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Early Years of the Young Qualtroughs from the book "A Quota of Qualtrough" 41-47

From James Cowan's SETTLERS AND PIONEERS comes the following information on the Qualtroughs' first night in the bush - and New Zealand.

"…. The height and thickness of those trees and the density of branch and leafage amazed the stalwart stranger who stood gazing at them, axe in hand. Their boughs stretched far overhead, they were looped together with a rigging more intricate than a ship's; cable-like grey ropes, round as hawsers and as strong, hung down from the hazy ceiling, like ropes in some woody belfry. "

"…. The axeman walked out from the bush fringe to the tents gleaming against the dark of the tall timber. In the little camp there were two tents and a tarpaulin shelter for the piles of baggage trunks, shipboard chests, boxes of food stores and a hundred supplies."

"While he (James snr.,) had explored the bush edge and tested the tree-temper with eye and nose and axe, his family had reduced the miscellaneous loads from the bullock-dray to some order against the night."

"…. Most of their land was covered with standing bush - a tall forest of red and white pine, puriri, rata, kohekohe; on the hills the great kauri; but timber of no use to the pioneers after enough had been pit-sawn from it for the home buildings. The rest would have to go up in smoke and add to the fiery pall which would presently cover most of the bushland sections."

Betsy's most vivid memory of that first night in the bush was of the meal that the mosquitoes made of their faces - "the stinging flies" they called them.

Their neighbour (unnamed) came around the next morning to tell them he had arranged with a group of Maoris down at Papakura Creek to build the newcomers a nikau whare to live in until they could put up a more permanent dwelling.

"…. Two cheerful young Maoris came up and greeted the pakehas. Both could speak some English. They set to on a neat whare with beautifully-made walls of nikau, palm leaves, artistic as well as useful, with a thick roofing of fern-tree fronds. By the end of the second day, with the assistance of the white family in cutting, fetching and carrying, there was a rain-tight house, one that would be cool in hot weather and warm and windproof in cold…."

"….gradually the settler and his family fitted themselves into the conditions of the country, on the edge of the interminable forest. It was not so very difficult for these country-bred folk. They cut their way slowly into the bush with the nearby Maoris to call upon for help and bush-sense. When a little ground was cleared the neighbour lent them his bullocks and plough. To the Maoris a few pounds of tobacco and gifts of clothes were more acceptable than money."

James Cowan observes that the friendly and helpful spirit of the Maoris helped mightily in establishing immigrants on the land in the first two decades of British settlement. Unfortunately it did not last. He writes

"In the third year of the MERMAID family's life in the bush the Waikato was began. The kindly Maoris of the South Auckland country were forced into the struggle…."

"…That unhappy check to the peaceful subjugation of the bush and the winning of a livelihood from the newly-turned soil altered the course of life for many a border family. The tragedy of war, like so many far greater wars before and since, could have been avoided. At any rate, the frontier settlers and the Maori farmers were not the warmakers."

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