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Journal of the Nelson and Marlborough Historical Societies, Volume 2, Issue 3, 1989

Te Hapu, Collingwood

Te Hapu, Collingwood

page 21


In April 1890, the Taitapu Gold Estates was offering land for selection. Between 10 000 and 12 000 acres of magnificent sheep country, coastal land between the West Wanganui Inlet and Sandhills Creek. In April 1909, the Taitapu Estates advertised that they had cut up a large area of their lands at West Wanganui and freehold land was offered for sale, in acres to suit purchasers. By 1911, the settlers in the area were J. Richards and son, Paturau; G. Nicholls, Punipawa; and Cowin Brothers at Sandhills Creek. The Addisons and other settlers moved in a few years later. All of these coastal lands were heavily timbered country, except for some occasional flax areas near the coast, and there would be a difficult breaking in period, when there would be little or no return from the land. Very little real development, other than the goldfields, occurred south of the inlet prior to the early 1900s, and certainly no farming had been done. The land taken up by William John Addison is known as Te Hapu. It comprises 784 acres between the south end of the inlet and the coast, and is accessed by way of Te Hapu Road.


William Addison was the son of Thomas and Betsey Addison. He was born on 10 December 1852 in Brunswick Place, Preston, England. He emigrated to Nelson, via Melbourne, on the "Otago" under Captain Symons, arriving in Nelson on the 14 September 1867. He occupied part of the acre lot no. 175 on the western corner of the Collingwood and Bridge Street intersection, living in a four roomed wooden cottage, built in 1867. He continued to live there until 1872, when he went to Wanganui. He married Harriet Emma Rowland there on 30 July 1875.

They were back in Nelson for the birth of their son, William John Addison, in Selwyn Place on 11 July 1876. William Addison died shortly afterwards and Harriet remarried Francis McGrane, in Collingwood on 20 September 1877. They lived up a lane then known as "Graneys", now Lewis Street Harriet had a boarding house on the corner where the fire station and playground are now, from at least 1881 until she died in 1903. Young William was brought up there, along with several of Harriet's children to McGrane.

William John Addison, known as Billy, was packing provisions to Golden Blocks and the Taitapu Estates from about 1901. He married Eveline Cook, the daughter of William and Susannah Cook (nee Horton) on 29 January 1902, in the Cook's residence at Bainham. The newly married Addisons took up a dairy farm at Lower Rockville, (now owned by Brewer and Flowers) where they stayed until they were burnt out in 1904. They then moved to Collingwood and lived near the present school. At this time Billy was running the mail from Collingwood to Paturau, in partnership with McGrane. From Collingwood they crossed the Aorere River to Ferry Point, followed the beach to the Pakawau Inlet and then went across to the coast. The usual track down the coast was to cross over to the beach at Te Hapu, on the south side of the inlet, and simply follow down the beach. Also at this time, Billy was a flax miller near Mangarakau. By 1905, the Addisons had a store and Post Office at Parkeston, on the Mangarakau River, where Mrs Addison was providing casual meals. In 1906 Billy complained of the poor state of the Wanganui mudflat. In a letter to the Collingwood County Council he said that he would hold them responsible for accidents to his teams and coaches. In 1907 he took an accident victim through to Collingwood. That year he also sought permission to make a new approach to his stables in Collingwood, which were situated where Collingwood Motors is now. He sold the stables to McGrane and Scott in 1908 and went back to his farm at Lower Rockville, where he was re-established by public effort. In 1911 he was on the Lower Rockville school committee, and was county ranger for the control of stock straying on to roads. He disliked dairy farming, despite having some of the best land in the valley and, by 1912, page 22had moved back to Collingwood. He was in partnership with Friday (William Henry) Aldridge, running the mail coach which carried stores and provisions from Collingwood to the Paturau. Eveline had a boarding house at Parkeston, on the Inlet. Billy had a two storied butcher shop, with rooms above, in Collingwood, on the corner opposite the present motor camp, from 1912 until 1918. It had a verandah around two sides and a balcony above, with stables at the rear. It was lit by acetylene gas.

Parkeston, West Wanganui. Tyree Collection NPM

Parkeston, West Wanganui. Tyree Collection NPM

page 23

By 1915 he had taken up the land at Te Hapu, in partnership with Aldridge, while still operating the butcher shop. The title deed for Te Hapu is dated several years after he took up the land, because Taitapu Gold Estates Ltd, from which the original land was bought, went into liquidation before the roads were surveyed. Billy and Eveline moved temporarily to Nelson in 1918, so that their two eldest sons, Leslie and Jack, could attend Nelson College. My father, Reginald, was born in Cambria Place, Nelson on 25 April 1919. By 1921 they were back at Te Hapu, finally getting title to the property on 31 January 1922. Aldridge and his wife lived on the farm in the first house, which was built of timber rafted around from the inlet and drifted ashore.

When the Addisons first went to live at Te Hapu they had a bach at Sharks Head, a rocky peninsula just north of Te Hapu Creek. The timber for the bach was sawn at the Mangarakau Mill and rafted to the beach by launch. This was in 1921, as my father spent virtually all of his childhood on the farm, studying by correspondence. He went to board at Christchurch Boys High School about 1932. Addison's new house, which is the one still occupied, was built about 1923, when there was still Only a pack track up the hill. It was built of timber pit-sawn from the site by George Flowers and Jack Ferguson. The furniture was taken in kit-set style and Mrs Addison assembled it in the house. A new house was to be built for the Aldridges further north, and the piles were installed. An attempt was again made to tow a raft of timber around from the inlet, but it broke adrift. The piles are apparently still there. Shortly afterwards, the partnership dissolved and Aldridge and family left the district Billy bought Aldridge out on 11 September 1924. The Addison's third son, Cecil Henry, was born on 6 May 1908 in Collingwood. He contracted TB and eventually died in the house on 24 December 1924, after a period of quarantine on the farm. He was buried on a spur overlooking the beach, near the proposed site of the last Aldridge house. About this time Leslie and Jack, returning to the farm for holidays, were excited to find some moa bones in the cave above Te Hapu Beach. Les took the bones to the Canterbury Museum. The round boulders along the coast, near the heads, also caused interest among visitors. The wreckage of the "Edwin Basset", a timber ship which piled up at Te Hapu Creek in 1885, may still be on Hapu Beach, as it was still there some time ago.

The road along the south side of the Mangarakau swamp was built about 1925. One of the bridges is in fact three bridges, each on top of the other as the previous one sank into the swamp.

Billy was the Councillor for the Westhaven Riding from the early 1920s, until he left the area in 1938. He was instrumental in getting the road to Te Hapu built. In November 1930, Jack McTaggert was working on the cart track up the hill from the mudflat to Addisons farm, Te Hapu. It was 10 feet wide and the contract price was 338 pounds for 41 chains and 280 pounds for 54 chains. Extra costs were incurred, and the County Council finally paid a total of 667 pounds 12 shillings. A government grant of two pounds for one pound, to a maximum of 400 pounds, was paid. The work had started in May 1929 and proceeded for all of 1930. The Council had received requests for the road to be built since 1916. It was referred to as the Addison-Aldridge road, but later became known as Te Hapu Road.

During the formation of the Dry Road, in the mid 1930s, Billy was butcher for the workers, delivering the meat in his horse and gig.

In 1926 Billy lost the mail contract to Jack Rhodes, but had regained it by 1932. He did weekly trips to Collingwood with a four wheeled express cart, a day each way and a sort of half stop at Watsons place in Pakawau. He was also packing meat and stores up to the Golden Blocks, a 12 hour return journey.


The following is a series of recollections of stories my father, Reginald Addison, told me, when I was a child, of his childhood on the farm. These have been partially confirmed recently, by his cousin Inez.

page 24

William and Eveline Addison were very quiet hardworking people, who were always helping others. When my father and his cousin, Inez, returned from college for the holiday periods, Billy would meet them at Collingwood with a horse and cart. They would cross the mudflats at Pakawau, when the tide was out, and then climb up the hill to the farm and down the track to the house. By this time it would be dark. There was always plenty of food, including homemade bread, eggs and bacon, fish, crayfish, shellfish and paua patties. My father told me many times of the pot of stew, on the coal range in the kitchen, which seemed to always be there for snacks. Turkeys, ducks and fowls ran wild, so it was fun to find their nests and eggs, although they had to be careful of the wild pigs. The fowls laid their eggs under the cliffs, above the house. There was a terrible time during the Murchison earthquake in 1929, because of large rocks coming off the cliffs above and coming close to the house.

My father had his own horse called Ginger and his own dog. The horse kicked him badly in the left shin, and only a fast trip to a doctor in Collingwood saved the leg. He spent a lot of his leisure time playing, exploring the caves and cliffs, swimming, fishing and riding the Nikau palm fronds down the grassy slopes. Later he got into radio building, shortwave etc and photography. At an early age he learned all the usual farming skills. The Te Hapu block was cleared by burning in 1936, because it was the hilliest and considered to be the least fertile. My father's photos testify to the extent of the bum off. I have many of his numerous photos taken around the farm about that time. Every six months or so, they would all make an expedition to Collingwood, across the mudflats by horse and cart. It would take all day each way, and they would stay overnight. The crossings could only be made at low tide. Penguins used to live under the house and proved to be a nuisance at times. My father loved the farm so much that he hated it when he had to go to boarding school in Christchurch. His primary education by correspondence with assistance from both his parents suited him well.

My recent visit to the farm, in January 1989, was very interesting and quite amazing, as it seemed to bring to life all the stories my father had told me of the farm.


Billy Addison retired in 1938 and sold Te Hapu to the Cowin Brothers on 12 May 1939. None of the sons were interested in taking over the farm at that time, because of the economic conditions and probably, more importantly, they had all built lives for themselves elsewhere.

Billy and Eveline bought a farm on the outskirts of Rangiora, after a short period. In 1943 they bought a dairy at 59 Rutland Street, in Christchurch, where Eveline died after a few months. Billy bought two flats at 21 Conference Street and lived in one until he died in July 1947.

Leslie Addison became a school teacher on the West Coast and died of TB in 1936.

Jack Addison became a Registered Surveyor, served in the Engineers Corp in the Middle East in WW2 and later became a Registered Civil Engineer and died in Wellington in 1981. Reg Addison became an Electrical Engineer after working on radar installations around Wellington in WW2 and died in Wellington in 1977. Lilian Addison died in Waimate in 1976. Stanley Guy Addison died as an infant of two years old in Collingwood in 1916.