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Historic diary extracts
Oruawharo homestead

Home and Family Diary extracts
Social and District Life Diary extracts
Farm Life Diary extracts

These extracts from the diaries of Sydney Johnston and his descendents, now held in Hawke’s Bay Museum, Napier, provide a glimpse into Oruawharo’s rich social and family life, into the development of its extensive farmlands and into its role in the surrounding district.

Extracts from the Home and Family Diary


14 May 1870
Drove Mrs Russell and Bessie to Canning’s. (First mention of driving – it would have referred to a horse-drawn buggy.)
October 1870
Additions to house (ie. the cottage Sydney and Sophia were to occupy before the present homestead).
12 July 1873
Married.
16 July 1874
Planting trees around site of new home.
26 December 1874
Daughter Henrietta Mary born.
26 October 1875
Scandinavian girl came at six shillings a week.
8 July 1877
Son Robert Quentin born. Died 14 October that year.
29 October 1878
Thompson began making dam for water supply for new house.
8 August 1879
In Wellington. Arranged with my father to lease Oruawharo at rental of £3,500 a year.
17 September 1879
At new house planting trees.
2 October 1879
Moved into new house.
13 February 1881
Fire at 8.30pm destroyed plantation near house, burning 100 valuable trees.
5 February 1882
Alice Lambert (a relative of Sophia’s) married to John Mason in Oruawharo drawing room. Bridesmaids: Molly Johnston, Tooni and Evelyn Inglis, Fanny Ormond, Miss Stewart and Hetty Herrick.
10 April 1883
Daughter Jessie Meta born.
3 March 1888
Purchased Oruawharo under terms of my father’s will. Paid £3 per acre plus agricultural implements and stock 22,000 sheep, 100 cattle, 30 horses.
5 December 1888
Daughter Agnes Beatrice born.
9 December 1895
Mollie married Herbert Watson in Takapau Catholic Church. Ball for men and Takapau people in the woolshed in the evening.
12 December 1899
Additions to house began.
29 December 1899
Bought pair of cattiage horses, Nutshell and Te Whiti, for 55 guineas.
April 1901
Acetylene gas lighting plant installed.
14 June 1903
Salary cheque for £35 to governess Miss Davidson.
1 April 1904
Messers Kenway and Tod came in a motor car.
5 August 1904
Severe earthquake brought chimneys and plaster down.
1 June 1907
Drove by motor car to Guavas and returned in the evening (the first mention of driving a car).
6 June 1907
Carlyons came to lunch.
28 June 1907
Sent car to Napier for repairs.
19 December 1910
New motor car arrived (a Lorraine-Detrich, sold in 1935 for £10).
17 February 1911
Grandson John Riddiford (son of daughter Jessie Meta who had married Daniel Riddiford a year before) born in the blue room.
13 March 1911
My 70th birthday.
1 October 1911
Telephone connected.
20 October 1911
New Cadillac came, price £575 less £150 for Decauville.
May 1914
Electric light plant installed.
29 June 1917
Sydney Johnston died in England.
5 July 1922
Daughter Agnes Beatrice married John Rolleston. A dance was held at the house that night and another at Takapau Hall on 7 July.
3 December 1923
Grandson Sydney Christopher born in the blue room.
9 October 1931
Sophia Johnston died.
15 July 1933
Agnes Rolleston took over her mother’s and sisters’ shares in Oruawharo and in December she and her family took up residence.
June 1936
The Rolleston family left for England, returning in 1938 after leaving Christopher at school in Ampleforth. He later undertook military service with the Grenadier Guards in Germany and returned to New Zealand in 1947.
19 January 1952
Christopher Rolleston married Jennifer Mary Hinde, only daughter of Mr & Mrs Douglas Hinde, Kenya. The ceremony was held in Kenya.
19 March 1953
Christopher Rolleston was killed in a tractor accident at Oruawharo.

Extracts from the Social and District Life Diary



7 April 1866
Rifle match. Five from Patangata V five from Waipukarau. We were beaten, 28 points.
30 November 1868
Rode to Waipukarau to attend meeting about stockade. Meeting decided stockade should be built at Waipukarau.
29 April 1870
Meeting at Waipukarau to consider best means of preventing spread of sheep scab in the province.
8 May 1874
Work began on plan for railway.
26 May 1874
Addressed electors at Waipukarau.
15 October 1874
Rode from Tamumu to Hastings show and afterwards travelled to Napier by train (first mention of train travel).
1 May 1875
Elected member of Provincial Council.
1 September 1876
To Waipukarau for opening of railway from Napier.
19 September 1876
Rochfort came to survey township of Takapau.
23 September 1876
Elected member of County Council.
1 January 1877
Attended funeral of Sir Donald McLean in Napier. About 3000 present.
12 March 1877
Railway opened to Takapau.
18 December 1878
Telegraph office opened at Takapau.
1 January 1879
Races at Takapau.
2 January 1879
Railway engine set fire to 500 acres of grass.
1 May 1879
Pheasant shooting.
23 May 1879
Oddfellows’ dance at Takapau schoolhouse.
13 February 1881
Fire at 8.30pm destroyed plantation near house, burning 100 valuable trees.
18 September 1882
To Napier to a attend meeting about new freezing company. Sold section in Takapau, receiving £50 for half an acre.
5 November 1889
Dance for men in new woolshed.
17 May 1894
Dance to which guests from north Hawke's Bay came in a special train and were then conveyed from the siding at the crossing to the house by horse transport. Capt Russell was among the guests, but Lady Russell was unable to attend as their daughter Violet had scarletina.
17 March 1895
Attended service conducted by Father Keegan, new church at Takapau.
21 August 1899
Agreed to sell Takapau blacksmith shop, cottage and section to May for £600.
22 August 1902
Dance in Takapau Hall.
12 June 1908
Entertainment at Takapau to open Town Hall given by Sophia and me.Takapau Dramatic Club performed ‘Jane’.
17 January 1911
Meeting in Takapau about telephone.
13 March 1911
My 70th birthday.
1 October 1911
Telephone connected.
4 July 1947
Ball held in the ballroom to celebrate Christopher’s return and the Rollestons’ silver wedding anniversary.

Extracts from the Farm Life Diary



12 November 1865
Rode to pa and engaged two natives to come for docking, agreeing to pay them five shillings a day if they worked exceedingly well.
1 November 1866
Sent two sheep to show and won prizes with both.
7-9 February 1867
Left Wellington for Hawke's Bay via Manawatu. Bought horse for £15 from T Cook of Manawatu. Own horse unable to travel.
12 February
Arrived Oruawharo.
30 May 1867
Bridges on Oruawharo and Tamumu washed out. Ngaruroro River changed course. (Tamumu was a neighbouring property which Sydney managed for his father John).
29 June 1867
Meeting at Napier about boiling down. Entry on 27 November that year records,‘Paid Braithwaite £30, being £3 per share on 10 £5 boiling down shares.
30 July 1867
Bought additional 869 acres at Oruawharo, paying five shillings an acre.
March 1868
Oruawharo ear mark registered.
12 November 1868
Maori shearers at Tamumu taken away by (Chief) Karaitiana owing to massacre of whites at Turangi.
30 November 1868
Rode to Waipukarau to attend meeting about stockade. Meeting decided stockade should be built at Waipukarau.
12 February 1869
Rode to Waipukarau, swimming Maharakeke. Tukituki River higher than ever known.
22 December 1869
Received particulars of one-horse mower recommended by Mr Dixon of Masterton.
4 April 1870
691 sheep driven to Waipukarau for boiling down. Boundary rider engaged for between Tamumu and Omakere at £74 a year.
29 April 1870
Meeting at Waipukarau to consider best means of preventing spread of sheep scab in the province.
5 October 1870
Passing sheep through arsenic trough for foot rot.
14 March 1871
Delivered 61 three-quarter-bred Cotswold rams to Mr Hamilton and received in exchange, 60 seven-eighths Lincolns.
December 1872
14,000 sheep shorn at Oruawharo.
4 March 1873
Bought 14 stud Lincolns from Tanner. Average cost £12.
1 July 1873
Men planting furze.
17 October 1873
At show in Havelock North. Took prizes for fat ewes and quarter-bred hoggets.
28 May 1874
Sowing cocksfoot on land cleared by burning near site of new house.
15 October 1874
Rode from Tamumu to Hastings show and afterwards travelled to Napier by train (first mention of train travel).
1876
Stocking with cattle began.
1 September 1876
To Waipukarau for opening of railway from Napier.
10 March 1877
Bought double-furrow plough.
12 March 1877
Railway opened to Takapau.
14 January 1878
Large fire burnt about 2000 acres.
29 May 1878
Began building dip.
2 January 1879
Railway engine set fire to 500 acres of grass.
26 March 1879
Bought reaper and binder with sufficient wire for 300 acres. (Before this, crops would have been hand-tied.)
30 March 1879
Cutting chaff by hand.
1 April 1879
Man engaged to cook for farm men at £1 a week.
15 May 1879
Wheat to Onga Onga mill and flour brought back.
8 August 1879
In Wellington. Arranged with my father to lease Oruawharo at rental of £3,500 a year.
18 September 1881
To Napier to meeting about new freezing company.
31 December 1883
27,563 sheep shorn at Oruawharo – 1880 Merino, the balance Lincoln-Merino cross.
6 March 1884
Sent 520 half-bred wethers to Nelson Bros Tomoana works for freezing. Drew 10 shillings a head in advance. (Later when sheep paid only four shillings a head, had to return the difference.) Hoggets put on turnips.
December 1886
28,030 sheep shorn at Oruawharo. Average fleece weight 8lbs 3oz.
3 March 1888
Purchased Oruawharo under terms of my father’s will. Paid £3 per acre plus agricultural implements and stock – 22,000 sheep, 100 cattle, 30 horses.
17 November 1900
Began machine shearing.
12 May 1903
Worrall (station manager) left for England, due to health. 14 October that year received a cable from Freemantle saying Worrall had died at sea. “I received this news with deep regret. He was in my employment for over 25 years and was a most valuable servant and good friend.”
June 1903
Felling 150 acres of bush on back country.
1 February 1904
Leithead who had been managing Mokoia, took over management of Oruawharo at £250 a year.
1947-49
Christopher (Johnston’s grandson) worked as a rouseabout and shepherd on nearby properties before becoming manager of Oruawharo in January 1951.