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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Canterbury Provincial District]

Old Colonists

Old Colonists.

Mr. Greacen Joseph Black is a native of the North of Ireland, and arrived with his parents in Queensland in 1863. In 1865 the family came to Christchurch and opened a drapery business. Mr. G. J. Black began storekeeping at Akaroa in 1871, and carried on the business successfully for fifteen years, during which he opened up an export trade in cocksfoot grass-seed and cheese. Mr. Black then started farming by purchasing a block of Government land of 1000 acres at Damon's Bay. The land was then in its native state of tussock and fern, but was soon improved by ploughing and sowing. He next purchased 800 acres of bush land in partnership with Mr. W. Wood in the Okute Valley, Little River. This was gradually cleared and sown in cocksfoot grass Mr. Black bought Mr. Wood's interest and other sections adjoining, and the land now contains 1200 acres and carries 2500 sheep. The Kawhere property of 560 acres near the Maori Kaike, was purchased from Mr. H. Aylmer, and farmed by Mr. Black for some years. In 1894 Mr. Black sold the Damon's Bay property to Messrs Rhodes Bros, of Flea Bay, and the Kawhere block to Mr. W. Glynon; and purchased from Mr. A. C. Knight the Lands End and Island Bay block of 4000 acres. This property, which has been much improved, is now managed by his two eldest sons. Over 2000 acres of it have been ploughed and laid down in English grass, and from 200 to 300 acres are broken up annually, and a crop of rape taken off. In the second year it is sown down with turnips and grass, and in this way large numbers of lambs are fattened yearly. The land is divided into thirty-five paddocks, and carries 5000 breeding ewes, and also a pure bred flock of 3000 Shropshire Downs; besides horses and cattle. Mr. Black owns a property of 1500 acres at Takapau, Hawke's Bay, which carries 2500 sheep, and is managed by his brother-in-law, Mr. D. McKay. During his younger days Mr. Black owned and sailed the well-known clippers “Venture,” “Chance,” “Whisper,” and “Mahanga,” and has steered them to victory in many a well fought race. But he has now given up yacht racing. At present he owns a handsome little oil launch, the “Sprite,” which he uses for going to and from the farm at Island Bay, and for fishing cruises; Mr. Black's private residence, “Glencarrig,” formerly belonged to the Rev. W. Aylmer, and stands on a beautiful site overlooking Akaroa harbour.

Wrigglesworth and Binns, photo.Mr. G. J. Black.

Wrigglesworth and Binns, photo.
Mr. G. J. Black.

Mr. Peter Brown and his wife left Glasgow in October, 1839, in the “Bengal Merchant,” the first emigrant ship that sailed from Scotland for New Zealand under the New Zealand Association. Port Nicholson was reached in February, 1840, and the newcomers landed at the Petone beach, where another lot of immigrants had arrived a fortnight before. There they had to camp for some time, living in tants or small whares, as such a thing as a house was then unknown in the settlement. Mr. and Mrs Brown, and most of those who came by the “Bengal Merchant,” went to the Hutt Valley and took possession of some land near the river. The women of the party used to wash their clothes there; and, while thus occupied, Mrs Brown once met with an adventure. One day the rope attached to the bucket with which she was drawing water, slipped, and the bucket sank to the bottom of the river. Seeing a native paddling his canoe Mrs Brown made signs to him to hook the bucket up with his paddle. He threw off his mat, and recovered the bucket, but refused to give it up without “utu”—compensation. Mrs Brown, not understanding what he meant, seized the bucket, and ran off with it, but turning round saw the Maori following her with his tomahawk raised. She thereupon threw the bucket from her, calling to him that she would tell “Wideawake,” the Maori name for Colonel Wakefield. At last they came to terms for a flannel shirt. Being rather alarmed at this episode, the Browns left the place and went to live at Petone, where a few months afterwards the Maori made his appearance, and, laughing at the story, told Mrs Brown's husband how he had frightened her. Mr Brown, with many others, soon found his mistake in going to live so near the Hutt river, which frequently overflowed its banks, and in June, 1840, a flood destroyed many goods and utterly disheartened the colonists. Added to this, the only food was the Association's rations, eked out with an occasional piece of wild pork obtained from the Maoris; and there were practically no vegetables worth the name. Mr. Brown was a baker, and he was baking for some time for Mr. Duncan, a fellow passenger. Three years later he moved to Akaroa to take charge of a bakery there. On board the vessel in which he and his wife left Wellington, was Mrs Knight, mother of Mr. Knight, now of Laverick's Bay. Akaroa was at that time in all its primeval loveliness, and the dense bush of pines and totaras, which grew right down to the water's edge, was broken up by only a few clearings. In spite of this, the settlement had three hotels, and quite a number of residents, the majority of whom were French and German. After some years Mr. Brown's employer removed to Nelson, and he himself went for three months as cook and baker to Oauhau, where he and his wife endured great privations. There was no firewood, and the food has to be cooked with whales' blubber. Mr. and Mrs Brown returned to Akaroa, and finally settled there. They witnessed and assisted to promote the development of the district; and the first Presbyterian service in the settlement was held in their house.

Mr. George Checkley was born near Grimsby, Lincolnshire, England, in 1829. He worked for many years at the Grimsby docks, and was foreman of works at the construction of the Grimsby tower. Later on he was employed on the extension of railway lines in France and Holland. In 1858 he arrived in Lyttelton by the ship “Indiana,” and at once found work with Mr. S. C. Farr, at Akaroa where he was afterwards associated with the Rev. Mr. Aylmer in dairy farming. He was one of the progressive pioneers who took the first steps to open up a regular trade in cheese with England. Mr. Checkley had the practical talent which is so useful to the early colonist, and he invented a grass-seed cleaning machine, besides devising other appliances which proved handy in connection with farm work. He was for some time a member of the Akaroa Borough Council. Mr. Checkley's
The late Mr. G. Checkley.

The late Mr. G. Checkley.

page 609 first selection as a settler consisted of forty acres a little higher up than the family's present homestead of “Mount Pleasant.” The area was afterwards extended to about 309 acres, which Mr. Checkley farmed up to the time of his death in 1897, when the property passed into the hands of his son. Mr. Checkley was twice married, and was survived by his wife, three sons and three daughters. His widow died almost immediately afterwards.

Mr. Francois Lelievre was born in France on the 10th of January, 1810, and first visited Akaroa in May, 1837, in the whaler “Nile,” commanded by Captain Smith. At that time Captain L'Anglois, a French mariner who has been whaling in New Zealand waters off and on since 1835, was at Akaroa, where he had hopes of founding a French colony. With that end in view he bought form the Maoris all the land from Piraki to Akaroa Heads, and Mr. Lelievre was present at the ratification of the bargain. It appears that Mr. Lelievre then made up his mind to become a settler in the projected colony. He returned to France, in 1838, in the “Cachalot,” but came back to New Zealand in 1840 as one of the emigrants on board the “Comte de Paris,” Captain L'Anglois. The “Comte de Paris” was an old warship, which had been given by the French Government to Captain L'Anglois to take emigrants to his colony, or, rather, the colony which he hoped to be able to establish on the land which he had bought from the Maoris. Captain L'Anglois was not acting alone in his enterprise, for when he returned to France in 1838 the accounts he gave of Akaroa to his countrymen resulted in the formation of the Nanto-Bordelaise Company to acquire interests in his estate and enable him to carry out his scheme of colonisation. The importance thus given to the enterprise no doubt led to the Government's gift of the “Comte de Paris,” and to the despatch of the frigate “L'Aube,” under Commodore Lavaud, to protect the infant colony. It is fairly well known how the enterprise failed through Commondore Lavaud letting out the object of his expedition while calling in at the Bay of Islands where Governor Habson was then laying the official foundation of New Zealand as a British colony, and through the success with which Captain Stanley, in the frigate “Britomart,” carried out Governor Hobson's instructions to proceed at once to Akaroa and there hoist the British flag before the arrival of the French. However, Mr. Lelievre and his compatriots became excellent British colonists, and succeeded in imparting beneficial and distinctive characteristics to the social life of Akaroa. In the early days of the settlement Mr. Lelievre carried on business as a blacksmith, but afterwards bought extensive areas of land and followed sheepfarming. He was a successful colonist, and, personally, a man of bright intelligence and genial disposition. Though a close observer of current events, he took no active part in the administration of public affairs. He married a daughter of Mr. de Malmanche, an early French settler, and had four sons and three daughters. Mr. Lelievre died on the 12th of July, 1902, aged ninety-two years and six months. He was survived by his widow, sons and daughters, and left 105 descendants, including grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

The late Mr. F. Lelievre.

The late Mr. F. Lelievre.

Mr. John Proctor Mullen is a son of the late Mr. William Mullen, and was born in Country Armagh, Ireland, in 1820. He was educated at a church school. At an early age, he entered the linen trade, and also gained some experience in farming. In 1870 Mr. Mullen came to Lyttelton in the ship “Merope.” He was employed for some years at sawmilling and contracting, but finally purchased the property upon which he now resides in Balguery road, Akaroa. He is a member of the Akaroa Presbyterian church. Mr. Mullen was married, in 1840, to Miss Marry Benson, of Armagh, and has had a family of twelve children, only seven of whom are now living.

Mr. and Mrs J. P. Mullen..

Mr. and Mrs J. P. Mullen..

Mr. William Penlington was the son of a London warehouseman, and was born in Berkshire, England, in 1832. He was educated privately, and afterwards trained as a builder. However, he left his trade at the age of eighteen, sailed for New Zealand, and landed at Lyttelton in 1850. He travelled through Canterbury and Otago, but settled at Akaroa in 1852, and was engaged in building and sawmilling up to the time of his death in 1899. He was for many years chairman of the Akaroa school committee and the Hospital Board, and was a prominent member of the English church. Mr Penlington was married, in 1858, to Miss Maria Felgate, who arrived in Wellington by the ship “London,” in 1842, and who survives him. He left also five sons and four daughters.

Mr. John Porter is a son of Mr. Philip Porter, who for some time was a lieutenant in the 72nd Highlanders. Mr. Porter was born in King's County, Ireland, in March, 1825 and educated privately. He arrived at Lyttelton in October, 1868, by the ship “Hydaspes,” and, after spending some weeks on the Plains, settled at Akaroa. On his brother's death, in 1867, he came into possession of a well improved estate of 200 acres, in Aylmer's Valley, near Akaroa. Mr. Porter was married, in 1874, to Miss Fanny Britton, of Christchurch, and has two sons and two daughters.