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Hill Road History

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Historic Places Trust Quarterly Summer 2013 - Hill Road Community Group reinstates old Bridle track in Speedy's reserve giving access to the defensive pa site on the Pareraho (PDF File)

HeritageQuarterly_Summer2013.pdf

 

 

belmont bridle track 

 

The Pa Site and Tracks (From Bill Stephenson)

  

In ancient maori times there existed the Pareraho track which linked the Hutt Valley with Pauatahanui. It went up Belmont Stream and then up the spur between Belmont Stream and Speedy's Creek. I gather that the bridle track was in some sense an upgrade of the Pareraho track. A google search for Pareraho is informative. I have found the remains of the bridle track. The best way to get toit is to go to the first left hand bend in Hill Rd above Belmont Tce (the place where the path deviates from the road and there is a patch of grass where the road workers hut used to be). There is a rough track going from there down to the creek - it used to be used by the

Oxley children 50-odd years ago. It is cleared from time to time,either by pest bait layers or by me. If you poke around where the track meets the stream, you will find a benched track on the true right of the stream 7 or 8 metres above thewater. This I take to be the bridle track. It can be followed to the Belmont Stream / Speedy's Creek confluence. From there it is possible to go up the spur, presumably now following the Pareraho track, to the plateau where the pa was. The pest baiters keep the spur open from time to time. I have never found the benched track above the confluence. Nor have I found any signs of the pa. If you take the left hand option at each track junction, you willeventually arrive at the headwall of an old landslip. Above the slip is a T junction. The left hand option is a bit gorsey, and eventually gets you to a pylon road, from whence you can join the Kilmister Track. The right hand option is fairly clear and meanders through various gulleys until it arrives at a pylon in farm country. You can get from there to the Kilmister Track either by following a bulldozed track which bears left, or by going straight up the spur to the Kilmister.

 

The bridle track (from Beth Sept 09)

I've found an old map (approx 1900) showing the bridle track up Belmont Stream, and will post it below. At that point Hill Road did not exist and this must have been the main access to blocks of land in the area.   I've done some walking and found signs of it crossing from side to side up the stream bed above the pa.  It moves further up the hillside before it reaches the "swimming Hole/waterfall"  and heads back down to the streambed shortly after which and I believe the old track we walk down through 120 Hill Road (subdivision land with old swimming hole access) is part of it.  I've also picked up cuttings further up.

 

The road eventually merges with the Kilmister track behind Belmont Pony Club paddocks and continues up to meet the existing Hill Road/Waitangirua Farm road at the Belmont Regional Park carpark.

 

The other track shown on the map heading up through Kelson, I believe still exists in part and is used as a sewerage line (behind Kelson dairy) and crosses Speedy's Stream much further up and heads back onto the Kilmister track.  You can see it, far right on the photo below.

 

It would be great to see access improved, there were quite a few obstacles when I walked the whole length of Belmont Stream, and also the swimming hole is a major one, as the original road is on the subdivision and it's quite a steep gorge.  Combined with the Pareraho track the possibilities are excellent. 

 

Funds are available through Wellington Regional Council if we form a "Care Group" for the area, but maybe this should involve Kelson residents as well?  Thoughts?

 

 

 

Above - Belmont Bridle Track c.1900 

 

 

 

Above - Belmont Bridle Track c.1843 Samuel Brees 

 

Future Track Options?

  

I note that between 130 and 134 Hill Rd, just about opposite Hill Park Reserve, there appears to be legal access to Belmont Stream. I'd love to see a track down there. Near where that access gets to the stream

there is a pest control track that goes up to the left hand option of the Pareraho that I referred to earlier. I'd also like to see practical access from the regional park to Kelson. Maybe from the Kilmister track down to Speedy's Creek then up to Haast Close or Waipounamu Grove - I note legal access to Council land between 23 and 31 Waipounamu, and between 8 and 9 Haast Close. Such tracks would allow lots of round trip walks.

 

Current Hill Road Tracks

 

from Beth

 

This is the info I found on the net about the Pa site

"Mr. Peter Speedy, of Belmont, Lower Hutt, who was born in Wellington in 1842, informs me that the Belmont Creek, which runs out through his property, was an old war-track of the Maoris between

the Heretaunga and the Porirua districts. The trail led up the rocky bed of the creek for about half a mile to a place where the stream forked; thence there was an ascent up a steep and narrow forested spur. The natives had cleared a part of this ridge, which was only a few yards wide, and when Speedy was bushfelling there many years after the war he found the remains of huts which had been roofed with totara bark, also stones used in the earth-ovens, a rusted bayonet, a musket-barrel, and other relics of 1846. The lofty ridge was an excellent position for defence, and it had evidently been used as a temporary pa in the war-days. The ground falls precipitously away for several hundreds of feet on either side into the canyon-like valleys. It was no doubt by this route that the war-party descended on Boulcott's Farm in May, 1846; and it was this track also that the Militia and friendly natives took in the march to Paua-taha-nui. The track entered the gorge very close to the spot where the Belmont Railway-station now stands. The Maori name of the range in rear of Belmont is Te Raho-o-te-Kapowai.

Another Porirua war-track ascended the hills on the west side of the Hutt about a mile lower down the valley, not far from the present railway-station of Melling; it trended across the hills on the northern side of the peak called Pokai-mangumangu. When the Hon. Dr. Maui Pomare was clearing the site for his present home verlooking the Hutt he discovered the remains of an old Maori camp on a wooded terrace commanding a wide view over the valley. The track was up the adjacent spur near Mr. B. M. Wilson's house."

Questions from Alan Chapman

 

When Maui Pomare spoke at the opening of Raphael House kindergarten building in Matuhi St, he made reference to the ancestral path that crossed our School grounds. I assume this is the second path referred to in your notes. I’m sure I recall him saying it was the path used during Maori war party’s travel  to the Boulcott Farm battle. Do you know if this is so?

 

Where exactly is Te Raho-o-te-Kapowai? Is this the range at the top of the regional park or immediately across for our houses?  Is there a name for the hill which the houses around 100 Hill Rd numbers face out to on their north view, does anyone know? And Pokai-mangumangu is which peak? By Old Coach Rd? or further west? Do we know a translation for these names? Is the latter perhaps a version of the place of very black (mangu) pig (poaka)?  Apparently pokai= flock or swarm, so there must be another meaning to this name.

 

 The Boulcott's Farm Battle (for a lengthy and detailed description of local Colonial History see the source  http://www.tawahistory.wellington.net.nz/projects/best_article_porirua_war.html

 

  ....The day before the attack on Boulcott’s Farm, Te Puni called on Major Richmond and warned him that a sudden attack was intended, offering the assistance of his men.   The warning was unheeded; no takers; and the B.A. gave no sign.

    The next morning, May 16, 1846, at dawn, the post at Boulcott’s was attacked by the savages.   Of the forty-two men then stationed there, fourteen were quartered in Mr Boulcott’s barn, the others were dispersed in tents and buildings in the immediate neighbourhood.   Lieutenant Page, the officer in command, and his servant occupied Mr Boulcott’s house, while the latter and his two men were in a small house adjoining.   (An open camp among hostile savages.   In tents and divers flimsy buildings!   Of a verity these fold put their trust in Providence.)

    The attacking party is said to have been under the leadership of Te Mamaku, of Whanganui, and Ka-para-te-hau, of Nagati-Rangatihi.   The soldiers stationed at the farm belonged to the 58th Regiment.

    It was shortly before daylight on that sad May 16 that the sentry of the outlying picket observed several Natives creeping towards his post, and at one fired on them.   The savages at once rushed forward, and poured three volleys into the tents in quick succession.   They advanced, with much wild outcry, and four of the soldiers in one tent were tomahawked.   On the first alarm, Allen, the bugler, seized his bugle in order to sound the alarm, when a blow from a tomahawk nearly severed his arm, and he fell to the ground.   Lying in this mutilated state, he seized the instrument with his other hand, and made another attempt, when a second blow from the tomahawk of the savage nearly decapitated him.   And so the bugler died.

    Mr T. Bevan, senior, of Manakau, states that Allen, the bugler, was tomahawked by a Maori named Po-ngahuru, who afterwards worked for Mr Bevan’s father at Manawatu, and that this Native used to describe how the Europeans were surprised and slain.

    The savages attacked the buildings in which the main body of the troops was located, and a lively fight waged for some time.   At length the soldiers, rallied by Lieutenant Page and Sergeant Norton, beat off the enemy, who retired into the bush.   Seven members of the Hutt militia (that had been disbanded a few days before), on hearing the firing, advanced to Boulcott’s and took part in the fray.   Six soldiers, including the bugler, Allen, were killed in this affair, and four wounded; also one civilian killed.   Camped among treacherous and blood-thirsty savages, protected by tents and the surrounding atmosphere, Tommy Atkins put up a goodly fight of the old brand, and another regrettable incident was ticked off.

    News of the attack reached Wellington at 8 a.m.   and Majors Richmond and Last at once proceeded to the Hutt, with fifty soldiers, instructions being sent on to Captain Hardy at the bridge to move up to Boulcott’s Farm in support of Lieutenant Page.   On their arrival at that place, they found that the enemy had crossed the river, but were still firing on the military.   The force now advanced in extended order, and, with heavy firing, caused the savages to decamp.   The enemy were said to have had thirteen killed and wounded, though there does not seem to be any proof that any of them were slain....

 

  And some forther comments descriptions of local interest....... “The flat part of the Hutt Valley is about eight miles long and two broad, covered, as before said, with forest.   About two miles up it, the New Zealand Company’s road crosses the river; here a small stockade, called Fort Richmond, had been erected some time before, and was occupied by a party of the 58th under Lieutenant Rush.   Two miles further on was a settler’s house, called Boulcott’s, in a clearing of some twenty acres, and two miles further was another house, called the Taita.

    “The Natives coming form Porirua used the Pare-raho track from the head of Porirua Harbour, coming out near Boulcott’s.

    “In pursuance of the Governor’s aims, on February 24, 400 men of the 58th, 96th and 99th marched from Wellington into the Hutt Valley, to Boulcott’s farm, and occupied it.   In the evening the artillery were landed from the Driver, at the head of Port Nicholson, and joined the troops.   They had been left behind in consequence of there not being any opposition expected; but the Natives showed no symptoms of being intimidated into leaving the Hutt, and no desire to come to terms in the several unsuccessful conferences the Governor held with them, so the troops bivouacked on the ground, and, in short, it was two months before they finally quitted that post again.

    “The Natives appeared disinclined to make the first attack, but they continued ill-treating the settlers and their cultivation as much as before, so the Governor had to make another step forward.   He proclaimed martial law, and (under the usual fiction of considering the Natives as rebels) he sent a herald to inform them of it, and at the same time ordered the Taita farm to be occupied by a company of the 99th.   In pursuance of his orders, the troops fired on the Natives the next time they appeared, and thus opened the campaign.”

    “In March, 1846, there were three detachments occupying this little valley, fifty men at Fort Richmond, fifty men at Boulcotts, and about a dozen militia at the Taita, and yet all they effected was to keep their posts and the communication between, and that was principally owing to the fears of the Natives; for, surrounded as these posts were, within one hundred yards by thick forest, and defended only by slight stockades, it would have been easy for the Natives to have picked of the soldiers almost man by man without an enemy being seen.   So with the exception of the posts, and the road between them, the hostile Natives, who were about two hundred to three hundred strong, according to Mr Servantes, had free access all over the Hutt Valley; and thus the Governor instead of producing an effect by his show of force, perhaps taught the southern Natives for the first time the uselessness of regular troops in such a country.   It seems surprising that the Governor, who must even then have determined on the admirable system of tactics which he afterwards laid down, seemed almost a parallel to that of Wairau.   His reason was, probably, the expectation of support from the friendly Natives, and the incessant appeals of the settlers.   They, indeed, tried to persuade him to attack a stronghold that the Natives had made at the end of the Pareraho track, next to the Hutt River, on a steep spur, with trunks of trees laid horizontally, and to which they retreated every night.   This stronghold might have been commanded from the neighbouring spurs, and assaulted in front, by a specially trained body of men.   The mistake was in expecting such a system of warfare to be carried on by troops trained to a certain system of discipline and movement, very necessary in civilised war, but worse than useless against savages.   The Governor, in answering this proposition, showed he was fully aware of the difficulty he had got into, for he says: “The generality of persons of New Zealand, discussing the operations against the Natives, forget that there is no analogy between them and the military operations in Europe; if our enemy retire into the dense and almost boundless forest, and our troops pursue them, the simple result is that the enemy are driven further and further into the forest, and the troops, ultimately, after heavy loss, are compelled to retire upon the open country and their supplies; the troops are forced to fight at the greatest disadvantage, whilst the enemy act at the greatest advantage.... 

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