Letter 1934

Hastings, N.Z.,

February 3rd, 1934

Dear Alick,

I acknowledge yours of 3rd. November and agree with you, at our age, it is the past we think about not the future. If I was able I could give a very interesting experience of my boy life, and having been just old enough to realise the position of my Father who was too old when he landed in this country to make a fresh start in life for his family. When he died, times were very hard here, but I knew they were very much worse in England and there was not that chilly frost and snow to put up with, but a nice warm climate. In a few days I was at work for 10/- a week. It would fill a newspaper to tell you of all the jobs I took on and always felt happy, but the most lovable man and family I met was a Mr. Whitson, a brewer. I lived in the house with them, and returned on the second occasion to them.

He was really my Foster Father, but I felt a desire to become a sheep farmer and rolled up my blankets and took the steamer for Hawkes Bay where I got a billet on a sheep station, to which I had walked 40 miles with a swag on my back. The first Sunday was washing day, and I went down with the rest of the men and washed my shirt and socks in the river. They all owned one or two horses each, and the rest of the day was spent in horse dealing, selling, swapping or exacting..  Aft

After eicht [eight] weeks experiences on shepherding, I decided to return to Auckland, but while staying in a Hotel waiting for the steamer a Mr. Swan heard me conversing with a person, and he asked me if I had come from the north of England.

I replied, “Yes“.

He then said, “If you go to my Brewery I will give you a job.”

From the previous Brewery I had a fair knowledge of the work, and from abottle washer I rose to be Brewer, and was with him for 20years.  I brought poor Claras down from Auckland, built a house, and we lived together until she married. I then married, later, took a trip to England, and on my return moved to Hastings and went into business on my own, and up to 1931 had done very well until the great earthquake came along and buried about £30.000 in property and owing to the low selling price of the principal products of sheep, cattle, wool and fruit, the value of land and town properties has gone down to just half of its original value, and owing to the hugh [huge] increase in population and production, I don’t think we will live to see the happy prosperous times we used to have.

However, I have a lot to be thankful for, although suffering with neuritis, I have a comfortable house and home free of all encumberances  and Dudley, my son, is now married also Doreen, and Elsie, and Claras’ family there are two unmarried daughters, very comfortable with a business to keep them, managed by their brother Fred, who has also a very fine house and two acres of ground well planted with trees and a tennis lawn. He is a very popular chap, and is at present on holiday tour to the Waitanga [Waitangi] celebrations, brought about by the generosity of our present Governor.

And I can speak of many since 1874, since Sir George Grey’s time. Although Jellicoe is not to be despised, he was a good sport and well liked by everyone, the majority were poor in comparison to the present subject. I intend to post to you an illustrated paper with particulars of hil [his] wonderful gift, which was being neglected and looked upon as no value owing to the poor land in that district, and adjoining it there is none equal in the north to this district, although that is the first and oldest inhabited part of N.Z., by the white people. I know all about it for I worked in a coal mine near by for a short time. It is situated on the extreme portion of the North Island and is nearer to Australia than any other portion of New Zealand.

Father was granted 140 acres of land before he left England by the Government. He did not come out as an emigrant, but paid the passage money of all his family and was entitled to this grant of land. I sold it at 3/6 per acre and have never seen it. The Northern railway line now runs near or possibly through a portion of it. I think the reason that he took up his land there, he knew of the Burnetts of Avingham were living in that direction or district. On one occasion I met Mr. Burnett who told me the man servant who came outto [out to] N.Z. with them had a recommendation from father. The poor fellow committed suicide by drowning himself in the river. I believe he bought a section of land in the township which is a fairly well built town to-day, which is called Whangarei. I had quite a romantic trip by a sailing cutter to this pretty village as I saw it. I told the captain on the Auckland wharf that we had land somewhere in the district. He invited me to take a trip with him. We had a very rough passage and put into a port for shelter. It was inhabited by Nova Scotians from Canada, who all spoke Galick [Gallic]. I was glad to get ashore, and a dear old woman gave me a warm feather bed for the night. The following morning I was glad to see the Cutter lying at anchor. The Captain came ashore and bought a bag of potatoes, then proceeded on to Whangarei, where we arrived ear-ly in the afternoon. Our cargo consisted principally of tea, suga, [sugar] flour, cheese, and other household stores. There were a few young girls waiting for their mail, and three horses grasing [grazing] loosely along the bank of the River. I hopped ashore, w[e]

walked up the road, and thought it was the prettiest place I had ever seen. There were a few men near the Public House, and to my surprise I met a Coal miner who came out on the ship with us – a married man, who told me that a Mr. Bedlington from Ovingham, had opened coal mines there or was manager or director there. I felt overjoyed, payed [paid] them a visit. Lost the future visit by boat – Never reached the Land I went to.

Original digital file


Date published

3 February 1934

Format of the original

Typed letter


  • Edward Newbigin

Additional information

Letter from Edward Newbigin (1850-1934) to person named Alick

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