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Chapter XVI. — The Lure of Improvements

page 120

Chapter XVI.
The Lure of Improvements.

It has been stated that in March of '78 George Merritt sold to C. H. Stuart one half-share in Tutira. There is an underlined diary entry dated 1st April '78: “C. H. Stuart takes over the share of T. J. Stuart.” There is another: “Ayson received from C. Stuart £40 to pay native track-makers.” Doubtless there was some private arrangement between the brothers, for though a minor at the time, the half-share in the station actually belonged to T. J. Stuart from the beginning.

During the same year Merritt's remaining share was also taken over, no money as far as I can discover passing in the transaction. The probabilities are that there had been advances made from a bank or mortgage company. There would also be on Merritt's part responsibility for the working expenses of the place. Not long afterwards a new name appears, that of T. C. Kiernan, who entered into partnership with C. H. Stuart, the latter again, doubtless, acting for his brother.

In the hands of Messrs Stuart & Kiernan, Tutira was to undergo a vast transformation. They had bought the place to put into it their own personal work, to make a home of it for themselves. They were young, hopeful, and energetic. The earliest written record extant, that of '78, is fragmentary, but in Kiernan's diaries each day's work on Tutira is fully registered between January of '79 and July of '81. Kiernan's diaries are, in fact, items in the early history of Hawke's Bay; though written of Tutira, they illustrate incidentally the vicissitudes of every sheep-station in the province, the rise and fall of prices, the smiles and frowns of fortune.

These were the times, as in King Arthur's court, when each hour brought forth some noble deed, when each day saw some wrong to the station righted. The Stuart Brothers and Kiernan loved their run— page 121 they were enthusiasts. They worked as young men work when hope is high. The wool-shed to be erected was a vision to dream of; it was a joy to view with the mind's eye vast stretches of green grass; their hearts leapt up when they beheld the flocks and herds of the future, the larger lambs, the fatter wethers, the heavier-fleeced ewes. In that golden age money was valued as useful only for some new improvement to the station. She was the beloved mistress for whom nothing was too good. She was to be decked with the straightest of fence lines, the woolliest of sheep, the shadiest of willow-groves; beautified with tall crops, smoothed in green grass, lawned like Arcadia. A settler gives his best love not to his parents, not to his wife, not to his little ones, but to his land.

In a former chapter I have asked the reader to shed the Decalogue and to strip himself to a Maori mat. In this I could wish that he should brace himself to the agony of perusing three months' entries from T. C. Kiernan's diary. Unlimited diary is a proverbially stodgy diet, and that of '79 is no exception to the rule, yet deliberately I intend to reproduce January, February, and March exactly as they were written, day by day, word for word, with all their repetitions, trivialities, jottings of wages, stores, mutton, tobacco, and pain-killer sold. I have thought it better to show the plain unvarnished tale as a whole than attempt to select sample days. The reader must prepare himself, therefore, for the digestion of a three months' lump of diary. Alas! that I cannot present to him the grimy original documents; then, indeed, he might forbear, or, at any rate, condone the offence. Truth to tell, they hardly bear transcription to clean paper and clear type; I feel a kind of shame in dragging to the light of day jottings pencilled in smoky huts lit by candles guttering in the draughts, the writer, with hard hands and broken nails, rising from time to time to turn the frizzling chops, to prong the simmering joint, or to pile fresh embers on the lid of the camp oven.

The play opened then in '78 with a dramatis personœ of owners and ex-owners: Thomas and Charles Stuart, George and Ben Merritt, a mysterious Mr Doull “from Otago,”—alone of those mentioned in the fragmentary diary of '78 honoured with the courtesy prefix,—shepherds, bushmen, contractors, and natives.

The station once acquired, improvements were not long withheld; from the beginning, indeed, they were lavished on the land with both page 122 hands: draining, track-making, and fencing were started within a few weeks of purchase. Specialisation of work had not begun—each man put his hand to the task most pressing. The kind of life led by these pioneers, the kind of work done in the early days of station life, cannot, in fact, be made more comprehensible to readers than by full citation of actual bare facts. Doubtless the work was rough and crude, but it is upon the dust and grime and sweat of these prehistoric days that the present Tutira is founded.

Well, the reader has to imagine a company of young men, living on bread, mutton, wild pork, and potatoes, in a reed-hut, garbed in little else than boots, shirt, and moleskins, the last-named garment supported by a waist-belt containing the butcher-knife, sometimes its leathern sheath, from use and wont, so warped to the wearer's shape as almost to resemble a tucked-in tail; the station itself a wilderness, unfenced and pathless, covered with bracken, bush, and flax.

The diary of '78, by whomsoever written, is broken and fragmentary, in that of '79 each day's work is entered. Making no further apologies, I shall allow this diary to speak for itself. Whether of interest or not, its pages, at any rate, portray the early days of a sheep-run. The initials C. H. S. are those of Charles H. Stuart, T. S. those of Thomas Stuart, T. C. K. those of T. C. Kiernan, otherwise the journal tells its own tale.


  • 1. Wednesday. C. H. Stuart and T. S. in Napier on a visit to Meanee. Kite at Petane. T. C. K. enjoying his New Year's Day by keeping the confounded cattle out of the oats. Turned them out twice, and the last time drove them over the other side of Hughie's fence. Took a look round about 6.30 P.M. and found four of them back again, so gave it up as useless. Larrikin registered from this date for a year.
  • 2. Thursday. T. C. K. and Hughie fencing all day at the horse paddock. C. H. S. returned from Napier about 4 P.M., having sent Kite and Tom S. to the Kaiwaka for young bullocks.
  • 3. Friday. Kite and T. S. returned from Petane and brought 2 of the young bullocks from the Kaiwaka. C. H. S., T. C. K., and Hughie fencing all day.
  • 4. Saturday. Kite and C. H. S. sledged posts from Tylee's spur and cut some Kohi posts for the horse paddock. T. C. K. and Hughie fencing in ram paddock at Kaikanui.
  • 5. Sunday. All hands at home.
  • 6. Monday. Heavy rain all the forenoon. Cleared up about 2 P.M., and C. H. S., T. S., and T. C. K. did some fencing.page 123
  • 7. Tuesday. C. H. S. and Kite packed a load of wool to Petane. T. S. attended muster at Waikari. T. C. K. and Hughie fencing all day. I wrote to my mother.
  • 8. Wednesday. Kite and C. H. S. returned from Petane with pack-horses bringing stores. Two bullocks dead at Troutbeck's. One “tuted,” the other bogged. T. C. K. and Hughie finished fence at Kaikanui.
  • 9. Thursday. T. C. K., C. H. S. and Hughie went to the back country to erect mustering-yards at the “Burnt Bush.” T. S. still at Waikari. Kite went to McKinnon's (Arapawanui) for some of our sheep from Moeangiangi.
  • 10. Friday. C. H. S., T. C. K., Hughie fencing at Burnt Bush. Kite came out about 8 A.M. and reported having got 60 sheep from Arapawanui, mostly unshorn. We are short of tucker, as Hughie neglected to fetch meat, and but very little bread. Killed young boar this evening; great rejoicing.
  • 11. Saturday. C. H. S., T. C. K., and Kite and Hughie, being starved out of camp, had to return to the station. Could not tackle the wild boar. Posts and strainers for yards all split. Arrived at Tutira at 8.30 P.M.
  • 12. Sunday. All hands being knocked up, took it easy. T. S. arrived from Waikari with Finlayson and brought home 40 of our sheep. Finlayson engaged to muster at 30/- per week.
  • 13. Monday. Hughie and Kite started early for the Burnt Bush to finish the yards. Finlayson went to Arapawanui to try and get Atta for the muster. C. H. S., T. C. K., and T. S. put zinc on the posts of store and cleaned it out. T. C. K. and C. H. S. drove the cattle from Kakanui round to the Natural Paddock swamps.
  • 14. Tuesday. C. H. S., T. C. K., and T. S. got things ready for going mustering. Left Kakanui for Tutira about 11 o'c. Martin took 4 packhorse loads of stores to Ward's bush. Finlayson returned from Arapawanui at 12.30 P.M. Atta couldn't come. George Goodall arrived from Waikari. T. C. K. mended store door. C. H. S. killed sheep. T. S. cooked. Kite and Hughie came from yards at 7.30 P.M. C. H. S., T. S., G. G., Finlayson, Kite and Hughie went to camp at Papa Creek. Parkes arrived from Petane with six bullocks from Troutbeck at £13/10/-. T. C. K. returned to Kaikanui.
  • 15. Wednesday. T. C. K. went to look for horses; couldn't find them. Went to Tutira to get the woolshed ready. Got soaked through going over. Too wet to do anything, so returned, and got wet through again. Changed things and stayed at home. Took order from Sparkes for sledge iron-work and wrote to Faulknor.
  • 16. Thursday. Sparkes and Martin came to Kaikanui for sledge wheels. Sparkes took monkey-wrench to the bush, also one pack-saddle—no horse, as he packs one of the bullocks. Went to look for horses and found Charlie dead in the swamp, strangled by his tether rope. Went to Tutira at 2 P.M. and drove cattle over the Willows. Worked at woolshed. Returned and stapled fence. Very heavy earthquake at 10.45 P.M.
  • 17. Friday. Found 10 head of cattle in the oats. Drove them as far as page 124 No. 2 swamp. Looked for my horse; couldn't see him. The cattle went back to the oats, so I drove them across the lake at the Willows. Found “Tommy” in No. 2 swamp. Went round the fences at Kaikanui and stapled them where required.
  • 18. Saturday. First thing I saw was a mob of cattle in the oats. Drove them across the lake at the Willows. Started for Waikari at 12.30 P.M. Couldn't find it, so returned to Moeangiangi, where I arrived at 10.30 P.M. and stayed all night. Left letters for the mail-man.
  • 19. Sunday. Left Moeangiangi at 7.30 and arrived at Tutira at 10 A.M. Found Hughie in from muster for tucker. Found cattle back in the oats. Drove them to No. 2 swamp. Found Pablo fast in wire fence. Got him out after some trouble all right. Set fire to flax in small paddock.
  • 20. Monday. Mustering still going on. T. C. K. at station. Found the cattle back in the oats. Drove them across at the Willows. Worked at woolshed all day. Musterers returned from back country with mob of about 2000 mixed sheep (800 woolly) about 7 P.M.
  • 21. Tuesday. Drafted sheep from back country. G. Goodall got 100 of Waikari sheep; no other strangers. Docked 20 lambs, making in all 1145 lambs docked to date not including those at Waikari. Hughie cooking. Kite went for the tools at the Burnt Bush.
  • 22. Wednesday. G. Goodall left with Bee's sheep at 9 o'clock and T. S. went to clear the road. Kite took 22 bales of wool to Petane, making a total up to date of 173 bales. C. H. S. and T. S. went to Ward's bush to make arrangements about the timber. Hughie cooking. T. C. K. getting woolshed ready for recommencing shearing. C. H. S. and T. S. returned from Ward's about 9 P.M.
  • 23. Thursday. Kite returned from Petane with pack-horses, bringing flour, sugar, raisins, currants, and the mail bag, also parcels for T. C. K. T. C. K., C. H. S. and T. S. working at woolshed. Hughie cooking. 5 Maoris arrived this evening.
  • 24. Friday. Commenced shearing with 19 rams in the morning, and afternoon, 348 of the sheep brought from the back country. Hughie started as cook for all hands and the Maoris. T. C. K., C. H. S., T. S. and Kite assisting at shed.
  • 25. Saturday. T. S. went to attend Dolbel's drafting. Kite sledged firewood with “Rodney” from Reserve. T. C. K. superintending for shearing, rolling fleeces, etc. C. H. S. getting bales ready for packing to Petane. Sheared 431 sheep to-day.
  • 26. Sunday. T. Stuart returned from Dolbel's about 4 P.M. with 200 sheep.
  • 27. Monday. C. H. S., T. S., T. C. K., Kite and two Maori boys started mustering the reserve at 3 A.M. Got in about 1000 sheep, principally ewes and lambs, at 10 A.M. We estimate that there are 600 sheep still in the paddock. C. H. S. got wool ready for packhorses. T. C. K. and T. S. worked the shearing. 389 sheep shorn to-day. Docked 8 lambs, making in all (with 8 at Waikari, 6 at Dolbel's) 1167.
  • 28. Tuesday. C. H. S. and Kite took 22 bales of wool to Petane. On going page 125 for the sheep for day's shearing found they had nearly all got out of paddock back to reserve during the night, 48 woolly sheep only remaining. T. C. K. went to Kaikanui to drive cattle to Natural Paddock. T. S. attended shed. Heavy rain began at 12 o'clock. Shearers all went home. 48 sheep shorn, 3 lambs marked. Parks and wife brought the young bullocks from the bush and report them as shaping well. Took the camp oven from fencers' camp. He brought back from bush one spade, keeping one spade and pick out there.
  • 29. Wednesday. T. S. and T. C. K. cleared up the shed and dried wool that got wet yesterday. Parks and wife left with 6 old bullocks for the bush, and also packed “Dan” with piece of wire and camp over, etc. He also took iron-work for sledge and gouge. C. H. S. and Kite returned with pack-horses at 7 P.M., bringing stores. Had great trouble on the road.
  • 30. Thursday. Kite took grey mare to fetch stores that had to be left on road yesterday. C. H. S., T. S., and T. C. K. worked at woolshed drying wool, making up loads of wool, and cleaning shed (pressing) of wool. Kite returned and pressed. T. S. set fire to Newton. C. H. S. put stores in order, and T. C. K. fires Reserve and assisted Kite.
  • 31. Friday. C. H. S. and T. S. and T. C. K. and Kite mustered Natural Paddock in the morning and finished pressing and weighing all wool in the shed. In the afternoon Hughie cook.


  • 1. Saturday. C. H. S. and Kite took pack-horses with wool to Petane. T. S., T. C. K. and Hughie drafted the sheep mustered yesterday, and earmarked all that had been missed before. Put X-breds in Newton block, and T. S. took the Merion wethers over Papa Creek. T. C. K. mended store door and secured wool in the shed.
  • 2. Sunday. T. S., T. C. K. went to Tutira for the rams. C. H. S. and Kite returned from Petane bringing a few stores. T. S. and T. C. K. took 26 rams over to Kaikanui Paddock.
  • 3. Monday. C. H. S. and Kite mustered cattle to take to Petane tomorrow to the sale. T. C. K. and Hughie worked at fence. T. S. went to drafting at Kaiwaka.
  • 4. Tuesday. C. H. S. and Kite took 24 head cattle to Petane. Hughie came over to Kaikanui at 7.30 A.M.; sent him with pack-horse up to fencers' camp for windlass, &c., to get posts from Natural Paddock in morning. Heavy rain in afternoon. Stayed at home and wrote letters. Cleaned whare, etc. First snow this year at Cox's.
  • 5. Wednesday. C. H. S. and Kite not yet returned from Petane. T. S. still at Kaiwaka. T. C. K. went to Tutira in canoe for salt, spades, etc. Hughie at the Natural Pdk. rigging windlass for getting posts out of the bush. T. C. K. returned to Kaikanui at 12 o'clock. Saw large mob of sheep on the new burn outside Hughie's fence. Went up the fence as far as the slip panel, and found the fence burnt in page 126 several places. Counted altogether 20 posts wanting renewing. About 300 sheep outside.
  • 6. Thursday. T. C. K. and Hughie putting up windlass rigging for the posts in Natural Pdk. C. H. S. and Kite returned from Petane. Cattle averaged at sale £5—2—0½ per head.
  • 7. Friday. C. H. S. and Kite took wool to Petane. T. C. K. and T. S. went to Tangoio and brought the sheep (340 ewes and lambs and a few wethers) home from Dolbel's. Got the sheep in the yards at 9 o'clock P.M. Had tea at 11 P.M. Got to bed at 12 P.M.
  • 8. Saturday. T. S. and T. C. K. earmarked and docked 6 lambs and all Merritt's ewes and wethers brought from Dolbel's yesterday. Hughie still at the Natural Padk. C. H. S. and Kite returned from Petane bringing stores.
  • 9. Sunday. All hands at home taking a rest.
  • 10. Monday. S. S., T. C. K., and C. H. S. got things ready for the muster. Hughie and new man getting firewood. Kite cooking. C. H. S. and T. C. K. put the store in order. Heavy rain all the afternoon, so couldn't start to muster as intended.
  • 11. Tuesday. T. C. K., T. S., and C. H. S. went over to Tutira about 12.30 P.M.; found Neil from Dolbel's and Tangoio Joe had arrived for the muster, making in all 7 hands—C. H. S., T. S., Hughie, Kite, Joe, Neil, and new man. T. C. K. remaining at home. Musterers started this evening.
  • 12. Wednesday. T. C. K. went to Tutira in canoe for tools. Spent the day at the No. 2. swamp bridge cleaning out the drains and getting material for repairing the bridge. All hands still out mustering the back country.
  • 13. Thursday. T. C. K. worked at No. 2 swamp bridge. Got it finished at 5 P.M. All hands still out mustering.
  • 14. Friday. T. C. K. went to Tutira; saw Hughie in from muster, they having run short of bread. Mended table, etc. Tried some burning, but the fern wouldn't burn well.
  • 15. Saturday. Stayed at home and looked over ledger. In afternoon found the cattle had injured the No. 2 bridge, so had to repair it. Musterers still out.
  • 16. Sunday. Musterers still away. T. C. K. at home. Cleaned saddle, stirrup irons, bit, etc. Had a visit from Tomoana this afternoon. Asked to stay at Tutira to-night. Permitted him.
  • 17. Monday. Kite came over to Kaikanui at 9.30 A.M. to plough. T. C. K. went to Tutira, gave Kite stores, found several Maoris there who came to shear, Tomoana having told them the wrong day. C. H. S., T. S. and musterers arrived at 2 P.M. C. H. S. and T. S. slept at Kaikanui; the rest of musterers went up to Newton camp.
  • 18. Tuesday. C. H. S. and T. S. left Kaikanui at 3 A.M. to assist mustering Newton block. T. C. K. started at 6.30 for do. Got sheep into the yards about 2.30 P.M. Good muster, about 2000. C. H. S., T. S. and rest of musterers went to camp at Maungahinahina about 5 P.M. to muster reserve to-morrow.
  • 19. Wednesday. T. C. K. went to Tutira to mend gates at drafting-yard. page 127 Musterers returned about 12 A.M. with about 2000 sheep. Hughie and T. C. K. put canvas on shed. The rest took a rest. T. C. K. returned to Kaikanui alone. Saw the bull with broken leg at whare. Also saw 12 sheep, 5 on the road over and 7 at the whare, mostly X-breds.
  • 20. Thursday. All hands started drafting the sheep. Hughie cooking and rather sulky. Maoris (9) commenced shearing. 114 sheep shorn. Rained till 12 o'clock then knocked off. In afternoon all went drafting. Got through half sheep. Webb of Maungaharuru came about 5.30 P.M. to give notice of 3700 sheep coming through on Sunday.
  • 21. Friday. T. C. K. and Webb left Kaikanui at 6 A.M. for Tutira. T. S., Neil and Kite out mustering Natural Paddock. Began to shear at 9. T. C. K. superintending shed. Rest of the hands finished drafting sheep. Musterers returned at 12 o'clock unsuccessful. 550 sheep shorn. Let the lambs go in Natural Padk. to-day. When I returned to Kaikanui, on going for water found the lame bull bogged in the drain where the bridge formerly was. Too dark to do anything, so left him till morning to get some help to pull him out.
  • 22. Saturday. Shearing commenced at 8 o'clock, but rain put a stop to it after 25 sheep had been shorn. Only a shower. All went to drafting-yards and got through all sheep left from yesterday at 12 o'clock. Sheep dry in afternoon so recommenced shearing. 234 sheep shorn to-day. Hughie left to-day. Mistaken about bogged beast; found it was Redman the old bullock.
  • 23. Sunday. C. H. S. and T. S. came over to Kaikanui in canoe. Jim and Neil shepherding woolly sheep. The three of us went over to Tutira for tea. I rode to Kaikanui alone.
  • 24. Monday. C. H. S., Neil Rossell, Jim Wild and T. C. K. tried to get Redman out of creek but were unable to do so. Maungaharuru sheep passed through to-day. T. S. clearing the road. 200 sheep shorn, when rain put a stop to shearing C. H. S. sewing bales and branding. T. C. K. went burning. Jim shepherding woolly sheep. Neil knocked off to-day.
  • 25. Tuesday. Went to shoot Redman this morning, but found him dead. Shearing till 12 o'clock, when rain put a stop to it. Rained at intervals during the whole afternoon. Day very stormy. 134 sheep only shorn. C. H. S. and T. S. took 9 pack-horses to Petane this morning with wool.
  • 26. Wednesday. Began to shear at 8.30 A.M. Being short of bales or bags could not press the wool, so had to pack it the best way I could. Got 482 sheep shorn, and would have done more but for the number of previously shorn sheep being mixed up with the woolly, making it necessary to fill the crush-yard more often, consequence being loss of time. C. H. S. and T. S. returned from Petane about 7 P.M.
  • 27. Thursday. Drafted out all woolly sheep and took them to the shed. Shearing began at 9 A.M. Finished all sheep, 421, at 6.30 P.M. C. H. S. and T. S. drafting and putting shorn sheep out to the paddocks. Jim generally useful Kite cooking.
  • 28. Friday. Paid off all the Maoris (shearers and others) with the exception page 128 of Spooner, who remains to press the wool. Sent him with 2 pack-horses this morning to Petane for bales. C. H. S. and T. S. mustered Natural Paddock and got about 30 woolly sheep. Cut wild rams this evening. Fine night. Paid Maoris in following cheques: Rare £3—1—0; Newton £2—8—8; Hemera £2—4—4; Winiate £2—5—0; Ne £1—11—0; Neddy £3—0—0; Tomoana £3—4—0; Honie £3—0—6; Napier £2—0—0; Jack £1—0—0; Mary £1—7—0; Mulligan 9/-, making a total of £26—10—6. This afternoon C. H. S. put store in order. T. C. K. put shed in order, sewed bales and pressed. T. S. and Kite assisting at matter. Jim taking the sheep over the Papa Creek.


  • 1. Saturday. C. H. S., T. S, Kite and Jim went mustering the reserve for stragglers. Returned at 1 P.M. with 200 woolly sheep and long-tail lambs. T. C. K. and Spooner pressed 30 bales of wool, and cleaned up shed. Parks arrived from bush about 5 P.M. Reports getting on well.
  • 2. Sunday. C. H. S. and T. S. came over to Kaikanui at 10.30 A.M. Parkes left this morning with 7 bullocks for the bush. G. C. Thompson and John McKinnon arrived at 3 P.M. Thompson started from Napier yesterday but got lost on the road and was out all night. Got to Arapawanui this morning at 6 A.M. J. McKinnon left at 6 P.M.
  • 3. Monday. Maoris didn't arrive as they promised to shear the stragglers. C. H. S. and G. C. Thompson went out to the bush about 9 A.M. and returned at 4 P.M. T. S. shepherded sheep in the morning and with Kite made up loads in the afternoon. T. C. K. went out burning the Newton faces and afterwards gathered up loose wool at the shed. Jim left this morning to muster at Tangoio.
  • 4. Tuesday. C. H. S., Thompson and Kite left with pack-horses at 9 A.M. T. S. left for Moeangiangi at 5 P.M. T. C. K. went to Tutira and saw Spooner (presser), at 1.30 P.M., who came by himself, the Maoris not having arrived to shear. T. C. K. left Tutira at 2 P.M. and arrived at Petane at 6 P.M.
  • 5. Wednesday. T. C. K. and Thompson left Petane for Napier. C. H. S. and Kite returned to Tutira with pack-horses taking stores. T. S. shepherding sheep (unshorn).
  • 6. Thursday. T. C. K. in town. Warm & splendid for the young grass. All hands idle on account of weather.
  • 7. Friday. T. C. K. in town to buy sheep. At the station heavy rain and thunderstorm. All hands had to keep indoors. Wet night both in town and at station.
  • 8. Saturday. T. C. K. in town. Kite and C. H. S. repaired fence at Papa Creek and made a gate in the morning, and repaired fence between Natural Padk. and Reserve in afternoon. T. S. shepherding woolly sheep on Reserve.
  • 9. Sunday. No work done; all hands taking a rest.
  • 10. Monday. T. C. K. in town. Docked 8 lambs, making total up to date of 1244.page 129
  • 11. Tuesday. Kite and C. H. S. packed 12 horses to Petane with wool. T. S. started for Napier to meet T. C. K., in order to have a look at the “Okawa” ewes. T. C. K. went to Petane from Napier to meet T. S. Jim at Tangoio mustering.
  • 12. Wednesday. T. C. K. and T. S. started for Okawa to see sheep. Kite and C. H. S. returned to station from Petane.
  • 13. Thursday. T. C. K. purchased 1500 ewes from Beamish at 4s., delivery to be taken on the 27th. T. C. K. and T. S. return to Napier. Kite and C. H. S. took 12 pack-horses with wool to Petane.
  • 14. Friday. T. C. K. and T. S. in town. Start for Maraekakaho and Olrig to have a look at some rams for sale. Didn't reach Olrig, so stayed at Maraekakaho Accommodation House for the night. C. H. S. and Kite returned to Petane, taking 4 cwt. wire and oats for pack-horses.
  • 15. Saturday. T. C. K. and T. S. arrived at Olrig. Saw rams, but didn't like them. Most of them too old, and the young ones too coarse in the wool, so didn't purchase. Left for Napier at 11 A.M., and arrived in town at 2 P.M. C. H. S. and Kite packing wool from station to Petane.
  • 16. Sunday. T. C. K. and T. S. in town. T. S. went to Meanee. C. H. S. and Kite returned to station from Petane with pack - horses and brought up 4 cwt. of wire.
  • 17. Monday. T. S. left Napier for station. T. C. K. engaged two musterers, Whitehead and Rose, at 15s. per day. George and Charlie arrived from the bush to repair subdivision fence. Jim returned from Tangoio. C. H. S. and Kite took 12 horses to Petane with wool.
  • 18. Tuesday. T. C. K. in town. Kite and C. H. S. returned to station, taking 5 cwt. wire, 1 cwt. staples, and stores. During absence of all hands dogs got loose, and killed nearly all the fowls, and worried five sheep.
  • 19. Wednesday. Jim, Kite, and C. H. S. cleared up wool-shed. Dried some damp wool, and pressed balance of wool on hand. Kite in afternoon went to Tangoio to muster. T. J. S. arrived from town; Whitehead and Rose also arrived. George and Charlie started at subdivision fence.
  • 20. Thursday. C. H. S., T. S., and George and Charlie, Jim, Whitehead, and Rose mustered Reserve and got 89 woolly sheep, 10 long-tail lambs, making total up to date 1256 lambs, and woolly sheep mustered 6378.
  • 21. Friday. Mustered Reserve again, and got 20 woolly sheep and 4 lambs. All hands camped at Kaikanui for mustering Newton to-morrow.
  • 22. Saturday. All hands mustered Newton. Got 170 woolly sheep and 5 lambs. Total woolly sheep mustered to date 6568, and lambs docked 1263.
  • 23. Sunday. C. H. S. went to Arapawanui for shearers. Other hands drafting. Put on Newton 1500 sheep: 600 ewes, 100 wethers, and 800 cross-bred wethers. Mustered 33 rams, and put them on Reserve with 1800 ewes. Mustered Natural Paddock. T. C. K. returned from town. Did not get rams.page 130
  • 24. Monday. All hands mustered “Rocky Range.” Got 62 woolly sheep. Total mustered to date 6630. Sheared 158 sheep.
  • 25. Tuesday. Cut 20 wild rams. Turned out shorn wethers to the back block, and turned 52 ewes into Newton.
  • 26. Wednesday. T. C. K., Whitehead, Rose, and Jim started from Okawa to take delivery of ewes bought from Beamish. Charlie and George working at subdivision fence, Kaikanui. Maoris returned to shear. 142 sheep shorn. Shearing tally to date 6375. T. C. K. and men arrived at Okawa at 6 P.M.
  • 27. Thursday. T. C. K. took delivery of Okawa ewes, but as it was late when drafting was finished, put off the start till to-morrow, the men in meantime shepherding sheep. Finished shearing at Tutira.
  • 28. Friday. T. C. K., having seen the men start from Okawa with the sheep, went to town. T. S. burning gullies at back of Newton; fires visible to T. C. K. at Puketapu. C. H. S. inspecting George's fencing. T. C. K. purchases 60 Russell's rams, £150, and starts for Waipukurau to select them.
  • 29. Saturday. T. C. K. at Waipukurau. Started at 6 A.M. to select rams, but couldn't get them in time for early train, so had to wait till afternoon. Arrived at Napier with rams at 7.15 P.M. Left them in trucks till to-morrow morning.
  • 30. Sunday. Started for Railway Station at 5 A.M. expecting to meet man Miller engaged. Not finding him, got G. C. Thompson to help me to drive them to the Spit. Found man there waiting. Got the rams safe across the ferry, & arrived with them at Villiers at 2.30 P.M. all right. T. and self return to Napier.
  • 31. Monday. T. C. K. left town for Petane to see rams. On going to Young's stables for my horse, found Donoghue drunk in the stable. Rode over to Petane, and from there to Tangoio, and told Whitehead to keep ewes back, and come to Petane for rams. Fortunately they were all safe. Stayed at Petane all night.

Here we can conveniently close our chapter—sufficient matter has been given to show the normal daily life of a station in the making. I know it has been prosaic; I know it has been heavy. I cannot but be aware that its stolidity must have even veiled and obscured the glories, the delights, the ecstasies of improvements, for there is no fascination in life like that of the amelioration of the surface of the earth. For a young man what an ideal existence!—to make a fortune by the delightful labour of your hands—to drain your swamps, to cut tracks over your hills, to fence, to split, to build, to sow seed, to watch your flock increase—to note a countryside change under your hands from a wilderness, to read its history in your merinos' eyes. How pastoral! How Arcadian! I declare that in those times to think of an improvement to the station was to be in love. A thousand page 131 anticipations of happiness rushed upon the mind—the emerald sward that was to paint the alluvial flats, the graded tracks up which the pack team was to climb easily, the spurs over which the fencing was to run, its shining wire, its mighty strainers; the homestead of the future, the spacious wool-shed, the glory of the grass that was to be.

It was a joy to wake, to spring out of your bunk half dressed already,—there wasn't a nightshirt north of Napier then,—to glance through the whare's open door at the clear, innumerable hosts of stars, in the huge fireplace to open up the warm cone of soft grey ash piled carefully overnight, to push into its heart of glowing red the dry kindling, to see the brief smoke ascend, to hear the crackle of the rapid flames. Oh, those were happy days, with no cares, no fears for the future, no burden of personal possession, when every thought was for the run, when every penny that could be scraped together was to be spent on the adornment of that heavenly mistress.

“Bushrangers,” white and black.

“Bushrangers,” white and black.