Today’s column is a compilation of notes made by an early settler girl on her arrival to Mangawhai in 1862. Her father had already been granted land, which he named Boyce Farm. He was Charles Haselden Snr and played an integral part in the formation of the first pioneering community at Te Arai. His daughter was Mary Sabin Haselden, who had first worked in Auckland as a governess and hadn’t seen the rest of her family for more than a year. When she did, she wrote, “I found them very much altered”.
On Monday 26 May 1862, Mary and George Harden went up into Fairy Hill bush and there they “plighted our troth”. Mary returned to Auckland in July, then made her way back to Mangawhai before Christmas, experiencing, “the most adventurous thing that happened to us that we ever yet experienced”. Mary takes up the story ...
“We left Auckland Saturday night, went as far as the Heads, came back and anchored and did not go out again ’til Tuesday evening owing to contrary winds. We passed Mangawai on Wednesday. The bar was too rough for us to enter. So we went on to Wangare [Whangarei]. Thursday morning we went on shore, had a good breakfast at a settler’s house, and at mid-day started the walk to Mangawai, a distance of 30 miles. We arrived there safely the next day at 11 o’clock pm, foot-sore and weary. Seven ‘non-com’s accompanied us. Five of them came home to Boyce Farm the next day where we had arrived quite unexpectedly. But, of course everybody was very glad to see us.
Fanny and Mr and Mrs Brown came the next week with Mr Logue, a friend of Mr Granger, the latter had been living at Boyce Farm for some time … I stayed with Mrs Shepherd one day, and when the “Vision” came in, to my surprise and joy, George came too. He called at Mrs Shepherds for me and on Friday we walked to Mangawai. We were delayed there ‘til the following Thursday, and we set sail at 5 o’clock, and were in Auckland in 10 hours.
As George and I walked through the streets, we were frequently challenged by the patrols, which made us feel the reality of war. All Maoris have to be out of the town before dark, or they would be locked up and perhaps punished.
On Tuesday 15th September 1863, George and I were married. Papa and Mamma, Fanny, Jenny and Charlie, Mr Granger and Mr Ross were all there … And now we are one indeed “till death us do part.”
I have submitted Mary’s words as they give us an insight into how hardships of that time were taken for granted, as something that simply had to be resolved by themselves. Their land was situated at Te Arai, near a thriving village with a church, post office, general store, school, library, and blacksmith. There is nothing at all remaining of any of the above, except for a solitary Norfolk pine, which heralds a site of past history, of activity, and care of and for one another.
Bev Ross, Mangawhai Museum