Chudleigh’s diary and Ritchie
Extracts that have reference to Thomas Ritchie on Chatham Island from the book
Chudleigh 1841 – 1920 Settler in New Zealand
Edited by E. C. Richards
Cadsonbury Publications 2003
[Note: the notes in square brackets have been added by the editor or by Michael M Cole]
Hunt arrived in New Zealand to find a market for his surplus stock and came to Canterbury due west of the Chatham Islands as likely to be a suitable place. There he met Mr Tripp of Orari Gorge and gave him such a glowing account of the Chathams that Mr Tripp persuaded several young men of his acquaintance seeking land to go and try their luck there. Among others was E. R. Chudleigh. He and his partner Hoel Pattisson leased twenty miles along the north coast and took up residence there in 1866.
[Note: Hunt was the first white farmer at the Chathams, farming Pitt Island. Ritchie went to the Chathams in 1865. There are only a few entries in Chudleigh’s diary during the years R.B. Cole worked for Ritchie, 1879 to perhaps 1882.]
Unfortunately the years 1866-67 are lost.
E.R.C. arrived by the Flying Cloud on Pitt Island and came to Kaingaroa, Chatham Island on Jan. 15  from whence he inspected the island. Urged on by the enthusiasm of R. T. Ritchie the new holder of Kaingaroa or of F. Arthur D. Cox the brother of Percy Cox, Mt. Somers, who had settled on the island a few months before at the instigation of Mr Tripp, Orari gorge, he decided that the moors or clears between the big lagoon and the north coast together with the adjacent forest country would make ideal sheep land. He probably then arranged for the goodwill of part of Mounganui from Engst and Baucke the German missionaries and for the purchase of all their sheep (300). Most of the clears were held by Maoris of the Pomare hapu (clan). They in common with most of the other Maoris on the Chathams were restless, wanting to get back to Taranaki [in New Zealand] from whence most of the Maoris on the northern coast had come and were anxious to lease their land and sell their stock, mostly horses, before they did so. E.R.C. had the offer of all the Kekerione block stretching from near Waitangi to Rangitihea on the Wharekauri Block. E.R.C. refused the southern portion on the ground that it was all useless bush and no good for sheep. The Pamariki hapu offered him the Wharekauri block or district adjoining Kekerione containing some moorland and the high hill Rangitihea generally known as the Big Hill and its surrounding forest. This block spread along the north shore of the lagoon to its nearest approach to the coast a distance of about half a mile and forming an easy boundary to fence. Altogether E.R.C. took up about 20 miles of sea coast and 33,000 acres of land as well as 70 acres in Waitangi itself.
[Note: Engst was to the west of Chudleigh and Ritchie farmed Kaingaroa to the east.]+
14th. [Feb] I had just settled down to a good burst of letters when Mr [T.] Ritchie [Kaingaroa] came tired and hungry so I had to get him some tea. Bob had gone for the night.
15th. [Feb] Ritchies cattle passed. Six men to drive 20 head and a worse lot of cattle I have not seen for some time.
30th [March] Concluded with Ritchie for my passage.
2nd April. [Captain?] Thomas and myself had a meeting of the natives, cautioned them strongly not to go to N.Z. and Ritchie [owner of ship] not to entertain any charter with them. Ritchie made himself very disagreeable.
8th. [April] Left Kaingaroa at last, passed Pitt I. W. Hood [trader] made his appearance, but the captain did not see him. He was in the coalhole when Ritchie looked in.
3rd. [July] The Maories [sic] awfully sold at the wreck of the Despatch [on Timaru beach June 15th] as they were to have returned in her next trip to Taranaki. I shall give it to them for breaking their word with W. Hood. I hear Mr. Ritchie has called me a liar. The question is a public one regarding the Despatch. I demanded a written public apology. He is the first that ever insulted me and he shall repent it.
[Note: this is at the time of Hau Hau unrest on the Chathams when Chudleigh came close to being hanged by the Maoris. Ritchie helped Maori return to Taranaki.]
8th. [July] [At Waitangi] I was in the court all day holding an enquiry into the wreck [of the Florence] merely formal. Ritchie bought her.
5th. [Aug] Pattisson and I had a talk with the natives about the land just offered us. Mr Ritchie is in the market against us. [Naera Pomare and others had offered Chudleigh land between Wharekauri and Chudleigh’s other country beyond Waitangi known as the Kekerione Block.]
End of entries for 1869.
E.R.C. says in 1900 that the years 70-73 are missing or fragmentary. They seem to be all missing till April ‘73. There is very little reference to these years elsewhere in this diary.
When in Canterbury early in the year 1868 he had been made J.P. He was the first J.P. on the Chathams and therefore the senior. On his recommendation, Pattisson and Cox were made J.P.s also.
Captain Thomas retired to Auckland in 1870 and E.R.C, “filled the Magisterial Chair” as he describes it till the arrival of the next S.M. R. La Nauze a few months later. La Nauze was a nervous man. He imagined that the Maoris intended to murder all the whites on the Island. He advised the Europeans to gather at the Lake House owned by Ritchie at Kaingaroa to fortify it and defend themselves there while he went to N.Z. for help. A hundred men, women and children only 40 of whom could manage a rifle crammed themselves there for three weeks (and E.R.C. as acting Magistrate must have been there too) till Colonel St. John came from N.Z., held an enquiry, decided the Maoris were quite peaceful and told everyone to go home. La Nauze did not return and E.R.C. held office till Deighton arrived in ‘73.
[Chudleigh was in England in 1873, returning in ’75.]
19th. [March] All of which day and the following night and morning we rolled about in sight of Lyttelton heads. We had Alex Shand and Tom Ritchie on board, two women, two white men and six natives mostly halfcasts. Alex and Tom have been trying to buy the runs right out, Tom has bought a part but Alex has got none and somehow has brought strangers into the field against himself and us all. Who is to blame I know not. Certain it is we no longer have the course clear.
1st September. The Sea Bird sailed again for Auckland. Sheep, horses, cattle and many passengers, Hood, Beamish and T. Ritchie among them.
[Pages 254-56 give an excellent account of the Ocean Mail wreck on what is now called French Reef near Matarakau. A section of the coast there is now the Ocean Mail Reserve administered by the Department of Conservation.]
26th. [March] Pattisson attended the sale of the Ocean Mail. Mr T. Ritchie bought the ship and cargo. The ship appertinences in one lot about £600, the cargo £300, £950 in all I believe. I hear Beamish and other Waitangi folk are wrath at not having received sufficient if any notice of the sale. I am glad I have not got to get £950 worth of things out of the Ocean Mail not to mention what it costs to get it.
4th. [Aug] Went to Lyttelton to be ready to start. Found Island Lily would not be ready before Monday so went to Potts.
6th. [Aug] Jeff, Mable Edie and I rode to Lyttelton and took in some trees etc. etc. for the Chathams. I did not think it prudent to return to Governors Bay. About nine at night we sailed. Charles Kerr christened the Island Lily [the “Agnes” repaired and renamed] by smashing a bottle of Champagne over the bow. Mr Thomas Ritchie and his friends then discussed a case of champagne for which they felt a good deal next morning.
9th. [Aug] Lost boat and davits. Captain non compos.
10th. [Aug] Kerr and mate in charge; self and Ritchie took watch about with mates. Got in to Kaingaroa.
9th Oct. [Chudleigh at Waitangi holding court as senior J.P. acting magistrate.] Heard Engst, Kerr, Hay, Pope and T. Ritchie were all at logerheads. Engst came to see me. They want to bounce the old man but he is not timid.
1st April. One of Mr Ritchie’s new hands was smothered in a mud hole in the Lagoon. The story goes that the boy, horse and all went into the mud. Rewai went to help him and he also went out of sight. Haperiona went to the side of the slough and thrust the handle of his whip into the slush. Rewai felt and clutched it and so was pulled out. The body of the boy has not yet been flushed. These facts are correct doubtless. How much of the detail is so remains to be discovered.
13th. [April] Coffee sent me a nasty letter requesting me not to allow my shepherd to drive sheep on his land. This letter was written by Tom Ritchie and instigated by him in all probability. Coffee is in Ritchies hands and in worse he cannot be. T.R. and Charlie Kerr are fellows in iniquity. I sent an answer that will reply to his letter and Ritchie’s actions.
6th. [Nov] Landed at Taupeka. The whaler Splendid from Dunedin came up just as we reached Taupeka and one of their boats took me on shore.
8th. [Nov] I did not visit Mr Shands grave: Poor old man he is at rest. Those Ritchies and their overseer La Nawse have been behaving shamefully to the Shands, trying to get land away from Bob and otherwise annoying them. Of all the bad men I have met in my life, North Irish comprise nine out of ten and to my knowledge I have never yet met a good North Irish man…
7th. [Feb] Saw Ritchie about Abner and stayed to lunch with R. T. Nauze [ex magistrate of the Island] who has come for a voyage in the Lily.
2nd February. T.Rs. [T. Ritchie] crop of wheat looks splendid. 70 bushels per acre I should think.
16th. [Sept] [H.] La Nauze came to see me about Ritchie. There is a fall out between these children of wrath. T. R. is about the most thoroughly bad man I know.
8th. [Nov] I sent message to that most misguided man Thomas Ritchie asking to think before he turns fifty couple of hares out on the Island. He has turned his three sisters into the kitchen and lives rampant with prostitutes and brandy.
[This is about the time R.B. Cole said that Ritchie had a Maori wife.]
27th. [Sept] My request re hares has been granted by the government. A £50 fine and the destruction of hares the at the importers cost I think will prevent their importation.
[I don’t know if he prevented their earlier release by Ritchie. Gorse, by the way was imported by both Chudleigh and Ritchie for use as hedging and of course became a scourge.]
3rd January. The Island Lily [owned by T. Ritchie] went on the rocks coming out of Te Raki with Hay and Kerrs wool on board early this morning. She is said to be a total wreck. The atmosphere is not clear to my mind in the matter. [The Islanders were negotiating for a steamer to replace the sailing ships.]
1st March. A three masted ship is on shore at Materakau. 12 persons on board, all safe. The ship leaked and they had to beach her. She was from Fiji to Hamburg with ten casks of shells and copra. Broken coco [added later].
4th. [March] W. Baucke returned from the wreck of the Pliades [Plejaden]. She is French built, hard wood loaded with Kopura [copra] 450 tons. Ship out of sight at high tide. Ritchie bought ship and cargo for £40 I am told. I would give no more. Boats etc etc went for very little. The Maories stole everything they could get.
1st April. Thomas Ritchie has been having a glorious drunk since the Omaha sailed. He must have had a glorious constitution to be alive. [The Omaha had gone ashore at Waitangi on or before 2nd of March]
15th. [June] S.W. Piripi and a lot of Maories passed. They are going to Kaingaroa by T.R.’s [Ritchie] invitation to shoot cattle and get ducks.
20th. [Aug] Squared with Hood and said goodbye. I am really sorry to have to do this. Alex Shand has shown himself to be a miserable skunk; He has been trying to undermine Hood ever since Hood and he quarrelled. He has written to me and Ritchie to league against him but knowing his move I would not. He vowed to Ritchie he would never deal with him again and joined Richie and then, directly he knew from Engst that we had left Hood, he rushed to Hood saying Take my wool first and you shall have it swallowing his anger, his own word and all his open rage against Hood. Everyone calls him skunk. [This was part of a long running war about whose wool should be shipped first.]
29th. [Nov] Went to Materakau. Took old Blind James Fordhams depositions re Ritchies detaining his sheep.
22nd. [July] Hay departed this life at 8 this morning. Mrs Hay sent a message to me requesting me to send for Miss Ritchie [sister of T. R. Ritchie, Kaingaroa]. As no men or boys were left on the place I went myself.
23rd. [July] I returned to Wharekauri with the younger Miss Ritchie and Bob Shand.
16th. September. Mr Engst brought Blind Jim, James Fordham an American negro here on his way to Waitangi to attend a court case. Jim states he has been defrauded of a mob of sheep and much wool by T. Ritchie.
21St. September. A young man named Miller now working at Kaingaroa called. I knew his sisters many years ago. I heard today that Mrs Naera died last week. She had no friends that I know of on earth. Thomas Ritchie was her fellow in all evil. He may miss a kindred spirit and there will end her loss.
21St. [Oct] Wi Te Tahuhu came to tell me that now the old lease on Wharekauri had expired, he wished me to remove my sheep from the run at shearing time. As to the extension of the lease he knew and I knew that was nothing. I smiled and said 1 should not remove my sheep from the run. He said Never mind I tell you Take him away. I want my place. I said What place. He said My own and when I go to Waitangi I put up a notice (I suppose to say I have no right on Wharekauri). I said Goodbye old man and shook hands with him and said I shall not remove my sheep.
Thomas Ritchie having lost his own place has ample time devote towards disturbing his friends and neighbours. I cannot say T.R. is doing this now but W. FitzGerald caught him at this very lease in Wellington years ago and T.R. has often said, Bye the bye, Mr Chudleigh shall never get Wharekauri if I can stop him. My lawyers say I have all points required by land and equity and possession is called nine points beyond that.
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