The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Taranaki, Hawke's Bay & Wellington Provincial Districts]
Mr. John Heslop. J.P., was for several years Chairman of the Hawera County Council. He was born in the year 1838, at the Cheviot Hills, Northumberland, England, near the source of the North Tyne. His father, the late Mr. John Heslop, who died some years ago, was, in his later years, a well known resident of Puketapn, near Napier. Educated at Redsdale, near Bellingham, Mr. Heslop was brought up on the farm of his father, with whom he came to New Zealand by the ship “Indian Queen,” and landed in Wellington in February 1857. After an experience of shepfanning on a run near Castle Point, belonging to the late Mr. John. Sutherland, Mr. Heslop managed the Hatuma estate for some time. Then the son joined the father in a farming venture at Patangata, on land that was chiefly swamp, lying between the Kaikoura and Patangata rivers. Unfortunately, the Waipawa river, in a heavy flood, broke over its banks at the head of Homewood Valley, made a new course, and formed a lake over most of the land, which had to be given up after ruinous losses. In 1873 Mr. Heslop left Hawke's Bay, and settled near Wanganui, where for ten years he carried on farming. While there he was a member of the Wanganui Agricultural Association and Jockey Club, and was elected to a seat on the first Wanganui County Council, of which he continued a member until he left that district. In 1883 he removed to his present property at Mawhitiwhito which consists of 623 acres. As chairman of the Goat Valley and Matapu school committees, Mr. Heslop has worked hard in the cause of education. It was mainly through his efforts, that the school at Matapu was erected, and he also induced the settlers to clear the land and snow it down in grass. Mr. Heslop has ever been ready to give the benefit of his experience as an old colonist to land and forest conservation boards, pastrol and agricultural institutions, and other public bodies. He is a member of the Taranaki and Board and Land for Settlements Board, the Forest Conservation Board, a steward of the Jockey Club, and of the Agricultural and Pastoral Association, and a member of the Licensing Committee. He has acted as a judge of cattle and horses for more than thirty years at shows in the Wairarapa, Hawke's Bay, Palmerston. Wanghnui, New Plymouth, Waikato, Christchurch, Nelson, and Auckland. On several occasions Mr. Heslop has been asked to enter the House of Representatives. He stood for Patea when Mr. George Hutchison resigned, and lost the election by one vote. As a volunteer in the old days Mr. Heslop saw active service on the East Coast. At the memorable fight at Omaranui, he had a very narrow escape, as a bullet passed through the rim of his hat. He was one of the first to enter the pa, and has a relic of the incident in the shape of an old Maori musket. For some years, he was corporal of the Waipawa Cavalry, and is the holder of the New Zealand war medal. As a pioneer settler, few have done more hard work than Mr. Heslop. As far back as 1863, in conjunction with Mr. S. Thorpe, he chartered the steamer “Bangitira” for her first trip in New Zealand, and took, amongst other items of freight, three teams of working bullocks from Napier to Port Chalmers. It was their intention to cart stores to the Dunstan goldfields, but the outlook being less bright than they expected, they sold out and returned to Napier, where they conducted the business of carriers to and from sheep stations in Hawke's Bay for some years. Mr. Heslop was one of the first to ride through the Manawatu Gorge, and to bring stock by that route, which he did with great difficulty in 1872. His knowledge of the country in the North Island is most extensive. He has travelled throough to the Waikato, via Mokau, Awakino and Te Kuiti, returning down the coast by way of Kawhia, Waitara. Hunterville, Taumaranui, the Wanganui river and other routes. On one occasion he was one of three who successfully climbed Mount Egmont. For many years past he has been a recognised land valuer; he has valued the land of the Hawera county for Property Tax purposes, and he has been largely employed by the Government Life Insurance Office, the Public Trustee, Advances to Settlers Department, banks and other corporations. As a breeder of Shorthorn cattle Mr. Heslop has made a name for himself, but he is now crossing with Holsteins for dairying purposes, combined with size and constitution. In 1874 he married the eldest daughter of the late Mr. M. J. Good-son, who was one of the earliest settlers on the Coast, and has one son and two daughters. His eldest daughter is married to Mr. A. McWilliams, late manager of the New Zealand Loan and Mercantile Agency Company's Maungatoki Dairy Factory, but now sheep-farming in the back blocks: and his son is managing the farm at Waverley. His second daughter married Mr. J. W. Richards, of Popokura.