I was nine years old when I set out from England. Nine. I was born on Sheppey, which is in the Thames Estuary by the way, and put to sea like all the men of that small island. The war with Napoleon was over, Wellington having seem the little bastard off, and the sea seemed the natural place for an additional son.

But it served me well. I saw much of the world from the deck of many a sort of ship before leaving the whaler Catherine and finding my feet here in New Zealand. Like all good wanderers sometimes you just need a clear place to stand before you can stop the roaming, and this was as good as any.

After I took up with Pairoke we settled on her family’s land just south of their pa, that’s a kind of picket fort by the way, there were still the occasional war between the tribes in these parts, which goes to show, you can travel 12,000 miles and still be surrounded by people wanting to kill one another… and I took up farming.

Farming, can you believe it. Farming! These local Maori didn’t need a fisherman you see. We’d long since taken all the whales from these waters, and the locals could fish well enough for themselves. So farming it was. Me, as sailor for twenty years. Farming. At least I still had a cutter to run when the salt had cleared too much from my veins.

We cleared the land and placed on it sheep, cattle, and horses. And it was this trade that the locals wanted. It was strange in those days of New Zealand. There was a tension between the British setting up in Petone and in the South Island and the local tribes, that Arthur Wakefield was an arrogant petty aristocrat, and it occasionally split over into bloodshed. But I? I was welcomed.

And so here I am now in a paddock. Every man who comes here knows you could make a fortune in these waters, and here I am, moving into husbandry! If me old dad could see me now. Tell you what, he’d be amazed, his boy, landed gentry.

We’re even thinking of putting a tavern up on the roadside, to try and capture a little of the traffic heading to Port Nicholson. Now that would likely spin a pretty penny… A pretty penny indeed.

F,FLP

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