seven Lives on Salt River" the site was Wahi Tapu and for Arama Karaka it held a personal concern. Having converted to christianity he had also abandoned his father's name Haututu, to take the name Adam Clark and the doing came the rejection of the tapu surrounding his father's death. Dick Scott recorded the following:

"Haututu had been killed defending his land from Ngapuhi muskets in 1825. His body had been taken by canoe down the Otamatea to be cooked and eaten at his own Kakaraea kainga. A big pohutukawa marked this especially tapu ground. The missionary (William Gittos) set out to destroy the tapu by employing Europeans to build a church on the site. A handsome building with great kauri beams supporting a high vaulted roof, it became known as the "Cathedral Church of Gittos". At first Arama Karaka was afraid to enter it and violate his father's memory, but Gittos persuaded him with a prayer".

After much research and finding different years 1875 and 1877 for the construction of the Gittos Church I finally found an article from the Daily Southern Cross dated 17th April 1874.

Opening of the Wesleyan Church at Kaipara

"The opening of this new Church took place on Sunday March 29th. The building is of wood, built in the gothic style. It is fifty feet in length, by thirty feet in breadth, and provides sitting accommodation for about three hundred worshippers. It is proportionately of a very lofty character, the matter of ventilation having received due consideration, a requisite quality in any church where the natives worship. We were glad to notice there was no pulpit, but a plain reading desk inside the communion rail.....Mr Symonds* was the architect and builder."

Cathedral no longer. Time took its toll on the grand gothic facade finally succumbing to rot and a high wind the high vaulted roof structure in the end was removed for safety reasons. The church originally faced the shoreline. According to local Iwi sources the building was turned around and was shortened. What remains is a plain unassuming building flanked by old gravestones, its bell now erected alongside no longer tolling the call to morning service. Birds fly in and out of the gaps left behind from long since broken windows - a sad testament to a glorious past. Somewhere there are plans to have the building conserved. Let's just hope it's not too far into the near distant future.

* J. Symonds who had a timber mill at Whakapirau (further research required)
* Rev William Gittos was the son of Benjamin Gittos of the Gittos Tannery

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Great Pig Hunt of 1864


from the writings of William Bailey Maungaturoto

(Reproduced by the kind permission of Mr Alan Flower Maungaturoto)

Speaking of Captain Cook, reminds that there was one animal in the country we heard a great deal about. The bush, we were told, was over-run by wild pigs. Both speakers and writers had enlarged on the advantages the settlers would have in the ready supply of fresh and tasty meat almost at their very door; on ship-board any talk about the future settlement, otherwise The Bush, was invariably garnished with abundance of anticipated wild pork; it went so far, in fact, that any uneasiness in regard to future meat rations was thought quite unnecessary. On several occasions after our arrival circumstances pointed to the desirability of drawing on this reputed supply of pork. Indications of wild pigs being about had been seen, and a hunt had been more than once mildly suggested. That no-one was disposed to take what I may call a too prominent part in the matter will be better understood, when I explain that no-one in the settlement was too well acquainted with the manners and habits of wild pigs to inspire us with the confidence necessary to undertake a hunt of our own account, and judging from the manners of the domesticated pig we had very grave doubts about a wild pig being such a mild accommodating creature, as he appeared to be when the subject of conversation in an English sitting room or on board a ship. Then he was mere animated pork. But at close quarters, and in his native wilds, what might he not be endowed, as we had now good reason to know, with such formidable carver-like tusks.

Moreover we have been told by hunters of experience, that the proper way when hunting, was to at once fall on the quarry, turn it over, and the rest was simple. I must say, that we could hardly regard it that light, at any rate not until we felt fully assured about the somebody who was doing the 'falling on'. However, while each one interested was exercising a diplomatic reserve about the matter, there appeared on the scene, a renowned hunter of pigs in the person of Mr G. Williams, accompanied by his famous dog, Namou; here was our opportunity.

Mr Williams was bent on 'sport', we were bent on pork, and by joining forces, there appeared to be every possibility of bringing about satisfactory results to both parties. This Mr Williams, I should say, resided near the Great North Road which runs behind the Pukekaroro Mountain, a very out of the way situation in those days. He had come direct through the bush, killing as he said, two pigs in the course of his journey. This must have been the previous day, as he arrived in the district rather early in the forenoon, and was prepared to start on the hunting expedition at once. This was as near as I can remember in the early part of the year 1864. Who were of the party, other than myself and Mr Williams, I am unable to say of any certainty, not is it of any particular consequence. Suffice to say we started off on our quest a company of four, accompanied by three dogs - after tramping some distance, the redoubtable was sent out to find the quarry, and shortly afterwards made announcement to the effect, when the two other dogs were sent off to his assistance, we following as best as we could through the most broken tangled country imaginable.

Breaking through eventually onto the scene of conflict, we found the dogs facing certainly, the most ugly, savage looking animal it was ever out lot to see. Also I may add, the most odorous, for the vile animal smell of the creature was in evidence before we saw it. That this was not the kind of pig we had been led to expect was apparent at once, for why this savage, resentful attitude anything more unlike the plump, amiable, good natured Albertland pig - it would be impossible to conceive. for my part, I would have been quite willing to have apologised for our rude interruption of his usual daily occupation, and have retired with best grace possible. I wished afterward that I had, but no, the hunting instinct had been aroused, and he must be made to yield up his pork. This was a decision, of course; still, if he wasn't pork, he was undeniably pig, and therefore having come so far, there would be some satisfaction in finding out what he was composed of. There still, however, remained the question of how this was to be done.

This ancient animal was plainly a tactician of some quality, due no doubt to many an old time fight with other chieftains of the porcine race, for he backed his hindquarters into a cavity at the root of and enormous rata, consequently the only point of attack was the awe-inspiring head, and I don't think the whole British army could have been induced to make a frontal attack of that kind, at any rate unaided by artillery. Fortunately, one member of the party, seeing probably that there might be some difficulty in following out the proper course, by 'falling on the quarry', had brought a gun and some ball cartridge. that it was unsportsmanlike to use this means of slaughter thus afforded, was countered by the fact that he animal himself was responsible, inasmuch as he had maliciously and with evil intent, put his 'falling on' part out of our reach. Consequently the only course was to bring our artillery to bear on him. A kill having been effected, we were able to make a closer inspection of our quarry, and a sorry spectacle it was, as indeed were all its kind that I ever saw.

Our enthusiasm had cooled by this time, the noisome smell and terrifying ugliness of the beast had gone far toward extinguishing our desire to make any further acquaintance with wild pork. However, so tenacious are preconceived ideas, that notwithstanding our repugnance to the whole business we were shortly on our way homeward, loaded up, each one of us, with portions of the carcase. To skip all details of our journey, I may say that our reception at the end of it was not of a cordial character; in truth, the smell of the meat we carried talked louder than we did, and the tone of the remarks which were made, unmistakably intimidated that the more distant the point where we unburdened ourselves, the better several people would be pleased, and thus ended our first and last pig hunt in Maungaturoto.

- W. J Bailey 'Manuscripts of Maungaturoto Early History' C.1920

Saturday, December 6, 2008

The Plans Of Mice Rats and Disgruntled Teachers

Below is a report written by a disgruntled teacher from Scoria Flat in Kawakawa Northland that was published in the New Zealand Observer 23rd May 1908. Makes for interesting reading.


NZ Free Lance 23rd May 1908

From the "Observer"; - Choice extract from the report of the teacher at Scoria flat (Kawakawa) half-time school:

Both windows still remain in a broken state, and consequently it is impossible in dusty weather to the keep the building clean; while in windy and rainy weather it is exceedingly draughty, and unpleasant. There are no steps, and pupils have to scramble up upon a pile of loose scoria blocks. This is most dangerous, especially for the little ones. The rooms forming the lean-to harbour rats and mice. Quite recently I found that the school roll and other important official records had been badly gnawed by rats, and I was obliged to lay poison to safeguard these registers.

Unfortunately, this resulted in some of these animals dying in the partition, and in my efforts to discover them I had to pull down some of the paper. The nuisance caused by these dead vermin has obliged me to hold the school outside on two occasions. The paper is old, filthy, and torn, and in most unsanitary condition. It would be healthier to have the whole of it torn off, even if this made the room more draughty than at present.