|"Salisbury's Ferry" |
E.A.C. Thomas, photographer
Ngatimoti pioneers, the Salisbury family lived at Pokokoro on the west bank of the Motueka River.They kept a canoe near the confluence of the Graham and Motueka Rivers (pretty much where the Pokororo footbridge stands today) and ran a service transporting people and goods, including live sheep and bales of wool, from one side to the other. Foot passengers were charged a fee of sixpence. This became known as Salisbury’s Ferry.
There being no bridges for many years, up to nine other settlers also had punts and canoes operating on the river between the current Baton and Alexander Bluff Bridges, the Hodges family being one of them. Goldminers and farmers, Sydney Hodges & his brother William settled at the far end of the Graham Valley around 1880, where they each ran in turn an accommodation house at the South Branch of the Graham called "Glencoe” and had a service packing tourists, diggers and fossickers up to the Mt Arthur Tableland. They ran a canoe between Hodges’ Landing on the east bank and Cole’s Beach on the west and the Hodges family have claimed this photo as their own. However, there is a problem with this scenario as the dates don’t fit - Sydney’s son Ern, said to be in the canoe, wasn’t born until 1889, ten years after the photo was taken. Safe to say that it was in fact the one belonging to the Salisbury family.
The Salisbury brothers, John Park (Jack), Thomas (Tom) and Edward, became Ngatimoti’s first settlers when they bought 400 acres of land seventeen miles up the Motueka River in 1854. There being no track between Motueka and Ngatimoti until they themselves, with the help of six hired Maori, cleared one a bit later along the line of the present Waiwhero Road, their first move was to build themselves a canoe. As they began work on a tree trunk, an elderly Maori, seeing what they were up to, sat down and watched with great interest. Before too long, though, he leapt up in great agitation, gesticulating furiously as he demonstrated what they were doing wrong and how they should be proceeding. Recognising they had a master craftsman at hand, they promptly hired him to supervise and add the finishing touches to the project and in a very few days a canoe of beautiful lines emerged from the log and was given two coats of tar to make her seaworthy. She was launched and loaded with blankets, tools, tent, seed potatoes and every other thing likely to be useful in making a start on the new farm. It took three days of back-breaking toil to work their way up the Motueka River to their new home.
A later Ngatimoti settler, Cyprian Brereton, who recounted this tale in his book “No Roll of Drums”, commented that most settlers’ canoes were just “dugouts with flat sides and no grace or design. A Maori waka is a work of art, perfectly adapted for speed and stability. It is almost impossible to capsize them unless they are full of water. Salisbury’s canoe sat in the water like a duck”.
The photographer, Judge E.A.C. Thomas, was a relative of Col. Charles Thynne Thomas of “Dehra Doon”, Riwaka, a former British Army officer retired from service in India. Judge Thomas paid a family visit to the Motueka area during the first quarter of 1879. While staying in the area he spent quite a bit of time exploring the Mt Arthur Tableland, making drawings and taking a number of photographs as he went. I think it likely that someone colourised this photo later - experimentation with colour techniques had began but at this stage was very rarely used for standard photography.
Brereton, Cyprian Brereton (1947) No Roll of Drums. Wellington, NZ: A.H. & A.W. Reed
Beatson, Kath & Whelan, Helen (1993) The River Flows On: Ngatimoti Through Flood & Fortune. Nelson, NZ: Copy Press Ltd.
Tyree, Vern & Rita (nee Hodges), compilers (2004) Life Under Southern Skies. Nelson, NZ: Copy Press Ltd.
Salisbury, J.P. (John Park) (1907) After Many Days:Sketches in Australia and New Zealand. London: Harrison & Sons.
Salisbury, Neville (2006) Bush, Boots & Bridle Trails: The Salisburys of the Motueka and Aorere Valleys. Auckland, NZ: J.Neville Salisbury and Family.
Thomas, E.A.C., photographer
Alexander Turnbull Library, ref E-305q-019.