Letter 27

Edwin Harris to Donald McLean. New Plymouth, 18 November 1850 

New Plymouth
18 November 1850


Mr Octavius Carrington who has been surveying in the Grey Block informs me that he thinks the portion of the River cut by the Paritutu line and laid down on our maps and the government grant as the Mangorei is the Henui and not the Mangorei. From what he states I have no doubt it is so. Particularly as he has ascertained that the two Rivers previously crossed (supposed by me to be the Henui and a tributary) are the Huatoki and a branch of the same. He says that the River at the point in question is exceedingly like in character to the Mangorei and might deceive any one.

This (including the Omata Block) will make a considerable difference in favour of the Company. It is certainly an error on the right side. But I am much concerned that it should have occurred, as it may be thought to have arisen from negligence on my part & that I had marked those Rivers without due consideration.

In the old survey made by the Company which I took for my guidance the lines crossed a River several times which was said by the assistants who cut them to be the Henui and was laid down accordingly on the working map. This mistake was not detected at the time owing to the River not forming the boundary of any sections. And therefore of no consequence whether the Henui or any other.

I must now remind you that the Paritutu line was cut in continuation of that commenced by the Company in order to obtain a tie line to the Mangorei survey, as when it reached that River my instructions were to turn down and close on the previous survey. This I was not able to do owing to a fatal accident that befell the son of one of my labourers which deprived me of three of my best hands. On my return home wet weather sitting in you did not think proper to allow the survey to be proceeded with.

On this occasion I was not accompanied by any natives for reasons that were considered at the time to be of sufficient weight.

Some additional information obtained from a party that had gone to the mountain in that direction appeared conclusive as to the River being the Mangorei and although I was still anxious to finish the survey the object in cutting the line not having been obtained (being that of a tie) You did not think it necessary to incur any further expense.

I am not aware what steps Mr Halse will take in this matter or if any. The boundary of the Blocks being decidedly the Mangorei River wherever it is, the contents also are only assumed and marked on the maps in consequence of the survey not being [Word/Missing] as estimated only.

I remain Sir
Your most obedient servant,
Edwin Harris

MS letter to Donald McLean. Written in New Plymouth, NZ, 18 Nov 1850. Turnbull. MS-Papers-0032-0326.


Mr Octavius Carrington who has been surveying in the Grey Block
Edwin outlines a problem with the location of rivers on the survey of the Grey Block he carried out for McLean in 1847 (see #21 and #23). Octavius Carrington appears to be conducting a re-survey of the block.

Augustus Octavius Croaker Carrington (1816-1901) was the younger brother of Frederick Alonso Carrington (1808-1901) and Wellington Carrington (1814-1890). Edwin was assisting Wellington Carrington 1849-50 in the re-survey of Native Reserves in the Grey and Omata Blocks, presumably as a consequence of Henry King’s advice (see #26). Two undated survey maps signed by W Carrington and E Harris showing Native Reserves and an 1850 plan of New Plymouth signed by both men are held by Archives NZ (AAFV 997 Box 113. TR8C, TR6B, TR8A).

I must now remind you that the Paritutu line was cut in continuation of that commenced by the Company
The Paritutu line ran south from Paritutu, the largest of the Sugar Loaves at Moturoa and formed the western boundary of the original 1841 survey of New Plymouth. The line of the survey crossed the Huatoki, Te Henui and Mangorei Streams, but the latter was mistakenly marked as the Te Henui on the old map, an error that Edwin unwittingly perpetuated in 1847 when he was unable to complete his survey of the Mangorei.

On this occasion I was not accompanied by any natives
Surveyors typically employed local expertise in cutting lines in dense bush and fern country, learning Māori of necessity as they did so. Edwin Harris’s copy of William Williams’ A Dictionary of the New-Zealand Language and A Concise Grammar; to which are added a selection of colloquial sentences (Paihia: Church Missionary Society, 1844) is held at Puke Ariki (TRC499.4 WIL). The title page is signed: ‘Edwin Harris, New Plymouth, NZ, 1850.’ The dictionary was donated to the Taranaki Museum in 1961 by Philip Winning Briant and his brother Hugh Godfrey Briant, along with JM Rendel’s letter of introduction to Lieutenant-Governor Hobson (#2).

I am not aware what steps Mr Halse will take
William Halse, a solicitor, came to New Plymouth with his brother [Henry] on the Amelia Thompson arriving in 1841. On arrival he was appointed Justice of the Peace and before opening his law practice in 1863, he held a number of prominent positions including Resident Agent for the NZ Co (1848-52), Commissioner of Crown Lands (1851-52) and deputy Superintendent of Taranaki (1858) (William Halse Papers).

McLean’s relations with Edwin Harris and his family continued to be cordial through this period. A note in McLean’s hand addressed to Edwin reads: ‘The Bachelors of New Plymouth request the honour of Mr & Mrs Harris & Miss Harris’ company to a ball at the Barracks on Thursday evening 31 Inst. Jan. 16 1850. Donald McLean, Honorary Secretary. An answer is requested.’ Another note reads: ‘My dear Sir, Do you think you could kindly render us some assistance with the guitar as we shall be so badly off for music at the ball which we expect will be well attended. The ladies are kind enough to offer their best exertions at piano playing in which I am sure Mrs Harris will join. Yours faithfully, Donald McLean. Thursday 17 July 1850.’