Thursday, 09 July 2020


Colourful history of the Creed family

The name Creed has a lengthy association with Whitianga and the wider Mercury Bay dating back to the time of early European settlement. With many relatives still living in the area, the Creed Family book is a colourful account of the changing times in this part of the Coromandel, told through the lives of multiple generations of this pioneering family.

Matthew Phillip Creed was born in 1833 in Somerset England and, at the age of 18, shipped out for three years’ service on a trading vessel. After six months in Adelaide, Australia, he came to Auckland where he met Pita Tekohiwi, who invited him to Tauranga. This is where he met and subsequently married Pita’s sister, Ramarihi.

Matthew’s first association with Whitianga was as an employee in the timber mill at Gumtown (now Coroglen) as a millhand/bushman. His wife, Ramarihi, did not get on with the other women and fights often occurred. So in the early 1870’s Matthew took his son, Mark, and his wife to Hot Water Beach. They rowed from Whenuakite and it took them twelve hours, with Matthew and Ramarihi each manning an oar, baby Mark in the bow and towing timber behind the boat for their house. In 1872, he purchased the beachfront land where he lived with his wife and six children, Mark, Adolphus, Lucy, Jessie, Charlotte and George, until his death in October1904, at the age of 71. He is buried at Hot Water Beach under the large pohutukawa tree where he used to sit and watch the ocean. A memorial plaque has been placed on a rock by the tree. Ramarihi later returned to Tauranga where she remarried and lived until the age of 90. She is buried at Hairini Pa.

One of Matthew and Ramarihi’s six children, Adolphus Creed (born in 1872) recalled the hardships of those early pioneering years. He said his father returned each weekend from the mill to the farm, rowing six miles up the river to Whenuakite. From there he would transport the weekly provisions on his back for about four miles over the hills, which would at times included a 50lb bag of flour or a 70lb bag of sugar. It is not surprising that such an industrious breadwinner was, at his death, able to leave his surviving sons a herd of 70 cows and the well-grassed acres necessary to run them.

Adolphus Creed who became known as Dolph or Tawhe Tekohiwi settled in Whitianga when he married his wife, Margaret McLeod, in 1907. Margaret was the daughter of James McLeod and Eliza (née Wigmore) of Hahei. Eliza was the daughter of another Mercury Bay pioneer, Robert Wigmore. Dolph and Margaret had six children, all born and raised in Whitianga. Frances (known as Eunice), Adolphus (known as Ray), Vincoris, Bernice, Irvine (known as Ivan) and Joyce. The family home and land in Owen Street is still owned by two of Dolph’s grandsons.

Dolph followed in his father’s footsteps and, at the age of 15, started to work in ‘Wires Bush’ as an off-sider to Ned Slade driving bullocks for Billy Fagan, the contractor, for the wage of one pound a week and tucker. They worked ten hours a day and were paid for wet days when there wasn’t any work, but that didn’t happen very often. As the offsider he carried the timber jack, which he said weighed about 80lb, but by the end of the day felt like 180lb.

The first store at The Wires was run by Mr John Schaffers. His stock consisted of tinned beef, flour, baking powder, tobacco, matches and painkiller - the bushman’s medicine for all complaints, from real complaints to those suffering “recovery”. One patient, known as ‘Painkiller Brown,’ was known to drink three bottles daily and would chop firewood all day for his payment. A lot could be said about the cooks if one was brave enough. Some were good, some were bad and some worse. A menu for the day was: breakfast - porridge or stew, lunch - bread and butter and corned beef, tea - corned beef, spuds and plum duff, supper - help yourself to bread and jam and tea. Dinner bell was a horn blown.

Provisions for the store and bush were brought by the small steamer “Little George,” captained by Mr John Wilson. After Captain Wilson came Captain Kendall and after him Captain Fred Meikle. There was one dance hall, one hotel, two general stores and one butcher’s store all at Gumtown.

Dolph’s next job brought him back to the Whenuakite Valley, working in the bush again on wages of 27/6 a week, using bullocks to haul logs for Walter Dyson. His bullock team consisted of 16 bullocks and drew a load of about 3,000 feet of kauri. The bullocks’ holding yard was just a stockyard and they roamed at will with bells on when not working. All the logs were manhandled, there being no such things as tractors, haulers or timber lorries in those days. The only power was timber jacks, elbow grease and bad language. The only tools used for any work on either dams or huts were good axes, crosscut saws, sledge hammers, adzes and jacks. The axes used in the early days were Sharps brand. The head was about ten inches long and about three to three and a half inches wide, the best for scarfing big timber. The Kelly axe came into vogue much later, better for small timber, chopping limbs etc. and is now used universally. Recreation consisted of boxing gloves at a weekend, cards at night, sitting by the fireside yarning and smoking and a bit of woodcarving. Lights went out at 9 o’clock. They didn’t get to go home every weekend, sometimes only once a month. The logs were hauled to a creek, tipped in and then driven to the booms. They were then picked up by engine and trammed four or five miles to the Whenuakite River, then rafted down to the upper mill where they were cut up and shipped by cutters like the Waratah, Lancaster Lass or Takarau to Auckland.

Margaret Creed died November 1954, aged 69 and Dolph Crèed died October 1958, aged 86. Both are buried in Whitianga.

Today, three of Dolph and Margaret’s grandsons live in Whitianga, with another owning a holiday home here.

Extracts were taken from the Creed Family book compiled by Bryan Anderson (grandson of Dolph Creed).

Pictured: The Matthew Phillip Creed memorial plaque at Hot Water Beach.


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