Diaries of Reverend Philip Cuthbert Anderson – Susan Siddles

Introduction: Now we have some special guests today – Sue Siddles will be speaking, and Grant Ancell – he’s from the Knowledge Bank, and if you allow it he wants to tape the speech today for the Knowledge Bank. We’ll start with Sue Siddles, with her speech. Thank you.

Sue Siddles: Well, it’s not so much a speech … well, hello. Thank you very much for letting me come here this afternoon. What I’ve got here is the results of a project that the Friends of the Taradale Library have been involved in for the last eighteen months. Alison and Michelle, who are the two research librarians, asked the Friends if we could assist with doing some transcribing of some old diaries. And several of us – Pauline, and Kathleen; Barbara Billington – we all got involved in this project, which rather took over our lives. [Chuckles] Like everything else, you know, it just grew and grew.

Now the diaries [coughing] are Philip Cuthbert Anderson, who was the first vicar of Taradale, who you might’ve heard about. His diaries were down in the Alexander Turnbull Library, and Alison got hold of those and thought it might be local, to go into our local history department at the library here.

So, this is what we took over. They cover the years from 1872 … and they look like that … you can have a good look at these later; and they cover the rest of his life. He was twenty-two when he started writing these, and he lived to be eighty-five; and he kept a diary every day for the rest of his life. We didn’t get too involved in the ones that didn’t involve Taradale. He left Taradale – he left the church – in 1878, and that’s when we stopped. He went down to Akaroa at that point. So that’s the basis of what we’ve done; we have transcribed them to that state so that they’re easily readable. And there are two volumes that cover that period, and they’re in the history department at the library, so you’re welcome to go in and read them.

But of course, like everything else, once we’d done that we got really interested in this guy, and we started to delve a bit deeper. We found out that he’d also written Reminiscences later in life. In about 1915 he sat down and wrote an account of his life and that was in the Mitchell Library in Sydney. So we got hold of those and transcribed those – they were about the same level of reading – so that we could you know, get a different view on his time.

Then of course we got interested in his early life – why did he come to New Zealand? And that’s what sort of took us off on a tangent, and we filled another folder with information about him. And all of this is just fantastic local history. He wrote in his diary every day, so it’s everything that was going on at the time.

We started to look at his origins, and we found out there was quite a bit of doubt about his parentage. [Chuckles] His father [Henry] was a vicar in the Indian Service … East India Company. His mother, Minnie, we don’t know much about; Minnie Cuthbert, her name was; but he was Philip Cuthbert Anderson … took that name. And we cannot find a marriage record at all, and we know that his father was married to somebody else in India. Philip’s sister was born in India, but we can’t get any closer than that as to his origins. We do know that he never lived with his parents. He went off to school at the age of six, in England … Berkhamsted in England; then he went to [coughing] a boarding school. And then he was involved with somebody he calls his grandmother, but we’re not quite sure that she was his grandmother. If there is a relationship she might’ve been a great aunt. And when he was seventeen they shipped him off to New Zealand, and that’s really what it amounts to – they got rid of him, basically.

So he came here to New Zealand to stay with an uncle. Again, we’re not quite sure if he really was an uncle; and he was the surveyor in Napier, and he built a place out on the Okawa Block. His name was Octavius Lawes Woodthorpe Bousfield; so the Bousfield name is quite prominent in Napier history at this time. This was 1866-’67 … that sort of time.

So he lived with his uncle [coughing] for three or four years, and he wasn’t keeping the diary at that time, but we know from the Reminiscences that he joined the local militia, ’cause it was at the time of the Maori wars; and I’ll read you a little bit of his account of that in a minute.

He had been articled to an architect in London for a year before he came out here, after he left school, and he always reckoned himself to be a bit of an architect, so I think that suited him to come to this uncle here who was doing the surveying work. But the uncle went bankrupt and went up to Gisborne, which left Philip on his own.

And then we pick him up in Waipawa. And he was down there as a shepherd for about three years, until he got a job with the Chapmans as a tutor. He tutored two of the Chapman children. The Chapmans were a family along with the Tiffens, who owned a lot of land down outside Waipawa; and that’s when Philip started the diary, so we have a lot of detail about his life down there. Also, the Chapmans kept diaries and were artists; and we found in MTG [Museum Theatre Gallery] here, the most wonderful collection of watercolours that Chapman had done at this time, in the early 1870s, which anybody can go and have a look at. In the folder here we’ve got copies of some of them, and they’re all in this folder down in the library – anybody can go in and have a look at it. Oxbow Lake which is still there … we went and had a look at that, didn’t we, a few weeks ago. Beautiful old watercolours of that time, and accounts of what farming life was like. We’ve included quite a bit of detail about the people that he came across in Waipawa – all the names. The Waipawa Settlers Museum was great – they gave us lots of information.

At the time that he was down there, as well, he met Kate Arrow, who was the daughter of the local schoolmaster; and for about three years of the diaries, all he does is moon after this girl. [Chuckles] He was very smitten with her; although we think he might’ve been a little bit compos, because at one point the chaperone leaves them together for an evening, and he spends the whole evening with her on his own and all they do is sing hymns and pray. [Chuckles] And he baptises her, [murmurs and chuckles] and it’s the best evening of his life. [Chuckles]

But Kate’s father didn’t like him at all. They had to meet in secret; he didn’t like him. But we found out through other research that he didn’t like any of his daughters’ boyfriends, so he wasn’t alone in that one.

While he was down there he met Irvine, who was the local vicar, and Irvine was appointed to be head of the Napier Grammar School; so when he was about to come up here Philip asked him for a job; and came up with him and took over as assistant school master at Napier Grammar School.

So for the next few months he’s up in Napier, and the diaries record everything that was going on in Napier. Very interesting things; he attends the Land Court – he writes about that. He watches the railway being built; he comments on the fact that sections are being sold for a settlement to be called Hastings. All this is in his diary. He goes to the Land court quite often, and he also attends trials; the guy who was accused of killing the [?] … he would go to that trial. And he’s a bit of a snob – he goes to a ball with the cream of Napier society. [Chuckles] He dances all evening, and when it’s time to call his cab, the cabbie isn’t there. And he looks around and realises that the cabbie is dancing; and he doesn’t like that – he doesn’t think the cabbie should be mixing with [chuckles] people like him. So there’s a bit of an element of that. Also, he fell out with everybody; he was always having arguments. So you know, we’re not sure of his character, but he was only early twenties, so … you know, we can forgive a bit of that, probably.

Again, he fell out with Irvine big-time, resigned from the Grammar School; but by then he’d got in with the bishop, Bishop Williams and Archdeacon Williams, and they gave him a job and he was ordained as a Deacon after some time, which was really what he wanted. So in 1874 he was offered the Taradale parish, which he took.

So he came out here, and of course there were no roads or anything here; very few people living here. But from keeping his diary every day, we know who was here, who he talked to, who he collected money from; because it was his job to build a church, and he had to get the money from the people who lived here. So we have lists of all the people who were living in Taradale in 1874-5, and where they lived and what their occupations were. The Taradale parish was absolutely enormous … if you think of Napier South down to the river mouth at Awatoto – and it was just a spit of land of course, at that time – up the river to Meeanee, up to Kuripapango, across to the Mohaka, down the other side of Bay View called Petane, and back to Napier; and that was the Taradale parish. It was absolutely enormous, so I take my hat off to him, you know. And there were no roads; he rode his horse, and he kept records of the weather and everything that was going on. So it was a real responsibility to take on.

As soon as he was made a Deacon, he married Kate. The father had given in by then, [chuckle] so Kate Arrow became Kate Anderson, and she was the vicar’s wife in Taradale. There was no church here of course – it was his job to build one – so they held services in his cottage, which was where the Caltex station is now. And actually, he says that from his verandah he could look out to sea and see the ships; ’cause there was nothing between them … not much vegetation because most of it was water and swamp. So you know, shows how different it was.

He also describes in great detail, floods – Taradale was very prone to flooding at that time – and he talks about the river just running down the street here, and the devastation that all that caused. He details as I say, all the people that [who] lived here, the events that went on here.

And one of the prominent people in the area of course, was Tiffen … Frank Tiffen. And he donated the land for the church. Philip went around collecting money – he had to get half the money for the church; the bishop would pay the rest. He had to get half, which he managed to do, and he insisted that the church was [be] built in kauri, so it took a little bit longer than they were expecting, but we ended up with a beautiful little church. And we have photos in here of the original church buildings … the interiors, because we delved around in the Diocesan office and the All Saints records. Alison and I went online and found all sorts of bits and pieces, so there’s a lot of information in there which I won’t go into, but it’s interesting to sit and read.

So he got the church built; he also got a parsonage built next door, which he moved into; and a school – he was very hot on schooling. Before he got the church built they shared with the Presbyterian [coughing] church … what they called the Scotch church, down in Meeanee. And we have the agreement that they made, that they would pay £13 a year to use the church each Sunday, as long as they weren’t there after twilight; they had to vacate the premises before it got dark, because they weren’t allowed to use lighting of any kind. We presume it was candles, and they were scared of it burning down. And they had to lock the [cough] gate; all obviously written down.

So he had got himself established in Taradale. We’re not sure how popular he was, because Gail Pope at the [Napier] Museum found some diaries that were written at the same time, and they don’t show him in a very good light, [chuckle] you know … people’s opinion[s] of him.

The big thing that came about was the Robinson affair. Because it was such a huge parish he was given a curate to help him who was based in Puketapu, which he was very pleased about because it meant he didn’t have to hold a service in Meeanee in the morning, walk or ride to Puketapu for the afternoon service, and hold a [coughing] service in Taradale in the evening, which he’d been doing for two years. So when he was granted the use of a curate, he was very please about that. But very soon he realised that this guy wasn’t all that he made out to be. He was passing off sermons that were really popular as being his own, when he knew that they’d been written by somebody else. He was collecting money – and he was an Irishman, and everybody [cough] loved his brogue, you know, he was very, very popular, but Philip and Townsend, who was the vicar in Napier, realised that he was a fraud. Because [cough] he was more popular, nobody believed them, so there was an awful lot of trouble over this.

We went to the Diocesan records at St John’s and it really was a furore about this … what was going on. He skipped the Diocese; the Bishop got involved; in the end Philip went down to Christchurch to try and sort it out with the Archbishop down there – that’s where he was – and it was proved that this guy was a fraud. He’d never been ordained; he was collecting money for himself, not the church; there was [a] terrible fuss about it. But nobody believed them – nobody believed that, and over that business he basically lost his job because people didn’t trust him any more and they didn’t like him.

And from these other diaries we’ve got, Anna Spencer, who was the doctor’s wife said, “These horribly tiresome people came to see me. I hear he’s been detested in town; serve him right, ignorant dog.” So this is the sort of thing that people were saying about him and writing about him – they really didn’t like him. And because the parish paid his stipend, they stopped paying it, so he had no money. And that’s why he left Taradale; he was offered a job in Akaroa, and he took it, and he was about thirty at that time. So all through his twenties he’d had it pretty hard really, but he’d achieved an awful lot, he really had.

We know that he went down to Akaroa; he was there for about ten years, and he assisted the Bishop; went out to the Chatham Islands; did quite a lot of work down there. And then he left to go to Australia, and his account is that he left because Kate was sick, and they needed a warmer climate. But we found in the records, a little piece that said he ‘fled New Zealand because of a moral lapse’. [Laughter] We’d love to know what the moral was, but we haven’t found out. And he spent the rest of his life in Australia, just outside Sydney, working in various churches there.

So he had quite an eventful life, our young guy; and his diaries … as I say, I’m not going to go into detail with those at the moment because it’s something you can sit and read yourself at leisure, in the library. What I am going to read you is an account that he wrote of being in the local militia. Also, if somebody here knows where Pakara-utu is … that’s the name of the camp when he was in the militia. And I’ll read two or three pages here – it just says:

‘A Description of Pakara-utu [spells] near Napier, as I knew it in 1865 and 1870’. We hope that’s what it is, because you know, his spelling isn’t the best sometimes.

Question: So it doesn’t exist currently?

Sue: No – we know that it’s somewhere near Te Aute … somewhere there; well between there and Waipawa. It’s the camp. I’ll read this … so this is his account of 1865:

‘In the good old days when Napier was Ahuriri; Wellington, Port Vic; [Victoria] and the Forty Mile Bush absolute ‘terra incognita’ to Europeans, there were several Maori settlements tolerably close together on the Te Aute Road between Napier and Waipawa. In their midst, about thirty miles from Napier, was Pakara-utu’.

So that’s as close as we can get to it.

‘Not that it was altogether a Maori settlement, though. A public house, a small store and a few bushmen’s huts, or whares as we called them in Maori land, constituted Pakara-utu, hence the name which a free translation might render ‘the place to lose money in’. The place was surrounded by dense forest, now clear gone, for once axe and fire set to work in the New Zealand bush it soon dies out. This was worked by pairs of sawyers here and there who, by their systematic knocking down of their cheques at the local pub, caused the observant Maori to [cough] give their name to the place.

‘When I first knew the place, some queer characters were to be found there – old soldiers, runaway sailors; more than one from Sydneyside, whose voyage from England was a matter it was not deemed polite, or altogether politic either, to enquire about. Some had Maori wives whose marriage lines it would have been hard for them to show. The pub itself was kept by an old soldier who had a half-caste wife and large family. Whilst ‘old Beachyhead’, as Boniface was called, was addicted to rum it is only fair to his wife to say that she was a good soul, except for having a terribly sharp tongue.

‘Amongst the characters at Pakara-utu were two brothers named Birch. One had been trained for a lawyer; the other had followed the sea. Each received an income of some £200 a year from England. When the remittance arrived, the hilarious pair stood treat all round, and did not see daylight ‘til the money was gone. Then their troubles began, and many were the shifts resorted to to raise wind for a bottle to sober up with.’

Some of the language we don’t quite understand now, but it’s obviously slang that they used then.

‘Harry, the elder brother, was tutor to the Boniface’s children, whilst Ned, the younger, was a lawyer, and had a resourceful mate in one Jimmy Blackshaw, an old Sydney hand. Jimmy never struck at trifles you may be sure, and if no larger or more valuable asset could be annexed, a raid on a Maori potato patch or a neighbouring hen roost enabled him to raise the’ … somethings; there are a few words we couldn’t read … ‘when these periodical emergencies arose. Finally however, things got too hot even for him, and having by some means purloined a valuable watch which the local storekeeper bought off him, and for which transaction that worthy got four years, Jimmy bade an informal farewell to Pakara-utu, and was not heard of afterwards. There were no telegraphs then, so if Jimmy was wanted by the police, he left them wanting.

‘Previous to his final escapade, a mob of Nova Scotian sawyers took a large government contract, and I happened to have the delectation of arriving from up-country on a tired horse, the very night that their boss was giving them a supper and a ball at the pub, on completion of the contract. Money was plentiful and so was the rum, and Jimmy and his mate, Ned, were very much in evidence. The orchestra consisted of old Nick [?Ops?], an old man o’ wars man who was all there with his fiddle, and by no means a bad fellow. I only remember one young lady on the scene, and she was the servant of the pub, born in the locality, and she needed to be well able to hold her own. A few elderly ladies of the [? style?] made up in individual quantity for the paucity of the fair sex.

‘Early in the evening Mr Bradshaw, alias Jimmy, was challenged to go head first into a large barrel of water. No sooner said, than done. He was duly hauled out, and for an hour or two afterwards was flopping about, wet outside and in. Songs were numerous, and a German member of the company composed a song for the occasion on the lines of the fine old Captain shouting, “Outward bound!” By the way, in these steamship days, how little one hears now of these jolly roaring old choruses.

‘Tommy, it must be remarked, was an ancient hand. By this time Ned Birch appeared under the impression that he was once more sailing the ocean blue, as he came up to me saying, “James, take the wheel!” My name is not James. I was tired enough, but against I lay down on the sofa in the best parlour. Night was being made far too hideous to allow sleep; and hence, occasionally when an extra hubbub arose, I arose too, to ascertain the cause. On one of the occasions a young fellow who’d sung one or two songs was watching old Nick, the fiddler, very closely. As that eminent musician was vigorously rasping out ‘Lady one hopes [??]’ and his estimable wife, steadying herself against the wall at her side, the old lady evidently laboured under the delusion that the youngster had designs on the fiddle, for she hiccupped out, “You’ve no call to keep your eye on the fiddle, old bloke – you ain’t gonna get it” – which remark created no little laughter. She subsided into a maudlin silence.

‘At breakfast next morning, very few showed up, and the lady of the house presided at the table. Before many minutes, she commenced tongue-thrashing one of her children, who refused to answer her. Finally she said, “Have you got a tongue in your head, or have you not?” Her ruff was boundless when one of the local gentry present said, “If he ain’t, I know one of the family as has”.’

[Chuckles] So the next bit’s describing his commission:

‘The war was in full swing, and those not serving as volunteers or in the various cause of colonial troops, were compelled to serve in militia. So it fell to my lot to belong to a company that had to attend periodical drills and rifle practices at Pakara-utu. The worst of it all was that it was shearing time, and these drills brought work to a ferocious standstill, for not only was an afternoon lost in drilling etcetera, and going several miles to and from the drill ground on the flat in front of the pub, but invariably, some of the men returned with their skins full and were worth very little the next day.

‘Nor was the complaint confined to the men. A new ensign having been gazetted was a local sheep farmer, and knew as much of drill as he did of Chinese. He was duly brought round by his superior officer to visit the various squads at their respective drill grounds – said drill grounds being in the immediate vicinity of a public house. He was very fairly full on arrival at Pakara-utu, and his uniform showed only too plainly how at least one attempt to mount his horse had resulted in his slipping backwards. All the same, the sergeant, after saluting, delicately hinted that the men hoped he would ‘wet his commission’; which he proceeded to do in such royal style that not many of the squad went home very straight.

‘As we were drilled by a man familiar only with the drill of a period twenty or twenty-five years previous, the drill itself was a farce. I have seen rear rank men quietly extract bayonets from the sheaths of men in front rank and hold them between the calves of the legs. And when the word[s], “Fix bayonets”, was given there would be no end of a how-de-do.

‘Master and man stood side by side in the ranks, and this calls to mind a fancy that when the militia was called out on one occasion in Napier, several merchants quite ignored the call. The got fined £1 each, and were given to understand that if they failed to attend the next drill, they would be run in without the option.

‘In those days we had the old muzzle-loading Enfield rifle, and pretty growling there used to be amongst the station hands at having to hump this ancient engine of war with waist belt and bayonet, and cross belt and cartridge box for five miles, to drill and five back, on a hot summer afternoon. Those of us who rode, of course, minded it less. We were supposed to be paid, but none of our fellows ever were – perhaps because we never applied. For months we slept at night with rifles loaded and capped, and belts and bayonets where they could at once be slipped on; and I believe this was a really wise provision of the authorities because the friendly Maoris were always about the stations and homesteads and it was notorious that whenever they knew, the other fellows knew. Accordingly, the ‘other fellows’ as I call them, knew that if they tried their favourite dodge of a sudden early morning attack, we at least were to some extent prepared for them. Near towns and settlements, too, sentries were on duty all night; nor am I aware that when these precautions were taken, any such disasters occurred as the massacres at Poverty Bay and at Mohaka.

‘Yes, I speak of the attacking Maoris as the ‘other fellows’ in preference to calling them rebels, because I think in the main they were in the right, and only trying to either keep their own, or to repossess themselves of lands that they had been by unfair means induced to part with.’

It shows he was very much on the Maori side, and thought they’d been treated very badly.

‘But how changed is all now at dear old Pakara-utu; the forest itself is a bygone memory, and the Maori villages are empty and falling into decay. The good net of roads sees no longer Cobb & Co coaches running, at first weekly and ultimately daily, for the railway runs parallel to it in the valley behind the settlement. [??] Hāpuku and some of his sons who ruled the Maoris of his clan there have long since passed away. The Maoris of today are very different to those a generation ago who loved the rum of Pakara-utu, not wisely but too well.’

So you know, that’s looking back on his time there, but you know … gives us a good idea of the sorts of things that went on. Have I got time to read you another? This one [we] found very [coughing] intriguing. This is again from his Reminiscences; he went down to Christchurch to try and sort out this business with Robinson, the fraudulent rector. He always used to go to Christchurch by sea, but this time he got back to Wellington and there wasn’t a boat coming back to Napier, and he had to get back here, so he came overland. And this is a description of what it was like …

Question: What year was that?

Sue: This is 1877; and this is his account of getting back overland from Wellington:

‘We lost no time getting home, but on arrival in Wellington and finding an even longer delay than usual in connecting with the boat for Napier, I started overland the next morning by Cobb & Co’s coach at six o’clock. The weather was not cold. Going through the Ngauranga Gorge we breakfasted at Paiataruhe, a European corruption of the true Maori name. [Pauatahanui] Passing up the Horokiuri [Horokiri] Valley, we soon found ourselves on top of the Paekakariki Hills, looking across Cook Strait to Mana Island with its lighthouse, and Kapiti Island. And straight below us as it seemed, forty miles of sea sands which we had to drive through. To our right ran downwards a steep, narrow, winding cutting. We had only two horses in; the driver put the brakes on and told me to throw all my weight on him, which I did. It was about as dangerous a bit of road as I remember.

‘Reaching the sands, our horses were taken out and five fresh greys put in, two in the pole, and three abreast in the front. Hall, the driver, let them out, and we fairly sailed to Waikanae. This was an old whaling station and Maori pa where things had been lively in days gone by. There was an old hand there called Pluto; a Wellington newspaperman described an interview he had with him in which Pluto spoke of the gorgeous times they used to have after trying out a good [?]. When they staved in the head of a cask of rum they sat round with pannikins regaling themselves. The reporter asked Pluto what on earth they did the next morning before soda water was invented, to which the old man replied, “They just took a little more rum.”


‘Further on at Otaki – a combination of European and Native settlement and Mission station with a large and interesting Maori church, beautifully built themselves in native style – we had an excellent dinner at the hotel, and put on five fresh horses, and away again. By now the rivers were getting a bit tiresome – oh, so much rain! At the Ohau the driver handed me the reins, took out the off-leader, mounted him and forded the river. The water floated the horse’s tail out level with his back, and he appeared to me to be swimming. At this very crossing not many months before, a coach, passengers, driver and horses had been carried out to sea and lost. Yoking up, Hall put us through safely, the water pouring through the coach and the passengers crouching on their portmanteaux and on the seats. Hall now had to let the horses out as we still had the Manawatu River to cross, and night was falling. The headlights – five very powerful lamps – were lit, and we turned up the river road. It was flooding, and quantities of posts for fencing were continually being washed down on us. Presently we saw the ferry lights, and drove straight onboard; one shove off, and the connection between the punt and the wire cable across the river hummed again, and we were high and dry at the Foxton Hotel for the night. Our journey that day had been seventy-five miles.

‘At this time in New Zealand, near the cities, bush, townships and by the roadside, the hotels were good; amply supplied tables, clean beds and good attendants, and what was of equal moment, the best of everything for the horse. But this Foxton Hotel stands out in my memory as a ghastly exception to that rule.


‘The house was very full, and towards eight pm we had a very rough tea, badly cooked, and altogether indifferent. Towards ten o’clock the housemaid came in to make two shakedowns, of which I took one and a medical student from England, the other. As both sofas were covered with American cloth, its slippery surface tended only to land all the bedclothes on the floor. Hilarity was the order of the night ‘til after midnight in other rooms; and at five am there was a general hurrying up of passenger for the coach to Wellington, which had to start before daybreak to catch the tide at the Ohau ford, and I was just in time to prevent my portmanteau being bundled into the Wellington coach, though it was addressed to Napier perfectly plainly.

‘About six-thirty am we left Foxton for Palmerston; twenty miles by a veritable toy railway train of a baby engine and one carriage, that you had to stoop to enter. It got us there all the same, through dense bush all the way. Arrived at Palmerston we found the hotel excellent, and were at once regaled with a grand breakfast. Then the coach came round and we made a fresh start, and were all that day in Seventy Mile Bush, and descended the world-famed Manawatu Gorge. Palmerston is now a leading important town in the North Island, but when I saw it in 1876, it was a very pretty bush clearing with houses all round and facing the grassy square.

‘Driving a few miles through the bush we soon struck the fine Manawatu River, tearing in flood through its forest-clad banks; but there was a ferry running as usual on a wire cable. The ferry here consisted of two large canoes braced together, with a deck over. First the coach was dragged and pushed onboard; one shove from the bank and the stream catches the ferry and does the rest. Next the horses were taken across, and they seemed quite used to it. By the time we were across, coach and horses were awaiting us, and we soon struck the Manawatu Gorge between the Ruahine and Tararua Ranges, the mountain backbone of the North Island. The bad weather prevented enjoyment, and much interfered with our view of some of the finest mountain and bush scenery in the world. On our right the bush-clad mountains towered up; whilst at the foot of the precipice on our left – out of which the road was cut and blasted – but hundreds of feet below, the river foamed and surged through the gorge. Sitting as I was on the box, I could have dropped a stone into the torrent below. In fact, the driver has somewhat nerve-wracking work. A railway goes through the gorge now, and to judge by photographs I [coughing obscured] … the beautiful dense forest full of rimu, totara, matai and many other handsome and valuable timbers has fallen victim to axe, saw and fire. We duly made the descent of the gorge, finally crossing it on a fine, high-level girder bridge, after which we soon left the river behind. Today’s journey was also one of seventy-five miles, almost entirely through a noble forest with many rising bush towns en route, such as Woodville, Oringi, Tahoraiti where we dined and changed horses, on through Dannevirke and Norsewood, the Scandinavian settlements, to Takapau where we slept well and in comfort for our experiences the previous night at Foxton and our seventy-five mile drive, made us feel the need for sleep.’

And then he goes on that they just drove across the plains and got the railway, which had opened; and that brought them home. But … bit hair-raising in those days, [chuckle] to come in the coaches. So you know, his reminiscences is worth reading. Again, they give us a really good view of what it was like to live in New Zealand at this time.

Question: So Sue, how long did it take for his whole journey? How many days?

Sue: Three. And that was earlier; it would’ve taken longer, but by then they’d built the railway.

So as I say, in this book here we’ve got photos that we found. [Showing photos] That’s Philip and his wife; marriage certificate; the interesting parts are all the people that paid for the church in Taradale and how much they paid … contributions; the plans that he drew up; photos; [coughing] the school that he built; that’s a photo of him later … oh, and some old photos of Taradale at that time; Sister Aubert, who was the nurse at that time around here; so lots of incidental information about his life, as well as his actual day-to-day diaries.

Question: Did they have any children?

Sue: Yes, they had five children; two were born while he was here in Taradale. Again, he describes childbirth by saying, “Kate was ill in the night. The baby was born at five am.” He wasn’t terribly interested, ‘cause the next day he was ordained for the priest[hood] and was far more interested in that. [Chuckles] But yes – ladies were ‘ill overnight.’ [Chuckle] They had five children; three of them died as young children. But after Kate had died, he remarried and he and his second wife had another seven children. [Audience murmurs] But they’re all in Australia – that family are in Australia, yeah.

So that’s what we’ve done … so we’ve transcribed the diaries which cover 1872 to 1878; found his Reminiscences which give us his early life. Both the diaries and the Reminiscences go on for the rest of his life, but as I say, we cut it off when he left. And we’re still getting documents in – we got sent some this week, didn’t we, they found in the museum; I’ve been transcribing them this week, because they come in that form [demonstrates] and I’ve typed them up so that they can be read. The most interesting one I found was the contract that they entered into with the Presbyterian Church in Meeanee to use their building because there was no church here; they shared that church building for some time.

So there’s a lot of information here about early Taradale – the people, what was here; [cough] he wrote about the weather every day, so … good record of what the weather was like, events that went on …

Question: So now you’ve transcribed it, are you going to put it into a book form, or it’s going to be available as a resource for ..?

Sue: Well – at the moment these are just in the library. I’m sure you all know about the wonderful local history corner we’ve got in the library there. And I must say that everywhere we went looking for information, Irene Lister had been there before us. Her hand-written notes were everywhere we went. So a lot of this information is in other places, in a cupboard in the library, the Irene Lister Collection; what we’ve done is we’ve put it all together. They are already in the library; this extra background stuff that we found and his Reminiscences, I’m passing over at the end of this week, and Alison will sort it out – proof read it, go through it, and put it again, in the library in a form [that] you just go in and read it; for copyright reasons it can’t be borrowed. The Reminiscences we got from New South Wales; I had to sign a form to say I’d only make one copy, but it’s available for people to read. So it will be there, but I’m not exactly sure what form, probably …

Alison: It’ll just be another folder.

Sue: So it’s really a collection of information that’s always been out there; a lot of it’s been in Taradale, in the All Saints records, in the Diocesan records, in the Irene Lister Collection. We’ve just been online and found a lot more, and put it all together, really.

Question: I applaud you for doing what you’re doing; it’s quite a comprehensive bit of work. How long have you been on that research?

Sue: About eighteen months. Alison asked the Friends if we would get involved, and four or five of us sort of took a year’s worth each and did it, and then I collected it all and typed it all up. And we’ve been adding this other information in over the last year. As I say, we’ve been to the MTG, St John’s record, All Saints record, the Waipawa Museum, and just gradually added it all in together. But it’s pretty much finished now, I think.

Question: How’s your eyesight after transcribing from such copybook writing?

Sue: Don’t ask! [Chuckle]

Comment: No, that must be very difficult, and slow.

Sue: It was very difficult; this is why we shared it out. These pages as I say, they were printed off like that … photocopied. That’s a good one; that was easy to read. Some of them were absolutely dreadful; they were written with an old pen in a second-hand book that he’d been given, so the pencil had been rubbed out and then he’d written on top of it, you know, and old splodges of ink everywhere. And the first – I would say, two years of diaries – were very, very difficult to read, and they took quite a lot of time. There are still some words – not many, but some words – that we haven’t been able to …

Comment: Decipher?

Sue: Yep. So we just left … So if anybody’s reading it and they think they can read the word, please add it in. He also used quite a lot of Latin phrases; he was a bit pompous, you know, so [chuckles] he liked to show off that he knew a bit of Latin now and then. We’ve got the translations of those phrases; we managed to find most of those.

Question: Sue, what was the first sentence that he wrote in his diary?

Sue: The first sentence … right; this is the second volume – I haven’t got the first sentence.

Question: What age did he start writing those diaries?

Sue: 1872 he started, and he was born in 1848 … roughly around twenty-four, which is why we wanted to get hold of the Reminiscences. But in all of these diaries, he never mentions his parents. He mentions these uncles and aunts and grandmother a bit – they were supposed to send him money from England and they never did; he was always hard up. But this was one of the mysteries; this is why we wanted to find out about his parents; but if he was illegitimate he was probably ashamed of that, and didn’t want to talk about his parents, I would say. We never did sort that out, did we?

Alison: No, I think that the closest we got was like … somebody was possibly a serving girl in the house, you know …

Sue: Yes, we wondered if his mother was a servant in the house of the Andersons. We got close enough that the Rebekah he refers to as his grandmother, had a brother who was a bit of a rake, and we wondered if he wasn’t the father; the father of the grandfather and his wife. Yeah – very complicated [chuckle] because there was a common name in there about three generations back, but we haven’t been able to pinpoint that at all.

Alison: Her sister was executor of one of the Riching wills, so there were [was] a chance of being a niece or great-niece or something …

Sue: She was described in the will of one of the uncles as a niece, so we think there was something there. And the sister was quite interesting – she married and went to America; they were farming out there, and we think … we’re almost certain that Minnie, the mother of Philip, went and lived with her in America. We’ve got a gravestone over in Ohio that we’re almost certain is hers.

Question: I may’ve missed it, but what were the circumstances that brought him to New Zealand?

Sue: We think the family just wanted to get rid of him. [Chuckles] I know that sounds awful, but he hadn’t lived with his parents; he’d been sent off to school; when he left the boarding school he went to London and was articled to an architect for a year or so, and then he was sent out here. He says at one point it was because of his poor health; but when you see what he did on the farm when he came out here, he didn’t have poor health, you know. And the uncle that he was sent to live with didn’t know he was coming – he arrived on the boat that had the letter that said, [laughter] ‘Here I am’, yeah, so … there’s a bit in here [coughing] about how his uncle had to find him, you know, ‘cause he got off the boat and he didn’t know he was coming. So I think probably it was just that there wasn’t anything for him in the family in England, and he came out here. But he always wanted to be ordained. When he was at school he wanted to go to Oxford. Quite a lot of the family had been to Oxford, and it was a family of vicars, you know, they were all in the church. And all through the diaries and the Reminiscences, if he meets anybody from Oxford, they’re all the best, you know.

Question: So being ordained was sort of … just gave him status?

Sue: Yes. He was very much … if there was a Sir, ‘cause he had quite a lot to do with the Russells and Colenso, and all sorts of people like that, he always gives them their full title … Sir This, or Bishop This, or … you know, very much. Everybody else just gets their surname. But it’s very interesting in Taradale, because all the people that he’s mixing with are all the street names in Taradale; they’re all the people that were living here.

Question: Is there Anderson Road after him?

Sue: No. That’s somebody who worked on the Roskilda Orchards, ‘cause that’s an Anderson.

Question: So he would’ve gone to Tiffen to get the land for the church, wouldn’t he?

Sue: Tiffen gave the land for the church; when he was selling off the land along what is now Church Road, he said, “There’s a piece of land there you can have for a church and a parsonage if you raise half the money”, which they did. And it notes in here … somebody who bought one of the sections along Church Road, when he went to register it, they said, “Right – what’s the name of the road?” And he said, “It hasn’t got a name, but there’s a church on the corner being built”, so they called it Church Road.

Question: Right, so the land alongside the school land – the Taradale School – is almost part of the church land, isn’t it?

Sue: Yes, yeah. The original school building was almost next to the church, but all that corner, yeah. And Tiffen also gave the land for the cemetery. The cemetery was opened just before he left Taradale; conducted the first funeral there. So there we are.

Alison: I’d just like to say that for somebody who was disliked, he has a very good way to articulate, you know, within diaries; so for someone who wasn’t liked very much, he speaks really well, and he brings it all back to life, you know.

Sue: Exactly – he wrote well. Yes. Those of us who did the transcribing – we all said the same thing; we didn’t like him very much, but when you think what his life had been … he had no family life, no contact with his parents, shipped out to New Zealand, didn’t know anybody, didn’t know what he was coming to … he made a big success of his life from those beginnings. And yes, he fell out with everybody; [chuckles] oh, he had rows with everybody. He wasn’t a very likable character, but as you say, he was very articulate, very intelligent, and he wrote well.

Comment: If he had been to boarding school he would’ve been well educated, I would think.

Sue: Oh yes, he went to a good school in England for … four or five years he was there; Berkhamsted Grammar School. ‘Cause we have a letter that he wrote back to that school later in life when he heard from the local newspaper that they were going to knock down one of the buildings. And he wrote a letter back to the school, you know, saying ‘don’t knock that building down’. [Chuckles] And so he comes across as a bit pompous, but he knew his stuff, yeah.

Okay? All of this will be in the library, and you know, we think it’s a valuable addition to the local history. And if anybody’s got anything to add to it, please … you know, it’s not a finished … we’ve finished the project as far as we can, but that doesn’t mean things can’t be added to it later if you find out anything, or have got anything to add when you’ve read it, you know; a bit more information about things. Okay?


Closing: Thank you, Sue, that was a great insight …

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Public Talk by Susan Siddles, Friends of the Taradale Library


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