|Great Barrier Island History|
Karaka Bay Graveyard
Who are these people? How did they get to live here and what was life like for them?
This story goes back to the early days of settlement in New Zealand when missionaries based in Paihia were instrumental in getting a treaty signed between Maori and the British to try to protect Maori from the lawlessness of some of the Europeans. This agreement, the Treaty of Waitangi was signed at Waitangi, just north of Paihia in 1840.
The wife of one of the missionaries, Mrs Henry Williams (nee Marianne Coldham), sent letters ‘home’ with good reports of New Zealand. At about the same time, advertisements were placed in English newspapers encouraging ‘industrious men and women of good character’ to emigrate to New Zealand.
These letters and advertisements encouraged a group of friends to make the life-changing decision to come by sailing ship to the opposite side of the globe. They included two sisters, Esther and Ann Coulam who were cousins of Mrs Williams. They had recently married two brothers, Joseph and Isaac Phillips. A third brother, Hornby had married Elizabeth Moor and his cousin Susan had married Elizabeth’s brother John Moor. All emigrated from a little village Theddlethorpe near Louth in the late 1850s. Both Susan and John Moor are buried at Karaka Bay as is their son, William who came with them as a baby from England.
Also influenced by the advertisements and eager to avail themselves of the 40-acre grants were Alfred and William Edlington, Edward Paddison and George Stark (all from Lincolnshire) and two families of Cooper (from Staffordshire). Edward Paddison is also buried at Karaka Bay as is William Cooper, son of the original immigrant and William Edlington.
Of the first group who arrived in New Zealand in July 1859 on the ‘Whirlwind’, our interest is with the Moors who along with the Flinns were the first European settlers at Port FitzRoy. John Moor had successfully applied for the position of tenant farmer to supply fresh provisions to the village serving the copper mine. The 700-acre farm was on a piece of land called Mohunga (which included Nagles Cove) on the south side of the peninsular between Port Abercombie and Katherine Bay.
The Edlington brothers, Edward Paddison and George Stark were not far behind, arriving on the ‘Matoaka’ in September 1859. It has been suggested that these four answered advertisements for miners and headed immediately after their arrival in Auckland to the copper mine village at Miners Head on Great Barrier. Apparently George Stark had experience in mining and became a manager . About fifty houses (possibly nikau whare) were built on a narrow strip between the bush and the beach for the mine workers and their families. The men walked from the village around the headland to the mine along a narrow track, which eroded long ago – probably when a company exercised its rights to the shingle on the beach.
The mining company went into liquidation in 1868. Many miners and tenant farmers left the island to look for work elsewhere. There are two conflicting stories about what happened next. One is that the miners mentioned accepted land in lieu of wages and that John Moor claimed ownership of his land because he was owed money for vegetables and meat. The other suggests that Edward Paddison, William and Thomas Edlington, George Stark, John Moor, William Flinn and Emilius Le Roy bought land . Whichever is accurate, we know that Edward Paddison became the owner of 1,000 acres at Karaka Bay adjoining John Moor’s land and stretching right around to the inner harbour including the land on which ‘Glenfern’ stands. George Stark spent several days searching before choosing his 100 acres at Whangapoua. The Edlington land was at the northern end of Whangapoua Beach in the area called Tapuwai.
The story has been passed down through his family that “when Edward Paddison took up his completely virgin property at Karaka Bay, he arrived with only a few clothes, a rifle and ammunition, a kit of tools, a camp oven and a sack each of flour and sugar. He slept the first night under the karaka tree a few yards from the beach.” Presumably he spent the next day erecting some sort of shelter.
Once the mining company closed, there was no need for boats to visit this part of the island making the settlers even more isolated than they had ever been.
The Moors, Paddisons and Flinns (with their six children) were the only families remaining in the area around Port FitzRoy. The only other people nearby were the Maori at their settlement at Katherine Bay (Motairehe). However, at this time, the southern end of the island around Tryphena was starting to be populated through the subdivision of 40-acre lots under the Government’s immigration scheme.
Farming was not a success in the early days as the land was mainly steep, rugged and covered in bush. It was a struggle to survive with neither equipment nor capital. When the mine was wound up, the Moors had five children to support and Edward Paddison, having married Annie Maria Cooper on 14 December 1867 had his first child, Elizabeth in September 1868. The families co-operated to grow crops, to build slab houses and to feed themselves. It was generally a time of great hardship.
“They had to help one another and make the best use of what fish they could catch in the sea, or what they could find to eat in the bush. The first crops of wheat and barley were threshed with a flail and made into bread and porridge. A few cattle were obtained and run wherever there was enough pasture, and when a beast was killed, it was shared with the nearby families. They made their own butter and tanned the hides of cattle and sheep for leather, and made tweed out of their own wool. They made baskets and rough aprons out of flax, and they made furniture for their houses out of the local timber, which was also used for tubs, buckets, baths and spoutings. Nothing was wasted and for some years, as money was very short, very little could be bought. It was difficult to buy even saws, iron or nails. They sold what they could, but there was at first a very small market, as the Barrier was very isolated in the 1860-1880 period. There was no regular boat service, very few visiting ships, no telegraph and at first, no school.”
survive, people needed alternative ways of earning an income - gum digging,
kauri logging, cutting of manuka and kanuka for firewood. Selling firewood was a
lifesaver for the Paddisons. Because there were no roads, the firewood was taken
to the beach where it was loaded on to scows for the Auckland market. These
flat-bottomed boats were designed to run up onto the beaches where they were
loaded at low tide and floated off at high tide. They were also used to carry
stock to the mainland.
Removing the trees helped with the process of breaking in the land, but once the bush on the hills behind the house had been cut, the topsoil would wash away during heavy rain.
All the early settlers had extensive vegetable gardens and orchards. The Paddisons were no exception despite the fact that the soil needed copious amounts of water in the summer. The Paddisons had a good orchard of mostly apple trees on the slope above where they had their jetty. There were also grape vines. An old pear tree grew beside the cow shed. It was so prolific that it provided enough fruit for the neighbours as well. Lemons and ‘poorman’s orange’ trees grew on the flatter slope up towards the creek at the back of the house.
In the early days, the piece of land by the graveyard was called Peach Garden because when Edward Paddison settled at Karaka Bay there were old peach trees growing there. It has been suggested that the Maoris planted them from peach stones, which were carried to New Zealand by Captain Cook. There were also three very large fig trees by the stream near the graves that were thought to have been there since Cook’s visit. However, it is uncertain whether Captain Cook actually landed on “Big Barrier” as he named it. So these seeds may have come from the first ‘recorded’ vessel to land. It was a whaler, the Mermaid & it spent three months anchored in Port FitzRoy arriving in November 1796.
Even though we know that this piece of land was used for burials before this, Roy Paddison (Edward’s son) used it, from about 1905, for putting the rams in with the ewes. He found that he had a higher lambing average by having only a few ewes in at a time.
For about 40 years, William Edlington (“Weelie” as he was called) lived with the Paddisons and looked after the gardens. He always seemed to produce an abundance of vegetables. Kumara grew particularly well in front of the house and on a smaller piece of land on the other side of the creek. When Edward & Weelie got past doing the garden, Edward’s son, Frank did most of it. Roy looked after the sheep. Growing kumara was a communal affair for the Paddisons, Coopers and Sandersons . They stored them in sufficient quantities to last until the next harvest.
The following was related by a group of visitors who went to the Barrier in 1897 for a holiday. They travelled on the Northern Steamship Company boat “Iona”.
“One day we had an early breakfast and pulled to Karaka Bay, where Mr Paddison, an early settler resides. He has been there for thirty-three years and has got a nice place. One would have thought it was an English farm, as the stockyard is nicely paved with cobble stones, and all the outhouses in first rate order, and a good path leading to the house. There is a nice garden in front of the house containing over an acre of flat ground, where all kinds of vegetables were growing and looking well not-withstanding the dry weather. They had a nice flower garden at the back of the house. Mr Paddison took us through his orchards which were on the side of a hill.”
Educating the Children
In September 1879, the first teacher was appointed to the island - Mr R Kinross. When he arrived, there was no school or school house, so he spent a week at a time living with each family and teaching the children of the household while he was there.
We know that he spent the first week with the Moors because their children were ‘admitted’ on the Great Barrier School Register on 1 September 1879. Note that in this family, the girls were registered first in order of age from the eldest and then the boy. The Paddison’s hosted the teacher the next week with the boys registered first.
Cyril Moor in his book “Early Settlement of Port FitzRoy, Great Barrier Island” surmised that the Paddisons adopted Samuel Cooper who was their nephew – the son of Mrs Paddison’s (Annie) brother. As he kept his own surname and his father, Samuel is listed as his Guardian in the School Register, maybe he just lived with the Paddison family during the weeks when the school teacher was in residence . The Lizzie Paddison in the register is Elizabeth who was born soon after the closing of the mining company. At this time, Annie was pregnant with Edith (born January 1880) and Ralph was born 18 months later. It must have been a busy household, especially for the one week in three when the family hosted the teacher.
The Paddisons’ lessons were probably held initially in the woolshed at Karaka Bay. By 1894 (15 years later), a room had been built at the end of the woolshed/cowshed for this purpose. Church services and celebrations were also held in the woolshed with neighbours coming by rowboat or by hiking over rough tracks.
The wedding of the Paddison’s eldest child, Elizabeth in 1890 was “the first marriage solemnised on the island.” It was held in the Paddison’s house. Prior to this event, couples had to go to Auckland to be married. However, Rev. Haselden had been visiting the island three or four times a year and had promised that he would marry the next couple “among their friends”. He went on to tell them that he would come down “even by cutter for one more wedding, but after that they would have to get a steamer.”
By 1912, the Paddisons were running a Guest House
at Karaka Bay. Many young people holidayed there. Farming around FitzRoy in
particular did not make a good living and this summer business helped the family
Glenfern’–now remodelled and known as FitzRoy House. It is one of the oldest houses on the island.
In addition, Alice was appointed teacher at Okiwi School in May 1912. Each day she took her three school-age children over the hill to school. The school was closed at the end of the year, possibly because the four-mile trek was too much for them all in the winter. Her children then returned to Great Barrier School, as did Roland Sanderson who had also been attending Okiwi School. Annie Cooper was enrolled later in 1913. The three Paddison children, Roly Sanderson & Annie Cooper all came by row boat from the Paddisons to the school, which for many years was held at Le Roys at Rarohara Bay in Port FitzRoy. It seems likely that these young relatives stayed (at least during the week) with their Paddison cousins. Alice Paddison taught at this school one week in every two, teaching the Maori children at Katherine Bay on alternate weeks.
Following Joe’s death in 1933, and the marriage of his eldest daughter, Edna to Reginald Cooper in the following year, the newly weds moved into and managed the guest house.
A description from the late 1930s…
A great sight was the dolphins playing in the bay and draping themselves in seaweed. There were also lots of large whales. There were also sharks & many sea birds. One day was set aside for climbing Mt Hobson and another for visiting the gannets on Gannet Island.
The Coopers and their boarding house ‘Glenfern’ had a loyal clientele for so long that some of their guests who started coming here as children came back with children of their own.
The FitzRoy Post Office and the manual telephone exchange were set up in a lean-to addition to the house. When Mrs Cooper relinquished her keys to the Post Office and manual telephone exchange she had operated for forty years, the Department made the rare gesture of a retiring gift and a citation commemorating her devoted service.
It’s easy to understand why the Paddisons have buried many family members in a small area set aside for this purpose but it’s not so obvious why others are buried on what is still private property.
Paddison family buried at Karaka Bay
Who was Allen Taylor and why was he buried
Allen and Susan were living on Kaikoura Island at the mouth of Port FitzRoy. They were very good friends of William Moor and William Cooper, both about the same age as Allen. When their first child, Eleanor (Nellie) was born in 1891 there are stories of the celebration party being held in the Coopers woolshed with the piano being carried over by boat from the Taylors’ home at Kaikoura.
late 1892, Allen & Susan were planning to sell the island to try their luck with
one of Allen’s brother in South Africa. A potential buyer was brought over from
Auckland by another brother on the weekly steamer. Susan was due to go to
Auckland on the next boat to await the birth of her second child, but the baby
arrived early. The three men went in a small sailing boat to get assistance for
her. Later, Allen’s brother returned to the house with the tragic news that the
boat had capsized and the other two men had perished. Allen Taylor was buried at
Karaka Bay on the land of his widow’s father’s friend.
Susan, Eleanor (Nellie) and Millicent, the new
baby, left on the next steamer to travel to Thames to spend some time with her
parents. A couple of months later, while still there, she received news that her
house on Kaikoura Island had burnt down. It was not insured and diminished the
value of the farm. However, the land was sold the following year.
And what about William Cooper?
Why are the Moors buried there?
After William’s death, John and Susan struggled to manage the farm . They were getting older and their daughters had all moved to Auckland. Although the Paddison boys helped them out, records show that their farm changed ownership in May 1906.They followed their daughters to Auckland where they lived until their deaths in 1911. Burial with their son on the island where they had spent so many years must have seemed the logical choice of resting place, so they too were buried in the tiny graveyard on the Karaka Bay property of their neighbours of 47 years, the Paddisons.