Later-Years-at-Pakuranga-Psge-10-of-13

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Later Years of the Young Qualtroughs from the book "A Quota of Qualtrough" Pages 48-70

Thomas Qualtrough (1851-1944) - the first to own a plough

THOMAS, though little more than a stripling, went off to the Waikato, seemingly the Mecca of young men keen to get on, once the land wars had ended. He had grown up on the farm at Pakuranga and attended a small private school.

At 21, he was the first man in the Waikato to possess his own plough and he worked as a contractor around the district, including the large Firth estates of Matamata, breaking in land. He also owned land at Orakau.

It was hard work and it had its dangers. One of the stories he used to tell his family and, later, his grandchildren, was of the occasion in April 1873 when he was ploughing land on the Grice and Walker cattle run at Roto-o-Rangi. As he drove his team afield a party of Maoris, armed, appeared out of the Manuka scrub and ordered him to go back.

They told him that the land was still disputed and warned him that if he pushed ahead he would be killed. Tom Qualtrough spoke Maori and understood their character. They frequently gave fair warning of their intentions and there was much bitterness still at the sale of land they considered theirs.

Tom returned to the station and reported the incident, refusing to complete his contract until the argument was settled. Management ridiculed the threat and ignored Tom's advice to go and talk it out. But Tom stayed firm. "I know the Maori," he said. "He doesn't warn you for nothing."

Others went out the next day and the Maoris struck. One man, Timothy Sullivan, was shot and tomahawked. His head was cut off and his heart cut out and these were carried through the King Country in a gruesome procession of triumph. It was particularly bad luck for Sullivan as the Maoris were after Walker, the part-owner of the station and his manager, a man named Parker.

Tom also told of seeing the old chieftain Te Kooti under interrogation and playing 'possum', pretending unconsciousness. Someone lighted a match and held it under his nose and with a yell Te Kooti came to life.

Both Willy and Tom were excellent horsemen and thought little of riding from the Waikato to the Tamaki at a weekend to see their parents and to court their girls. Willy had his eye on Kate Lovie, Tom was keen on Jane Bell, of Pakuranga.

On one occasion Tom rode from the Waikato to Pakuranga on the Saturday and on the following evening men at the frontier-station at Roto-o-Rangi were astonished to see Tom's horse, without rider, saddle or bridle, come trotting up and put his head over the gate. It seems that the horse had got out of his paddock at the Pakuranga farm and made short work of the journey home - 320 kilometers in two days taken, literally, in his stride. The horse must have swum the Waikato River at Ngaruawahia on his way home for it is unlikely the punt operator would have given a riderless horse a free crossing; who knows? Perhaps the animal had horse-sense enough to wait for a group of people to assemble to cross and mixed with the crowd.

Thomas was 28 when he married Jane, the daughter of a Pakuranga landowner David Bell and his wife Mary. They lived out from Cambridge at Taotaoroa and the following letter from the newlywed Jane to a niece, Jane Andrew, of Pakuranga, was written on December 16, 1878.

"Dear Jane,

I was so pleased to hear from you and I suppose you have been expecting me to answer to it long before this, but I hope you will excuse me this time. I will try and not be so long in answering your letters.

They were telling me the last time I heard from them down there (Pakuranga) that you and Georgina recited your dialogue so well at the Good Templars entertainment and I hope you enjoyed yourselves that night.

I often think of you down there and wish I could come to see you sometimes. I have got very few neighbours up here and I felt very lonely for awhile at first but I am getting used to it now. We live near the road to Matamata and there are a lot of people passing every day to and from Cambridge.

"We are milking three cows now and I churn in a bucket as I have not got a churn yet. It takes a long time to come sometimes. There was one week I was churning for about six hours and Tom took a turn and he thought some warm water would soon fetch it. But I told him I had to put some in before I went away to get a dish to put the cream in and as soon as my back was turned, he got a kettle and poured in all the boiling water thinking to surprise me with the sight of butter when I came back. It was all melted and we had to bake it up. He never tries the boiling water since that."

"I suppose Christine is growing a big girl now, I hope Benjamin is quite strong now and all the rest of my nephews and nieces are quite well, not forgetting your father and mother. I hope Georgina will be able to come up here and stay awhile at Christmas. It seems such a long time since I saw them all down there. I expect they all kept busy with the harvest and dairy. They have not commenced to cut any hay up here yet. The harvest must be a good deal later up here than down there. John King said when he came up they were all mowing their hay down there and that is more than a month ago. I suppose you will be having your Christmas holidays down there; are you going away any place to spend them? It is a pity you could not come up here with Georgina. I would be so glad to see you but I suppose your mother could not spare you so long away on account of wee, wee Christina being so little yet."

"Tell your father he is to be sure and come to see us when he comes to the Waikato. I have not seen your Aunt Hannah yet. I think I will go and see her soon as I have got a pony and saddle."

"Dear Jane, I will have to draw to a close for the time. Hoping this will find you all well, give my best wishes to your father and mother, brothers and sisters and accept the same for yourself 
from your

Affectionate Aunt

Jane Qualtrough

Another lonely little lady, Jane, the miles separating her from her loved ones. Sadly, Jane died in childbirth a year later and Tom remained a widower for seven years.

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