New Zealand Pioneer
MRS. C. G. CROSSE
Wellington in the ‘Forties
DOMINION SPECIAL SERVICE.
Palmerston North, July 17.
“In those early days, had my life been as full of varied interests as are the lives of young folk to-day, I think my memory would have been poor, but the arrival of a boat, new scenery and new people, meant a great deal to us in the early ‘forties, and seem to have printed indelible pictures on the minds of the pioneers,” said Mrs. C. G. Crosse, one of Palmerston North’s oldest residents, who will celebrate her one hundredth birthday to-morrow. Mrs. Crosse has a remarkably accurate and detailed memory of people and places in early New Zealand.
Mrs. Crosse was born on July 18, 1829, and was the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. E. Thorby, of Bishop’s Stortford, in Hertfordshire. She came to New Zealand with her family in 1841 by the Lady Nugent, and she first set foot ashore in this country at the spot which is now the lower end of Tinakori Road, Wellington, and which was then a very fine beach. Among the 17 cabin passengers on the Lady Nugent was Judge Haswell and his son, who returned to England shortly afterwards.
First Races at Hutt.
One of Mrs. Crosse’s most interesting recollections is the first race meeting held at the Hutt. In her own words: “Sir Charles Clifford, Mr. Weld and Dr. Dorset, the first doctor in the colony, and a few other choice spirits, organised the meeting. Sir Charles Clifford, of course, was the father of racing in the Colony. Afterwards the races were held at Burnham Water, now called Miramar.”
First Empire Hotel.
One of the earliest landmarks in Wellington was a Maori pa situated where the Wellington Club now stands, called Wi Tako Pa, Wi Tako being the educated Maori chief who was sent Home to be presented to Queen Victoria. In Mulgrave Street was the first place of worship, opposite where St. Paul’s Pro-Cathedral now stands. The first school was in Willis Street, where Mr. Finnimore, who had also come to New Zealand on the Lady Nugent, was in charge. This ship had also brought out the plain wooden structure for the Empire Hotel, which was built in Willis Street.
Mrs. Crosse recollected that the grandfather of Sir George Hunter was Wellington’s first Mayor, that the first Minister had been the Bishop of Hadfield, the first lawyer Mr. Brandon, and the first Resident magistrate Mr. St. Hill, which family still owned property in Hawke’s Bay. St. Hill Street, Wanganui, [Whanganui] named after Mr. St. Hill. Mr. Robert Roger Strang, father of the wife of the late Sir Donald McLean, was the first registrar of birth, marriages and deaths.
“Dances were held at Kaiwarra, [Kaiwharawhara] but the first place of amusement was called ‘Ship’s Hotel,’ a curious place in Manners Street,” Mrs Crosse said. “The hills at Oriental Bay had no trees, and a Mr. Dupper had a sheep run there. Te Aro flat and Thorndon were just uninteresting, barren wastes, with here and there flax bushes. I remember that tuis and pigeons were plentiful; the tuis were delicious and had a much better flavour than the pigeons.”
Mrs. Crosse has in her possession a valuable picture of Wellington in 1841, showing each building, pa and other place of interest.
A Six Day’s Trip
Mrs. Crosse said her father had first built a residence at the top of Bolton Street and later went to Karori. In 1853 she married the late Mr. C. G. Crosse and went to live at the Hutt. Eighteen months afterward they went to Hawke’s Bay to start sheep-farming. “The journey up the Tuki Tuki River from Napier to Patangata is unforgettable,” Mrs. Crosse said. “I was one of four women to venture on the journey, which took six days and nights. The mother of the late Dr. Newman, of Wellington, was with us. The trip was a wonderful one, but very, very wearisome. The last day we were without food, and the last nine miles I had to walk carrying a baby ten months old. It is rather strange to think that now that trip can be covered in eight hours.”
Mrs. Crosse had a family of ten. There are 34 grandchildren and 48 great-grandchildren. Four grandsons were killed in the war. It is a tradition in her family that at least one son must be named Latimer, this because of a tradition concerning Latimer Crosse, who carried a standard in the Holy War centuries ago.
Mrs. Louis Seifert, of Palmerston North, has given Mrs. Crosse her hundredth birthday cake, which is decorated with a hundred candles.