Jade River: A History of the MahurangiRonald H Locker
First published 2001. Published online 2014–. This online edition is a work in progress…
Pages 267–270in printed edition
William Sullivan and family
John Sullivan’s only son, William, was educated in Auckland. He then became a hand on the cutter Mahurangi.
The family story is that John took William from this apprenticeship in sail to put him in command of his brand new schooner Rosella. It was an ill-conceived voyage: taking a company of would-be diggers from Ōnehunga to the Hokitika gold rush. The money offered must have been good to provoke such a lapse of judgment. The sad tale of this harrowing 50-day voyage and its disastrous end on the Hokitika Bar is told elsewhere.
The register does not record the master. It seems far more likely that for such a hazardous voyage, John would have put command of his new ship into more experienced hands than those of his 17-year-old son, but perhaps he let the boy go as crew. William is said to have then spent the next five years learning the trade of shipwright. However the call of the sea was stronger, and he resumed the seaman’s life. He became master of the cutter Janet Grey, which in 1870–4 belonged to his brother-in-law, William Jackson (see below). A long career under steam began when he became the second master of the ss Kōtuku. This tiny screw steamer was the first Waihou River trader, launched in 1880 to service Josiah Firth’s great land scheme around Matamata.
For a while, after his father’s death in 1883, William returned to Mahurangi to live. His father had acquired 12 acres of the Tungutu Block (where the Sullivan house now stands) from Ponui in 1866, and sold it to William (and G Holdship) in 1881. However the sea was more to his taste, and he was soon back as master of Kōtuku, now in the service of the Colonial Sugar Company (from 1889), carrying sugar and towing sugar lighters between Chelsea and Auckland. It seems he also worked as a ferry skipper, since there is a photo of him at the wheel of the very early paddle ferry Takapuna. In 1891 he entered the service of the Northern Company, and so began a long command on the already familiar ground of the Thames and Hauraki river ports. Beginning as skipper of Te Aroha, he switched in the same year, 1891, to Ōhinemuri and then to Paeroa. He became skipper of the new Waimaire in 1896 and finally of Taniwha. He was popular with both passengers and crew.
A little before his career in steam began, he married Miriama Houkura, who like his mother, belonged to Makoare Ponui’s family in Ōtarawao. A daughter, Miriam, was the only child of the marriage, born 1879. (She married Tee Wynyard Davis in 1904, and died in 1912). The Sullivan family were then living in Auckland. In 1906 Miriama died, and in 1907 William was married again, this time to Ngārewa Roa. Although now 59, William lost no time in making up for the smallness of his first family. Nine children were born of the marriage: William Ngārewa, Tee Davis, John Roa, Iraihi Kataraina (‘Girlie’), Makoare (‘Missy’), James Ngaio, Thomas Mahurangi, Harry Katene, and Julia MaryOriginally published: Eight children were born of the marriage: William Ngārewa, Tee Davis, John Roa, Iraihi Kataraina (‘Girlie’), James Ngaio, Thomas Mahurangi, Harry Katene, and Julia Mary. The love of the sea was handed down. Of the six sons, only Thomas did not become a seaman. Julia married one.
Since Thomas was a full time skipper on the Thames run, the new family lived at Takapuna, where they went to school at Belmont. Iraihi, born in 1911, was about ten when William retired and brought his family back to Mahurangi (ca. 1921). They settled on their land beside William’s sister Julia and brother-in-law William Jackson, who had been established in the north end of the bay since 1874. The villa the Sullivans lived in had been built in the nineties, it is not clear by whom (perhaps by Holdship). It is now the Park ranger’s home. A Winkelmann photo of 1898 shows the villa, and the two-storied Jackson homestead at the north end of the bay, where the second ranger’s house now stands.
(It should be noted that the Tungutu Block, taking in the northern part of Ōtarawao and the southern part of Mita Bay, and extending across to Te Muri Estuary, was granted by the first Native Land Court in 1866 to ‘Makoare Ponui, Miriama Houkura and Mere Hae’, the only such grant to have female owners. They appear to have been part of Ponui’s small residual family. It was an unusual relationship in that Merehai became John Sullivan’s wife, while Miriama became William Sullivan’s wife. The Sullivans never owned any of the Ōtarawao Block, which takes in the rest of the bay and the western head).
Ngārewa, William’s second wife, was the granddaughter of William and Hawakirangi Grant. Their only daughter Rawinia (‘Winnie’) married carpenter James Raynes. The couple lived in Ōpahi Bayoriginally: Waikato Bay (Opahi Bay)., where a son James was born. Mrs Ani Matekino, last of the old folk of Ōpahi Bay, was her half-sister. Rawinia’s marriage did not last, and both partners remarried. Around 1877, Rawinia married Roa Rangitia (also known as Pūhoi Roa), a local chief said to have links to the Māori King. A photo survives of him in a chiefly cloak, a handsome man with the air of a rangatira. Their new home was a whare in the north end of the next bay, which today appears erroneously on the map as Meter Bay. At that time an old Māori man named Mita also had his whare and garden there, and it was from him that the bay took its name. There were 13 children of the marriageAs published: There were three sons and three daughters of the marriage… ‘In fact, they had a total of 13 children.’ Pers. comm. Jacqui Gill née Sullivan, great-granddaughter of Rawinia and Roa Rangitia, 4 November 2017, of which one was Ngārewa. She was much younger than her husband, William, who died in 1925, aged 77.
The Sullivan children now went to the Mahurangi West School. When the Warkworth High School opened in 1923, the older ones went there by the school launch Lavona. Iraihi, the eldest daughter, had piano lessons from her cousin Julia Jackson, then resident in the bay and who would ride out to her pupils.
Iraihi, married George Paul, of Pūhoi stock, and was postmistress at the Pukapuka when George worked at the mill there. As a widow she lived in Warkworth, the last of the Sullivans to reside in the Mahurangi. Julia (now Balderstone) is the only survivor of the family. Iraihi, who died in 1991, has been a principal source of this family history. The other major source of early Sullivan history, has been Mrs Anne-Marie Wallace of Wellington, granddaughter of Emma, the elder daughter of Daniel Sullivan senior.
Rawinia Roa and her husband came to live with William’s family in their old age, and she lived on with them as a widow. She commanded great respect in the family circle. A handsome woman of regal bearing, she identified strongly with her Māori heritage. It was unusual for the daughter of a Pakeha settler to wear the moko on her chin, probably acquired during her marriage to Roa. She tried to teach her grandchildren Māori by asking in that tongue for things at the table. She left two valuable historical lists: of local Māori place names, and the location of settlers there, about 1864 (written down by a descendant, Gertrude Tahu, in 1937).
She was also one of the characters of the Mahurangi. Several anecdotes about her survive. Victor Schischka used to find her fishing from the little island in Te Muri Creek. She would ask him for a cigarette, which he did not have, but she would roll herself one from his pipe tobacco. She also smoked a clay pipe. She was an ace crib player. Her pride was a 12-foot clinker dinghy, which was immaculately kept, and strictly her personal conveyance. No-one else in the family was allowed to use it. She would row it across the harbour on pension days to collect, signing the receipt as Grant-Roa.
Iraihi told how one summer day she was sitting on the floor of the hall, Māori-fashion, trying to keep cool, when a figure from her past came up from the beach. It was the elderly Davey Darroch, the scow builder, who had come ashore from his big launch to call on her. They talked for a long time of the old days. As he left, he told her she was a fine-looking woman when he knew her as a girl, and she still was. Perhaps he had fancied her in his youth. Her encounters with the postmistress are told elsewhere.
Iraihi also tells how grandfather Roa was fated to be a kind of pied piper, with a troop of grandchildren trooping after him wherever he went. He would take them fishing in a tide pool by the Pudding, where he would take his trousers off and wade in, collecting kina and scooping out leather-jackets with his hands. In the last years of his life he left his wife and Mahurangi family to live in the Waikato, near Pirongia. Whether it was to be near his daughter who lived there, or a return to end his days on ancestral ground is not clear. Rawinia used to visit him until he died and was buried there. When their beloved younger daughter died there, Rawinia came back from the tangi and cut off her beautiful long hair.
Sometimes Rawinia’s maternal cousin, Hari Paora (Harry Paul) and his wife would visit, bringing fermented karaka berries, which Rawinia relished, but Iraihi would not touch. They lived in Te Kapa, near the Andersons.
The Ratana movement swept through the north in the twenties, and the Sullivans became part of it, largely because of the enthusiasm of Rawinia and her half-sister, Ani Matekino. Ngārewa Sullivan went along, and William thought a little religious instruction would do their children no harm (there was not much about). The little blue pamphlet, courier of the faith, was collected each week with the mail. On Sundays there would be a gathering of their west-side neighbours for a midday meal, singing and study of the pamphlet. Fred and Mina Jackson, George and Lou Jamieson, Jim and Cora Scott and Mrs Matekino would come. The gathering rotated about their various homes. Sometimes William (surname forgotten), an itinerant Māori preacher of the faith would be present.
I doubt that my great-uncle George, ex-scowman, went for the good of his soul, but he would have enjoyed the good company, and the food. He was so inordinately fond of kūmara that local Māori nicknamed him ‘Hori Kai Kūmara’.
Thank you for sharing this information. Over the past year I have been researching my family history and this seems to be a source of good knowledge and wisdom. I look forward to the finished online book.
The statement in this story Rawinia and Rangitia had three sons and three daughters is wrong. In fact, they had a total of 13 children. This couple are my great-grandparents.
Thank you so very much Jacqui for providing this correction.
With granddaughter Iraihi Paul as a principal source, it is perplexing that Dr Ronald Locker got this detail wrong, but one of the idiosyncrasies of his manuscript was that he provided very few references. This may have been a rebellion for being required, in his scientific life, to reference everything that moved!
Thank you again for your help in improving the online edition of Jade River: A History of the Mahurangi.
It should also be noted that Ngārewa and William Sullivan actually had nine children, not eight, having lost a daughter as an infant—Missy Makoare Sullivan. She was their fifth child, and is buried at Te Muri Urupa.
This chapter is well served for my needs and that of my mother’s, as we reflect on being at Mahurangi just this Sunday gone.
I normally would not write whakapapa on a link not owned or administered by the immediate whānau, but it would seem remiss not to add to the comments said before and in recognition other’s writings of our tupuna maatua, Rawinia and Reti Roarangitia, and as such I am happy to add to the narrative thus far.
My grandmother was Ruta Roa and she is the daughter of Reti Roarangitia, who my mother said lived with her grandmother, Rawinia and her cousin. They lived in a ponga-made whare that Ruta spoke of as being beautifully built. She left when she was 14 years old after a visiting aunt who had a newspaper article that had a photo of Ruta siblings on it. When she asked who the children were, it was at that point she realised that she wasn’t living with her birth parents, and that she had siblings. Her request to leave and go live in Pirongia with her parents was granted but it was not the romantic world that she thought it would be.
Hana and Reti owned much land and farmed it as well she was the local school mistress and a mother of more than her daughter Ruta. Hana was the daughter of Arthur Ormsby and his father was an Pākehā settler known for his strictness, so it was characterised to be like her father, as in I suspect the kuia, Hana, standards reflected that of her upbringing. This would have been a far cry from my grandmother’s idyllic life in Mahurangi as a child, staying with her beautiful grandmother, Rawinia, in Rewa bay, and it was a lifelong adaptation to live away from here.
Ruta said that Rawinia was estranged from her father William Grant because she could never forgive him for his cruel treatment of her mother Hawai ki Rangi and his eventual abandonment of the marriage. Hawai ki Rangi was from Taranaki and travelled to Mahurangi with William. She was Te Atiawa, Ngati Mutunga and lived at the pa were now stands the New Plymouth Hospital. Going back after this marriage dissolved would have been virtually impossible!
But wasn’t unusual of that time was the many Pākehā who married Māori women for their land rights, William leaving his wife and returning to live as a white settler and take a Pākehā woman was not impossible. Therefore, it is pleasing to read of the kuia Rawinia, sister, Ani Matekino from Hawaii ki Rangi second marriage, and more so that he was from the bay, though around the corner.
The return of Roarangitia II to Maniapoto Waikato was expected, but it must of been sad for Rawinia. He was, after all, a survivor of the Battle of Rangiriri. That is another story but surviving both incarceration in the hull of the ship Marion and then Kawau Island, to then be given relief in Waikato Bay?
Roarangitia did return to Pirongia to live with Reti and Hana, and we all should note that this year, 28 October 2017 was marked as the commemorative date marking our fallen and our survivors of those wrongful battles that left scars then and remain as a wound in many families as with this one.
“Ka ora pea i a koe, ka ora koe i au”
Heio ano Mihirawhiti Searancke
Note 1: Rawinia and Roarangitia children in order of birth were: Ngaio, Reti, Nathan, Ruta, Rangi, Ngarewa, Titoko, Amo and Ngaro. Source Roa Rawinia whakapapa book
Note 2: Hawaii ki Rangi with a name as this denotes coming from rangatira lines within Taranaki.
Note 3: Iraihi was Roarangitia II mother’s name and Iraihi was Ngati Maniapoto, Tuwharetoa.
Note 4: This is my narrative and as such is open for scrutiny by others of my immediate whānau, and as such it would require further permission before being added to any further publication. My email is available if that time arises.
Thank you so much for the above history Mihirawhiti Searancke. I have been researching my son’s whakapapa, which has been a struggle at times as I am no longer with his father to access his lineage. The names mentioned above are familiar to me from my research, but the extra detail you have added is amazing. Thank you for sharing this. I am hoping my son will appreciate my jumbled findings as he gets older!
Mihirawhiti, thank you for read, I have found your korero uplifting and informative as I too am very much interested in this whakapapa.
This week the whanau lost our matriarch Mary Winifred Armstrong née Roa. 105 years; her service was held 5 June 2018 in Warkworth, having spent a lot of her time in the King Country.
Having attended her tangi it was a beautiful service, befitting such a taonga. A strong Ngāti Maniapoto presence arrived a few days earlier and paid tribute and respect.
Is the book Jade River: A History of the Mahurangi still available to buy?
The first edition of 1000 sold out in six months, and the second edition of 1000, also published in 2001, lasted about six years before selling out.
Aside from second-hand copies, which appear for sale from time to time—www.abebooks.com has two at present—this online edition of Jade River: A History of the Mahurangi must now suffice.