Frank Leward: Memorials
Frank to Mrs. Leward
Frank to Mrs. Leward.
The Glades, Wairapa, New Zealand, Oct. 1843.
My dear Mother In my last letter to papa I told you I had arranged to take up land with Johnson. We had difficulty in finding any that would do, all the land near Wellington is either taken up or costs so much we couldnt afford it, so we got a lot of land from the natives through the government at a very low price and are putting up a small place on it and beginning to cultivate it and getting stock on by degrees. It takes a long time to get stock up we have to go to Wellington and drive page 107it ourselves its very hilly round Wellington and we have to bear away to the West through a ravine covered with pine trees called by the natives Ngahauranga. Then there is a flat plane called Tawa and forest land chiefly pine trees with a lot of very thick undergrowth to Porirua harbour, thats about 12 miles from Wellington. The scenery is awfully fine from there to Pahutanui. To the east is the valley of the Hut river and you pass through Horokewi valley. About 24 miles from Wellington you come to Paikakariki mountain very high its awfully difficult to cross with stock but theres the most wonderful view from the top. On your left along side the sea with a funny looking island called Kapiti where there is the most extraordinary lot of fish. We go down there sometimes for a change and get over in an open boat and you can pull up the fish as fast as you like awfully fine fish. Then you can see the whole west coast line a tremendous way and on a clear day right over Cooks Straits to the Middle Island and Mount Egmond 200 miles off they say more than 8000 feet high and always covered with snow. Then theres an enormous plain to the north stretching right away to the Manawato river. As you come down Paikakariki you see the shore and you can go along the beach if you like for miles. The sand is as firm as anything and it is rum to see the seagulls and a lot of other sea birds getting the big shellfish all along the sand. They take the shells in their beaks up a good height and let them drop that cracks them open and then the birds swoop down and eat them.
The sheep and cattle tread the ground in wet weather page 108into a sort of bog and then it is almost impossible in some places to get along. You should see me and Johnson in our red shirts riding after the beasts with stock whips nearly six yards long. In fine weather it isnt bad fun only you have to go so slowly it gets tiresome after a bit. At night we have to sleep as well as we can, we make a fire and one sleeps while the other looks after the stock. We have a blanket each folded up and tied round us over one shoulder and round the waist lengthways, besides that we have waterproof bags under our saddles to sleep in if its wet at night. Its getting fine weather now so we shall push on I hope and get a lot of work done. We are only putting up a wooden place at first and we shall enlarge it by degrees. Nearly all our capital is gone in buying the place and the stock and the wages of two men who help us. When we get settled we can borrow enough money to get some more stock on and do a little fencing. The Maoris have been very good to us so far but they are awfully lazy. They dont care a bit about saving up. As soon as they make enough to live on till the end of the year they stop work and go off and live on it in perfect idleness. Idleness is what your Maori thoroughly enjoys. You see it in the chiefs more than in the lower ones that work for us sometimes. Wages are fearfully high ten shillings a day for most men. However I expect by this time next year we shall be well off and making a lot of money and then I know what I shall do. We have over 1000 sheep now and 200 head of cattle and what with their own increase and others we shall page 109buy if we can raise £2000 more from the bank we shall pay our debts off and get more men to work and we shall then do very well and in two or three years I expect we shall be awfully rich. I must finish now I dont get much time for writing nor much paper to write on. Your affectionate son Frank.
P.S.—My dear Mother I write this on a separate sheet because I dont want anyone but you to see it. Will you do something very particular for me and give the letter to Mabel yourself when you see her at Claydon. Mind you give it her yourself I know I can trust you more than anyone in the world and I dont mind you knowing it, but I wouldnt have anyone else know it for anything. Go to Claydon soon and give it her theres a dear old mother. Im awfully sorry youve been ill lately cheer up now.