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Historic Poverty Bay and the East Coast, N.I., N.Z.

A Man of Many Parts

page 135

A Man of Many Parts

One of the most enterprising of the early traders on the East Coast was Captain James Peachy, or Peachey (Hemi Petiti). He used the spelling “Peachy,” but descendants from his adopted son (Wiremu Keneto) spell their name “Peachey.” A Captain Peachy was (The New Zealanders, p. 276) in charge of the sloop Blossom whilst she was engaged on the survey of the Society Islands in 1826. It is not known whether he was James Peachey, or whether there was any relationship.

Peachey made his appearance on the East Coast circa 1840 in the rôle of a trader. His first trading station was on the southern side of the Awatere River. Hamahona Puha (Waiapu N.L. Court minute book No. 25) claimed that his grandfather erected Peachey's store at Te Araroa (1842). Each year, Peachey made a gift of a blanket or a piece of calico for the right to occupy the site. On one occasion, according to Hamahona, his koka [mother] was dissatisfied when Peachey sent along a piece of calico. She said: “I don't want this stuff. Take it back, and get me print for a dress.” Hati te Houkamau explained to the court that, in those days, there was no such thing as leasing land in the Te Araroa district, and that money had not then come into use there.

With other Europeans, Peachey, for a time, engaged in whaling at Te Hekawa and Te Wharariki. In the early 1850's, he had a store at Waipiro Bay. Thomas Fox (born at Puatai in 1849) stated in a letter to the Poverty Bay Standard in 1873: “This old man, years ago, used to land large quantities of liquor, and sell it to all and sundry. At that time, the natives did not know that it was unlawful for anybody to sell liquor without a license.”

Peachey adopted the eldest son of a whaler named William Kento, a Dutchman, who was knonw to the natives as “Keneto,” or “Piri Tatamana” (“Billy the Dutchman”). In his diary (21 September, 1849) the Rev. C. Baker recorded the death of Kento.

“A report reached me whilst I was at Anaura,” he says, “that Kento (a Dutchman) and Dolton (an Englishman) were crossing the Waiapu River on horseback, and got out of their depth. Dolton crossed safely on his horse, but Kento and his horse were carried down the stream.” [This is the first instance that has been traced of the death of a pakeha by drowning in the Waiapu River.]

Kento had married Ani, a woman of high rank. He left two sons, Wiremu, who took the name “Peachey,” and Werepu (“Whirlpool”). Werepu received his name on account of the fact that his father had died by drowning. A similar fate overtook Werepu. Accompanied by Tiopira Hani (a cripple) and Tuhaka Kore, Werepu (who was partly blind) went out to sea fishing on page 136 13 November, 1909. The boat overturned and only Kore got ashore. A memorial to the victims was erected by the residents of Te Araroa.

Returning to Te Araroa in the late 1850's, Peachey went into business with William Collier. Under runanga (native council) rule, irksome restrictions were placed upon them. The master of the Tawera told the Hawke's Bay Herald (30/5/1863) that the natives had told them that they were determined to drive away the magistrate (Mr. Baker) if he attempted to visit the district. They had also been warned that they would be required to pay for the grass and water which their horses and cows consumed, and even for the water which their fowls and ducks drank! When they had indicated that they did not intend to make any such payments, a threat was issued that they would be deprived of some horses. The firm closed down when the East Coast War broke out in 1865, and Peachey went to Auckland.

In 1866, Peachey once again took up his residence at Te Araroa as a trader, but, in 1873, he was in business at Hicks Bay. Shortly afterwards, he went off to Pohaoa, near Te Kaha, where he kept a store in conjunction with Bristow. Peachey died at Parnell. His name is perpetuated on the East Coast by descendants of the lad Kento. Among the best known are Mrs. Poihipi Kohere, of Rangitukia, and Bert Peachey, of Tikitiki.