Object #1000325 from MS-Papers-0032-0312
From: Inward letters - Henry Halse, Reference Number MS-Papers-0032-0312 (49 digitised items). 43 letters written from New Plymouth and Huatoki. Includes copies of letters from Wiremu Kingi, Witi, and Aperahama, Te Kani, 1851
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June 30th. 1851
I am sorry to say that Government House at Mount Eliot was discovered on fire at about 2 o'clock yesterday morning, and shortly after, reduced to a heap of ashes.
It appears that as Private Stewart was going his rounds, he perceived a strong light in the direcrion of Mount Eliot, and went there; when he saw the back premises, occupied by him, on fire. He immediately gave the alarm, roused Richard Cock, and his lodger, and returned to the fire, which had made such progress that all attempts to enter the kitchen, where the fire was first seen, were impossible.
Cock then broke open the front door, and succeeded in saving a few papers, and a little furniture from the Post Office, before the back premises fell in and sent a suffocating volume of smoke, followed by a sheet of flame, into the front rooms,
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that at once forced him and others to retire to a distance.
The fire had now extended over the whole of the building, when some townsmen and Kawau natives, being alarmed by the crackling of the flames, and sudden glare, rushed to the spot, but could not render any assistance. The fire had done its work, leaving nothing but smouldering remnants and dismantled chimneys to mark the spot, where stood the neatest house in New Plymouth.
The loss is indeed serious - house, Post Office, papers, records, and letters, all gone to the winds; and but for Mr. R. Brown's timely precautions, his premises must hare shared a similar fate.
The origin of this very unfortunate event is to be investigated by Dr. Wilson and Mr. Halse, J.P. to-day, at the request of the Resident Magistrate. In the meantime, I enclose extracts from the Orderly Book for your information, and will forward any further matter that may turn
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up, on this exciting subject.
I have just received your note, per "Governor Grey", 14 days from Whanganui, and have seen the miserable remaining ducks, four in number, and one solitary Guinea fowl! They were sent to Charles Brown by Dr. Wilson's wish, and thence to Robinson's, the best place for them. Three died shortly after being brought on shore, and it is not certain whether the rest will live.
The stirring news from Sydney, will, I fear, bring on famine prices in New Zealand. Already all articles of consumption here are up, and very high, with with an almost certain prospect of going still higher. Wheat 10/- a bushel; in a day or two probably 15/-; and long before harvest £1, which must result in misery and all its consequences.
The settlers here would give almost any price for land, to meet the threatened evil, and "squatting" is being carried on more extensively than ever - in defiance of the Resident
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Magistrate's Notice of 20th. February last; and how matters will be settled, is a question I am not able to answer.
By this day's Overland Mail from Wellington, I understand the Tataraimaka Block, is to be surveyed and given out forthwith, and likewise the 'Bell Block', or rather "Mangati" - whenever you say it may be, with safety.
Your delay increases my anxiety to see you; and I shall carefully look forward to the next post from the South, if you do not, in the meantime, appear in person.
Tamati Waka is here, and tells me a party of Puketapu, Waitara, and Taranaki natives - in all about 400 - intend to proceed to Waikanae, to the assistance of Arama Karaka, in selling land there to the Government.
The Puketapus are coming in next Monday to see the Resident Magistrate, about taking their arms with them, when I expect a little fun.
The "Lucy James" is under weigh for Manukau, full of provisions, and amongst others, takes poor Carrington, who is off to England to save his sight.
To:- D. McLean Esq.
Inward letters - Henry Halse, Reference Number MS-Papers-0032-0312 (49 digitised items)
Series 1 Inward letters (English), Reference Number Series 1 Inward letters (English) (14501 digitised items)
McLean Papers, Reference Number MS-Group-1551 (30238 digitised items)
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