Newspaper Article 1931 – Passing of a Pioneer




The death occurred at Palmerston North to-day of Mrs Elizabeth Crosse, aged 101, widow of the late Charles Grant Crosse.

She is survived by seven children, 34 grandchildren and 48 great grandchildren.

Deceased was the mother of Mr L. G. Crosse, of Weber, and Mr C. Crosse, of Wimbledon. Born in Essex, England, in 1830, Mrs Cross arrived in New Zealand on March 17, 1841. Mrs Crosse and her parents were among the passengers aboard the Lady Nugent, who were recognised as some of the better class early immigrants to New Zealand. They experienced no difficulty with the Maoris and built their first home where the old Wellington cemetery is now situated. As soon as a road had been made they shifted to Karori, which was then clad with beautiful native bush. The children of the whites, unlike the Maori, were very destructive and the bush soon disappeared. Reminiscensing [reminiscing], Mrs Crosse said the ground where the Gentlemen’s Club now stand was the site of Wi Tako’s Maori Pa. The pa was splendidly built and the natives were well looked after. Their chief Wi Tako, had been educated by the missionaries and later visited the Old country and was presented to Queen Victoria. In the vicinity of the Botanical gardens was a beautiful valley with a stream of water running through, but following the big earthquake of ’48 the stream became dry. The first place of worship in Wellington was in a store belonging to Major Hornbrook, one of the first Wellington settlers, who later moved to Christchurch, where he died. Mrs. Crosse attended the first service with her father at the store, which was situated opposite where the Cathedral now stands. All where Oriental Bay now stands was a sheep run owned by a Mr Dipper, but a great deal of trouble was experienced with the Maori dogs from the pas worrying the sheep. It had been said that the early settlers suffered great privations and at times were almost starving. Mr Crosse, however, stoutly maintains that this was not true in regard to the Wellington pioneers. There was always an abundance of potatoes and pumpkins, and pigs, pigeons and tuis were shot and brought to the small settlement and sold. Tuis were very numerous at the time and made a beautiful dish when roasted. Mrs Crosse married in 1853 and the young couple moved to Hawke’s Bay and she was one of the first four women to go up the Tukituki river from Napier to Waipukurau, there being no other means of transport. The journey was accomplished in six days in a flat bottomed boat. In 1855 Mr and Mrs Crosse took up land in Porangahau and prior to their being permanently settled there, were camping on the banks of the Porangahau river, on the opposite side to the Maori pa. The Porangahau river is tidal and one night after they had retired to rest they were awakened by the Maoris shouting “You foolish Pakehas.” Her husband had stated that the pedlar had visited the pa during the day and had probably sold them some sly grog which was taking effect. On getting out of bed they found that water was up to their knees and the wisdom of the Maori came into play when they shouted: “Wainui (too much water) get over the hill till the moon goes down.” The winter stores had just been packed away and when the flood was over the rice, sugar and tea had been all washed away or destroyed. As Mr and Mrs Crosse hastily left for higher country they could hear their highly prized 48 fowls dropping off their perches and dying. Mr Crosse was killed when thrown off a horse in 1871, and in order to give the children a better education, Mrs Crosse moved to Napier. Two sons kept the farm going, which was the first in Waipukurau, Sir George Hunter’s estate being the second. Mrs Crosse went to Palmerston North in 1891 and then to Wanganui and later to Dannevirke. In 1919 she again went to Palmerston North and has lived in that town ever since.

Among the many vivid recollections of early Wellington Mrs Crosse remembers the first two boats built. One Sunday morning she was going down to get some water while her father and a neighbour had been watching the first of the ships to be launched making its way across the harbour in a choppy sea. When she returned up the hill with the water she informed her father, who had gone inside, that the ship had gone down. A boat was immediately sent out and all except one of the crew were saved. Mrs Crosse had not suffered much with illness during her life and retained fair use of her faculties. She was unfortunate enough to fall and break her arm some time ago, but recovered from her mishap.

On the occasion of her birthdays latterly members of the family used to assemble for the fitting celebration of the event, and did so as usual on her attaining her 100th birthday.

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Newspaper article

Date published

22 November 1931

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