Sunday, April 12, 2015

Our Place: Mud Houses, Schools and Sundry Remnants

864 Waiwhero Road, Ngatimoti : An Evolution

You can’t read many accounts of early European settlement in New Zealand without coming across a mention of “mud houses”. Typically early arrivals first lived in tents, but soon looked for sturdier accommodation. Certainly, stories of Ngatimoti’s pioneers contain frequent references to “mud houses” or "whares" (huts) a borrowing from the Māori word for a small native dwelling.

Cob cottage at Mount Gladstone station in the Awatere, 1880s

“Mud houses” were made of what we better know as cob. Cob cottages had many uses, and even when replaced by "proper" wooden houses, still made handy shelters or outbuildings and were very durable as long as they were thatched securely, usually with toi toi or raupo. An original cob room or two could often be found in later homesteads. In the early days it wasn't uncommon for landowners to commute while they cleared and planted their land, working on their outlying farms and living in a "mud whare" for days on end, returning home periodically to their families based in the nearest settlement. Cob builders were versatile. Earth could be substituted for clay and other substances like animal dung were often added. The reinforcing could be any suitable vegetation at hand, shredded native flax being a favourite. Horses were a rarity in the very early days and bullocks may have been used for the trampling instead. Many poorer settlers, who had no implements or livestock, used their own hard labour (and probably their childrens') to do the mixing. In his history of the Awatere, A.L Kennington describes the standard process:

"Only the door, window frames and roof supports are made of wood. In the usual process of building cob, the clay would be softened with water to the right degree, and plenty of chopped up tussock would be added to act as reinforcing. The mixture was then thoroughly trampled, usually by riding a horse around in it. The walls were built layer by layer with this material, and if things went well an eighteen inch thick wall could rise a foot a day. it remained soft enough for the preceding day's layer to be trimmed with a spade before being added to. At the end of each day the horse would be ridden up and down in the nearest creek to clean his legs." (1)

Sections 63 & 64, Block X,  Motueka Survey District.
The inset block is the Ngatimoti School section 
conveyed to the Education Board in 1874.
The farm where our own house now stands, on the north side of a ridge along Waiwhero Road, close to St James Church, once hosted the first Ngatimoti School. It opened on August 17, 1868, sixteen years before the church was built, on land belonging to the property’s first owner, George Young. He had settled here with his brother Henry sometime around 1864, and by 1865 they are registered on the electoral roll for Motueka as "farmers, freeholders and householders, Nga Timoti". They owned, and ran as a single unit, two adjoining sections of Crown Grant land at Ngatimote (sic - the spelling was variable for some time), situated in Block X, Motueka Survey District, within the Nelson Province. (2) The Youngs are something of a mystery - that they came from and returned to England is all we know of the background of this pair, though they appear to have been affable and obliging chaps, and must have been men of some means and education.

Henry Young had Section 63, an 85 acre block of land which took in the flats at the base of Church Hill and crossed Waiwhero Road to include a small triangle of land on the further side of the Orinoco River, with a small hill upon which a home built by Graeme Marshall now stands. George's piece, Section 64, was 198 acres. It started at the top of the Waiwhero ridge and went down the hill to the creek at the bottom of the valley. Both blocks ran from that creek up and over the long hill on the far side to about the area marked today by Syder Road. Between them, the Youngs also owned and leased several other blocks of land in the area. (3) The whole of the Motueka Valley was then densely covered in native forest, alive with birds and insects. The only access to Ngatimoti from Motueka was a track originally hacked out of the bush by the Salisbury brothers through boggy Lower Moutere and the Waiwhero swamps, bumpily corduroyed with logs at the wettest spots and just wide enough for a bullock dray to traverse.  At first there was no road at all from Motueka around the river, though by the early 1870s, when Henry Young was a member of the Pangatotara Road Board, work was underway on a Pangatotara cart track.

Spilt-slab timber hut at Ngatimoti 1867
The Young brothers' home would have
been similar to this
The Youngs lived in a timber slab hut fronting the roadside. (4) The exact spot is unknown, but all indications put it on the site where the current house stands. By 1867 they had enough land cleared to be farming 112 sheep. They ran a small shop selling provisions and Henry served as both Ngatimoti’s first schoolmaster from 1868 to 1870 and first postmaster from 1870 to 1874. It's not clear when he left the district, but he is still listed at his Ngatimoti Section 63 on the electoral roll for 1880-1881. Deeds held at the Motueka Museum show that he was leasing another block of land he owned on the West Bank - Section 107, Square 7  - to the Brereton brothers, William and John. The last date recorded on this lease is 15 December 1880, and all three parties signed at the time. 

George is thought to have left the area in 1872 and his Section 64 sold on his behalf by Henry in 1874. The acre of land George had donated for the Ngatimoti school was then conveyed to the Education Board. At this point the schoolroom took on an additional role in the community - as a place of worship on alternating Sundays for the Anglican, Wesleyan and Plymouth Brethren congregations of Ngatimoti. Wesleyans shared alternate Sundays with the Brethren; Wesleyan services being held in the morning and Plymouth Brethren assemblies in the afternoons. Anglican services moved to St James Church after its consecration in 1884 and the Wesleyans soon set up in a meeting hall at Pangatotara, but the Brethren continued to meet at the schoolroom until their own meeting hall was built down Church Hill around the start of the twentieth century.

The Waiwhero Valley home of James George Deck
and his blended family, as drawn by J.G. Deck himself
The Plymouth Brethren had a strong following in Ngatimoti, thanks to the influence of James George Deck, an ex-East India Company Army officer and charismatic preacher who came to New Zealand on the Cornwall in 1852 with the Salisburys and Vyvyans and settled for a period along Waiwhero Road after buying Sections 41- 45, at first living in a collection of tents and whares. His property, with timber-framed and shingle-roofed mud house (a large one, with seventeen rooms to accommodate his large family) was situated where the Paratiho Lodge Farm is located today. For a short while it was the centre for an idealistic community of similarily high-minded friends - the Griffins and Bryants being amongst those who took up land adjacent to the Decks' farm for this purpose. Poor, infertile land and an almost total absence of practical farming experience made this a disastrous experiment for all concerned. Though remaining friends, they went their separate ways, returning thankfully to what counted as civilization in colonial New Zealand. (5)  During this time the third of J.G. Deck's sons by his first wife Alicia (nee Feild), also James George but always known as George, fell victim to the "Waiwhero curse", suffering a badly broken leg which put paid to heavy physical work. Highly educated, like all the Deck children (both boys and girls), he turned instead to school-teaching as a career. He served as widely-respected headmaster at Lower Moutere School from 1874 to 1896. He was also a preacher, and converted several prominent Lower Moutere families to the Brethren movement - Hewetson and Wills among them.

Frances "Chum" (nee Win), Mrs Fred Biggs, stands at the back of the old Remnant house 
which incorporated Ngatimoti's possible first unofficial "mud room" school.
Now you see it...

While the Anglican Church promulgated the old English class system, Deck's teachings were democratic, tolerant and ecumenical in style, very appealing to new colonists looking for a more egalitarian social order. Although there were stoushes of the sort to be expected in a small rural community settled by a number of strong personalities, religion doesn't seem to have been a point of conflict. Brethren and Anglicans were of equal numbers in the Motueka Valley and generally worked and lived together with a great deal of good will. However, Deck's ecumenical approach didn't please everyone - when word of his open advocacy of Christian unity got back to his more Exclusively-disposed Brethren in England there was a ruckus, and a delegation of leading lights led by J.N. Darby came out to New Zealand to set him back on the straight and narrow. Consequently Deck went with the Exclusive party and most of the local assemblies he'd established followed his lead, along with his son George. His sons John and Samuel Deck, however, chose to go with the Open Brethren.

Now you don't.
 The sprawling old Remnant home has been replaced by a single-storey bungalow. 
Rex Biggs recalls his grandfather, Ron Biggs, uncle Arthur and father Fred
working on the conversion when he was a young boy.

Gold fever briefly consumed Ngatimoti with the discovery of gold at Waiwhero around 1854. Up to 500 men were said to have swarmed the site, today close tp Durrants'. They had a camp on the flat opposite the Waiwhero Cemetery. and from there spread up the Waiwhero Stream. Gold was also found at the Baton in 1856, so for a time it was a common sight to see diggers with their swags tramping and slashing their way up the Waiwhero and Neudorf trails. Although these findings did contribute to the wealth of the Motueka township and the creation of more access trackways, they never warranted a real boom in the area - those who profited the most being the boat owners who ferried hopeful diggers and their gear from Nelson to Motueka and often as not caught them again on the rebound as they as returned, sadder but wiser. Some decided to move on and try their luck at the Baton goldfield instead.
Burkett's claim
at the Slate River, Collingwood.

This wasn't true of the Aorere goldrush in 1857, which saw the township of Collingwood grow exponentially. A number of residents from Motueka and surrounding districts made their way over to Golden Bay to try their luck and two at least did well;Thomas Hewetson from Lower Moutere and Graham Greenwood, son of Motueka pioneers Dr Danforth & Sarah Greenwood whho had a very successful alluvial gold-mining claim at Richmond Hill, Collingwood. He used his windfall to buy the old Deck farm in the Waiwhero Valley, which unfortunately was not a financial success. He sold up and instead moved to Gisborne, where he held the position of Official assignee for. many years.

Thomas Salisbury went exploring in search of grazing in 1863 and discovered the Mount Arthur Tableland. His claim in a letter published in the "Colonist" of 27 March 1863 "That the whole of this table land possesses all the properties of a rich gold field, I have not the slighest doubt", set off a flurry of activity as would-be diggers headed for the hills. A goldfield township plan was drawn up and at one stage a store and butchery were on site, as described by Edward Mytton, who as a youngster packed up supplies in 1870, including plentiful bottles of the diggers' favourite tipple, Perry Davis' Patented Pain Killer. However access was difficult, conditions rugged and any gold hard-won .By 1875 the area was no longer legally classed a goldfield and Ngatimoti locals began taking stock up to the Tableland to supplement grazing, a practice that continued until the Cobb dam was built. The area retained its fascination though, and diggers continued to work claims up there into the 20th century, joined in time by fossickers, tourists, artists and naturalists, catered for by accommodation houses and packers based near the end of the Graham Valley trail.

Diggers on the Tableland track.
Sketch by John Henry Lowe
A mystery attaches to the story that pased down through two generations of the Remnant family to the Biggses, that the remains of Ngatimoti's first school, described as two “mud rooms”, were incorporated in the rambling home which had grown up around them by the time the property was bought from the Remnants in 1944 by Fred Biggs. Those mud rooms with their earthen floors proved a housewife's nightmare to keep clean and were demolished, along with the old house itself, which was replaced on the same site by the current dwelling in the mid-1950s. A lot of original material was recycled (once, when we replaced a glass door panel broken by an over-enthusiastic child, we found it had been packed with newspaper dated 1891), so the old house lives on today to some extent in the more recent one. (6)

Four Remnant brothers, sons of William and Sarah (nee Edwards) Remnant from Lapscome, Albury, in Surrey, England, emigrated to New Zealand at different times - James, Christopher, George and Charles - but the first to arrive in Ngatimoti was probably George (1828-1892) who came here around 1864 to manage the estate of military settler, Thomas Vyvyan, brother-in-law of Ngatimoti's earliest pioneer, John Park Salisbury. (7)

John Park Salisbury (1833-1893) "Blazer of trails"
He married James George Deck's daughter, Clara,
 and became a tireless evangelist for 
the Brethen cause.
In October, 1854, John Salisbury, with his brothers Thomas and Edward, ventured into unknown territory when they set off up the Motueka River in a canoe on a three-day trip to claim the 400 acres of sight-unseen Motueka Valley land they'd bought. They chose a likely place to settle, and proceeded to build - you guessed it - a mud whare, made the hard way, by sweat equity.They cleared a plot, planted vegetables and had this first home thatched and ready by the end of summer. They led the way, and opened up the Motueka, Baton and Graham Valleys and the Mt Arthur Tableland to future settlers. (8)

The story of Ngatimoti's settlement really is one of a band of intrepid brothers - Salisburys, Youngs, Remnants, Cantons, Beatsons, Groobys and Breretons among them. 

When we arrived at Ngatimoti during the summer of 1980-81 in the vanguard of a wave of alternative lifestylers, the majority of residents still bore the surnames of the early settlers, which included as well Green, Heath, Haycock and McGaveston. However, the traditional Motueka Valley multi-generational small mixed-farm economic model, propped up for decades by an increasingly endangered tobacco industry, was already failing. The number of those surnames has since dwindled as younger generations moved on in search of other options.

Alex O'Brien, owner of the "Woodstock" estate,
 drives a mob of cattle through the village of Thorpe, past Rose's
accommodation house. The trail through the Orinoco Valley,
Thorpe and down Sunday Creek Road was then the first stage 
along the stock routes to  Canterbury and the Buller via Tophouse

A legacy allowed the Vyvyans to return, with many a sigh of relief, to England in 1867. Life in the colony proved much harder than anticipated for more than a few settlers and many of those with the means to do so returned Home. Those who had no such option just soldiered on. The Vyvyans' Ngatimoti estate was bought by another ex-East India Company Army officer, Major Robert Mercer Paton. Although now running his own farm nearby, George Remnant continued to act as manager for this new owner for a further ten years. 

Major Paton, who became the keen if rather idiosyncratic leader of the Plymouth Brethren community in Richmond, was largely an absentee landholder, preferring to live at "Beacon Hill", his property at Hope. The Vyvyans' estate was running 2000 sheep and comprised 1000 acres when bought by Major Paton, who leased and later freeholded a further 500 acres in the Greenhill area. The Major's nephew, Alexander O'Brien (son of an East India Coy. officer killed at Fatehpur during the Indian Mutiny), later took over the running of the property which he named "Woodstock", perhaps after a favourite hill country resort near Shimla in India, where he was born. He possibly continued to employ George in some capacity - George and Alexander O'Brien clearly had a good working relationship and were both members of the Plymouth Brethren. George appointed Alex O'Brien executor of his will.

A river runs through it...
Nothing else shaped the lives of the lives of the early settlers like the Motueka River.

In 1890, when Alexander O'Brien took over the Enner Glyn estate formerly owned by ihs late father-in-law, Alfred George Jenkins, he sold his Ngatimoti run to Dr Johann Johansen, a German ex-army surgeon who arrived in Nelson in 1875 and set up as a medical practitioner in Motueka. Among the last of the large Motueka Valley estates from the early days to remain intact, the property was so big that it was divided into two adjoining blocks, known as "Upper Woodstock" and "Lower Woodstock", each with its own homestead. Dr Johansen lived in Motueka and put in a manager, not George Remnant, by now worn out after years of hard yakka, but another local man, Gavin Strachan. Following the doctor's death in 1895, the Johansen Estate was split up into multiple sections of varying sizes and put up for sale from 1902 onwards. (9) The Greenhill sections were advertised in 1906 and Greenhill Road was constructed around that time.

"Flaxbourne"'s pre-fabricated homestead (right), built in 1847.
It was the first European dwelling in the Awatere. 
All trace of it has now vanished.
George had already been in New Zealand for some time before coming to Ngatimoti. He arrived in Wellington in 1848 and by 1849 was working as a shepherd and shearer for farming partners and cousins Frederick Weld and Charles Clifford on the first of the great Awatere sheep stations, "Flaxbourne". On January 28, 1853, George Remnant, shepherd, was married to 17-year-old Jane Neasham Sherman by the Rev. H. F. Butt - theirs was the first ever European marriage recorded as taking place in the Awatere. The wedding service was conducted in a mud house, the cob cottage which was the first home of Alexander and Marjory (nee McRae) Mowat of the "Altimarloch" sheep run, where Jane was employed as domestic help. (10) 

Around 1857 George Remnant removed to the Moutere, having walked all the way to Nelson with his wife and their three small children (they would go on to have a total of twelve). It's likely that he helped the Vyvyans establish sheep at "Tregawn", their Moutere property at what is today McBrydie Road, before taking over the running of their Ngatimoti run. Around 1860, those three oldest Remnant children - Priscilla, Jane and George - plus the two oldest Vyvyan boys - Henry and Frank - were recorded on the roll of the Lower Moutere School, which opened on its present site in 1857. At this time George was living with his family in a small dwelling on a section of 6½ acres between Motueka and Lower Moutere.

George Remnant
In 1864 George acquired Crown Grant section 25, Block 10, at Ngatimoti, which he called "Lackner Farm". This is where he built a two-storey house and lived with his family. Section 23 immediately behind also became Remnant land at some point - conflicting accounts have George acquiring it in 1865 and his brother Christopher buying it from Henry Young in 1874. Details of ownership at Ngatimoti are often muddied by the early settlers' habit of playing swapsies with their various pieces of land. 

Section 25 was shared for a while by George's brother Charles, known as Charlie (b. 1837), a shadowy figure about whom we know little. He appears to have come to the Motueka Valley sometime after 1871 and left around 1879 after advertising his property for sale thus: "For sale in the district of Ngatimoti, 40 acres - splendid freehold property with dwelling house, barn and other out-buildings. Owner leaving the district." It doesn't seem that it did sell. In fact it looks as if George, having sold Charles part of his land, bought it back, and this became the Pt Section 25 of 40 acres which later passed to his step-son Jim Wills. It appears that Charles Remnant got goldfever. He was at the Mt Arthur Tableland diggings and in 1880 the electoral roll has him at the Baton, where he is recorded as a goldminer. The "Colonist" of 26 February, 1892 reported in its Motueka news roundup that Charles Remnant and party had brought in a fist-sized quartz specimen weighing 9oz 7dwt from the Crow River, a twelve mile tramp the other side of the Baton. They complained of the poor access, as they had to tramp over a snowy range carrying 80lbs of gear, but were nevertheless planning to return to the Crow. It;s believed that not long afterwards Charles returned to England to live. James Remnant (1822-1863) was the first of the brothers to come to New Zealand. He arrived in Nelson with his wife Hannah in 1842 on the "George Fyfe", but lived and died in Wellington. 

Pear trees planted by Christopher Remnant, believed to be over 140 years old.
Just visible is the workers' bach later added by Fred Biggs.

After a long illness, George Remnant's wife Jane died in 1887 at the age of 53, and he married again in 1888 to widow Emily Patience Wills (nee Scott). After George's death in 1892 Emily inherited the Pt Section 25 of 40 acres once belonging to George's brother Charles. .Emily's only son, James (Jim) Williams Wills III, farmed this block, which he named "Willow Brook". It fronted Waiwhero Road, running on the south side to the foot of Church Hill. In 1899 James Wills married Ellen Starnes, a daughter of Lower Moutere pioneer Stephen Starnes. They moved into George Remnant's old homestead near the foot of the hill, raised a family of four and shared their home with both Jim Wills' mother and Ellen's father, Stephen Starnes. Later on they had a new house built further up Church Hill. The fruit trees George had planted were the basis for Jim Wills' orchard, later praised as one of the best in the district. (11)

James Williams Wills III & his wife Ellen (nee) Starnes
(seated centre), with their family.
The Starnes & Guy families were related.
His immediate neighbour, James Delaney, was born in 1842 at Port Underwood, at that time a wild and lawless whaling station. Delaney moved with his family to Motueka as a youngster and later became a butcher in Motueka and licensee of the well-patronised Swan Hotel on the corner of High and Whakarewa Streets (now the site of the McDonalds burger bar). James married Martha Haycock in 1866 and around 1878 they shifted to Ngatimoti. By 1896 James Delaney had acquired the bulk of George Remnant's Section 25, most likely after George's death. James Delaney and his son John established Ngatimoti's first Butter Factory in 1895. However, after his son's sudden death in 1899 at the age of 29, James Delaney lost heart and sold up, retiring to Nelson, where he died in 1903. In the estate sale following John Delaney's death Jim Wills bought the younger Delaney's Sections 4,5,& 6 along Waiwhero Road (next to the original Deck property) to add to his holdings.

Jim Wills was another member of the Plymouth Brethren, and around 1900 he gave the use of a piece of his land near the foot of Church Hill, opposite "Willow Brook", for the Brethren Meeting Hall which still stood on the lay-by there for several years after we arrived. No longer in use, as following an edict from on high, the Brethren community had by then moved into Motueka so as to be closer to the Motueka assembly rooms, it grew increasingly ramshackle and ended its life as a modest green-painted hayshed before being eventually demolished. Its place has since been taken by a house currently owned by Graeme and Jenny Grant. Jim Wills' "new"  home, built almost opposite the Brethren Hall by Brethen connection Harry Mumford, almost suffered the same fate, but was lovingly restored from almost total disrepair by Willy Snowden in the 1990s.

Getting to the other side...
Ngatimoti residents soon found a Maori canoe

the best way to get around the river .
Here the Breretons paddle their waka
"Taeroa" past their Pokororo home.

In 1874 another of the Remnant brothers, Christopher (Chris) Snr (1834-1905), bought Sections 63 & 64, including the acre upon which the Ngatimoti School stood. Christopher also owned Section 10 , Block X, at the Ngatimoti Peninsula, which he bought from Pokororo resident J. Roger Dutton in 1868. He and his family were living then at the former Deck family home in the Waiwhero Valley. Christopher later added adjoining Section 9 and part section 27 to the Peninsula block and it seems that he and his brother George shared this land at the Peninsula. On 20 June 1870 Chris Remnant and John Guy jointly bought Section 26 in the Orinoco Valley from investor George Bulmer Tate and divided it up - Guy taking the half closest to Waiwhero Road. Chris Remnant appears to have used his piece as an investment and probably leased it out maybe to John Grooby, who bought it from him in 1881, Living instead at adjoining Orinoco Section 29 for a while before moving in 1874 up to the Waiwhero Section 64 to live.

As it turned out, this was a wise decision as it meant he missed the worst of the 1877 "Old Man" flood which wreaked so much havoc on properties sited along the banks of the Motueka River. (12) Christopher had built a mud house at the Peninsula, replaced by a wooden home in 1884. He held on to the Peninsula property, which he and his brother George continued to farm and occupy at times. Managing properties on either side of the river would have had its challenges, as the Peninsula Bridge was not built until 1913. Until then residents had to cross the river as best they could by various means - none without danger - crossing fords by foot or horseback, in canoes, by punt or aerial cage.

One way or another.
Operated by pulleys, this hand-driven
aerial cage suspended above the
 Motueka River ran on wire ropes.

If desperate or keen enough, you could swim - romantic stories (possibly apocryphal) are told of eager young swains swimming across the river to meet up with sweethearts living on the other side. Dr Henry O'Brien Deck (Dr Johansen's successor) is known to have swum across the river on a number of occasions to attend patients. Once, after swimming the river to help deliver a baby, he was asked if he had been well-compensated for going above and beyond the call of duty and laughed, remarking that it was the tenth baby he had helped deliver for that particular family and he had yet to receive payment for the first one! Dr Deck was also famous for getting stuck on a wire rope halfway over the river while trying to reach another patient in labour and for setting his own broken leg when he came off his motorcycle on the Takaka Hill while returning from a callout in Golden Bay. Dr Deck, born at Waiwhero in 1860 and second of J.G. Deck's children by his second wife Lewanna Atkinson, was named "O'Brien" in memory of the late Lt-Colonel Charles O'Brien, Alex O'Brien's father and a good friend of J.G. Deck's from his East India Coy. army days.

Trees grown on our property came from original slips stuck in potatoes and brought out to New Zealand by Christopher Remnant on the ship "Anne Dymes", which arrived in Nelson on 2 March 1864.(13) Several large old pear trees quite close to our house were propagated from those far-travelled plants. Some have succumbed to old age but those left are now in some cases over 150 years old and the story of their origin was confirmed many years ago by a Remnant descendant.

Christopher and Annie (nee Barrett)
Remnant  [1877]
Christopher Remnant took over the roles of Ngatimoti's postmaster and storekeeper from Henry Young and the area around his property then became known as "Remnants'" for many years. The job of postmaster and mail carrier initially went together and from 1874 to 1883, Christopher Remnant took the outward-bound mail by horseback twice-weekly from his home to the Moutere Highway, where it was transferred to a mail coach heading for Nelson. Mail destined for Ngatimoti residents then went back home with him and local residents called in to collect it. However, in the Motueka Valley the maxim "the mail must get through" came with the proviso "floods excepted". Flooding not uncommonly made access to the Moutere impossible, and even at that stage it was recognized that wholesale clearance by settlers was a major factor - stripping off the native bush which acted as a natural sponge spawned ecological disaster. Certainly during Henry Young's tenure as postmaster, he was thwarted on at least one recorded occasion during one of the more epic floods in May 1872, when George Remnant and and his family had to perch on boards over the beams in their barn for several hours after the little Orinoco Stream turned into a raging torrent and washed them out of their house.(14) In 1883 the roles of postmaster and carrier separated, and Benjamin Harford took over the job of mail courier (now upped to thrice-weekly) until he left the area around 1886. The Harfords lived a little further along Waiwhero Road in a whare at White Pine Swamp.  The role of mail carrier then shifted to a number of local men in turn, including two members of the Hudson family, who bought "White Pine Swamp" from Harford.

Jonathan apples being packed for export beneath the old oak tree
planted by Christopher Remnant Snr, grown at 'Roseneath" from an acorn
brought out from Guildford, England, on the ship 'Anne Dymes".
L-R: James Remnant, Clara Rankin, Rosa Remnant and daughter Doris Remnant stamping  papers.
Hector Guy picking in the orchard, the photographer his brother Walter.
Likely taken in conjunction with the first ever direct shipment
from Nelson to England in 1910 on the "S.S. Paparoa"
Although described as a quiet and unassuming man, Chris Remnant had a reputation for being a bit cantankerous and at times got offside with the Road Board and the Waimea County Council. At one stage he caused some difficulties for other settlers by blocking access around the Peninsula, resulting in a court case, and upset local parents in 1896 by leaving logs across a customary short cut made by children across his land, adding an extra five miles to their daily trek to school (this would probably have also been at the Peninsula). 

The "Roseneath" homestead in its heyday
at what is now 864 Waiwhero Road, Ngatimoti.

L-R: Ethel Black on verandah, Rosa Remnant, 
and her daughter Doris at front.
Christopher and his wife Ann (Annie, nee Barrett) had nine children, but only two remained in the Ngatimoti area in adulthood, One was Christopher Jnr (1871-1939) who between 1899-1921 Chris Jnr operated a sawmill run by a overshot water wheel near the Herring Stream at Pangatotara. On 26 October 1907 he married, Grace Elizabeth Slatter, a daughter of George Henry & Rachel (nee Graves) Slatter, whose "Long Reach" farm was close to the Ngatimoti Peninsula. Between 1899-1921 Chris Jnr operated a sawmill run by a overshot water wheel near the Herring Stream at Pangatotara. 

The other was James (1873-1945). Like his uncle George, James was a member of the Plymouth Brethren. It's probable that his father was as well - although recorded in the 1870s as an Anglican, Christopher Snr's burial service was conducted by schoolmaster and Brethren preacher George Deck, indicating that he had probably converted to the Brethren somewhere along the way.

Rose Remnant with daughter Doris
just outside the "Roseneath" homestead
Christopher Snr, frustrated by constant flooding at the Peninsula, advertised his Peninsula property "for sale by tender" in 1901 as follows: "Section 10 of 125 acres with a 5 room house, a 2 room cottage, hop kiln, 4-stall stable, windmill, vinery, pig sties and paved stockyard." It had 25 acres in bush of rimu, red and white pine, 2 acres of hops and 6 acres of apple, peach and plum orchard. Eventually it was sold to brothers Guthrie and George Beatson in 1903, and remains in the Beatson family today. Christopher Snr who had retired to Motueka, died at his Poole Street home on 9 Marc 1905, the "Colonist"of 14 March noting with regret the "Death of an Old Settler"

James had taken over the farm on Waiwhero Road which he named "Roseneath" - perhaps for his wife, Rosa Adeline (Rose) nee Savage, whom he married on 29 May 1901. Rosa was a daughter of John & Harriett (nee Biggs) Savage, from a Brethren family who owned a long-running home decorating and art supplies business in Nelson. James Remnant also farmed a block of land on Rosedale Road (Sections 1 & 2) and worked as a carter and roadman for the Council, driving a heavy cart with two horses in tandem. Roads were not tarsealed until well into the 20th century and he would collect gravel from the gravel pit on a corner just a little north of the Peninsula Bridge and do the rounds, using it to fill pot holes in the local roads.

James Remnant
Farmer, orchardist & roadman

In addition, he provided accommodation for travelling salesmen passing through the area. He ran sheep, and his big wooden woolshed (still standing - just), with its paling-and-wire fenced yards and maze of internal pens, served as shearing central, busy with men on horseback, milling sheep and barking dogs as local farmers drove their flocks up to be shorn there. James and Rose had two children, Doris (b. 1902) and Gilbert (b. 1911), who as a young man moved to the Manawatu, where a number of Remnant relatives had earlier settled. It's thought that Gilbert may have had a difference of opinion with his father over the welfare of their horses - after a full day's work on the roads, James would then drive them home and put them to work on the farm for several hours. 

Gilbert was employed as a shepherd at Masterton in the Waiarapa when he married Mildred Warren in 1941, just before setting off to serve overseas with the Infantry Brigade, 2nd NZ Expeditionary Force. He was captured in 1942 and spent the remainder of the war as a POW at Stalag VIII, Lansdorf, Germany. After the war he farmed at Sanson, close to his cousin Gavin William Remnant, another WWII veteran. Gilbert and Mildred later shifted to nearby Palmerston North, where they spent the rest of their lives.

A small block of land fronting Waiwhero Road between the church and the Remnant home was cut out of the farm for daughter Doris in 1926 after she married Scotsman Robert Haining (Bob) Gray, an orchardist. Later on postmaster Jack Harris' parents-in-law Charles & Mary Strack lived there, followed by Welsh-born WWI veteran Don Llewellin (known as "D.I.") and his wife Gladys.
The house built for Bob & Doris (nee Remnant) Gray
on a section between the "Roseneath" homestead
and St James' Church.
Bob Gray outside with sons Ian & Bevan.

 Doris and Bob's piece of land has since been enlargened to the best part of an acre with the addition of land bought from our farm, and the old house they built, still on the site and owned by Paul and Margie Brereton when we moved here in the summer of 1980-81, has since been transformed into a imposing two-storeyed home. After many years, James and Rose sold their Ngatimoti property, the sale first being advertised in the "Nelson Evening Mail" on 8 June 1940, and noting that the property's improvements included "a house, stable, barn, machine shed, cow bails and packing shed". Also for sale were 240 Shropshire ewes, 1 horse, 9 cows, 16 young cattle and a mower, topdresser, binder, drill, harrows and discs. However, it wasn't until 29 August 1944 that "Roseneath" finally changed hands, passing to WWII veteran Fred Biggs. The Remnants then moved to Hope. Doris and Bob went with them and they all lived together at the farm on Paton Road, called "Roseneath" after the old homeplace. James died in 1945, followed by Rosa in 1954, and they lie together at the Richmond Cemetery.

I can see for miles and miles... the view from our gate in 1981

When we first settled here, all the land along the Waiwhero ridgeway opposite our house was farmland belonging to Lawrence Guy, grandson of John Arliss Guy and only son of Arthur Guy. In recent times this land has been divided up and three homes now stand where once there was only grass. Still just visible is the steep piece of road from the Orinoco Valley to Waiwhero Road which originally came out opposite the first Ngatimoti School. It was a track across Guy farmland used as a shortcut by walkers when we moved here. When the Waimea County Council sequestrated Guy land in 1901 to extend the Orinoco Road to its current junction point opposite St James Church, John Guy (definitely a strong personality) objected in no uncertain terms. (15) Waiwhero Road itself did a bit of a shift to accommodate the new joining point - where it had previously run behind the church and come out at the back of the layby near the bottom of Church Hill, it now continued straight on from the Orinoco Valley turn-off down Church Hill, running past the front of the layby.
The original Orinoco road ran up "School Hill" past 
"Sunny Brae" and joined Waiwhero Road
opposite the first Ngatimoti School 
(visible here at the top of the road).

The impressive "Monterey House" with its landscaped golf course, visible from today's Thorpe-Orinoco/Waiwhero Roads junction, are also on ground that formerly belonged to the Guy family. The original villa demolished to make way for the new mansion was built around 1924 by Harry Beatson (a cousin) for Arthur Guy, John Guy's youngest son, and was later owned by Tom Beatson (another cousin). Beatsons and Guys were related by marriage - John Guy's sister Mary Alice Guy married Charles Edward Beatson, one of three sons of Nelson architect William Beatson who settled in the Orinoco Valley in the 1860s. For several years Charles & Mary farmed the land later run by first Walter Guy Jnr, then his brother Arthur, before retiring to live on Greenhill Road, opposite the current school. 

The Guy family at "Sunny Brae", Ngatimoti, 1910
L-R Back row (standing) Arthur, Margaret (Daisy), Hector
Front row (seated)
 John A. Guy, Ruth, Elizabeth (Lily) Guy, Walter.
John Guy and his wife Elizabeth (Lily) nee Strachan had three sons, Walter, Hector and Arthur, who all served during WWI. Walter and Hector were both killed in action and are commemorated at the Ngatimoti War Memorial. Under the exemptions permitted by the Military Service Act of 1916, John Guy was able to have Arthur, as his only surviving son, recalled home from active duty in 1918 on compassionate grounds. Arthur married Helen Friesan, a Canadian teacher who came to Ngatimoti one summer for a raspberry-picking holiday, and the Guy land was farmed by their son Lawrence then one of his sons in turn.  The remnats are still in Guy family hands today, though a more recent subdivision in 2018 saw its size further decreased by the sale of a block of Guy farmland down the Orinoco valley.

The sale to Frederick Walter (Fred) Biggs (1917-1986) of the Remnants' block (still recognizably comprising the bulk of the Young brothers' Sections 63 & 64) under the provisions of the Returned Servicemen's Settlement Land Sales Act of 1943 was approved by the Nelson Land Sales Committee on 29 August 1944. Fred grew up in Christchurch, but in the mid-1930s came to work in Dovedale, where several of his relatives lived, including his aunt Rosalie nee Biggs - she and her husband Alfred Silcock ran the accommodation house at Thorpe, once owned by the Rose family. Fred Biggs married Frances "Chum" Win, a great-granddaughter of Dovedale pioneer John Win. Fred continued to run sheep and also a dairy herd on the old "Roseneath" farm, but his main income came from growing tobacco as a cash crop. He built a tobacco drying kiln (still useful for storage, if showing its age) and added a lean-to to the old woolshed for use as a tobacco sorting room. He also built a workers' bach, since enlargened and now handy accommodation for friends and family. Drainage channels were dug to straighten the course of the meandering creek at the bottom of the farm, once full of pools holding eels, small trout and freshwater koura, freeing up the flats for tobacco production. Another bach at the back of the Church Hill layby (later enlargened and currently owned by Sue Elliott) was built for Fred's parents, William Ronald & Ivy (nee Steer) Biggs. Both William (known as Ron) and Ivy were originally from Tapawera.Through his father Alfred, Ron Biggs was a grandson of pioneer George William Biggs, who in 1841 emigrated from Gloucestershire, England, to New Zealand on the "Will Watch"  as part of Captain Arthur Wakefield's Preliminary Expedition to found the New Zealand Company's colony of Nelson.

Frances Biggs' brother Rex Win
at work on his Dovedale farm.
Introduced as a crop to the Motueka Valley
in the mid-1920s, tobacco proved an economic
saviour for the area. The end of production in
1997 marked a difficult period for local farmers.
Fred Biggs reduced the size of the Young brothers' Sections 63 & 64 by selling part of the flat below the church to Jack Harris, Ngatimoti's postmaster from around 1948 to 1973. Two poutry sheds were built there for his wife Thelma, who raised poultry for eggs. The hill block running up over Earthquake Spur from the creek at the bottom of the farm was sold to Robert Atkins around 1977. 

Originally in pasture and grazed by sheep, that hill block had been replanted in pines by the time we arrived and by then belonged to a member of the Baigent family. The trees were felled (along with our boundary fence as collateral damage) and replanted in the early 1980s. It was sold on to developer Willie McMahon and later divided into 50 hectare blocks. Once we roamed freely up on that hill overlooking our farm and could follow an old trail through Bogey Valley to the Motueka River Valley Road, but now the hills are full of houses. A few years after arriving here we sold the piece of land next to the "Meadowbank" property at the bottom of Church Hill, which had once been a corner of Henry Young's Section 63 , to Peter and Gwen Dodgshun 's property it adjoined. Their house had originally been the Rankin's creamery, and after conversion, home to the Ham family. (This historic home was later destroyed in 2018 when Cyclone Gita wreaked havoc in the Motueka Valley).The Dodgshuns later sold that former piece from Section 63 to Graeme & Raewyn Marshall after moving into Motueka in the early 1990s and the Marshalls built a home on top of the hill there. Both Gwen Dogshun and Graeme Marshall served as much valued teachers at Ngatimoti school during the time our sons were pupils there.

Bottom of Church Hill, early 1960s
Ron & Ivy Biggs' home (far lt front) 
in the layby off Waiwhero Road, with Brethren Hall just in front.

Postmaster Jack Harris' house (far rt) - former creamery/Ham family home- with Thelma Harris'
poultry sheds across the road on the flat opposite.
In December 1994, Mr Cunningham, a neighbour whose forestry block on the hill abutted our land, lit a fire to clear his boundary along the creek that runs through our farm. A southerly wind came up and created a firestorm which swept across the face of the hill behind, then up and over into Bogey Valley. Fortunately there were no houses on top then and the prevailing wind kept the flames from crossing the creek and destroying our property, but It took hours of work by rural firefighters and helicopters with monsoon buckets to get things under control. Among the local residents watching anxiously from Waiwhero Road, one or two mourned as marijuana crops tucked away in the pine plantations went up in smoke. The distinctive heavy thump of an Iroquois chopper flying low over the valley was a familiar sound in late summers for many years as the annual police dope-busting operation got underway. Sometimes a chopper would cause great excitement for pupils by landing to unload its contraband cargo at the grounds of the Ngatimoti school (by then in its third incarnation at Greenhill Road).

This topped off a terrible year for the Cunninghams whose 14-year old son had been killed while out shooting rabbits with a friend on his parents' forestry block earlier in 1994.  Reparation required for the costs of fighting the fire meant they were obliged to sell their Ngatimoti property.

Aerial shot of the home block at 864 Waiwhero Road when owned by Fred Biggs
shows two light green blocks of tobacco growing on the bottom flats.
The steep slopes of Remnants' (later Baigents') Hill rise up behind the creek.
The house (centre left), with bach in behind, fronts the road, which can be seen 

top rt-hand corner continuing on its way up towards Earthquake Spur
Ex-Ngatimoti School acre with the old schoolmaster's home (grey square) to the far right.
 Kiln is at bottom left (partly obscured by trees) near the small rectangular
section which was once a tobacco nursery block,

since incorporated into the neighbouring property.
George Remnant and his first wife Jane had thirteen children and George was a prime mover in getting the first Ngatimoti School established (a list of the first subscribers was recorded on pg 2 of the "Motueka Star" on 13 December 1901). An official notice in July 1868 announced the formation of the new Education District of Ngatimoti.(16) Money was raised by subscriptions from local residents, topped up by a subsidy from the Central Education Board in Nelson, and George Young donated the land - an acre-sized block just a few yards down the road from the Young home, cut out of George's Section 64 and sited near a bend in the road. ** When Section 64 changed hands in 1874, the school acre was conveyed to the Nelson Education Board. Henry Young was appointed schoolmaster, at the princely sum of £48 a year. The school was officially in business by August 1868, and started off with 18 pupils, ten boys and eight girls. Those first entrants included nine Remnants, four Marshalls, three Parsonses and two Cantons. The schoolroom was 14ft x 20ft when built and almost certainly a wooden building. It was already too small by 1877, when tenders were invited for building an addition to the Ngatimoti school-room. (17)

Schoolmaster's home (right) built in 1878. 
The flag at half-mast very likely marks 
Queen Victoria's death on 22 January 1901.
The old schoolroom has been removed by this stage.
The 1889 schoolhouse is at left. Remnants' Hill, which
ran the length of both Sections 63 & 64, in behind.

A schoolmaster's house was built adjacent in 1878 and Richard Sutcliffe took up residence there. Henry Young had resigned as schoolmaster at the end of 1870 and his position was advertised in November that year: "Wanted, a teacher for Ngatimoti School, salary £60 per annum, without residence". Schoolteachers had clearly increased in value since 1868. (18) Sutcliffe was appointed and remained Ngatimoti's schoolmaster until 1887, when he was somewhat controversially dismissed (or perhaps forced to jump before being pushed) over claims that he was no longer competent to teach. Sutcliffe's treatment has to be seen as distinctly shabby, considering the years of service he devoted to the Ngatimoti community - as well as his work as schoolmaster, he ran Ngatimoti's small library (kept at the school from 1873) and was a stalwart of the Anglican Church, serving as lay reader, Sunday School teacher and choirmaster. His daughters comprised 90% of the church choir and one, Mary, was also the church organist. Samuel Scott replaced Sutcliffe as Ngatimoti's schoolmaster. With around 40 children now on the roll, the next issue to arise was whether to increase the size of the existing schoolroom or build a new one. Those who voted for a new building won the day.

Opening of Ngatimoti's new schoolhouse in 1889.
The headmaster at that stage, Samuel Scott, is far right in a white jacket,
The school is long gone, but the schoolmaster's home, described by the 
Education Board in 1932 as unfit for habitation, still stands in its original spot.

In 1889 a new wooden schoolhouse was built by contractors Webley Bros.of Nelson to the left of the schoolmaster's home, and opened to great rejoicing and celebration on Friday, 6th of September, 1889, which was declared a local public holiday. (19) An account of a New Year's Day picnic held at the school a few months later shows a community happy to make the most of a chance to socialise and kick up their heels. A day of plentiful feasting and activities for both children and adults included a cricket game held in the paddock between the school and Christopher Remnant's homestead (later the site of son Jim Remnant's apple orchard). The nearby gully recorded as swallowing up a number of cricket balls is still quite recognizable! A lively concert in the evening was followed by dancing till the wee small hours of the next morning. (20) The original school building was left in place, and now known as the "Old Schoolroom", continued for at least a further decade to be used for Brethren assemblies, as a Sunday school for the Anglicans, community meeting room and for official occasions like elections and collections of road board and education rates. 

Close neighbours - as seen from Remnant's Hill,
 Guys' "Sunny Brae"on the far side of 
the road and opposite on the near side, the 
Ngatimoti schoolhouse just visible at far right on the
school acre section, surrounded by Remnant farmland.
To the far left Waiwhero Road heads off to join up
 with the Lower Moutere Highway via Edwards Road.

The role of postmaster shifted to John Guy around 1892 and the post office then operated from "Sunny Brae", the home he'd built for his family on the knoll of the hill opposite the school and looking straight down Waiwhero Road to St James Church. (The current charming gingerbread house on that site is not the original - "Sunny Brae" was pulled down soon after the Second World War) 
Before long a new telegraph service was added. The Post Office's official telephone line installed on 1 October 1892 was for many years the only one in the Motueka Valley. 

John Guy's father Walter was an early Lower Moutere settler who around 1868 bought a block of James George Deck's original Crown Grant land (Section 67) on the south side of the Waiwhero ridge and running down into the Orinoco Valley. Walter Snr continued to live at at his home, "Moutere House" on Central Road, while his son John farmed the Ngatimoti property. The elder Walter Guy was an early member of the Moutere Education Commitee and a keen supporter of the Anglican Church. His children attended the Lower Moutere School and daughter Eleanor Gertrude Guy taught there between 1874-1876. It's likely that the connection with George Deck, headmaster of the Lower Moutere School, was behind the purchase of the Deck family's Ngatimoti land. The John Guy family also shared part of adjoining Section 26 at Ngatimoti with schoolmaster Richard Sutcliffe, who built a home on a small section there after he "retired" as shoolmaster. The land later donated as a site for St James Church and the Ngatimoti War Memorial was originally a corner of Walter Guy's Section 67.

"I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills.."
St James Church, consecrated in 1884, and the Ngatimoti War Memorial.
Today they are the only tangible reminders of the early settlers of the Motueka Valley 
and the sons they sacrificed to the First World War.

There was a large apple orchard in the area between the Remnant home and the school, and James Remnant was often annoyed by children throwing balls over the fence and sneaking into the orchard to play hide-and-seek or scrump ripe apples in season. Kids being kids, no doubt the prospect of arousing Jim Remnant's ire just added the spice of danger to their fun! James Remant made land available around 1916 for a Ngatimoti Fruit Co-operative apple pack-house which ran for some years on the flat in the damp and shady lea of Church Hill opposite Rankins' creamery, providing a bracing environment for the packers. The early apple industry not proving as profitable as hoped due to lack of forethought about suitable markets, the packhouse fell into decline - the apple industry didn't take off properly till quite a bit later and by then tobacco crops dominated in the Motueka Valley as a more reliable source of income. Derelict by the time the Biggs family took over the farm, Fred Biggs pulled it down around 1945, though the area around its former site was always known as "the pack-house paddock" by the Biggses. No sign at all remained of this pack-house when we McFadgens bought the farm from Fred Biggs and moved here at the end of 1980.

Forbidden fruit! Jim Remnant's apple orchard - 
over-the-fence playground 
for the pupils of Ngatimoti's first school.
In 1893 it was proposed that the Ngatimoti schoolhouse be moved to a new site closer to the Orinoco-Rosedale corner to accommodate the growing number of pupils in that area. (21) A furious flurry of argument and counter-argument flew around the community, and spawned a number of vehement letters on the subject to the Editor of the "Nelson Evening Mail". In the end a compromise was reached - the Ngatimoti School would remain where it was and a new branch school would be set up in the Orinoco Valley. The site chosen was close to and opposite the junction with Rosedale Road, on land donated by Orinoco farmer Alexander White, who had married Richard Sutcliffe's daughter Mary. Ngatimoti then became known locally as the "Big School". In 1897 the Education Board noted that the original Ngatimoti schoolroom dating from 1868 was still on site and in use at the Ngatimoti school grounds. A recommendation was made that it be removed, and a couple of years later it made its way over the fence to finish its life as a shed on Jim Remnant's farm. This meant the Brethren lost their accustomed meeting place, but luckily Jim Wills came to the party and built them a dedicated Hall of their own.on his land, just down the road below Church Hill. Despite strenuous protest from John Guy, the Ngatimoti school on the Waiwhero Road straight was eventually decommissioned in 1924, 56 years after it first opened, it being the general consensus of everyone (except John Guy) that the Black Bridge area had become a more central access point for pupils
Bedford model S truck wth log bolsters at TNL's
Ngatimoti depot, which operated next to the
old store on Waiwhero Road from 1958-1970.
The second Ngatimoti school was built in 1923 on land bought from the Daniell family and opened on 5 February, 1924. It was set between Alf Daniell's home with attached general store, and the current WWII Memorial Hall, with Lawrence (Tod) Heath's smithy just across the road by the Orinoco River. The new school site was about where the house on stilts built by John Holdaway now stands near the Memorial Hall. It was a chilly spot shaded by bush on the north-western side and Mrs Beatrice Daniell provided hot milk for warming malted drinks given to the school chlildren at morning breaks during the frosty winters. When Ruth Guy (who took over from her father in 1921) retired as postmistress in 1927, the Post Office moved from the Guy home and was attached to the Daniells' home and store as a separate room. The Ngatimoti library also made a shift to the store. Alfred Daniell had died in 1920 and his daughter Louisa (Louie) took over the running of te store and also the Post Office until it shifted to the new store built later by Percy Tomlinson.j

Louie Daniell retired as postmistress in 1938 and later moved to Nelson. In 1958 the homestead section was sold by Louie's brother Harry Daniell to retired schoolteacher Laurie Barnes. Built in 1905, the old Daniell house is still on site and used as a private residence. (Perce) Tomlinson and his wife Grace (nee Mytton) Percy had in the meantime bought another section cut from the Daniells' land just a bit further up Waiwhero Road. Perce cleared a yard for his carrying business, then built a house up on bit of a terrace and a new store on the roadside beneath it (now the old store still on site) and the Post Office moved there, with Perce serving as postmaster until about 1948. His assistant postmaster, Jack Harris, then took over the role of postmaster until 1973. Petrol pumps were added and around 1948 a telephone exchange was set up close to Tomlinson's store. Percy ran a local carrying business under the name P.N. Tomlinson. In 1957 Percy Tomlinson sold the store and his carrying business to freight company Transport Nelson Ltd (TNL). This became the site for TNL's Ngatimoti depot till it closed in 1970, and was managed by Bert Crayford, Bill Woolf and later for a short time by Bryan Green, a son of farmer and butcher Ernest NcKellar Green, who lived in the Pearse Valley.  
Second Ngatimoti School (1924-1954)
Built on the northern side of Waiwhero Road.
between the Daniells' home/store
and the current War Memorial Hall.

TNL didn't want the shop, which was onsold to Harrie & Carol Peters. They ran the store, to which both the Ngatimoti Post Office and the TNL Depot office were attached, for seven years, providing a delivery service as well. The Ngatimoti store then went to grocer Ron Fowler from Thorpe, but closed down for good in 1966, as by then locals were driving into town for their supplies. All these services are long gone, with the Post Office being the last to go in 1978. 

Tod Heath had earlier shifted his home and smithy across the road to the later Memorial Hall site and in the 1930s put a couple of bowsers out front dispensing "Big Tree Benzine". The first dedicated garage/workshop and petrol station was opened by Jim Moore in 1948 on the bank of the Motueka River at the junction of Waiwhero Road and the Motueka River Valley Highway. It went through the hands of several owners, who all struggled to make it pay its way. (22) 

"Little Flick" 
(seen here at the Ngatimoti Peninsula Bridge
in 1996) served the Motueka Valley community 

faithfully until finally retired around 2002 

Owned by John Holdaway when we moved to the district, it was manned by John and his band of merry mechanics (Ralph Stringer and former garage owner, Paul Brereton) and had a small store attached which often proved a lifesaver, but sadly, it too eventually proved uneconomic to run and had closed down by the early 1990s. A more recent attempt in 2009 to reopen Perce Tomlinson's old store was welcomed, but this turned out to be a short-lived venture. After the garage closed down, its spot at the junction of the Motueka Valley Highway and Waiwhero Road became home to the Ngatimoti Volunteer Rural Fire Force and for several years housed their versatile wee Landrover fire-engine, known to all as "Liitle Flick", until a purpose-built Fire Station on Greenhill Road was opened in 2002 on a reserve adjacent to the Ngatimoti School, complete with a big new fire-engine.

The old one-way Black Bridge approaching the junction of Waiwhero Road and the Motueka Valley Highway was replaced in 2009, and several years later an even older bridge was finally (and quite literally) sidelined. Known as the Double or Right-Angled Bridge, it crossed Bogie Creek at the first bend on the River Valley Highway heading into Motueka from the Memorial Hall junction. It was first mentioned in 1864, when it marked the end of any track or cart way to Pangatotara. Ever since then Ngatimoti residents had been negotiating that narrow, diabolically tight bend in a wide range of vehicles and with varying degrees of success, often requiring repairs to both vehicles and bridge. That sharp turn was completely realigned, and a gently sweeping curve with a large culvert named Bogie Creek Bridge has taken its place, though the old bridge can still be seen lurking off to the side. A small ceremony held in the rain on the morning of 21 May 2015 celebrated the reopening.

A more recent flood in 1983 as seen from the old one-way Black Bridge.
John Holdaway's service station & store to the left with the Ngatimoti War Memorial Hall centre. 
First of 3 memorable floods during our first decade in the area, followed by others in 1986 and 1990.

Now vanished but still remembered, is the old rubbish dump on what was then Smiths' farm just past Earthquake Spur on Waiwhero Road, for many years the local "recycling centre". Every man and his dog went there to dump their rubbish, then rummage blithely around amidst the junk looking for, and often finding, treasures to take home in exchange - no worries in those days about Health & Safety! Further down Waiwhero Road, past the Waiwhero cemetery (established on land donated by J G Deck) and heading towards the Moutere Highway, was a large hillock of sawdust on the left-hand side, a great place to take the kids with buckets and spades and have fun collecting organic matter for the garden. It was a leftover from the Baigents' sawmill which operated there between 1938 and 1966, and in 1949 was the scene of an earlier disastrous fire resulting from an out-of-control burn-off, which claimed the life of then mill manager David Horrell. (23) The remains of an old cottage (now gone) still stood then on the opposite side of the road, sole survivor of a row of homes built to house mill-workers. The original road still leads into a forestry block but of the mill itself nothing remains, and even the old signpost labelled "Mill Road", which stood as a reminder for years, has since disappeared.

A gig approaches the Ngatimoti School (pre 1900)
Buildings lt-rt: The schoolmaster's house,
the 1889 schoolhouse in the middle, and just visible
far rt is what may be the old schoolroom
built in 1868. After the Education Board demanded
its removal it was shifted over the fence
and became a shed on Jim Remnant's farm.

The 1889 schoolhouse was still used for many years after its life as a school ended, becoming both Ngatimoti's de facto public hall and community meeting room after being bought from the Education Board by the Ngatimoti community for this purpose in 1925. A board of trustees was set up to oversee its running. It was finally demolished just before the War Memorial Hall opened in 1953. 

All trace of that first school has now disappeared, although the schoolmaster's old house still stands in the same spot and is currently home to local resident, Bob Vincent. The last teacher to live there was Mrs Edith Parkes nee Andrew, who taught at the second (Black Bridge) Ngatimoti School from 1929-31. 

Her husband Roy was a member of the large Parkes' clan associated with 'Sunningdale" at 88 Valley, Wakefield -  the couple met and married in England during WWI when he was serving with the 12th Nelson Coy,  Canterbury Infantry Battalion. Their stay at the old schoolmaster's home got off to an unfortunate start. When the violent 1929 Murchison earthquake struck, the heavy coal range shot across the kitchen, so frightening an elderly relative staying with the Parkes that she had a heart attack and died on the spot. The schoolmaster's house passed into private ownership in 1932, when the Education Board put it up for tender and it went to Will J. Stevens (grandfather of Ngatimoti historian Edward Stevens), a  Boer War veteran and carpenter by trade, who first moved to the area from Tadmor with his family in 1924. 

Timber stacked for drying at Baigents' Waiwhero sawmill,
with Dud Gee's loaded Bedford in front.

The Ngatimoti school made a third move to its current site on the corner of Greenhill Road and the Motueka Valley Highway, and when it opened at the start of Term 3 in 1954, the desks from the previous school at Black Bridge were transported to the new one by truck, while the pupils trailed along behind on foot, each carrying their own chair! The new school was built on the 5 acre section which had formerly been the retirement property of John and Penelope (nee Wallis) McGaveston. The McGavestons' large homestead, known as "Rathgar", was demolished but three rooms were spared, converted, and live on today as the Ngatimoti school hall, dubbed "Rathgar House" in memory of its origins. In 1965 the Orinoco School closed, and the school bus service transported its pupils daily to the Ngatimoti School instead. Rather ironically, when Alexander White was asked to donate land for the Orinoco School back in 1893, that canny Scotsman suggested then that it would be cheaper to transport the children to the Ngatimoti School daily than set up a side school, a proposal scoffed at by the Education Board of the day.

Incidentally, the first Pokororo School, established in 1880, definitely had its beginnings in a raupo-thatched mud whare belonging to local landowner Robert Pattie (later better known as a Riwaka settler), with a young man called Evan Satchell as teacher.  Three years later a wooden school was erected on the terrace near the Motueka River, with Elizabeth (Lizzie) Alexander as teacher for 25 children, followed by Lydia Bradley. This school burned down in 1898 and was replaced. In 1914 the Pokororo school was moved to the mouth of the Graham River, where it was used until 1939, after which the pupils were bussed to the second Ngatimoti School near Black Bridge. The old Pokororo school was pulled down in 1952 and replaced on the same site by the current Pokororo Hall. (24)

Pokororo School class of 1893-4
Teacher, Miss Lydia M. Bradley, at far right.

And our "school mud-rooms" mystery? At first glance it doesn't seem feasible - it's clear that both the 1868 and 1889 buildings belonging to the first Ngatimoti school were built on the same site, close to, but not at the Young/Remnant homeplace. Best guess? That those early mud-rooms were built by George and Henry Young, perhaps to house their store and mail room. Over 70-odd years of occupation by the Remnant family, it would have been all too easy to add confusion to the tale by conflating the first schoolmaster with the first school. 

However, an old report claimed that everyone was so keen to get going (well, the parents, anyway), that classes began before the schoolroom even had a floor or chimney. It seeming unlikely that anyone would set up class in a building still under construction, maybe we could give credence to the possibility that schoolmaster Henry Young taught his first lessons to the children of Ngatimoti in the Young brothers' mud storerooms? You'd think - but no. An entry in Henry Young's attendance book dated June 30 1869 reads "The school closed for one week during this quarter for the laying of floor and building of chimney"! They bred them tough in those days.

The view from our gate 60-odd years ago
Fred Biggs puts out the cream can for collection.

Update: As of January 2016 a further 5 hectares of land was sold to neighbours Steve Anderson and Kath Nauta, whose home lies behind St James Church. This brings our farm down to a 13ha rump of George Young's old Section 64 - approximately 32 acres.


For access to to photos  and information, many thanks to Edward Stevens (Ngatimoti historian), Patricia Braga (Deck family), Alison Clarke (Remnant family), Rex Biggs & Jenny Sutherland (Biggs family) and Lynne Kerrigan (Harris family).

1)  Kennington, A.S. (1978) The Awatere: A District and its People. Ch. 6 Pioneering Times, 1850-1900. Pg 100, Cobb Dwellings. Blenheim, NZ: Marlborough County Council.

1865, pg 2.

3) Whelan, Helen. Landowners and Residents of the Motueka Valley. (Unpublished ms.)

4) Salisbury, J. Neville (2006) Bush, Boots and Bridle Tracks. The Salisburys: Pioneers of the   Motueka and Aorere Valleys. Ch VIII, pg. 78. Auckland, NZ: J. Neville Salisbury.
Describes the wearisome 16-hour journey by bullock-drawn dray from Motueka to Pangatotara made by William Marshall and his family in the summer of 1864. In the afternoon the tired party reached "George and Henry Young's log hut on the roadside. There they received a warm welcome, were given a good meal with plenty of tea, and 
rested before taking to the road again".

5) Woodley, Mary, The Moravian Settlement (Unpublished ms)
"There is no Christianity without community." The ill-fated Waiwhero community was based on the ideals  and 
teachings espoused by 18th century Protestant reformer, Count Nicholas Ludwig von Zinzendorf. "Mr Griffin lost 
all he had invested and Father came out a broken-down old man," commented Lewis Bryant Jnr later. J.G. Deck also suffered, losing both his first and second wives there, along with his youngest son.

6) Oral history: Rex Biggs and Jenny Sutherland (nee Biggs)

7) Whelan, Helen. Dictionary of Ngatimoti Biography (Unpublished ms.)

8) Brereton, C.B. (1947) No Roll of Drums. Wellington, NZ: A.H.& A.W. Reed. Ch. 1 A Blazer of Trails, pp 11-25. The story of the pioneering Salisbury brothers)

  Colonist, 7 November, 1905. Advertisements, pg 4

10) Kennington, The Awatere, Ch. 4 The Awatere Sheep Runs, pg 65

11) Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Nelson, Westland and Marlborough Districts] (1906)
 Ngatimoti - see entry for James W. Wills.

   Nelson Evening Mail, 12 February, 1877.
NZ Historic Weather Events Catalog, NIWA/Taihoro Nukurangi

13) Whelan, Dictionary of Ngatimoti Biography

14) Colonist 28 May, 1872: Motueka

15) Waimea County Council Minutes: Objection noted from John Guy re "School Hill" deviation through Guy land. Colonist, 8 November, 1901

16) Colonist, 10 July, 1868. Government Notices

17) Colonist, 22 October, 1877. Advertisments.

18) Colonist, 18 November, 1870, pg 1. Advertisements

19) Nelson Evening Mail, 11 September, 1889: Ngatimoti

20) Nelson Evening Mail, 16 January, 1890. New Year's Day at Ngatimoti

21) Nelson Evening Mail, 3 September, 1893: Education Board

22) Beatson, Kath & Whelan, Helen (1993, 2nd ed. 2003) The River Flows On: Ngatimoti Through  Flood and Fortune. Motueka, NZ: Buddens Bookshop. Ch.17 Other Services, pp 68-69

23) Munro, Ian, ed. (1999) Back Then...threads from Motueka's past. Motueka NZ: Published by
    Motueka High School See Waiwhero Sawmill by Derilene Aston, pp 12-13.

24)  Ibid. Ch. 23 Six Little Schools, pp. 94-97

Relevant land held by Ngatimoti settlers in
Block X (10), Motueka Survey District
Colour code:
Brothers George & Henry Young - brown
Brothers Chris & George Remnant -green
Walter & son John Arliss Guy - yellow
James George Deck- pink.
* Attempts to trace the ancestry of Ngatimoti's first schoolmaster, Henry Young, are easily muddled by the fact tha there were two different unrelated setlers named Henry Young living in the Motueka area, the schoolmaster who lived at Ngatimoti with his brother George from 1864 and another. This other Henry Young (1803-1881) was an earlier settler who arrived in Nelson in 1852. He was an upper class gentleman who was a rising star in the East India Company's Civil Service as a judge in the Bombay Presidency, but abandoned the world of commerce after ifinding religion and joining the Plymouth Brethren, much to the dismay of his family. His father, Sir Samuel Young, was created 1st Baronet of Formosa Place in the County of Berkshire in 1813. This Henry Young was an old friend of James George Deck's from back in their days of service in India and Deck may well have followed him to New Zealand. His daughter Emily Baring Young later married Deck's son, Dr John Feild Deck. The Young family returned to England in 1859. They came back to New Zealand in 1861 and farmed in Southland, but later removed to Australia, where in 1880 Henry's sons established the highly successful Fairymead Sugar Company in Queensland. Daughters Florence and Emily with her husband John, who were members of the Open Brethren, became involved in missionary work in China, Queensland and the Pacific Islands with the South Seas Evangelical Mission..

** The incorrect claim that land for the first Ngatimoti school was donated by Walter Guy appears to have 
originated with the Ngatimoti School Centennial booklet published in 1968. Although Walter Guy donated land
 for St James Church, the land for the school was in fact donated by George Young. It seems that there may
 perhaps have initially been some difficulty in getting the school acre donated by George Young transferred to
 the Education Board after Christopher Remnant bought Section 64, and Walter Guy offered an alternative site. 
Because the situation regarding the conveyance of the school acre was resolved, Walter Guy's offer was never 
taken up.

Further Reading

Beatson, Kath & Whelan, Helen, The River Flows On: Ngatimoti Through Flood and Fortune. Motueka, NZ: Buddens Bookshop.
The most accessible definitive history of Ngatimoti's development and community services.

Beatson, C.B. (Pat) (1992) The River, Stump and Raspberry Garden: Ngatimoti as I remember.
Nelson, NZ: Nikau Press.

Lineham, Peter J. (1977) There we found Brethren: a history of the assemblies of Brethren in New Zealand. Palmerston North, NZ: G.P.H. Society.

Bade, S. Northcote (November 1958) 
Nelson Historical Society Journal, 1:3

Ngatimoti School 150th Celebrations 1858-2018
Includes historical information contained in the 1968 Centennial and 1993 Jubliee publications.

Note on Military Settlers

An unsually high proportion of the earliest Ngatimoti settlers were ex-British Indian army men. This was no 
coincidence. The Nelson Provincial Council, set up in 1853, was concerned for the safety of new immigrants 
trying to establish homesteads out in rural areas. Fears aroused by the Wairau Affray ten years earlier died hard, but although there was a sizable Māori community in Motueka itself, Te Rauparaha's shock troops had cleared 
out any original inhabitants of the Motueka Valley very effectively by the time European pioneers arrived. The 
Nelson Provincial Council encouraged naval and military officers on full or half pay, either in Her Majesty's 
Service or with the East India Company, who had retired or obtained a discharge, to reside in the Province of 
Nelson, with the understanding that they would stay for at least two years in the area and be prepared to defend 
vulnerable settlers. It's likely that they were also expected to act in an unofficial role as representatives of the
 law. To this end, they were offered inducements by way of land grants or cash. Several settled at Ngatimoti, 
drawn to a large degree to this area by previous friendship or acquaintance with James George Deck
and many of those joined the Plymouth Brethren movement.

See Beatson, The River Flows On, Ch.5, Military Settlers, pg  20.

Image credits

1) A cob cottage at Mt. Gladstone in the 1880s. Photographer Alexander McKay
From Kennington, The Awatere, pg. 81

2) Map of Sections 63 & 64 ca 18, Block X, Motueka Survey Dustrict, ca 1886

3) Timber slab hut on Waiwhero Road, Ngatimoti, 1867
Photographer:  Samuel Henry Drew ,who only visited the Waiwhero Valley in the holidays.  Drew, a jeweller by 
trade and keen naturalist by inclination, had married in Nelson in 1872 Catherine Alice Beatson, youngest sister 
of the Beatson brothers who were farming down the Orinoco Valley -no doubt the reason for the visits to the area.The Drews made their home in Wanganui. Drew's natural history collection eventually became so big that
it was transferred to what would become the Wanganui Museum.
Courtesy Mr E. Stevens.

4) Home of James George Deck in the Waiwhero Valley
From J.G. Deck's notebook, pg 20
Swanton Family  Australia (Private Collection)

5) Old Remnant homestead and converted Biggs' family bungalow. Frances ("Chum"), Mrs Fred Biggs, 
\stands in front of the old house.
Courtesy Biggs family

6) Burkett's claim, Collingwood
 Nelson Provincial Museum,
 Tyree Studio Collection, ref. 182197

7) Diggers on the Tableland Track
Sketch by John Henry Lowe, used as a illustration in J.N.W. Newport's book "Footprints Too"
inage originally supplied by Mrs N. Barnicoat
A member of the English Brethren on a trip from England, Lowe visited James George Deck's home in the Waiwhero Valley with his uncle Frank Jellicoe, a Moutere settler well known to the Decks. J.H. Lowe's son Charles Edward Lowe attended the Lower Moutere School and boarded with its headmaster, J.G. Deck's son George. C.E. Lowe later cemented the connection by marrying George Deck's daughter Margaret Victoria Deck.

8) John Park Salisbury, in his middle years.
From Salisbury, J. Neville, Bush, Boots and Bridle Tracks, pg. 273

9) Alexander O'Brien of the 'Woodstock Estate" driving a mob of cattle through the village of Thorpe
Rose's accommodation house behind.
Courtesy Kathryn Nott, Dovedale

10) A river runs through it... The Motueka Valley
John McFadgen

11) "Flaxbourne", first homestead. Taken from an 1851 watercolour by "Flaxbourne"'s first owner, 
Frederick Weld.
From Kennington, The Awatere, pg 32

12) Christopher Remnant's 140 year old pear trees
John McFadgen

13) James (Jim) Williams Wills III with his wife Ellen (nee Starnes) and family
Nelson Provincial Museum/Guy Collection, ref. 315237

14) The Brereton's waka "Taeroa" on the Motueka River, passing the Brereton 
family's homestead at Pokororo.
Artist unknown, possibly J.P. Salisbury
Used as the cover for C.B. Brereton's "No Roll of Drums", an informal history of Ngatimoti's settlers.

15) Aerial cage across the Motueka River
Ex Beatson & Whelan, ""The River Flows On",  pg 74

16) Mr & Mrs C. Remnant, March 1877
Nelson Provincial Museum Collection, photo ref. 13180

17) Packing apples at "Roseneath", ca 1910
Nelson Provincial Museum/Guy Collection,  ref. 315080

18) The "Roseneath" homestead in its heyday
Courtesy of Remnant descendant Alison Clarke.

19)  Rose Remnant with daughter Doris at "Roseneath", Waiwhero Road, Ngatimoti.
Nelson Provincial Museum Collection. photo ref. 316569

20) James Remnant (1872-1945)
Nelson Provincial Museum Collection, ref. 57689

21) Home built on a section cut from the Remnant farm for daughter Doris and 
her husband Robert (Bob) Gray
Courtesy Alison Clarke (Remnant family)

22) View from our gate 35 years ago.
John McFadgen

23 The original Orinoco Road up "Old School Hill"
Tyree Studio Collection, Nelson Provincial Museum Permanent Collection, ref. 181918

24) The Guy family at "Sunny Brae", 1910.
Nelson Provincial Museum/Guy Collection, ref. 315235

25) The Golden Weed -   Harvest time - Fred Biggs' brother-in-law Rex Win at work on his 
Thorpe tobacco farm.
Courtesy Biggs family

26) Bottom of Church Hill. early 1960s.
Courtesy Kate Speer (nee Strachan)

27) Aerial shot of 864 Waiwhero Road
Courtesy Biggs family

28) Schoolmaster's house, built 1878, alongside the 1889 Ngatimoti Schoolhouse ca. 1900.
Provenance unknown, ex "Ngatimoti and Consolidated Schools Centennial Booklet 1868-1968", pg. 9

29) Opening of the new Ngatimoti schoolhouse, 6 September 1889.
Tyree Studio Collection/Nelson Provincial Museum Permanent Collection, ref. 179224

30) Close neighbours- "Sunny Brae" and the Ngatimoti schoolhouse opposite each other on Waiwhero Road, Ngatimoti. The school section can be seen surrounded by Jim Remnant's farmland. Photographed by 
Walter Guy from Remnant's Hill, which ran the length of both Sections 63 & 64.
Nelson Provincial Museum/Guy Collection, ref. 315125

31) St James Anglican Church and the Ngatimoti War Memorial.
John McFadgen

32) Jim Remnant's apple orchard.
Guy Collection/Nelson Provincial Museum Permanent Collection, ref. 315074.

33) Bedford S model truck with log bolsters at TNL's Ngatimoti Depot which operated from 1858-1970
Courtesy Vannessa Woolf, whose grandfather Bill Woolf was Depot Manager at Ngatimoti  for many years

34) The second Ngatimoti School (1924-1954) next to the present War Mmemorial Hall.
Courtesy Lynne Kerrigan (nee Harris)

35) "Little Flick" at the Ngatimoti Peninsula Bridge. (1996)  Was replaced by a new, bigger fire engine 
at the same time as the new Ngatimoti Fire Station was built around 2002.
Courtesy Edward Stevens

36) 1983 flood as seen from the old one-way Black Bridge (replaced in 2009 by a modern two-lane version)
From Beatson, K & Whelan, H. The River Flows On, pg 134

37) A woman driving a gig approaches the first Ngatimoti school on Waiwhero Raod.
Nelson Provincial Museum Collection, (ex Tasman Heritage Collection) ref. C1761

38) Timber stacked for drying at Baigent's Waiwhero Sawmill
From Back Then..Threads from Motueka's Past: Waiwhero Sawmill 
by Derilene Aston p 13. Original photo courtesy Mrs E. Horrell.

39) Pokororo School. Class of 1893-4
H. Whelan, unpublished ms.

40) Fred Biggs putting the cream can out at the gate for collection ca.1950s
Courtesy Biggs family


  1. This has come together well, Annie. It's and interesting read! I'm sure there will be further additions and changes.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Thanks Anne for your dedicated research. Very interesting to an ex-local!

  4. Thanks for this very interesting article. We have just recently visited Ngatimoti to have a look at the area. My great grandparents are James and Rosa Remnant.

  5. Great to hear from someone from the Remnant family, Alison. The whole area along Waiwhero Road where the family lived for so long was known for many years as "Remnants'". This article is a work in progress as I discover more about the history of this area and its settlers.

    Many years ago we had a visit from a member of the Remnant family, visiting I think from Ashburton. He took some grafts from the old pear trees with him and told us the story of how the original trees came out from England as slips inside potatoes. Unfortunately we never got his name or contact details to ask him more about the history of the family and our farm. If there's anything you can add or something you disagree with I'd love to hear from you. My email address is:

  6. Thanks for such a fascinating blog. I would love to obtain a copy of a photo you have included of the Gathering at the Upper Motueka Valley Settlement (later renamed Mararewa)following the dedication of the Anglican Church of the Ascension on 23 May 1865. I am a Massey University history student.
    Sue McCliskie

    1. Hi Sue- i'm not able to contact you through my blog, so could you please contact me through my email: