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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Auckland Provincial District]



Otahuhu is situated on a neck of land between the Manukau harbour on the west, and Tamaki inlet on the east. It is thus on the narrowest part of the North Island, and a canal of about a mile would connect the east and west coast. The tide in the Manukau is full about three hours after the full tide at Tamaki. It was originally a Pensioner village, one of the four that were created during Sir George Grey's first Governorship of New Zealand. These villages were established about 1847 and 1848, and were intended to form a cordon of defence around Auckland in the event of trouble with the Maoris. Otahuhu, with Panmure and Onehunga, were well placed with this object in view, all being about the same distance from Auckland, seven to nine miles, and four or five from each other. But Howick was quite misplaced; had it been at Mount Albert the cordon would have been complete. However, during the seven years in which the pensioners were liable to serve, they were called out only once when some Maoris in force threatened Auckland. There was no fighting, however, as the natives thought better of it and retired. Nearly all the original pensioners have died, and in Otahuhu there is now (1900) but one remaining, a fine old man of eighty-five years. The Bishop of New Zealand, George Augustus Selwyn, on the arrival of the pensioners, at once took steps for their welfare, and made use of his staff of deacons and students at St. John's College to visit the settlements and to hold Sunday services, himself going whenever he had an opportunity. After a while he was able to purchase five acres of land at Otahuhu and at Panmure, and very soon a little church was put up at each place. Handsome churches have replaced these, but in both cases the old churches have been removed, and form parts of the Sunday school buildings. The present church at Otahuhu was opened by the Bishop of New Zealand—who was accompanied by Bishop Patteson, of Melanesia—on Sunday, the 27th of December, 1863. The church is capable of seating about 150 persons, and was built after the pattern of Holy Trinity Church at Mauku. In the tower there is a fine clear-toned bell, weighing over five hundredweight; its mellow tone can be heard for miles round. The population of Otahuhu is about 1000, a large proportion of whom are Roman Catholics. There are also churches belonging to the Wesleyan Methodists, Baptists, and Salvation Army. The Rev. S. Ward was the first Church of England clergyman resident at Otahuhu; he was succeeded by Mr. Carter, after whom Mr. Johnstone took temporary charge till the beginning of 1861, when the present vicar, Canon Gould, was removed from the Bay of Islands, and appointed to the charge of Otahuhu and Panmure, together with the out-districts of Mangere and Woodside. The two latter have been for some years a separate charge, under the Rev. M. Kirkbride. Otahuhu, up to 1861, remained a quiet little village, surrounded by farms, where pensioners and their sons could always get work. Early in that year things underwent a change. A farm of about 100 acres was let to the Government for a military station. The first to pitch their tents on the ground were the men of the 70th Regiment, from India. These were followed by other regiments till about 3000 men were congregated at the camp, while five regimental bands made the place lively. By degrees the men were sent off in different directions to put down Maori opposition, but there were troops, more or less, at Otahuhu for some years. They were finally withdrawn when there was little danger of further trouble with the natives. Then things returned to their old state, and for a time there was much stagnation in the Auckland province. Gradually better times came, and Otahuhu has gone on every year adding a little to its population. The chemical and the freezing works, together with the soap and candle manufactory, give employment to a large number of workmen. Otahuhu would undoubtedly become a suburb of Auckland, but for the fact that there is no train communication from the city after 6.20 p.m.

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Captain The Hon. George Bentham Morris, Member of the Legislative Council, was called to that branch of the Legislature on the 15th of May, 1885. He had previously been a member of the House of Representatives and was Commissioner of Trade and Customs in the short-lived Stout-Vogel Ministry of August, 1884. Captain Morris is further referred to on page 82 of the Wellington volume of this Cyclopedia. When not attending Parliament in Wellington, Captain Morris resides at Otahuhu.

Mr. William Ferguson Massey, Member of the House of Representatives for Franklin, was born in Londonderry, Ireland, in 1856, and is the eldest son of Mr. John Massey, a retired settler, residing at Mangere Bridge. He was educated at Londonderry, and arrived in Auckland (his parents having preceded him by about nine years) in the ship “City of Auckland,” commanded by the well-known and popular Captain Ashby. The future politician assisted on his father's farm until 1881, when he commenced farming for himself. About 1890, he purchased the farm of 220 acres, upon which he now resides; and he also occupies his original farm, as well as another property of 450 acres of swamp land, situated in the Waiuku district. Mr. Massey is the proprietor of a traction engine and complete threshing plant, in the Mangere district. Mr. Massey has at various times held public positions in connection with agriculture and many local bodies, and there is no resident of the district who is more widely respected, or more highly esteemed than he is for his general worth. He was president of the Auckland Agricultural and Pastoral Society during the years 1890–93; is an ex-member of the Mangere Road Board, an ex-chairman of the school committee, and a member of the Presbyterian Church. As a Mason, he was initiated in Lodge Manukau, New Zealand Constitution, and has held the rank of senior warden. Mr. Massey, however, is better known throughout the colony as a politician and an opponent of the Seddon Government. In 1893 he contested the Franklin seat against Major Harris (now a member of the Legislative Council), but was defeated by a small majority. Early in the following year, however, he was successful in winning the Waitemata seat at a by-election, and was returned, notwithstanding the strenuous efforts of the Government, by a majority of 183 votes. At the general election of 1896 Mr. Massey again contested Franklin against his old opponent, Major Harris, and was triumphantly returned by the large majority of 474 votes. Great excitement was shown over this election, as Mr. Massey was the Opposition Whip, and Major Harris the Government Whip. More votes were polled, proportionately, at the Franklin election than at any other country constituency in New Zealand. At the election of 1899, Mr. Massey was opposed by Mr. F. Wilson, but won easily, as he defeated his opponent by 1180 votes. Mr. Massey claims to be a Liberal in the truest sense of the term, though opposed to experimental and class legislation. He was married in 1882 to Miss Paul, daughter of a well-known and respected settler of Mangere, and has three sons and two daughters.

Hanna, photo.Mr. W. F. Massey.

Hanna, photo.
Mr. W. F. Massey.

Mr. Richard Hobbs, J.P., is one of Auckland's most widely known and best respected citizens, and was born in Hokianga in 1833—a year for ever memorable in the history of New Zealand, as that in which the first “British Resident,” Mr. James Busby, arrived to watch over these islands in the interests of the Imperial Government. Mr. Hobbs is a son of the late Rev. John Hobbs, who came to this then uncivilized country in 1823 as a missionary in connection with the Wesleyan body. After an educational course at the school of the Church Missionary Society at Waimate North, under the Rev. Richard Taylor, and subsequently under the private tutorship of the late Dr. Day, Mr. Hobbs accompanied his father on a voyage to Tasmania en route for Sydney, where it was intended that he should enter the service of one of the banks. On arrival at “Hobart Town,” as the city of Hobart was called in those days, the missionary and his son were met by old friends, and it was decided that instead of journeying further, the youth should learn the business of a draper in the establishment of Messrs. Waterhouse Bros. Mr. Hobbs has certainly had no cause to regret that decision. He learned a business by which he many years ago made a handsome competence, and, when he returned to the land of his birth, brought with him as his wife the sister of one of his employers. Since those days the name of Waterhouse has become very familiar to New Zealanders. While in Tasmania, Mr. Hobbs identified himself with the Volunteer movement, rising to the position of lieutenant. On his return to Auckland he soon found himself a captain in the Militia, and, when Otahuhu marked the frontier, Captain Hobbs and his men saw active service there. Starting at first in a small way of business, and in premises near the present site of the Auckland Savings Bank, Mr. Hobbs was rewarded with success from the beginning. As far back as 1873 he retired on a competence, selling the business, but keeping the freehold property. On his retirement he went to the “Springs” near Pokeno, where he bred and raised both cattle and horses, and cultivated one of the finest orchards in the province. This estate he sold when he returned to reside in Auckland. Mr. Hobbs first entered Parliament in 1878, being elected unopposed for Franklin, in succession to Mr. H. H. Lusk. In 1882 he was elected for the Bay of Islands, ousting his predecessor, Mr. John Lundon. Mr. Hobbs was a consistent supporter of the Atkinson party throughout his parliamentary career, which closed in 1890, he being re-elected for the Bay of Islands in 1884 and 1887. His own private business then demanding all his time and attention, he declined to be again nominated. As a member of the Native Affairs Committee, Mr. Hobbs was especially useful, his intimate acquaintance with the language and customs of the native race being of great value. For whatever moral and material advantages it enjoys as the result of the passing of the Gaming and Lotteries Act, 1881, the Colony is indebted to the perseverance and determination of Mr. Hobbs, the author and father of the bill. Other public services rendered by Mr. Hobbs include membership of the Auckland City Council (many years ago), the Manukau County Council, the Pokeno Road Board and School Committee, and the Auckland Education Board. On the latter, Mr. Hobbs rendered most valuable service for several years, and for two terms held the onerous position of chairman. At the election of 1897 he was re-elected to a seat on the Board, after an absence from
Mr. R. Hobbs.

Mr. R. Hobbs.

page 663 Its deliberations of some years. Mr. Hobbs has been a justice of the peace for the past twenty years or more, and is a trustee of the Auckland Savings Bank. In religious matters. Mr. Hobbs adheres to the church for which his father was so ardent and useful a worker. In the early days, when the Wesleyans worshipped in what is now the S.M. Court building, High Street, Mr. Hobbs was superintendent of the Sunday school, and, when the move to Pitt Street was made, he continued a prominent supporter, and was for many years on the Board of Trustees. He was also hon. treasurer of Wesley College, Auckland, for thirty years, and is now connected with St. John's, Ponsonby. Mrs. Hobbs is a daughter of the late Rev. John Waterhouse, formerly well known as the General Superintendent of the Wesleyan Polynesian Mission, and a sister of the late Rev. Joseph Waterhouse and the Hon. G. M. Waterhouse—for many years a well-known resident of Wellington, and now quietly retired in Devonshire. Mr. and Mrs. Hobbs have no family.

Otahuhu Public School. This school was originally started in the Church of England Sunday School under the supervision of Mr. Cholmondeley Smith, and became a public school when the Act came into force. The reserve on which the present building stands consists of four acres and a half of rich volcanic soil. The schoolhouse contains four large class rooms, which have accommodation for 250 children. There are 200 names now on the roll, with an average attendance of 168. Mr. Tom Wilson is headmaster, and there are two assistants and two pupil teachers.

Mr. Tom Wilson, who has a D1 certificate, was born at Sheffield, Yorkshire, England, in 1855. He was educated at the People's College, Sheffield, and trained as a teacher at the British and Foreign School Society's College, Boro' Road, London. He entered the service of the London School Board, and occupied several important positions until 1884, when he was compelled by failing health to resign. Immediately after his arrival in Auckland he accepted an engagement under the Auckland Education Board, and was appointed headmaster of the Henderson public school. He was subsequently transferred to Dargaville, and eight years later received his present appointment.

Bewes, Edward Anstis, M.R.C.S., (Eng.); L.R.C.P., (Edin.), Otahuhu. Dr. Bewes was born in 1858 at Yealmton, Devonshire, at the residence of his father, Colonel Wyndham Bewes, sometime of the 73rd Regiment. He was educated at Repton, Derbyshire, studied medicine at St. Bartholomew's, London, and qualified for his degrees at the College of Surgeons, London, and at Edinburgh. In 1885 Dr. Bewes arrived in Auckland, and commenced practice at Otahuhu, where he has ever since followed his profession.

Mr. Samuel Luke, J.P., Old Colonist, is Coroner for the Otahuhu district. He was born at Royston, Cambridge, England, on the 23rd of September, 1832. In 1857 he arrived in Auckland by the “Anne Longton,” (Captain Kirby). Mr. Luke purchased a farm at Pukekohe, and carried it on until 1864, when he removed to Otahuhu, where he has resided ever since. Mr. Luke encountered many vicissitudes in the early days of settlement, especially during the exciting and perilous times of the Maori war. He has long been prominently identified with church and school work, and has been a member of the Anglican Synod since 1875, Assessor of the Bishop's Court, member of the General Trust Board, and Licensed Lay Reader to Canon Gould, vicar of Holy Trinity, Otahuhu. Mr. Luke has been continuously a member of the Auckland Education Board, since 1878, and has been several times its chairman, and has also been elected by the Board as one of the Commissioners of Education Reserves. Before the present Education Act came into force in 1877, Mr. Luke took an active interest in assisting in the establishment of a school at Otahuhu. He is one of the oldest members of the Board of Governors of the Auckland Grammar school.