THE HAWKE’S BAY
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 1952.
Death of a Pioneer
NEW ZEALAND is a young country which has gone a long way in a short time. The true pioneers of European settlement are now few and far between. But every now and then some event reminds us that we are still little more than the span of the pioneer’s life time from the very beginnings of European civilisation in many parts of the dominion. Such an event occurred on Friday with the death in Hastings of Mr Thomas E. Crosse. Mr Crosse was both a pioneer and the son of a pioneer. His father had arrived in New Zealand in 1853 and had taken up a large tract of land in the Porangahau district on lease from the Maoris. It was there that Mr Thomas Crosse was born two years later.
When in reminiscent mood, Mr Crosse could tell a fascinating story of the development of Hawke’s Bay since those early days. In fact, he played quite a substantial role in shaping this development. Not only as a farmer who helped to bring valuable land into production, and whose judgement and vision helped others to prosper in the farming industry, but as a member of many local bodies, Mr Crosse served this province extremely well. Indeed, the range of his services was astonishing. County administration, rabbit control, education, power development – these are only some of the spheres of activity with which he was identified.
A great deal of history was packed into Mr Crosse’s lifetime. As measured by the development of this province and this country, the story of the past 97 years has been remarkable. When Mr Crosse’s life began in Hawke’s Bay, in common with other parts of New Zealand, was at the raw, frontier stage. Where there are now well-paved roads, there were then mere tracks. None of the amenities of civilisation as we know them today existed or were even thought about. Men who went out from the established centres of population to break in the land lived, for the greater part, a life of isolation and loneliness.
Mr Crosse saw all that change. He saw the wilderness of those early days give place to the ordered civilisation of today. He watched the country’s progress
the pages of the history books were to Mr Crosse events which had occurred within his own life-time. In his early years as a schoolboy in Napier, he heard the exchanges of musketry fire in the Battle of Omarunui. In his later years he must often have compared the insignificant noise of that engagement with the fury of the great wars and the atomic blast which brought the second World War to a close. He began his life when this country lacked most of the barest amenities of civilised life. He had watched the steady march of progress from those earlier days. He had seen the advent of motor transport. He had lived in the age of electricity and radio. And before his life closed he had seen civilisation catapulted into the jet age. This is an amazing span of human experience.
By looking back over the lives of men like Mr Crosse, we can measure the road we have travelled since the pioneering days. The death of this respected pioneer reminds us that we have come a long way from the Hawke’s Bay of his youth. It is due in large measure of the work of such men that we have been able to do so. Mr Crosse made a notable contribution to the progress of Hawke’s Bay, and for that he will be held in honoured memory.