Settlers’ clearings

This is a paper I gave at an architecture symposium in Wellington today (5 December). The talk was a bit shorter than this printed version. What I don’t make very clear, because I expected my local audience would have known it, was that the land purchases by the New Zealand Company in Wellington in 1839 from Maori were very vague and ill-defined – leading to much dispute in coming years and decades. Maori also didn’t expect so many settlers to arrive so quickly.

The full title of the paper is: Settlers’ clearings: making a new home on Wellington’s country acres in the 1840s

Some quotes to ‘set the scene’:

The Maories [sic] have split into fencing poles the very trees I had cut down by my men to fence off what they call their ground and they are now taking possession of my own clearings. (Charles von Alzdorf, 1842)[i]

Their clearings have been very artistically done, and a good deal of bush left, in patches, so that it does not look so bare as most places about, and their great pride is a lawn in front of the house, now sown with oats, but which is to be real English grass, and which is already nearly free from stumps; at present the great disfigurement of the Hutt. (Charlotte Godley, 1850)[ii]

To make a clearing in the colonies was to erase what existed in nature in order to write a new narrative (Paul Fox, 2004)[iii]


clearing bush

William Swainson, Clearing Bush, Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, NZ, Ref: E-295-q-045

In 1839 the New Zealand Company pre-sold in London land orders for land in New Zealand, at that time neither seen, purchased, nor surveyed.[iv] There were to be 1100 sections and for £101 a purchaser bought one town acre and 100 rural acres (so the price was £1 per acre). As historian David Millar pointed out, an acre in Canada could be bought cheaper, but it was the town acre that was the draw card for speculators.[v]

The New Zealand Company settlers on arriving in Wellington were often dismayed to find so much forest in the surrounding valleys such as the Hutt and Karori, that they first had to clear, or at least had to make a clearing before they could settle on the rural 100-acre blocks.[vi]

This talk is not a comprehensive survey of the country areas surrounding early Wellington, but focuses on specific examples particularly in Karori and the Hutt Valley. As land was one of the main concerns for both Pakeha settlers and Maori in this decade I wanted to see how this played out in particular areas. Australian historian Paul Fox suggests that making a clearing was to write a new narrative. The Pakeha settlers wanted their story to be one of progress, of taming the wilderness with European plants and animals and bringing ‘civilisation’ – in other words starting to recreate another England. But did the reality match up? I am also interested in seeing what the new settlers put in their clearings so soon after making them. One landscape was created as another was destroyed.[vii]


Fig 1: Davies, R. H, Sketch of the country districts in the vicinity of Port Nicholson, New Zealand, Jan. 4th, 1843. London: Smith Elder for the New Zealand Company, 1843. Alexander Turnbull Library (ATL), MapColl 832.47gbbd 1843 457.

This 1843 sketch plots the New Zealand Company’s 100-acre rural sections.[viii] The green shows the town belt separating the town and country acres. The country acres stretch up to about Waikanae, round the Porirua harbour, Ohariu Valley, Makara, Karori, up the Hutt Valley, and around the east side of the harbour.


Mary Petre arrived in Wellington with her husband Henry on January 31st 1843 and noted in her diary: “I much admired the many little cottages with a small patch of cultivated ground about them, the rest being wild forest”.[ix]


Fig 2: Richard Baker, Major Baker’s cottage in May 1841 ATL Ref: ID: A-357-001

This image shows Major Baker’s cottage in May 1841 at the northern end of Thorndon Quay near Kaiwharawhara – showing clearings made and the landscape changing within the first 18 months of European settlement.[x]

Growing one’s own food was something early settlers with some land did. Some brought seeds and plants with them (although not all of them survived of course) or they acquired some in South Africa or Australia on their way out. Australian nurserymen could supply them; plants and seeds were also swapped among settlers; and as early as 1842 David Wilkinson had a nursery and ‘tea garden’ in Wellington[xi] … described by Mary Petre when she visited in March 1843 as “on top of the hill by Wellington Terrace… The gardens are very nice”. And a week later she “had a good walk through the bush to Wilkinson’s gardens” with three women friends.[xii]

In 1843 Charles Alzdorf also advertised plants and seeds for sale from his land in the Hutt Valley, including a few hundred young fruit trees and several thousand strawberry plants.[xiii]


One of the surrounding valleys that Pakeha settlers began settling in 1841 was Karori. In May 1843 Mary Petre took her usual walk up the Karori (now Tinakori) road noting they were cutting quantities of wood for the winter fires spoiling the beauty of the forest.[xiv]

Brees cottage Karori rd

Fig 3: S C Brees, Mr Brees’ cottage, Karori Road. [1842?] Drawn by S C Brees. Engraved by Henry Melville. London, 1849, ATL Ref: E-070-022

This image by Samuel Brees looking towards Tinakori Hill shows his cottage on Karori Road about that time. Brees’s house is the two-storey one in the middle distance.[xv] Brees was the New Zealand Company’s principal engineer and surveyor at this time and his watercolours were engraved and published when he returned to England. They usually give a positive impression of the land’s development potential, often with Maori and Pakeha seen harmoniously side by side. Taming or civilising the wilderness had been a European ideal for a long time and many of his images reinforce that ideal.

In 1844, Judge Henry Chapman bought the forested Section 35 in Karori from Alfred Ludlam (who we will meet again later as a Hutt Valley settler) and began making his clearings. In a letter to his father of 1 February 1845, he showed how he planned the clearings.


Fig 4: H Chapman, Plan of Clearings at Homewood, from Beryl Smedley ‘Homewood and its families’, p. 121

 The clearings were made in a square of about 10 acres. Figure 2 (on the left) shows the first year’s clearings – A, of about an acre and a half, being the first – it was planted with potatoes, cabbages and turnips but he expected to plant wheat in it the following season. B, C and D were subsequent clearings – burnt off a little before he intended by an accidental fire. Clearing C is to be his wife Kate’s parterre. He was also interested in the aesthetics – the arrows show the “direction of a beautiful and extensive prospect across the Kai Warra Warra [sic] valley to the Porirua road 2 miles distance.” He also expected the house when it was built to be a “beautiful object from the Porirua Road” – in other words, views out and in were important to him.[xvi] This echoes 16th century Italian architect Andrea Palladio’s idea that a villa should see and be seen.[xvii]

Figure 3 (on the right) was how he expected it to be in a year or two – he said the stumps (some marked K) must remain for several years until the lateral roots are gone, otherwise they “would be ruinous” to remove. He may convert some of the stumps into seats or cover them with creepers. F marked a “fine clump of” kahikatea trees that he intended to leave. The stockyard would probably be at site G, and the kitchen garden at H. He intended to have a greenhouse and also a separate place for the ‘frames’ (small structures for growing plants such as cucumbers) – he noted that glazing for frames cost 8 pence per foot here compared to 1 shilling 4 pence in England.[xviii] Glass was cheaper here because in England between 1746 and 1845 there was a tax on glass, but this was refunded when glass was exported.[xix]


Fig 5: John Pearse, Late residence of Mr Justice Chapman (now of J. Johnston Esq) [Homewood, Karori], 1852-1854, ATL Ref E-455-f-040-2.

This image shows the house the Chapmans began in 1846 and moved into in 1847. The October 1848 earthquakes destroyed his chimneys and the plaster in the sitting rooms.[xx]

In January 1852, after Chapman received a new position in Tasmania, Homewood was advertised for sale – it consisted of about 118½ acres of which about 30 were “more or less cleared…in such manner as to produce a picturesque effect, by preserving belts of trees and opening distant prospects”.[xxi]

My own more-humble ancestors – a great-great grandfather, Henry Jones, and his family – were living in Karori in 1843 and he barely made a living carting wood from the bush to sawyers (at 5 shillings per 100 feet), or carrying loads for surveying parties, or cutting and carting loads of firewood in his handmade wheelbarrow, or cutting shingles for roofing, from which he made about 25 to 30 shillings a week.[xxii] I have no image of the so-called ‘wattle and dab’ [sic] house he built about this time.[xxiii] But this drawing of a ‘settlers cottage’ at Petone by William Swainson may suffice.


Fig 6: William Swainson, 1846, ‘Settlers cottage, Petone Flat’, ATL Ref: A-186-053

I now want to focus on the Hutt Valley.

Of course Maori had made clearings before the European settlers arrived. Charles Heaphy on a reconnoitre visit up the Heretaunga (later Hutt) River in 1839 noted: “Here and there, on the bank, was a patch of cultivation and the luxuriant growth of potatoes, taros and kumeras indicated the richness of the soil.”[xxiv] As an employee of the New Zealand Company he was on the lookout for land for the European settlers’ country acres. Te Atiawa’s settlements clustered near the river estuary and consisted of six pa in 1839.[xxv] And Ngati Tama moved to Heretaunga in 1842, in response to settlers’ cattle trespassing on their land at Kaiwharawhara.[xxvi] It has been estimated that Maori cultivated 150 acres (or 61 hectares) in the Hutt Valley in 1845.[xxvii]

The New Zealand Company designated eighty 100-acre blocks for the Hutt Valley.[xxviii] As well as swamps, much of the valley floor and the hills were covered in forest as this image by William Mein Smith shows.


Fig 7: William Mein Smith, A road through bush (probably Hutt Valley), c. 1842, ATL Ref: B-009-013

Although not labelled as such, this is thought to depict making the road from Petone to Taita, for which Smith was chief surveyor. In such a spread-out, heavily forested area, roads were important to connect people and for getting to and from the country sections. Artists’ views in this period quite often show a road – again reinforcing the ideal of taming the wilderness.[xxix]

One Hutt ‘gentleman’ settler was Henry Petre. He had been in New Zealand in 1840, but returned to England where he published a book in 1842 giving a very positive account of the many plants and crops that could be expected to grow in New Zealand.[xxx] He returned in 1843 with his bride, Mary, who kept a diary for the first two years and from which I have quoted previously. On arrival the Petres first lived in Wellington but soon leased a house and land in the Hutt – in June 1843 they started to move some of their belongings, despite flooding there at the time.

Mary noted that: “the natives seem very troublesome to the settlers in the Valley. The other day they tore down a house and threw it and the contents into the river … they wanted the land for potatoe [sic] gardens.”[xxxi] This is an indication of the disputed land sales of course, but these ‘troubles’ do not bother her and she continues her ‘jolly’ walks on the ‘Pitoni’ road.[xxxii]

Mary Swainson (daughter of another Hutt Valley ‘gentleman’ settler, William Swainson) had been surprised at the Petres choice of land as it was swampy and ‘barren’; but the inducement was “food for his [22] horses”, as part of the land had already been cultivated and some planted with grass and clover.[xxxiii]

In August the Petres commenced dismantling their house for the move to the Hutt – again, despite reports of floods, and at the end of August they moved (including Mary’s piano, a large cart of furniture topped with chickens, rabbits, pheasants, turkeys and her ‘dear old peacock’!) On their first wet day at their house (8 September 1843), she noted it was rather leaky.[xxxiv] They immediately began laying out their garden in front of the house. They were cutting hay in November and on 27 November she worked all day in the garden then walked with Henry up the new road to see the just commenced building of a bridge across the river.[xxxv]


Fig 8: William Swainson, Hutt Bridge, 1847 (Te Papa Ref: 1916-0001-22)

The first Hutt Bridge, which was only for pedestrian traffic, opened in April 1844 – the second bridge which opened in 1847, could handle wheeled traffic.[xxxvi] Most of the settlement was along the river as this was the best transport route until more forest was cleared and more roads could be made.

On 7 December 1843 Mary noted two items in her diary: “the natives of Petone are casting bullets and making other preparations to attack the gaol. Mr Molesworth invited us to the first strawberry and cream feast in New Zealand next Saturday. He promises each person a quart of strawberries – what I shall do next year”. As well as the strawberries and cream they had green peas and potatoes and were all reminded of England by walking in the large garden and picking black currants and cherries.[xxxvii]

On 3 January 1844 she noted that “Henry commenced building a new house.”[xxxviii]

G Swainson

Fig 9: George Swainson, Herongate: The Petres’ first house, ATL Ref: A-188-013

This image shows the Petres first house drawn by William Swainson’s son George, and the swampy land.

Another Hutt Valley home in a clearing was that of naturalist William Swainson. Swainson rented three 100-acre Hutt sections. In May 1842 the Swainsons still lived in Wellington (next to Major Baker) but in a letter ‘home’ one of Swainson’s sons noted: “We are at present busy in getting a large house built” in the Hutt. They already had a small one there and had cleared about 4 or 5 acres, with a “very fine crop of potatoes, turnips and cabbages but I hope next year we shall have 20 or 30 acres cleared though it is a very expensive operation. In some areas the stumps are so large and numerous you are obliged to leave them in until they decay which most likely will not be for 5 or 6 years and plant your potatoes around them.”[xxxix]

Swainson H

Fig 10: William Swainson, Hawkshead, 1845, Te Papa Ref: 1916-0001-8

This image shows the Swainsons house, which looked like a thatched-roof English cottage, in its largely stump-free clearing. The original cottage became the detached kitchen – that is it on the left.[xl]

Mary Swainson noted in a letter that Maori had cleared about 80 acres of the land they ‘took’ from her father and had got one crop of wheat off it.[xli] However, the newspaper editor was not very sympathetic to William Swainson on this matter, noting that some Hutt settlers would be grateful if the ‘natives’ had selected their land to clear.[xlii] This is more evidence of the land disputes – this one was still ongoing in 1844.[xliii]

In 1843 William Swainson wrote a report on his experiments in clearing and planting – he deduced that fields of not more than two acres each encircled by shelter belts were the “most judicious system upon which land in windy situations can be cleared”.[xliv]

The Swainsons began the move to the Hutt in June 1843, although it must have been a cold winter as the two clay chimneys weren’t completed until 1844 and they were weatherboarding the house in March 1844.[xlv] The house had four rooms downstairs and six upstairs.[xlvi] Mary wrote in June 1844 that she was lining her room with the calico her grandmother had sent from England – the walls were first papered with newspaper, and then with the ‘proper’ paper from England that was left after the rats ate most of it – enough for her small room.[xlvii]

Mary had a flower garden surrounded by a fence of felled trees, which, however soon caught fire, destroying many of her flowers.[xlviii] Historian Katherine Raine suggests that “ornamental plants were living ties to ‘home’ but also expressed optimism and determination about re-establishing a ‘civilised’ way of life”.[xlix] Mary herself said that she found “gardening the greatest amusement that a person could have, particularly up here, where there is not much society, or I might say, any.”[l]

In February 1848 fire destroyed half the Swainsons house and all their provisions and agricultural implements.[li] And the October 1848 earthquakes caused more damage.[lii]


Fig 11: W M Smith, Molesworth’s residence, 1844, ATL Ref: A 263-006

Francis Molesworth, another Hutt settler, brought a prefabricated house with him.[liii] This image also shows wheat growing near the house and a haystack on the right. In these early days, an owner had to get the most out of a clearing and could not always have a picturesque but unproductive grass lawn. Molesworth and Alfred Ludlam owned the flour mill that was built on Molesworth’s farm in 1845.


Fig 12: S C Brees, Pictorial Illustrations of New Zealand, title page, Illustration of ‘Mr Molesworth’s Farm’ showing windmill, by S C Brees (inset on page 1 of his book Pictorial Illustrations of New Zealand, 1847.)

Molesworth was seriously injured in an accident and went back to England where he died in 1846. Ludlam advertised the flour mill for sale in 1848.[liv]

However, as early as 1844 Mary Swainson had noted that wheat was being imported, “much to the detriment of those who grow it, for there is not so much want of the Hutt flour”, as that from Valparaiso (Chile) was cheaper; and potatoes “will not pay on account of the natives growing and selling them”, therefore they only grow them for their own consumption.[lv] In 1846 William Swainson noted it wasn’t economical to grow crops except for their own supply as labour costs were too high.[lvi] By the late 1840s and 1850s the larger Hutt farms were turning to pastoralism.[lvii]

One thing most of the men discussed so far had in common was their involvement with the Wellington Horticultural Society, which was formed in 1841 with the first exhibition held in January 1842.[lviii] In 1843 Colonel Wakefield, as president, presented the first annual report of the Society noting it had 132 members. They were gratified at the interest shown by working men – “by inducing them to employ their leisure in their gardens you have one of the best means of attaching them to the settlement” and also in encouraging habits of “industry and temperance”.[lix]


By mid-decade tensions over land were coming to a head in parts of New Zealand, and forts were built in the Hutt and Karori. Fort Richmond in the Hutt was occupied by troops of the 58th Regiment in April 1845.[lx]

Brees hutt

Fig 13: S C Brees, The Fort Richmond. Hutt Bridge, 1845, ATL Ref: B-031-035

In 1846 when fighting broke out in the Hutt many of the Pakeha settlers temporarily left. Then, clearings could serve another purpose as British army officer Godfrey Mundy noted: “The clearings are encumbered with gigantic felled trees … affording excellent cover for an enemy clever at skirmishing”, so, despite the new military road through the Hutt, he did not believe it would be truly safe until “both sides have been cleared to the distance of a musket shot, and that can only be done gradually by the axe and the settler.”[lxi]

Interestingly, of the March 1846 horticultural show the newspaper reported that there were “not many competitors of wheat and barley, but this may be accounted for by the disturbed state of the country districts”. However, the report went on to note that the “natives, however, were in force in greater numbers than we remember on any previous occasion; there were not less than seventy competitors exhibiting wheat and various vegetables”. Nine Maori received prizes for melon, pumpkin, marrow, potatoes, wheat, and cumera [sic].[lxii]

In October 1846 William Swainson noted that the “Hutt looks wretchedly – houses empty, fences broken down, roads over fields and through crops and all the traces and effects of military despotism, i.e. martial law. I am now the only ‘gentleman settler’…”[lxiii]

However, by 1847 when the fighting was over, Maori were cultivating only 55 acres in the Hutt, down from the 150 estimate of 1845.[lxiv] On returning to the Hutt some of the Pakeha settlers soon built new houses, for example the Petres and Ludlams, and William Swainson (junior) was employed as superintendent of building the road from the Hutt to the Wairarapa.[lxv]


Fig 14: W. M. Smith, Petres’ house in the Hutt, 1850, ATL ref: C-112-040

This shows the new Petre house that was built in 1849.[lxvi] This would be the residence visited by Charlotte Godley in 1850 with its artistic clearings (as noted in the quote at the beginning). The Petres’ conservatory attached on the left side of the house can also be seen in William Mein Smith’s watercolour. Millar describes the house as having a lathe and plaster exterior in imitation of an Essex farm house – raised on piles two or three feet high because of flooding, which Mrs Godley noted “makes it very cold, as of course the boards do not fit”.[lxvii] This is the Ludlams new house with a large conservatory.


Fig 15: Alfred Ludlam’s house, Watercolour by F. D. Bell; Hocken Library, reproduced from Shepherd, p. 29

Ludlam wrote an essay in the 1860s on how he had cultivated his renowned garden, basically by using native shrubs as shelter to nurture the introduced species, and removing the natives once the young plants had grown.[lxviii] Ludlam’s house and grounds (under different ownership) became McNab’s and then Bellevue Gardens. The house was probably destroyed by fire in 1916.[lxix]

 Charlotte Godley had noted on one of her visits to the Hutt in 1850: “conservatories you see to almost all the good houses…”[lxx] Alfred Ludlam was growing grapes in a greenhouse by March 1846.[lxxi] At the 1849 horticultural show a ‘magnificent orange’ was grown in Henry Petre’s greenhouse at the Hutt.[lxxii] However, at the December 1850 Wellington horticultural exhibition the newspaper report said the society was ‘retrograding’, as the present exhibition is not to be compared with former years.[lxxiii]

Another Hutt settler, William Trotter, was a professional gardener who helped Molesworth, Ludlam and the Petres with their gardens at various times. He also had his own garden and grew fruit and vegetables of many sorts, oats, corn, hay, flowers, and he also had a labyrinth comprised of fruit trees and based on the maze at Hampton Court Palace but on a smaller scale.[lxxiv] In a letter of 11 January 1850 he mentioned his labyrinth: “if you were to see it now, my fine trained trees covered with excellent fruit, you would say it looks quite as well as the Royal Yew Hedge at Hampton Court, and answers my purpose much better when I can get 3/- per dozen for my fruit”.[lxxv]


I am aware that I have focussed mostly on an elite world. In fact most Pakeha Hutt settlers did not own their own land – in 1845 65% of the Hutt land owners were English absentees and a further 20% were in New Zealand but not living on their land.[lxxvi] Not only did the absentees invest little money but they often expected too much rent, and an effect was that the settlers were fairly widely scattered and expected roads to be built to link them.[lxxvii] Not unexpectedly, with so much forest to be cleared, 27% of the Hutt settlers were sawyers in 1845 – and considered to be a fairly prosperous class of men.[lxxviii] The great majority of farmers had small plots that they rented or bought from the absentees – William Swainson described them in 1847 as ‘farming-labourers’ who cultivated five to ten acres and sold their labour as sawyers or labourers to make ends meet.[lxxix]


So did the reality of the first decade of European settlement on Wellington’s country acres match the ideals? It could hardly do so when the first settlers left England before the land had even been purchased, when the purchases were so contested, and the land more heavily forested than expected. There was an economic depression from about 1842 to 1846;[lxxx] although, at least the wealthier settlers were building houses (or erecting ones brought out), making gardens, growing introduced produce in conservatories, experimenting with various crops like wheat, and having horticultural shows – soon they realised that growing wheat wasn’t economical, and the horticultural shows faltered in the 1850s.[lxxxi] The major earthquake of 1848 would also be a set-back. In 1848 only 85 of the original 436 Wellington colonists remained at Port Nicholson.[lxxxii]

Nevertheless, many of the images of houses in a cleared space were also intended to show how they were domesticating or taming the ‘wilderness’, emphasising their ‘civilising’ influence. Most of these images (except for some of William Swainson’s sketches) are of reasonably substantial houses belonging to gentlemen farmers. I am not sure how many of them planned their clearings as Henry Chapman in Karori did, or experimented as William Swainson and Alfred Ludlam in the Hutt did, but in any case, fires getting out of control could destroy the best of plans. Aesthetics may have been important, but often had to give way to practicalities – as the quote at the beginning from Charlotte Godley indicates: “their great pride is a lawn in front of the house, now sown with oats, but which is to be real English grass” (my emphasis).

After the fighting in the Hutt, the position of Maori in the region was changed for the worse, and they had lost a lot of their cultivation grounds. According to McKinnon, although they could still grow and sell produce and work for wages, they had lost control over the region.[lxxxiii]

With floods, fires, earthquakes, ‘improvements’ and time destroying these early houses, the most lasting changes to the landscape that these early settlers made were the cleared forests, introduced species, and roads. The landscape was irrevocably changed and it all began with some clearings.


Belich, James, Replenishing the Earth: The Settler Revolution and the Rise of the Anglo-World 1783-1939, Oxford University Press, 2007

Brees, S. C. Guide and Description of the Panorama of New Zealand… London: Savill and Edwards, 1849?

Brees, S. C. Pictorial Illustrations of New Zealand, London 1847 (1968 facsimile, Avon Fine Prints, Christchurch)

Burke, Rebecca, ‘“Friendly relations between the two races were soon established”? Pākehā interactions with Māori in the planned settlements of Wellington, Nelson and New Plymouth, 1840-1860’, A thesis submitted to Victoria University of Wellington in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Maori Studies, Victoria University of Wellington, 2014, p. 75, accessed 27 July 2014

Cosgrove, Denis, The Palladian Landscape, Pennsylvania State University, 1993

‘Delta’ [pseud], “Short sketch of the life of Mr Henry Jones”, c. 1896, Wairarapa Archive digital copy online: Ref 92-92/

Fox, Paul, Clearings: Six Colonial Gardeners and their Landscapes, The Miegunyah Press, Melbourne University Press, 2004

Godley, Charlotte, Letters from Early New Zealand by Charlotte Godley, 1850-1853, John Godley (ed), Christchurch: Whitcombe & Tombs Ltd, 1951

Grant, Fiona, Glasshouses, UK: Shire Publications, 2013

Hajdamach, Charles, ‘The Glass Excise’ in British Glass 1800-1914, Antique Collectors Club, Suffolk, 1995, pp. 125-130.

Ludlam, Alfred, ‘Essay on the Acclimatization of trees and plants’, Transactions and Proceedings of the Royal Society of New Zealand 1868-1961, Vol. 1, 1868, accessed 22 July 2014

McKinnon, Malcolm (ed), Bateman New Zealand Historical Atlas / Ko Papatuanuku e Takoto Nei, Auckland, 1997, plate 32

Marshall, Mary [nee Swainson] Letters, Copied, 1960 from originals held by Miss E P Marshall, Wellington, Alexander Turnbull Library ref: MSX-8808

Millar, David, Once upon a village: a history of Lower Hutt, 1819-1965, New Zealand University Press for the Lower Hutt City Corporation, 1972

The New Zealand Journal, June 6 1840, accessed online 9 July 2014

Park, Geoff, Nga Uruora: The Groves of Life, Victoria University Press, 2003

Patrick, Margaret, (ed. K Wood), From Bush to Suburb: Karori 1840-1980, Karori Historical Society, 1990

Petre, Hon Henry, An account of the Settlements of the New Zealand Company, London: Elder & Co, 1842 (Reprint by Capper Press, Christchurch, 1971)

Petre, Mary Ann Eleanor, Diary 1842-44, photocopied transcript by June Starke, Alexander Turnbull Library ref: 2003-228-05

Raine, Katherine, ‘The Settlers’ gardens: 1840s-1860s’ in Matthew Bradbury The History of the Garden in New Zealand, Viking 1995, pp 64-85

Shepherd, Winsome, Wellington’s Heritage: plants, gardens, landscape, Te Papa Press 2000

Smedley, Beryl, Homewood and its families: A story of Wellington, Mallinson Rendel, Wellington, 1980

Swainson, Geoffrey (ed), William Swainson, F. R. S., F. L. S. Naturalist & Artist – Family letters and diaries 1809-1855: Final destiny New Zealand. Transcribed, edited and published by Geoffrey Swainson, Palmerston North, 1992

Trotter, William, Gardening Diary. The diary covers 1850 to 1861 and the original contains plant specimens between the pages. Alexander Turnbull Library, MS-Copy-Micro-0229 (microfilm of MS-2163)

Waitangi Tribunal (2003) Te Whanganui a Tara me ona Takiwa (Report on the Wellington District), Wellington: Waitangi Tribunal, Wai 145

Ward, Louis E., Early Wellington, Whitcombe and Tombs Limited, 1928, Auckland


[i] In a letter to George White, Magistrate, Petone, 22 August 1842; quoted in Winsome Shepherd, p. 26

[ii] Charlotte Godley commenting on a visit to the Hutt in 1850 made this observation of the Petres residence;  p. 74

[iii] Fox,  p. xv

[iv] (Appx 45,000 hectares). Reported at the first general meeting of shareholders in May 1840, The New Zealand Journal, June 6 1840

[v] Millar,  p. 8

[vi] For example, John Plimmer commented on the ‘hills and valleys covered with primeval forests’ in “The Life of John Plimmer” ATL, MS-Papers-2005-1, 1901, p.8; quoted in Rebecca Burke, p. 75

[vii] Fox, introduction

[viii] R. H Davies, ‘Sketch of the country districts in the vicinity of Port Nicholson, New Zealand’, Jan. 4th, 1843 (ATL)

[ix] Mary Ann Eleanor Petre, Diary, p. 21

[x] Richard Baker is the artist. ATL Ref: ID: A-357-001

[xi] New Zealand Colonist and Port Nicholson Advertiser, 23 December 1842, Page 4

[xii] Petre diary, p. 29

[xiii] New Zealand Gazette and Wellington Spectator, 2 August 1843, Page 1

[xiv] Petre diary, p. 35

[xv] Information from Alexander Turnbull Library website accompanying image

[xvi] Smedley, p. 122

[xvii] Palladio said one ought not to build in valleys as edifices are there deprived of seeing at a distance and of being seen. Quoted in Denis Cosgrove, p. 105

[xviii] H Chapman, reproduced in Beryl Smedley, Appendix 1 (pp. 121-124). See also Winsome Shepherd, pp. 63-64.

[xix] There is a useful chapter on the tax and all its complexities in: Charles Hajdamach, pp. 125-130. See also Fiona Grant, Glasshouses

[xx] Chapman letter, quoted in Smedley, p. 39.

[xxi] Wellington Independent, 24 January 1852, Page 1

[xxii] “Short sketch of the life of Mr Henry Jones”, by ‘Delta’. See also: Margaret Patrick, p. 14 records that the first Methodist baptism in Karori was of Mary Jones (Henry’s daughter) on 12 Nov 1843.

[xxiii] “Short sketch of the life of Mr Henry Jones”, by ‘Delta’, c. 1896

[xxiv] Park, p. 86

[xxv] Ibid, p. 92

[xxvi] Waitangi Tribunal,  p. 198

[xxvii] McKinnon, plate 32

[xxviii] Shepherd, p. 18

[xxix] For example, William Fox sketched ‘views’ on various roads in the 1850s – these are in the Hocken Library collection. They include: On the Porirua Road near Crofton; On the Ohario Road; On the Ngauranga Rd; On the Karori Road; On the Sumner Road; they can be found by searching here

[xxx] Hon Henry Petre

[xxxi] Petre diary, p. 43. The house belonged to someone called Storey as reported in New Zealand Gazette and Wellington Spectator, 10 June 1843, Page 2

[xxxii] Petre diary, August 1843, p. 56

[xxxiii] Mary Marshall [nee Swainson] letters, May 21 1843. Shepherd, p. 20, gives the total as 22

[xxxiv] Petre diary, pp. 57 – 62

[xxxv] Petre diary, pp. 68 – 78

[xxxvi] Millar, p. 52; S. C Brees, Guide and Description of the Panorama of New Zealand… London: Savill and Edwards, 1849?, p26

[xxxvii] Petre diary, pp. 80-81

[xxxviii] Petre diary, p. 86

[xxxix] Swainson letters ATL: MSX-8805; 1 May 1842, J W J Swainson to his grandfather John Parkes.

[xl] Shepherd, p. 46

[xli] Swainson letters, ATL: MSX-8805, Mary Swainson to her aunt, 19 February 1843?

[xlii] New Zealand Colonist and Port Nicholson Advertiser, 20 December 1842, Page 2

[xliii] Swainson, journal of Henry Swainson, 18 March 1844: ‘the natives began a large line to divide (as they say) their land and the land which has been bought’, p. 103

[xliv] Nelson Examiner and New Zealand Chronicle, 7 January 1843, Page 176

[xlv] Swainson, p. 97; journal of Henry Swainson 21 Feb 1844 – fetched clay for the chimneys, p. 101 and again on 1 April 1844, p. 103; 7 March – began weatherboarding the house, p. 102

[xlvi] Mary Swainson drew a plan of it which is reproduced in Geoffrey Swainson (ed), p. 95

[xlvii] Swainson, p. 109

[xlviii] Swainson, p. 100; p. 102

[xlix] Raine, pp 64-85

[l] Swainson, p. 100

[li] Shepherd, p. 47

[lii] Swainson, pp. 137-138

[liii] Shepherd, p. 22

[liv] Wellington Independent, 30 September 1848, Page 1

[lv] Swainson, p. 100. See: Nelson Examiner and New Zealand Chronicle, 5 August 1843, Page 293 for an advertisement for ‘500 bags of South American first flour’. Flour was also imported from Australia.

[lvi] Shepherd, p. 46

[lvii] Shepherd p. 51

[lviii] Shepherd, p.24

[lix] New Zealand Colonist and Port Nicholson Advertiser, 24 January 1843, Page 2

[lx] Brees, Pictorial Illustrations, p. 22

[lxi] Quoted in Park, p. 79

[lxii] New Zealand Spectator and Cook’s Strait Guardian, 21 March 1846, Page 2

[lxiii] Swainson, p. 128

[lxiv] McKinnon, plate 32

[lxv] Swainson,  p. 129

[lxvi] Swainson,  p. 143 – the Petres expect to move into their new house in less than two months.

[lxvii] Millar, p 55

[lxviii] Ludlam

[lxix] ‘Big blaze at Lower Hutt’, Evening Post, 7 December 1916, Page 8, says that Mr Ludlam built the house which formed the old part of the building now destroyed.

[lxx] Godley, p. 44. The Godleys stayed in Wellington for 6 months before going to Christchurch.

[lxxi] New Zealand Spectator and Cook’s Strait Guardian, 21 March 1846, Page 2

[lxxii] New Zealand Spectator and Cook’s Strait Guardian, 21 November 1849, Page 3

[lxxiii] Wellington Independent, 25 December 1850, Page 2

[lxxiv] Shepherd, p. 36

[lxxv] Quoted in Ward, also in Hutt News, 11 December 1930, Page 13. See also William Trotter, 1796-1873, Gardening Diary.

[lxxvi] Millar, p 46.

[lxxvii] Millar.

[lxxviii] Millar, p 49

[lxxix] Millar, p. 51

[lxxx] Belich, pp. 270-271

[lxxxi] An attempt to revive the Wellington Horticultural Society was noted in 1856, Lyttelton Times, 11 October 1856, p. 8

[lxxxii] Millar, p. 9

[lxxxiii] McKinnon, plate 32.


One thought on “Settlers’ clearings

  1. Hi Vivienne, thanks for the ‘Settlers’ article, it is well researched and is interesting heritage reading for a video documentary we are making on the heritage of Te Omanga Hospice (9.2017).
    I see that your most recent blog concerns Saint Mary of the Angels – I am part of the documentary team (2 person) for this exciting documentary, too! We are very busy editing the 50 minute public documentary which will premiere later in 2017. Kind regard, Barbara Gibb.


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