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Life in Early Poverty Bay

Lady Carroll — Happy Childhood Days Life in Waikanae PA in 1864

page 133

Lady Carroll
Happy Childhood Days Life in Waikanae PA in 1864.

Every town has associated with it names of prominent residents, and in this connection Gisborne is inevitably linked with the Carroll family. The late Sir James Carroll, it is safe to say, carried the name of Gisborne to numerous large cities and smaller towns in England, Scotland and Ireland, and also throughout the Commonwealth. In every part of New Zealand the mere mention of Sir Jas. Carroll inevitably brought Gisborne to the mind. With Sir James, however, more especially in this district, is always associated the name of Lady Carroll. Lady Carroll is perhaps better known to hundreds by reputation than personally, for she has always been of a quiet and retiring disposition, delighting more in home life than in the fierce glare of publicity. As an enthusastic lover of Gisborne Lady Carroll has few equals in this town. Anything for the advancement of the district, particularly if the Maori race is concerned, finds a sympathetic place in her heart. Her gift of £500 to the Kahutia Bowling Club of which the late Sir James was the loved ariki, for a new pavilion, is well remembered by all residents of the town. In ladies' hockey, too, Lady Carroll has taken a keen interest, which culminated in her donation of the handsome Carroll Shield for competition between Poverty Bay, Wairoa and Hawke's Bay. That shield is the most expensive and most magnificent trophy of its kind open for competition in any sport in New Zealand. Lady Carroll is proud of Gisborne, and needless to say, Gisborne is proud of Lady Carroll.

For sixty-three years has Lady Carroll resided in this town, coming here as a girl, with her mother, Riperata Kahutia, in 1864, Lady Carroll was born in Makauri, and spent a happy childhood there. Then one day came the news of Kereopa's murder of the Rev. C. Volkner, at Opotiki, and the advance of the Hauhaus towards Poverty Bay. Next came the news of the fighting at Waerenga-a-hika, and it was thought advisable to remove to a more inhabited portion of the district. The tribe thereupon came to Turanga, as it was then called, and established a pa near the mouth of the Waikanae stream. All the Natives from Te Arai also joined this pa. The men went out to the properties during the day, but returned to Turanga at night. Across in Kaiti, on the site of the present pa in Hirini Street, was established Hirini te Kani's pa, and these two were the only big pas at that time in the vicinity of Gisborne known to the loyalists.

page 134
Lady Carroll as a Young Woman.

Lady Carroll as a Young Woman.

The Late Riperata Kahutia, Mother of Lady Carroll.

The Late Riperata Kahutia, Mother of Lady Carroll.

“They were happy days then,” said Lady Carroll to a “Times” representative. “The elders were, naturally, worried somewhat over the fighting, but we younger ones spent much time in fishing and wandering along the beaches. There was, of course, no bridge over the Turanganui; we went across in little canoes. There were very few pakehas in the district then. Just outside the sertlement itself was dense manuka and fern.

“At intervals,” continued Lady Carroll, “the township and especially the pas would be thrown into a state of excitement, when the Ngatiporous came down from Tokomaru and Waiwas in charge. The Ngatiporous apu, especially when Henare Potae would be stationed sometimes at Hirini te Kani's pa and sometimes further on, where Mrs. Harding's house now stands. Those visits were indeed memorable days for us. We would watch them come in to Turanga and then see them go out again on the flats after the Hauhaus. Then when the fighting was over the town grew bigger and bigger. The manuka and fern outside the settlement were cleared, and gave way to houses and streets, and so Gisborne grew.

“Still, the old days were good days,” continued Lady Carroll reflectively, “and we had happy times, then. There were no by-laws to tell us what to do. We did as we liked. Now we have trams and motor-cars, and speed restrictions”—and Lady Carroll smiled broadly.

No more was said, but it needed little prescience to gather that Lady Carroll's thoughts were travelling back to those happy days in the pa on the Waikanae stream in the sixties, with their fun, and yet with their excitement, the welcoming of Henare Potae's warriors, and the anxious awaiting for their return after chasing the Hauhaus. Life indeed was preferable in the settlement of Turanga in 1864 to the up-to-date Borough of Gisborne in 1927.

Mr. W. A. Barton, An ex-Magistrate.

Mr. W. A. Barton, An ex-Magistrate.