Past and Present, and Men of the Times.
The Petition and its History—My Experiences with a Government Official—Some Interesting and Instructive Correspondence—I re-visit the King Country—A Maori Good Samaritan—Some Old Identities—Some who have helped me.
The Government placed on the estimates for me £50. I went to Mr. Barron, the Under-Secretary for Lands, to get the £50. He asked me how I wanted it. I thought he was joking with me at first. I said, "What do you mean, Mr. Barron?" "Well," said he, "I'll give you £10 now and £10 another time." I said, "No, Mr. Barron, I would sooner have none at all than have to take my money by instalments." "All right," he says, "you need have none at all, you will get it in no other way." Then I said, "I will go and see the Hon. John McKenzie, your master-boss." I left his office, and going downstairs I met Mr. McKenzie, and, after telling him what Mr. Barron had said, he called one of his messengers, sent him up to Mr. Barron to tell him to give Captain Barry his cheque at once.
I went up for my money, and told Mr. Barron there ought to be another nought on to the £50, and he gave me my cheque with a very bad grace, as I thought. I told him I intended to petition again next session, which I did. My petition was some what similar to the first. At the time the Parliament was sitting. Sir Robert Stout handed in my petition, and went into the committee-room as a witness. I was called into the committee-room by the chairman, Mr. Joyce, who said, "I have just got a letter from Mr. Barron. I will read it to you." He read the letter, and said, "In the face of this letter, Captain Barry, we cannot recommend anything." I asked the committee if they would allow me to take a, copy of the letter, which I thought page 210was the most insulting one that could be sent to any gentleman who had done so much for the colonies as I have done. I told Mr. Joyce that I was not asking for public money, I was only asking for my own. They allowed me to take a copy of Mr. Barron's letter, and the following is a true copy:—
"Department—Lands and Survey."Wellington, 9th August, 1895.
"Petition 175.—William Jackson Barry.
"Sir,—Committee in July. 1894, the matter then being referred to the Government, and, after some consideration, it was decided that Captain Barry, being now an old man, although he had no legal or equitable claim upon the Government, should be given £50 to enable him to obtain admittance to the Old Men's Home or Benevolent Institution. This money was accordingly paid to him about October last.
"Captain Barry has no claim on the Government on account of any services which he has rendered; and if any consideration is to be given him it is only by way of charitable assistance.
"I have the honour to be, Sir,
"Your most obedient servant,
"The Chairman Public Petitions Committee, A to L."
I told Mr. Joyce, the Chairman, that I would petition again next session, and try to get a hearing before the bar of the House, as I considered I had been most cruelly used by this insulting letter, as none of the present Ministry knew anything about it. I must have raised Mr. Barron's ire when I went down to his master, Mr. McKenzie. I then sat down and wrote a long letter and sent it to the press, which I am publishing in this little book of facts, entitled, "Past and Present, and Men of the Times."
Copy of a letter sent to the [unclear: Evening] Post, dated November 23rd, 1895.
(To the Editor.)
Sir,—Having, during the course of a very long Colonial experience, been an active explorer, Immigration agent, and lecturer, and now being in the sere and yellow leaf of old age, and no longer able to bear the hardships that have been as nothing page 211to me in the past, I ventured last year to set out my position, and urge my claims for some relief or compensation for past services in a petition which I presented to the House of Representatives. It was duly referred to the Public Petitions Committee, who, after taking evidence, referred it to the Government for their favourable consideration. In the petition I set out the fact that I had, in 1878, been authorised by the Government then in power to proceed to England, and there act as Immigration agent and lecturer in the farming districts of Lincolnshire and the neighbouring counties; that I had lectured on one hundred and twenty-one platforms, to audiences comprised of the right class to make good colonists; that I had spent eighteen months in diffusing knowledge in regard to this Colony, whereby a large number of a good class of small farmers had been induced to come here, and were now excellent colonists. I also showed that all this had been done exclusively at my own expense, the Government having only, so far, provided me with a passage to England and back. The petition also showed that, in addition to these gratuitous services, I had been instrumental in the discovery of a very valuable tract of mineral country in the hitherto unexplored portions of the King Country of the North Island; also, that I had on each of five visits to that country brought down specimens of the minerals, which I submitted to the Government Analyst, Mr. Skey, who pronounced them very rich indeed; and that I had presented several of these specimens to the Hon. Mr. Seddon, who had thanked me for them. On one occasion he remarked to me, "Well, Barry, old man, you have done a lot for this Colony, we must see if we cannot do something to repay you for your services." Further, the petition set out that on the last occasion on which I made an attempt to return to the King Country I was forced to return owing to hunger and cold, the weather being fearfully stormy, so that I could not proceed. After one of my visits there, in 1891, I acquainted the Hon. A. J. Cadman with the value of the tin deposits, and gave him specimens of the ore, and asked for a prospecting claim to be granted me. This was promised in a letter dated 15th August, 1891, the Minister promising it to me as soon as the land was acquired by or ceded to the Crown. But as yet nothing further has been done. Everthing in connection with these trips, as well as my services as Immigration agent, has been at my own expense. The only consideration I page 212ever received was a free pass on the Government railways in the North Island when I was going prospecting. Meanwhile I have placed the Government in possession of all particulars respecting the locality of the mineral reefs and the extent of the country, that must prove a source of great wealth in the near future. I need not trespass on your space to detail my Colonial experiences at length; they are well known throughout Australasia. Suffice it to say that I landed in New South Wales in 1829, and have seen the rise of that and the neighbouring Colony of Victoria. I came to New Zealand in 1827, and have remained here for the greater part of the time since then. When the Otago goldfields were first discovered, I assisted materially in their development. As a proof of the confidence in which I was held I was elected Mayor of Cromwell for four years in succession. I am now in my seventy-eighth year, and totally unfit for roughing it any longer. Hence, with the promises of assistance I had received, I depended on being treated in something like a liberal manner. Judge of my feelings then when, in the 1894 session of Parliament, my petition having received fair consideration at the hands of the Public Petitions Committee, the sum placed on the estimates had been rushed through without deliberation. They expressed regret that it had escaped their notice, but advised me to wait till next year and submit another petition. This I promised to do, and as soon after the session as possible I presented myself at the Lands Office to receive the pittance voted me by the House. I was shown into the office of the Under Secretary of Lands, Mr. A. Barron, who asked, in due official tone, how I would have it. I replied, in an off-hand manner, that it did not matter whether by cheque or notes, adding that it ought to have been £500. To this he replied that he did not intend to pay me the whole sum at once, but by instalments. I at once left the room, and went to see the Hon. J. McKenzie, and told him what had transpired. Mr. McKenzie sent someone to tell Mr. Barron to pay me the £50 at once. This Mr. Barron did with a bad grace. This session, as advised by many friends, and with the full knowledge of the Premier, I again presented a respectful petition, setting out much the same facts as before, but urging that I could have but a little white longer to live, and asked for some further relief, as the £50 voted last year had been absorbed in liabilities current at that time. The petition went again before the Petitions Committee, when a page 213letter was read from Mr. A. Barron, under date 9th August, 1895, to the effect that the £50 voted in 1894 had been given to me "to enable him (Captain Barry) to obtain admittance to the Old Men's Home or Benevolent Institution, and stating that I had no legal or equitable claim on the Government." Mr. Joyce, Chairman of the Committee, met me, and told me that in the face of Mr. Barron's letter the Committee could make no recommendation; but he told me that the Committee bad not hinted at or suggested any such stipulation as that contained in Mr. Barron's letter. I at once placed myself in communication with the Government to protest against Mr. Barron's erroneous representation, and asking them if, under the circumstances, they were going to allow an old colonist, who had done good service to the country, to be insulted in that way, in addition to being refused such relief as to allow of him ending his days in independence. I was informed that nothing could be done daring the session on account of the pressure of business, but I was to remind the Colonial Treasurer immediately after the session and he would see what he could do. I did so, and Mr. Ward promised me he would bring the matter before the Cabinet. On the 8th November I received a letter from him, stating that the matter had been before the Cabinet, and he regretted to say that nothing could be done in the way of granting me any relief. I have already occupied too much of your space, therefore must leave your readers to judge of the way I have been treated by a so-called "Liberal" Government.
I am, &c.,
William Jackson Barry,
A pioneer of three Colonies, now in his 78th year.
The following is a copy of a letter which appeared in the Evening Post of December 10th, 1895:—
"Captain Jackson Barry as a pioneer.—To the Editor.—Sir,—I have just read Captain Barry's letter which appeared in the Wellington Evening Post of the 23rd November, and very much regret to notice the treatment he has received at the hands of the Government, but more particularly the insult offered him by the Under Secretary of Lands, Mr. A. Barron, which was totally uncalled for, and, in Captain Barry's case, an unwarranted insult to a deserving pioneer colonist of many year standing. I have known the old page 214gentleman for over forty years, and have reason to speak well of him as a kind friend to hundreds of miners on the Otago goldfields in the early days. If only for that his appeal to Parliament; should have met with a more liberal response last year, and no Government official should be allowed to have spoken of him as Mr. Barron has. I hope, however, that his letter will arouse some practical sympathy for him, so that he will not have to end his few remaining years as a recipient of public charity. He has forwarded to London the M.S. of a book which he has been years at work on, and which deals with the Australian Colonies and the men of his time. If the book is half as interesting as a former publication from his pen, it will be a good advertisement for the Colony. He is prevented from getting it out through want of funds. I hope someone will initiate a benefit of some kind whereby he will be able to bring out his book as soon as possible. If a subscription were promoted I should be happy to subscribe my mite.
"I am, &c.,
"Waikato (formerly of Cromwell, Otago)."
The following letter appeared in the New Zealand Times of Friday, April 27th, 1894:—
"The Unemployed Difficulty.—Sir,—Noticing the many complaints of the unemployed that they can't get work—and very sorry I am too for them—and seeing much discussion in the newspapers about how to do it for their benefit, and how not to do it, I make bold to make a suggestion. My suggestion is a little different from my friend Mr. Plimmer's. He advocates a loan, which is well enough when it comes, but it can't come until the two Houses have chewed it over, and chewing, as you know, Mr. Editor, takes a deal of time, likewise does jawing, in those palatial halls. Now, my remedy is far more simple, and comes more handy. It is prompt—no chewing and jawing, no kickshaws of business of Parliament, none of your Opposition and Government side glamour; no lobbying nor bustling of the 'boomin" kind, nor yet writing of articles, or making speeches about everything under the sun, or even deputations with M.H.R.'s in attendance, one eye on the deputations, t'other on the Minister, who has his on his colleagues—leastways, so he says, and will keep them steadily in page 215view. No, Sir, my remedy wants nothing of that sort. It is just the purchase from the Natives of a block of land by the Government. They know where it is, and so do I. I have indicated generally the whereabouts of the little spot, but the exact-locality—'No, thank ye, I'm not having any to-day,' as the soldier said when the drummer was going to flog the wrong man. You will all know soon enough—that is, if the Government will only buy it soon enough. I discovered it about ten years ago, and prospected it in 1889 thoroughly, with the assistance of several old Native chiefs and others, who recognised me as the young stranger who lived with their tribe far away back in the thirties, when I ran away from the whaler, the 'Mary,' of London. But this belongs to my ancient history, when I was about sixteen years old. I will get back to my friends and my prospecting. My idea was to find gold, which was what an old mining mate from Otago, whom I fell across at the Bay of Islands, laid me on to. Well, that didn't pan out. I found no gold, but I found a heap of other things—silver, coal, copper, tin, and antimony—in great abundance. I spent twelve months doing this prospecting, camping out often in all weathers, and living with the Maoris, who were very kind. When I left, three years ago, I brought away about a hundred and fifty pounds' weight of mineral specimens by train into Auckland. Through the assistance of the Premier, I got a series of assays from the Government assayist, which I published at the time, and showed along with many mineral specimens when lecturing up and down the country. Your readers, Mr. Editor, will remember the assays, for they were in your paper and in all the others. To make a long story short, they were very good, and indicated a very rich mineral field. At that time nothing could be done, as the land was not through the Court. Very soon after I left this was accomplished, and then the Government, which kept out all other purchasers, got into treaty for the block, as Mr. Cadman, then Native Minister, told me. I was promised at the time that so soon as the Government had acquired the title I should have, as my reward for my discovery, protection over a large area for prospecting. Now, Mr. Editor, I have no hesitation in saying that if the land was bought to-morrow it would support thousands of people, capital would rush the country, and within six months there would be a new mining labour market. This would be a page 216very good thing foe me, I hear somebody say. Well, of course, I should think so. But, Mr. Editor, why not? I know no law which forbids a man to 'boom' himself as well as the country. It has cost me a lot: several hundred pounds cash, one year of hard work and cruel hardship, too cruel at my age, and three years of hope deferred and hard times, and short commons; uncommonly short they were, and, I may say, still are, Mr. Editor. But a promise is a promise, and a British Colonial Government is only another name for honesty, as I have seen no reason to doubt, during a career of sixty-five years, man and boy, sir. I wish Mr. Editor, it was also another name for quick business. If it was, then I should get my own very shortly, and all those poor fellows who can't get either bread or work would find both, and something to boot to give their "soft tommy,"—as we used to say fifty years ago aboard whaling ships. A relish, for your "soft tommy," Mr. Editor, is to see the young uns fat and well dressed, and a bit in the Savings Bank, growing into a powerful umbrella against a day's rain. Therefore, I say to Ministers, "Buy this land quick, and boom the country." To give you an idea, Mr. Editor, that these words are not the blow of an idle gale, I will take the liberty of reminding your readers of my old standing as a colonist, as I may say, one of the founders of this country, who has done better for others than for himself, as many will testify, who are now living. Amongst others, I may mention Mr. Plimmer, of Wellington; Sir George Grey; Mr. Renall, of Masterton; Mr. Brown, Upper Hutt; Mr. Carrington, of Taranaki; whom I saw nearly murdered once—in 1842 that was—when he took refuge in old Dicky Barrett's store. Mr. G. Allen, of this city, also knew me in the old days, and many more, too numerous to mention, as you literary gentlemen like to wind up with. I hope, you, Mr. Editor, will not air that other cry of your cloth, that "comment is needless." Comment, sir, is very needful. The only comment I would like is, that the land must be bought quickly, and I get my promised rights, to enable me to end my days in comfort.
I am, &c.,
W. Jackson Barry.
Master Mariner, Explorer, Pioneer, &c.
About this time the following account of my career appeared in the New Zealand Graphic:—
Captain Jackson Barry—"It is a cause for regret to think of how many men, moving about in the progress of colonisation through new lands, experience the most moving accidents by flood and field, and after becoming valuable depositories of recollections that might become historical, go down, mute and inglorious, to the grave. In the lectures which he has been delivering, Captain Jackson Barry affords to the public an entertainment of an exceptional and salutary nature, unfolding, as he does, to the eyes of a younger generation, vivid glimpses of a colonial past. It is not given to many to possess at once such peculiar knowledge, and such enduring strength for presenting it publicly as he does. Everywhere Captain Barry's lectures have been listened to with peculiar interest, and when the day arrives, in which this link which connects us with the past will have become to us a mere recollection, we shall then remember, with satisfaction, the impressions produced upon us by such an Old Identity of colonial vicissitudes."
"Captain Jackson Barry was born seventy-eight years ago, in the village of Melbourn, in the county of Cambridgeshire, Englan As a boy of only nine years of age, he went out to Sydney in 1828, in a ship carrying emigrants to "Botany Bay," as it was then called. The place, at that time, was in the rude inorganic stage of a frontier community, with primitive dwellings, and a population consisting chiefly of deported criminals, Here he remained for six years, until 1835, when he ran away in a whaling ship in Port Phillip, the present site of the city of Melbourne. There for more than a year he remained, in what was then purely bush country, and encountered the giant Buckley, an Englishman, who for more than thirty years had lived with the Australian natives, and had so far assimilated with them as to have forgotten his native tongue. In the same whaling ship, Captain Barry subsequently came down to that part of New Zealand now known as the Bay of Islands, on the north of Auckland Peninsula. Here he witnessed repeated acts of cannibalism, which appear so foreign to our mode of life as to savour of romance, and ages far remote from our own."
"During the next two years Captain Barry had some experiences of shipwreck, once in a French whaler near the equator, when he was sixteen days in an open boat until picked page 218up by the ship 'Huntress,' and again after leaving Port Essington. In the latter case he was cast away with two more survivors of a crew of thirty-six, one being a woman, and lived upon shell-fish for six weeks and in foliaceous garments of Adamite simplicity, until rescued by a sealing vessel bound for King George's Sound. There is so much of the true Robinson Crusoe ring in all this, that one begins to realise that the tales which so excited our imagination in youth are after all sternly real in their essentials.
"In the year 1840 Captain Barry left Sydney for Calcutta. There he joined a man-of-war, and participated in the Chinese war of 1840 which led to the storming of Canton and the annexation of Hong Kong. At the former Captain Barry was present.
"For the next eight years Captain Barry was engaged in the seas about Australia whaling, but in 1849 the outbreak of the 'gold fever' in California carried him over to the Pacific Coast, where, as a pioneer and Argonaut, he took part in one of the most stirring and picturesque phases of action which have moved over the great face of the Union.
"There Captain Barry remained for five years, traversing the greater part of what now forms the States of California and Oregon, and experiencing adventures similar to those which have been popularised in the writings of Bret Harte and Joaquin Miller. Chief among these was an encounter with the Modoc Indians, on whom seven hundred pioneers wreaked summary retribution for the massacre of three hundred emigrants. Leaving California in 1855 Captain Barry returned to Victoria, where he passed seven years in avocations connected with cattle till the outbreak of the 'gold fever' in 1862 carried him over to Otago. In Otago he remained for sixteen years, chiefly in the neighbourhood of Cromwell, of which township he effected the incorporation, and was four times Mayor.
"In 1878 Captain Barry went to England. There he published the book entitled "Ups and Downs of Colonial Life" (with which those who frequent our public libraries must be familiar), and delivered one hundred and twenty-one lectures on his colonial experiences. He received a congratulatory letter from the Queen, and had audiences with many prominent parliamentarians of the day, and at Portsea Prison identified the Tichborne Claimant as being Thomas Castro, whom he had page 219met twice at Castlemaine, and not Arthur Orton. On the strength of this evidence a motion for a writ; of error was made in the English Courts. After two years' absence Captain Barry returned to Dunedin, and remained there until 1883. He then embarked systematically upon the occupation of lecturing through the colonies, which has so far been attended with great success.
"It is impossible in the short space available here to narrate any of the interesting details which go to complete the colouring of a life so exceptionally full of incidents, and of which we have given but the barest outline. The fact remains that Captain Barry is a storehouse of valuable memories of a period already become historical owing to the rapidity with which the Australian colonies have developed. From him we have not a fictitious and overstrained presentation of life as we see it in the drama, but the reality as he himself has known it."
After finding out that the present Government did not intend to do any more for me only what they had done, and the few pounds I had having all gone in prospecting, a number of friends asked me to give a lecture on She "Mineral resources of the King Country," and they would get up a benefit for me. Mr. Jupp said if I gave a lecture he would get his brass band to turn out. I was thankful to know I had so many friends in Wellington. I intended to make another tour to the King Country and bring back a few specimens of cinnabar to Wellington. I believe the claim where I obtained the cinnabar will turn out to be a valuable mine. I gave the lecture in the Exchange Hall, and my friends paid all expenses for printing bills, &c.
The town was well posted with bills, headed, "A lecture will be delivered by Captain William Jackson Barry, our pioneer and author, and one of the founders of three Colonies. A complimentary benefit will be tendered to our pioneer, Captain William Jackson Barry, by the citizens of Wellington, previous to his leaving for the famous King Country. Subject: The past and present of New Zealand—New Zealand in 1837—His tour through the King Country—The mineral resources and wealth of that Country—An exhibition of minerals—The great boom that is coining to New Zealand. George Fisher, Esq., will preside at the lecture. Admission—3s., 2s., and 1s. All young and old colonists invited." I had a good attendance, for many turned out to hear me. Mr. page 220Jupp's brass band played outside the hall, and I got a good few pounds together for which I was really thankful.
The newspapers spoke well of my address, which did me good in other places where I lectured. I got ready to make a start, and went to the Premier to try and get a pass to take me to New Plymouth. I told him I wanted to go to a certain part of the King Country to bring a few specimens of cinnabar to Wellington, and I had to go by way of the Mokau. Mr. Seddon gave me a pass to travel by train, and I started on my fifth tour to the King Country. The New Zealand Times gave me a good paragraph, saying:—"Undaunted by old age, our famous pioneer colonist, Captain Jackson Barry, is about to start on another tour into the King Country. He has already made four trips into that wild region, and has become more and more impressed with its valuable mineral resources on each successive visit. On the occasion of his return from there he brought back specimens of copper ore, antimony, and coal, all of which he submitted to the Government Analyst, Mr. Skey, who reported very highly of their quality. As Captain Barry only brought small specimens on the latter visit, he intends, during this visit, to bring one to two hundred weight of specimens to prove to the Government that his discoveries are genuine. The gallant old captain will leave Wellington to-morrow, and will probably deliver some of his characteristic lectures at several of the townships en route. He will be absent for about three months."
I took train to Masterton, and gave a lecture there. Mr. Hogg, M.H.R., took the chair, and the Masterton brass band played to welcome me. The next day I paid a visit to a few old colonists, who asked me to call on my road back from the King Country and deliver another lecture. I promised to do so. I went by coach to Woodville, where I caught the train to New Plymouth, and arrived there all safe, and bought a horse and started for the Mokau to get into the Kawhia Country, but, unfortunately, I took sick, and was laid up with la grippe and gout in a Maori whare for three months, where I was looked after by a Maori woman.
While I was laid up I had gout very badly in my feet. This Maori woman sent two young girls to gather leaves of a certain bush. They returned with a large kit full of small leaves, which they boiled and afterwards strained the water off and put it into bottles. They bound the leaves round my feet, and gave page 221me a cupful of the liquid to drink. The gout all left me, and from that time to the present I have never been troubled with it. I shall never forget the kindness of that Maori woman while I was lying sick.
My horse strayed away, and I gave them what little Cash I had for their kind treatment. If they took me to New Plymouth I told them they could keep my horse if they found it. The Maoris lent me a horse, and accompanied me to New Plymouth. I had only 5s. in my pocket and was half starved with cold and hunger. I knew Mr. Carrington in New Plymouth. I went to him, and, making myself known, he asked me to his house. Not being very well I stayed with Mr. Carrington a few days, and made my way to Masterton. According to my promise, I gave a lecture there. I canvassed the town, and obtained a good many subscribers for my new book, entitled, "Australian Colonies, and Men and Women of the Times," after which I called on a few old colonists, and wrote a letter to the Press, and left for Wellington. The following is a copy of the letter to which I allude:—
"To the Editor of the Wairarapa Star.
"Sir,—Before leaving Masterton, permit me, through the Press, to record a few remarks on my recent tour through the North Island. By the young the changes will hardly be noticed, but to the colonists who are fast passing away it seems more like a dream than reality. In 1836 I made my first trip to this Island in the barque 'Mary,' of London, a whaler. In those days, long before iron vessels were thought of, our small trading vessels were admired, and did good service, being virtually pioneers for the splendid class of steamers that now navigate our seas. In 1842 I was again in New Zealand trading with the Natives, I ran into New Plymouth with a cargo of flour to sell to the settlers, in a schooner, the well-known 'Waterlily.' Mr. G. Carrington was then laying out the streets and town. After so many years absence from New Plymouth it is strange that I should meet with that gentleman, hale and hearty, and quite smart at the age of eighty-two years. I knew Mr. Carrington in 1842, when he had to run to save his life from the Natives. He took shelter in a whare, under the care of a well-known old settler, Dickey Barratt. Mr. Carrington deserves great credit for his pluck and enterprise. My twelve months' tour, with the object page 222of bringing out my book—'The Australian Colonies, and Men and Women of the Times'—I am pleased to say has equalled expectations. As far as I can judge by my long experience, everything [unclear: seems] to be working admirably. Like all other Colonies New Zealand has vastly improved, and no doubt her mineral deposits, coupled with her rich agricultural areas, will bring her into greater prominence as time rolls on. Recently, I visited the famous King Country, where I found a network of minerals. The day is not far distant when New Zealand will receive a very large revenue from the mineral wealth of that country. During my prospecting tour I was taken very bad with la grippe. While I was laid up at Kawhia I received the greatest kindness from the Natives. I brought with me from the King Country a quantity of minerals, and have had them assayed by the Government Analyst, with satisfactory results. In Masterton I am glad to have to say that I had an interview with a colonist of the forties, and one of the pioneers of this town, Mr. Renall. Mr. Renall appears to me to be as full of vigour as half the young men. He is hale and hearty in appearance. After what he has gone through in the settling of this country, and the privations he has had, he is a wonderful man. Long may he prosper. X was surprised to meet with so many of the old pioneers that arrived in Wellington in 1840. I mention the names of a few of those who came out in the ship "Martha Ridgeway":—Captain Bessed, A. W. Renall (pioneer of Masterton), Philip Goodin, Ellis Goodin, Thomas Ray (these three reside at Carterton), and Mr. John Judd, Greytown. These gentlemen are the pioneers of this country, and, as a colonist of sixty-seven years, I was very glad to meet them. There are very few left to tell the tale of the troubles and danger they had to endure in the early days, as the pioneers are fast passing away one by one.
"William Jackson Barry."
After arriving in Wellington I went to interview the Premier, and met him outside the Government Buildings. I told him about my three months' tour, and asked him if he could give me a light job, as he had promised to do so several times. The reply was—"Why don't you go to the Thames? And I'll give you a pass."
I said, "Will you give me a pass to come back?" He distinctly said, "No." page 223I told him I was seventy-eight years of age, and did not intend to go to the King Country until I got the land the Government promised me. The same day I called on the Hon. Mr. Ward, explaining the King Country to him, and the mineral resources of it, and asking him if he could give me a light job in the Government, as my age would not allow hard work. I am willing and capable to do anything light, although I am seventy-eight years of age. I also called on the Hon. Mr. McKenzie, but could neither get an interview with him, inside the Buildings or outside—since his Secretary wrote that letter to the Petitions Committee.
Having kept my note-book and diary, I took it into my head to write another book, entitled—"Past and Present, and Men of the Times." I started to write my manuscript at Miss Bubea's, No. 4, Courtenay Place, Wellington, a lady who has been kind and generous to me, and many of my fellow-creatures, which I know by personal experience. There are many old colonists, now in Wellington, whom I shall speak of before closing this book.
It is only the other day I paid a visit to a few of the old colonists in Wellington, and found Mr. John Plimmer, well and hearty, at the age of eighty-three years; I also met Mr. Allen, at eighty-three years of age, and I recognised Mr. Allen to be the second oldest colonist living in New Zealand. As for myself, I am one of the "twenties," Mr. George Allen is one of the "thirties," Mr. Plimmer one of the "forties," as also is Mr. Renall, of Masterton, Those gentlemen, whom I have mentioned, have all turned eighty years of age, and all look well and hearty.
Mr. Hamilton Gilmer also has been a great friend to me. I cannot help speaking of him in the highest terms, both as an energetic, persevering man, and for the good he has done in developing this portion of the colony. He came from Victoria to Otago goldfields in 1861, and he was very lucky in his undertakings of gold-digging. He came to the North Island and built two or three hotels. He is now situated in a large and commodious hotel—the Empire—in the City of Wellington. The Empire Hotel is situated in the very centre of the city. I can state, from personal experience, that every attention is paid to the comfort of its patrons, and the charges are most moderate. The Empire is a favourite resort for colonists, and certainly page 224they who visit New Zealand from the Mother Country, from time to time, cannot find a more comfortable home.
Another gentleman, Mr. Henry Shotlander, whom I have known for many years, has also been a great friend to me. This gentleman is one of the largest fur importers in the colonies, and at the present he is doing the largest business in the fur trade in New Zealand; and long may he continue in prosperity. There are many other leading gentlemen in this town who have given me a helping hand in my old age. After seeing the way in which the Government treated me, H. D. Bell. Esq., has been a great friend to me; also Sir Robert Stout, Mr. Charles Patterson (who resides at the Empire Hotel), Mr. Edward Wilson (of the Post Office Hotel), Mr. John Thompson (who lost his leg at Waitara in the bight of a chain; a thorough mariner, and, although a poor man himself, a great friend to his fellow-men), and Messrs. Wright, Stevenson, and Co., auctioneers, of Dunedin (who sent me a cheque to help me on in my old age).
I must not forget to mention Captain Wheeler and Captain Kennedy. These gentlemen are the two oldest mariners on the New Zealand coast. I have known them many years. Being a mariner myself, I can bear testimony as to their qualifications. Captain Wheeler first went to sea in 1844, and served his apprenticeship for five years in T. and W. Smith's employ, out of London, and was third and second officer in the same firm for some years. He afterwards traded to India and China, in sailing ships, as second and chief officer. He joined the s.s. "Lord Ashley," in 1858, as chief officer, and sailed for New Zealand, she being chartered by the Government to run the mails on the New Zealand coast. She belonged to Messrs. Pearson and Coleman, of Hull. A year afterwards he had command of this vessel, and he then joined the "Prince Alfred," belonging to the same firm, which eventually merged into the Intercolonial Royal Mail Company, and again into the P. N. Z. & A. R. M. Co. During the time of their existence, he commanded most of their steamers and sailing ships, and he remained with them until they sold out. He then joined the New Zealand Shipping Company, and for years commanded the "Phœbe" and "Lord Ashley." He was then sent home by the Union Company, and brought out the s.s. "Hawea," the first of their now large fleet page 225of steamers, and for nineteen years remained in their service, and commanded during that time a number of their steamers, the good ship "Wakatipu," being one of them, which he commanded for eleven years. He has commanded steamers and sailing vessels on the coastal and intercolonial trade for thirty-six years, and during that time he never had an accident.
Captain Archibald Kennedy.—He served his apprenticeship in the Clyde and West India trade, afterwards making several voyages as an officer in the North American trade. In the year 1854, he engaged to come out as second officer of the steamer "Nelson," then building for Messrs Willis, Garm and Co., of London, to run in the coasting trade of New Zealand. This vessel came out under sail, arriving in Nelson after a passage of 104 days. This was the first steam vessel which took up the coasting trade here. Shortly after arriving in the Colony, the chief officer, disliking the trade, retired, Captain Kennedy being appointed in his place. In this he continued until the steamer was ordered home by her owners, steamers at that time commanding very high prices, the Russian war being in full swing. Captain Kennedy then took command of the schooner "Lady Grey," trading to the Chatham Islands, Sydney, Newcastle, and on the coast. When the steamer "Wonga Wonga" was purchased by the Wellington merchants the captain was appointed to the command. This vessel proved very successful and the company afterwards purchased the "Stormbird," a sister boat. When the Intercolonial Royal Mail Company commenced operations, the captain was offered and accepted the command of the s.s. "Lord Ashley." He afterwards commanded successively the company's steamers, "Lord Worsley," "Airedale," "Phœbe," and "Egmont." This company subsequently merged into the Panama, New Zealand, and Australian Royal Mail Company. Of the "Airedale," Mr. Reader Gilson Wood, the then Postmaster-General, said in his report, laid before Parliament, in 1862, "This vessel has done an enormous amount of work, and has done it well; much of the success that has attended her has been due to her energetic and courteous commander, Captain A. Kennedy." In 1863, the captain entered the Government service as a warden of the Marine Board, and inspector of steam vessels. During the time he held this appointment he for some months commanded the s.s. "St. Kilda," carrying troops and stores on the East Coast, and also taking the Maori prisoners to the Chatham page 226Islands. Since this time he has commanded a number of vessels chiefly in the service of the Union Steam Ship Company.
Speaking of those two mariners, Captain Wheeler and Captain Kennedy, who have been trading on the Australasian coast for over thirty years, and who have been in one Company's employ over twenty years, and never had any accidents, I think it is a great shame that they should have been discharged at a minute's notice. I consider that either of those two men are quite as capable of taking a ship to any part of the world as any of the younger men now in the same Company, and if either of those mariners had been in charge of the s.s "Wairarapa" that fearful catastrophe would never have taken place.
I have closed this manuscript at Miss Bubea's, No. 4, Courtenay Place, May 19th, 1896.