COMMENCEMENT OF SETTLEMENT. (FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENT.) 22nd December, 1853. The Act authorising the taking of the land-- of Waikato had scarcely become law, and the session ot the Parliament, which passed it, had not yet come to a close, when, on the 14th instant, the first of tbe new villages of Waikato was commenced at Putataka, a native ferry station, about three miles within the for. and situate on the south (or left) bank of the Waikato river. The antecedents of this place are very notorious to all travellers, who were obliged to cross here, as the Maoris of the place were so extortionate, even for Maoris, that within the last few years tbe Government found it necessary to subsidise them to the extent ot some fifty pounds per annum, tv secure the free ferrying of European ■ travellers. Notwithstanding this subsidy, how- • ever, the Maoris were seldom at their posts, and j instances are not few of travellers having.to remain for a day or two on the shelterless waste of sand hil's on the north side, before the un--1 settled ferryman came down to the river from his 5 cultivation, six or eight miles off. A white man ' used to live on the site of the present township t dockyard; but the Maoris w-re so jealous of his \ drawing any money that they did all the ferrying, while he wa3 permitted to entertain all travellers. ' Ni>w, however, tbe dozen or two Maoris look 1 very small (both literally and figuratively), in the presence of a company of the 2nd Waikato ?. Regiment. H.MS. Eclipse and her comoany, and about fifty .tradesmen—a portion of the [ coniin? men of Waikato. Already three or four Government stores have been erected, and sawpits, roads, wells, wharfs, at.d more store-houses 1 are in immediate project. Two steamers in frame, " suitable for navijrar.iug the shoals of the Waikato, '■ are daily expected from Sydney, where they have ! been manufactured. They are to draw about one I fro*, or eighteen inches, and will be of t_e_erreat- ' est service in conveying stores of all descriptions •up the river, whose natural facilities of in- ; tercourse will now be turned to account. The land within six or seven miles of the Heads is not of ! extent sufficient- for settlement save for fishers, '" tradesmen, and gardeners. The river in the summer months positively seems like a boiling ; pot, so great are the shoals of fish. The chief ' delicacy of the watery tribe is tbe " kanai," ' which corresponds with the classical mullet of • the ancient Romans, which the epicures of the latter periods of the empire u=ed to rear and | fatten in fish ponds, at great trouble and expenseThere are, howevpr, numerous other kinds oFthe [ finny tribe to be found in the tidal wa'ers o* the " Waikato. Further out towards the pure sat sea, [ larger fish are to be found. Further up the river, 1 wild ducks abound, and will afford plenty of j sport for ihe gallant settlers. In the adjoining ! s -amps, immense eels enjoy the still waters. ' If 'we step ashore amongst the brakes and gullies, ' pheasants are beginning to abound. The pro'i- [ ficness of this species of game in New Zealand seems almost fabulous. Spreading from Auckland " as a centre, they have stocked to repletion the surrounding country for a circuit of thirty miles. The country immediately around Auckland lite- \ rally swarms with pheasants. It was not till early in this year (1863), bow. jv°r, that they have been ' seen on this side of the Waikato ; now there are ; about a dozen broods of them a-hatehing m the farm district of Raglan, and the interjacent unpeopled country may therefore be expected to contain a good many hundreds. They will not ' run much risk of destruction from the Maoris '. who are wretchedly bad shots, and never ' attempt to shoot a bird on the wing, in which ' state alone the pheasant ca» be seen. The great curse of cultivatior- in Auckland Province has been tbe grubs, caterpillars, and grasshoppers, which destroy every green thing above ground, and then go below for the roots. The game wili tend to keep them down, and will have no occasion for the present;" to feed on such crops as may be planted by the coming denizens ofthe Waikato. The new township at Waikato Heads has not 1 received a name yet. Ths old name of the spot, Putataka. will probably give place to some more euphonious appellative. The ground even for building is very circumscribed, and the houses will have all to be built in a line along the river side. The hills are mostly steep and in a great measure covered with grass and small native trees. In the neighborhood groves of fruit;trees abound, as indeed is the case all up the Waikato. There are many sheltered nooks for villas and orchards and vineyards, as the aspect is towards the north and the gullies are sheltered from the sea winds which prevail from the south-west both in winter and summer. One great advantage of the pla<*e which it possesses in common with the generality of places in New Zealand is its salubrity. Owing to this and to tbe pleasant shelly beach, which will soon be cleared of the boulder? , which lie thick upon it, as these will be useful • for building purposes,—the suburbs of Putataka • wili form a favorite place for summer residence. Ttie tide runs up the Waikato for about fifteenmiles past Tuakau. The waters of the river are, however, merely stopped or backed up, as , the salt or sea-water does not go more than six ' miles up. At Putataka, however, while the water is perfectly fresh for several hour 3 at low water, thus affording a readiness of water supply 'to the inhabitants,' at high tide the water is ' quite salt. The valetudinarian or invalid may, ? therefore, bathe at whatever time of the tide he pleases, and thus have fresh or salt water or any intermediate degree of saltne^s, wherewith to invigorate his health. Th;anchorage at Putataka is of the best description, as the Eclipse man of war, which draw 3 fourteen feet of water, lies within a biscuit throw of the beach. Her gallant commander (tt. vi a ?ne) was severely wounded at Rangiriri, but is now able to move about on crutches. At present she is under the command of Lieutenant Coddington. She has been at anchor for two months (with a short in- ! terval), and it argues not a little for ths discipline 'of the ship that tha utmost cordiality continues .to exist between the jack-o'-tars and the native population on shore. The same miiy be said of , the militia on shore, who are under the control of two gallant officers, Antrobels and Young, who have shed their blood for old England on the | steppes of the Crimea, and endured in her behalf tbe sultry weather of our Indian Empire. An efficient supervision is absolutely necessary at such a station, as the natives are unaccustomed to a town life.' They are all friendly to Government, and there ari no rebels within seventy or eigh'y miles. It cannot be expected, however, that stranger white men will be able to distin- ■ guish between a rebel and a friendly native, so that the beat thing they can be taught is to leave the Maoris and their prooerty alone. Mora is to be feared by the Maoris from the workmen, who are under no restraint, and may probably in their holiday excursions come across some native house or plantation, from whicu, the owners being absent, tbe visitors may imagine the rights of property have also- departed, as it may be thought that the owners have gone to join in ths rebellion. As it is, however, a very common thing for natives to have two or even more spots of cultivation in widely separate plac.s it would be a erext mistake if any white men should take any thing trim a settlement, simply because there is no one at home. 26th December. The B lautiful screw steamer, arrived in Waikato on the 23-J, having nude a gu.d run of
eight divs from Syinty. She b ing* one of tiliron "unhoats above alluded to, and other cargo for the Government. Whs tis some wh-it new anu worthy of record is that she has brought to Waikato *neli_. news, telegraphed from Adelaide up to the 2nd of last month, being fatty days between London ani Wauato!! allowing for difference of latitude, an event, I may safely say unparrellelled in history. The appliances for landing cargo are as yet not the most commodiou, but soon it is to be presumed that fiat-bottomed punt* will be brought round, as a large number are now being built in fhe Manukau for Waikato navigation. The Government expenditure at Putatuka will draw a population. Messrs Gillies, cf Otago. and Rus;-ell, of Auckland, two of the responsible ministry were Irere last week viewing the works and making arrangements for further operations. They returned to Auckland in about eight hours, as th» Lady Barkly steamer was waiting for them kt Waiuku to ferry them over the Manukau tn Onehunga. The long neglected Awaroi navigation, to which I have alluded in previous letter* to the Otago '* lkiily Times," now stand, a good chance of being opened up, and there cannot be a doubt that it will form tbe favorite route for regular suoplies of all sorts tobesetitfrom AucklatTd via Onebunga and Waiuku to the Waikato. At present it is only accessible for canoes and that oven with difficulty, but a few thousand pounds laid out on deepening and widening the Awaroa •ssou'd make it ac-f-ssible for su^h steamers as could navigate the Waikato. All tbe friendly natives of Lower Waikato who can spare themselves from their cultivations, arnow finding emnloymer.t in cutting timber for the works at Pututaka, in the transit of stores from the -waro*, and in the landing of goods from the vessels in port; as well as in catering for the amusements, sui:h a3 war dances, and vegetable supply of the new comers. The weather hitherto has been very wet, and the crop« and fruit backward. Cherries which we last year had ripe for Christmas pies, are now only in blossom, but the Cape gooseberry and strawberries a c now ab ntls-nt. The rains have, however, served a good purpose in Waikato—tbey have assist-d General Cameron, now the Colonel of tbe brave "Black Watch," in his triumphal entry into the heart of this island.
Permanent link to this item
WAIKATO., Otago Daily Times, Issue 651, 19 January 1864
WAIKATO. Otago Daily Times, Issue 651, 19 January 1864
Using This Item
Allied Press Ltd is the copyright owner for the Otago Daily Times. You can reproduce in-copyright material from this newspaper for non-commercial use under a Creative Commons New Zealand BY-NC-SA licence. This newspaper is not available for commercial use without the consent of Allied Press Ltd. For advice on reproduction of out-of-copyright material from this newspaper, please refer to the Copyright guide.