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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 79

Settlers at the Port

Settlers at the Port.

The earliest residents in the district settled near the port, and were engaged in trading with the Maoris, buying pigs, flax and other produce, as well as oil and bone from the whaling stations and sending them to Wellington, while they sold to the natives farm implements, tools and other European articles. Four small vessels are said to have plied regularly between Ahuriri and Wellington. For example, on September 11th, 1841, the page 40 schooner Gem arrived in Wellington with a caigo of pigs from Hawke's Bay. ("New Zealand Gaxette"). On November 16th, 1842, the schooner Kate arrived from Hawke's Bay with oil and bone ("New Zealand Spectator").

The first white man to settle at Ahuriri came, as Mr Colonso tells us, on May 22nd, 184G. This may have been Mr Alexander, who the following year was farming at Wharerangi. He opened a store at Onepoto. Anketel began business as a trader at the same place at the end of 1819, and later Messrs Newton, Chaulton and Richardson settled there. Mi J. MeKain settled at the Western Spit in 1850 (Colenso, "Church at Ahuriri"), and Mr W. Tillers soon followed. In September, 1851, Mr Colonso notes that the first licensed house had opened at the port. This may have been the house owned by Bob Hollis, subsequently taken over by Captain Munn to whom the early settlers owed much. This was somewhere in the vicinity of the pound at the foot of Carlyle-street. In 1851 Mr Colenso ("Church at Ahuriri") says the little port was quite a bustling place of trade. There were eight hotels, and all were often full.

The site of the present town was bought from the natives by Mr (afterwards Sir Donald) McLean in 1853 for the sum of £7000 The township was laid out and called Napier in honour of the hero of Scinde. In 1855 the first sale of town sections took place, those on the hills fetching about £5 an acre, and those on the flats about £5 a quarter acre. In 1855 the port was declared a port of entry, Mr Catehpool, who arrived in April, 1857. being the first Government officer to reside here. The natives built Mr McLean in 1853 a handsome house in European fashion in Battery-road. Here he held the first Magistrate's Court, fining Mr page 41 Colenso on one occasion, as we have seen. Afterwards, in 1854, Mr A. Domett same with his family and lived in it. He was responsible for the laying out of the town, and the naming of the streets. Then Captain Curling, who was the second magistrate, and after him Major Scully. The hills were then covered thickly with tall fern. There was no road between the port and the present town—Shakespeare road being Formed in 1857—and wild pigs might after that date have been limited on the hills.