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Pioneering Reminiscences of Old Wairoa

Historic Connections

Historic Connections.

While Wairoa in the early days could not boast of the high breeding of all her settlers she had in her borders many "scions of a worthy house," including dukes and baronets, and counts of various countries. "Gentlemen" in their bearing they seldom grew angry except when questioned about their reasons for coming to such an outlandish place as New Zealand. One such had the honour of being trumpeter to Queen Victoria, and as such had been "commanded" to serenade Her Majesty with his lovely silver cornet. Another, in olden days, fired at a man in the old Clyde Hotel, and he never came to justice for the influence of one in a very high place enabled him to flee the country. Wairoa also claims connection with two famous men at the present time—Sir Donald McGavin, a brother of Mrs. J. M. Taylor, Whakaki, and the other Lord Rutherford, page 92of Nelson, the next greatest scientist, many aver, to the late Mr. Edison. Lord Rutherford is a brother of Mrs. M. P. Chapman, of "Waimatai," near Frasertown. Her husband's mother also came of a family that figured in one of the most romantic episodes of English history. The story is well worth preserving: In the very early 'sixties there arrived in Hawkes Bay two young men called Powdrell, who after some time acquired land in this province. Shortly afterwards their parents sold the English homestead of Barhill Farm, Salop, Cheshire, and together with other members of their family, including Emma Powdrell, later Mrs. F. M. Chapman, sailed for the new country to join the two brothers in Hawkes Bay. But apart from their association with the pioneering life of New Zealand the Powdrell family have the distinction of being connected with one of the most romantic tales of English history—the hiding of King Charles II in the oak tree to escape the soldiers of Cromwell. It was in 1651, after the Battle of Worcester, that Charles sought refuge in the Powdrell's garden. Honest Dick Pendrell, as history calls him, and his wife, Elizabeth, hid the King in a bushy oak and, although the Roundheads passed below the tree several times, he was not discovered. For some time Charles lay in hiding at Boscobel House, the home of this yeoman farmer, for he was still in danger. He lived in the house, and to get air and exercise, he used to pass from indoors to a summer-house at the bottom of the garden by means of a tunnel, the entrance to which was gained by a secret door at the foot of the page 93stairs. For his prompt action and loyalty Pendrell received a Royal grant of land, the title of which was to remain in the keeping of the Pendrell family for ever. The name became Powdrell when the family moved from Shifual to Salop, Cheshire, and took up residence at Barhill Farm, the difference in pronunciation by the people of the new county being responsible for its gradual change in spelling. In 1709 the Pendrells forged yet another link with the earlier history of England when the sixth Richard married a daughter of the Duttons, a family that had come to England with William the Conquerer. It was from Barhill Farm that Mrs. Chapman departed with her parents away back in the 'sixties when the venture of emigration was decided upon. The farm-house in Cheshire, and Boscobel House in Shropshire, are still to be seen and, from time to time, different members of the family now well scattered in Hawkes Bay and South Taranaki have visited them.

When Alfred the Great was building England's first fleet the great navigator, Kupe, was voyaging to Aotearoa. King John was on the throne when Toi and Whatonga founded the first settlement in this New Zealand of ours. Where are their statues? Henry III was in his fifth year when Manaia, Nuku and others introduced Polynesian food plants here, and he had reigned thirty-five years when the Maori colonized the Chatham Islands. In 1350, when "the black death" was ravaging England, the main fleet arrived, beating the records of Sebastian Cabot for America and Captain James Cook for New Zealand—heroes page 94all—the Maori navigators. Columbus, Tasman and Cook had all the navigating instruments of their day at command, whilst the Maori had but the trend of the sea, day by day, and the stars by night, but they made a landfall worthy of the most famous navigators of any part of the world.