Title: Henry Lawson Among Maoris

Author: William H. Pearson

Publication details: Reed Publishing (NZ) Ltd, 1968, Wellington

Digital publication kindly authorised by: Paul Millar

Part of: New Zealand Texts Collection

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Henry Lawson Among Maoris


page 167 page 167

tion is quite well known, as also is the fact that he wrote verse. Evidently too he was fond of sport but I have come across no reminiscences of him and there are no records of him in the district.… I have been told that Mrs Lawson was here and a child was born in the district but this information is by no means reliable.25

Harry Jacob was the adopted son of Ratima's second marriage, and was not taught by Lawson. His son was unable to give me more information than that he had heard his mother say that Lawson taught at the school. Mary Jacob I am told, died years ago, though I have not been able to trace the entry of her death; (as Mary Josephine Poharama Waruhe) died in Kaikoura Public Hospital in 1945, her age given as 70. Ratima had died in 1929 in the same hospital, as Ratima Ihaia Waruhe, aged 77. Maraia Poharama (Mrs Harry Jacob) died of tuberculosis in 1939. I have not found any surviving ex-pupils besides Mrs Walsh.

There are few Maoris living at Mangamaunu now and none at the old kainga. The Maori community began to break up in the 1930s; railway construction camps in the district after 1936 hastened its disintegration.26 J. M. Sherrard, visiting the site of the village in 1965, found no remains of the settlement on the flat; the huts of the old settlement on the terrace were in disrepair with sheep wandering through them; the church had several holes in the walls and sheep had fouled the floor. The old teacher's residence, extended and altered, still stands; it was occupied till his death in 1959 by Hoani Terewiti Jacob, son of Ratima and brother of Mary Jacob, and model of the 'brother or someone' that Lawson's teacher once chased away from it. nephew of Ratima and cousin of Mary Jacob.

1993 footnote: The teacher's residence was vacant when I visited it in 1970, standing in waist-high cocksfoot. The residence had been considerably altered and expanded since Lawson's day, and was last occupied by a family of milk suppliers. Two or three years later I learned from a member of the Kaikoura Historical Society that it had been used as a refuge by surfies from the neighbouring Hapuku beach and vandalised and burned down. In the late 1970's the area was visited by the Australian historian Manning Clark, for whom I provided a sketch map. I do not know it he left any record of his visit.