Skip to main content


Showing posts from May, 2011

Last remaining children of pioneer Charles Dixon die - 1935

The two remaining children of Masterton pioneer Charles Dixon of Worksop Farm, died within 11 months of one another in 1935.

Evening Post, 9 January 1935 The death occurred recently in Wellington of Mrs. Harriet Chinchen, widow of the late Mr. Robert H. Chinchen. Mrs. Chinchen was born at Masterton seventy-three years ago, and was the youngest daughter of the late Mr. and Mrs. Charles Dixon, who arrived in Wellington in 1842, shortly afterwards removing to Masterton, where the family were among the first settlers. Soon after her marriage, Mrs. Chinchen came to Wellington, where she has resided for the past fifty years. She is survived by her five daughters, Mrs. H. J. Crewes, Mrs. W. K. Fisher, Mrs. H. F. Clarke, Mrs. A. R. Lankshear, and Miss P. Chinchen, six-grandchildren, and her brother, Mr. Charles Dixon, who is one of the oldest residents of Masterton.

Group of people outside the Midland Hotel for a mayoral dinner held in honour of Charles Dixon junior, 1930.
Standing from left: J. …

Masterton wedding: Crawford/Perry - 1935

Evening Post, 16 February 1935
Many friends will be interested in a wedding that was very quietly solemnised at Knox Church, Masterton, recently of James Coutts, only son of, the late Mr. H. D. Crawford of Miramar, and Mrs. Crawford, of Fitzherbert Terrace, to Jessie Masters, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. H. Perry, of Heatherlea, Masterton. The Rev. Mr. Davie officiated. The bride was charmingly frocked in zinnia pink crepe, and wore a hat of beige straw. Her sister, Miss Mabel Perry, was bridesmaid, and wore a frock of navy and white patterned marocain and matching hat. Mr. Bathe Brandon was best man.

Red deer plentiful - 1894

Auckland Star, 13 April 1894
Says the "Post," Mr Donne who has returned from the Wairarapa, reports that red deer are very plentiful about the Gladstone and Martinborough districts.

Stags with good heads are fairly numerous, but very shy and difficult to stalk.

The Messrs Strang (of Greenside station), Mr James Cooper (of Taipo station), Mr Donne, and others secured 14 heads during the first week, one having 18 points, two 13, eight 12, and three 10.

A large number of young stags were seen.

The Wellington Acclimatisation Society's request that no stags carrying fewer than ten points be shot is generally regarded by sportsmen.

Large numbers of deer have settled on Mr John Martin's Puratangi estate, where shooting is prohibited. The conservation of the deer on this property is very generally approved, as it affords the animals a shelter from the sportsmen not otherwise obtainable.While [on] the Hinewaka Mountain on Tuesday last Mr Donne found a number of large leg bones…

Deer provide fine sport for hunters - 1899

The Star, 20 April 1899
The South Wairarapa district has furnished some fine sport for the deer stalkers this season, the more so that no limit was placed on the number of stags allowed to be taken.

Probably the most successful of the sportsmen who have gone out is Mr John Ross, says the "New Zealand Times," who, up to Thursday last, had secured sixteen heads, oue of them an especially fine one of sixteen tines, and another carrying thirteen tines.

Deer are reported to be very numerous in the country eastward of Martinborough, but their habitat is so rough and rugged as to give pause to any but the most ardent sportsmen.

One deer at, present enjoying a breezy freedom in the locality referred to is the talk of the settlers' firesides and the rabbiters' tents, and the envy of sportsmen from far and near. He is reported to have antlers of fabulous size, so large as to bow him down, as it were, under a chastening distinction. Only once or twice has he appea…

Martinborough deer hunting season opening disappoints - 1908

Wanganui Herald, 25 April 1908

Deer Stalking.

MASTERTON, April 25. Deer stalking has received an impetus this season by the throwing open of a new reserve in the neighbourhood of Martinborough. A fair number of heads have bean secured by sportsmen bailing from all parts of the world. - Generally this season's heads are disappointing in that the antlers are thinner than usual. The stags are reported somewhat poorer in condition this season, a fact generally attributed to the prolonged drought previous to the first week of April.

Deer become a problem - 1905

Manawatu Times, 8 February 1905
Sportsmen in the Martinborough (Wairarapa) district should have a good time there during the forthcoming deer shooting season. There are said to be thousands of deer. The winter and spring were exceedingly wet, with plenty of pasture, and the deer have thrived. In consequence of the plenitude of feed, the antlers of the deer show an increase in size and length, and as there are plenty of animals about sportsmen should not complain.

At Te Awaite alone, deer may be seen now in bunches of from sixty to a hundred, and it is estimated that there are now fully 10,000 head on the station. Many of these are in the wild country. They consume much of the feed on the run, and in addition are terribly destructive to fences and crops, while their number are increasing so rapidly there that it is reported that next year Mr Riddiford intends to kill 3000 of them by contract. —Leader.

Lord Onslow goes deer-stalking - 1889

Marlborough Express, 15 May 1889
The Hon. John Martin, M.L.C., has taken the Governor to the Wairarapa for a couple of days deer-stalking. We congratulate the Hon Johnny on his enterprise. He has been the first to catch the Earl. The Knight was only caught by the snobs, but here is a "man of the people," who had been made an M.L.C., because he had risen from the people, boldly telling the world that if the Governor wanted sport he could have it at the hands of a man who had never kicked away the ladder by which he had risen. Now we like to see this.

Martinborough has its deer park. Why not? Lord Onslow will honour the man who with equal grace can lead a cart horse and a live Earl. The "Monarch of the Forest" can hardly fail to recognise the happy union which is being cemented at his expense.Lord Onslow was Governor of New Zealand from 1889 to 1892.

Fawns found but horse lost - Martinborough 1899

Wanganui Chronicle and Patea-Rangitaiki Advertiser, December 18,1899
Mr Moorhouse, the Wellington Acclimatisation Society's ranger, and two assistants, who have been out on the ranges beyond Martinborough, Wairarapa, for the purpose of securing young deer, had a rough experience. They secured eight fawns, but lost a pack horse, which slipped over a precipice whilst travelling along a mountain track. The party reports having come across a large number of wounded deer, many having their legs broken, evidently as the result of promiscuous shooting, and one or two carcases were found, which gave evidence of having been partly used for the sustenance of sheep dogs or rabbit packs. Six of the fawns secured are being kept for the Government, and will probably be sent to the Waikaremoana, district. Some of the Virginian quail imported into the colony some months ago are reported to be thriving well in the Wairarapa, and nesting, and the American black duck sent to Heaton Park, Rangitikei, …

Martinborough offered for sale - 1879

Colonist, 13 November 1879

ATTENTION TO SPECULATORS AND OTHERS — We wish to draw attention to an important land Sale to take place at Wellington in a few days. The land is situate in the Wairarapa, and we learn that the Township and estate to be sold, and known as Martinborough, is distant from Wellington by rail 45 miles to Featherston, thence by a good metalled road eight miles.

Greytown wedding: Evans/Dunn

Evening Post, 9 September 1910
Our Greytown correspondent reports that a wedding took place in the Greytown Anglican Church on Wednesday, when Miss Isabel Flora Dunn, fourth daughter of Mr. Edward Dunn, of that town, was married to Mr. Harold Arthur Evans, a well-known and respected resident of Martinborough.

The church was crowded with well-wishers and the ceremony was conducted by the Rev. Mr. Page. The service was fully choral.

Miss Winifred Dunn (sister of the bride) and Miss Dorothy Varnham (niece) were the bridesmaids, and Mr. Clarence Evans (brother) was best man.

The bride was dressed in a handsome gown of cream silk, with veil, and she carried a very pretty bouquet. The bridesmaids were dressed in pale blue silk muslin.

After the wedding breakfast which was held at the residence of the bride's parents, the happy couple left per motor-car for Masterton, from whence they go by rail on their honeymoon. Mr. and Mrs. Evans will reside at Martinborough.

Deer become problem in Haurangi forest: 1913

Ashburton Guardian, 15 July 1913
It will surprise many people to learn that there are between 20,000 and 30,000 deer in the district controlled by the Wellington Acclimatisation Society. The animals have increased enormously during the past few years, and unless they are checked they are likely to become a great nuisance. Mr C. H. Bould, one of the Society's rangers, has just returned from the Haurangi Forest Reserve, between Martinborough and the sea coast, and reports that in accordance with instructions from the Council of that body, he and some assistants have shot about 200 malforms and weedy hinds.

In his opinion at least 2000 more should be killed. The forest reserve is admirably suited for deer, but owing to the country being very rough it is almost impossible to market the carcases of the animals which are shot there. Venison would fetch probably 9d per lb in Wellington, but it would Mr Bould says, cost about 1s per lb to place in the shops any of the flesh from the Hauran…

Martinborough bush hunting for tourists: Sir Joseph Ward reassures

Ashburton Guardian, 17 May 1905
THE TOURIST DEPARTMENT — Sir Joseph Ward has written to the Wairarapa "Age" contradicting a statement which appeared recently in that paper, to the effect that the Tourist Department was anxious to secure the bush and deer country behind Martinborough for the exclusive use of tourists from abroad.

"Whatever regulations may be made in future for the management and control of shooting on any part of these lands," he writes, "will apply equally to residents of New Zealand and sportsmen from abroad. The Department is as keenly anxious to provide sport for our own people as for the foreign visitor, and there has never been any suggestion that distinctions should be made."
A report in the Fielding Star, 10 April 1909, notes that
So far, over forty deer-stalking licenses have been issued from the Martinborough Post Office for the 1909 season.

Tourist Office staff overpowered by goats' heads

Otago Witness, 3 March 1909
An exceedingly fine collection of wild goat heads has just been received by the Tourist Department (says the Post). The horns on the heads are magnificent. The animals were shot in the Martinborough country, towards tho coast. Some of them are intended for the New Zealand court at the Franco-British Exhibition, where they should attract considerable attention from sportsmen.

They attract considerable attention already, and that is not confined to hunters, for the odour of the goats' heads is overpowering, and is experienced even in Panama Street. The staff at the Tourist Office has been doing all it could to deodorise the premises, but have used Friar's balsam for the purpose with astonishing effect. When the goats' heads leave for London they will have a fervent farewell from the tourist staff.

Getting from A to B a challenge in Northern Wairarapa

Clay roads in the northern Wairarapa proved a challenge for both horse-drawn transport and motor vehicles in the winter until the middle of the 20th century, as the roads turned to a sea of mud.

The sad tale of an Alfredton roadman

In the days before trucks and heavy earth-moving equipment, remote rural roads were maintained by roadmen who typically lived in a hut, or other modest accommodation, and lived a very isolated existence. If they became ill they had to manage as best they could.  They filled in potholes, cleared slips, worked in dry, dusty conditions in summer and coped with mud in winter.

Bill Reardon, roadman for Saunders Road, some miles from the nearest centre - Alfredton - kept a diary in 1903 which makes poignant reading. His closest - and possibly only - friend his horse Bloss.

Russian Jack

Wairarapa Archivist, Gareth Winter, writes -

For well nigh a hundred years swaggers were a common sight on the roads of Wairarapa. Men of all ages, all sizes and nearly all races, walked the dusty roads with all their worldly possessions tied in a swag held over their shoulder, usually balanced with a stick. Originally they were a mobile work force, moving from station to station, hoping to pick up seasonal work. Later they came to be men who were looking for a life of freedom on the road.

Pioneer Mary Burling dies

Mrs. Mary Burling, relict of the late Mr. Alfred Burling, one of the old pioneer settlers of the Wairarapa, died at the residence of her son, Mr. J. Burling, Upper Hutt, on Tuesday evening, says our Carterton correspondent. She had reached the age of 69 years.  Deceased was well known and highly respected in the district for her kindly disposition and sterling qualities. She leaves a family of nine. The daughters are :— Mesdames Holes (Belvedere), Burkitt (Whareama), Bovey (Tenui) [sic], Southey (Castlepoint), Duffy (Carterton), H. Rayner, jun. (Carterton), and the sons are Messrs. Alex. (Taneru)[sic], Fred. W. (Carterton), and John Burling (Upper Hutt). The interment is to take place at Masterton this afternoon.Evening Post, 13 March 1914, Women in Print

Mary Burling was born in about 1845 in County Armagh, Ireland, to William and Mary Gaffney. On 5 November 1862 she married Alfred Burling, son of Wairarapa pioneers Henry and Mary Burling.

Evening Post, 13 March 1914, Women in …

Secret drinking in Martinborough

While Martinborough has long been recognised as a wine industry pioneer, early last century the Catholic and Presbyterian churches were pressed into service - in a covert fashion - as bring-your-own pubs.

The Grey River Argus, of 28 September 1908, reports:
Several merry souls of Martinborough, who love nothing better than drinking deeply and long, have chosen most unlikely places for their bouts. For instance, on Saturday night the Martinborough night-watchman discovered a brace of drinkers in the Catholic Church. They had provided themselves with a reasonable store of liquor. The Presbyterian Church at Martinborough has been similarly utilised as a soakers' retreat, according to the Wairarapa Daily News.

Featherston Military Camp

B Company, 22nd reinforcements, on the Rimutaka Hill, 1917. The men are wearing toitoi on their hats. 00-38/

In January 1916 the biggest army training camp in New Zealand opened in Featherston. The camp occupied the land on both sides of the main road between Featherston and Tauherenikau. In 1916 the camp was the biggest settlement in the Wairarapa at a time when Masterton’s population was 5,500. It covered almost 30 hectares. Today there is only a memorial to the camp by State Highway 2.