South Whau blockhouse

South Whau blockhouse

19th century newspapers are an excellent source for stories on our area and also the early settlers.

Weekly News, 17 February 1883

South Whau blockhouse derelict

At present South Whau looks, as many of our townships have done, an expanse of fern.

The Blockhouse, a relic of the Waikato war of 1863, stands in ruins on the crest of the hill (with its loop-holed embrasures and half-filled trenches), dominating the country for miles around, and at the time of our visit the other day, only the haunt of nomadic gum diggers, who prowl over the adjacent Crown lands for gum. Nothing of a warlike character now remains to remind one of the dark days of civil war, but the empty bottles of “Three Dagger” rum and “Battle Axe” rum strewn in the trenches.

Daily Southern Cross, 3 May 1875 ##Sudden death at the Whau

A man named Arthur Johnson died suddenly yesterday in a whare near the Whau Blockhouse. The deceased was a gum digger and fisherman, and has been for some five years working with a mate named John Smith who was with him when he died. This man Smith states that the deceased got up as usual yesterday morning, apparently quite well, and was sweeping the floor of the whare, when he suddenly exclaimed “O God! My leg” and fell on his back. Smith lifted him into bed, where he expired in a few minutes.

Constable Clarke, of Newton, upon receiving the information, forwarded it to the Police Office, and, following his instructions, proceeded to the spot, whence he had the body conveyed in an express to the dead-house, Freemans Bay, where it is now lying. An inquest will be held this afternoon, at two o’clock, by the coroner, Dr Philson.

Weekly News, 17 February 1883

Hermit at Green Bay (early name for Blockhouse Bay)

Down on the margin of a pretty little bay at the foot of the cliff, coming into vogue now as a popular resort of picnic parties, lives the oldest inhabitant of the locality, a “Belge” (Belgian?), rejoicing in the cosmopolitan name of “Smith”.

Formerly he had a mate, who died somewhat suddenly of some complaint, but Smith still clings in solitary loneliness to the old Robinson Crusoe life in the little cove, with two bull mastiffs (who have a deal of openness when they smile) doing duty as Man Friday.

Here fishing and gum digging, the old man whiles away his remaining years, if his assets are few, his wants are fewer. Some day civilisation and progress will get into the charming little bay, and Smith, the representative of Arcadian simplicity, will be requested to “move on”.

Thanks to Lisa Truttman for these articles.