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The Star: June 01, 2017

12 Thursday

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The Star 13 News Manson family Canty’s best kept secret Pioneers overcome adversity Latest Christchurch news at www. .kiwi Thursday June 1 2017 • By Gabrielle Stuart SHIPWRECKS, AN armed robbery, and a baby born at sea – they were just some of the challenges one of Christchurch’s first pioneering families faced, yet their names are barely remembered. Samuel and Jean Manson and their children arrived in Lyttelton with the Deans brothers in 1843, years before the First Four Ships arrived in 1850. But while the Deans family is widely honoured for their pioneering work, the Manson family, and the other settlers with them, the Gebbie family, are not well known. Yesterday, descendants of the Manson family gathered at Deans Bush to honour them, placing a memorial plaque and planting an oak tree dedicated to them. A great-grandaughter of Mr and Mrs Manson, Janet O’Loughlin, has gathered a lot of the family’s history in a book. She said they had some incredible adventures. Mr Manson, a carpenter, made the four-month journey from Scotland to work for the Deans, travelling with his heavily pregnant wife and two young children. Their baby was born two weeks into the voyage, delivered by the ship doctor – and meanwhile their three-year-old daughter caught measles and their twoyear-old son had to be treated for a bad cough. While wealthier families such as the Deans stayed in cabins, the Mason family were in cramped berths below deck, Mrs O’Loughlin said. “The migrant sailing ships were set low in the water, their decks constantly being swept by heavy seas which leaked onto the berths below deck, making PIONEERS: Early settlers Samuel and Jean Manson with their 17 children in 1864, who farmed and built on thousands of acres around Christchurch and Banks Peninsula. PHOTOS: CANTERBURY MUSEUM HAY FAMILY COLLECTION ​ them damp and unpleasant and causing hordes of cockroaches to emerge from their hiding places,” she said in the book, Mindful of My Origin. According to the ship records, there were 40 cases of measles and some of whooping cough during the 150-day voyage, and two children died during the journey. But the Manson family survived and made it safely to Nelson. From there they travelled with the Deans brothers and Gebbie family to Wellington, and then to a whalers’ settlement at Port Levy. They travelled by boat up the Avon River to Riccarton, where Mr Manson built two homes for the families, using wooden pegs because their nails had been left behind. While in Scotland the Manson and Gebbie families would have been classed servants of the Deans, in the new settlement they lived and worked together, Mrs O’Loughlin said. “They all pitched in together, I don’t think there was any hierarchy there. The Deans, being lawyers, were very helpful when the Mansons and Gebbies were buying their own land. So they had to rely on one another to survive,” she said. After helping to build and establish the Deans settlement, Mr Manson and Mr Gebbie negotiated with local Maori to lease land on the other side of the hills between Governors Bay and Charteris Bay, and they also brought 14 cows each from the Deans brothers. They set off to their new home in 1845 in canoes, but halfway there a storm came up and capsized the boat. The families survived, but lost a lot of their provisions and spent a cold night sheltering in a cave. Mrs Manson was again heavily pregnant at the time, and gave birth to their fifth child later that month, while the family were living in a tent. After a year’s work establishing their farm, they had stored up 700 pounds of butter and 300 pounds of cheese ready to sell. But they were hit by another disaster at sea. The ship taking all their produce to sell at the port sunk during the journey, and they lost everything. After the disaster Mr Manson began working for other settlers to make money, leaving Mrs Manson alone to manage the milking, the running of the farm and their five children, all under six-years-old. Later the same year, three men from the Blue Cap Gang arrived at the settlement claiming to be shipwrecked sailors. DESCENDANTS: The Manson family gathered for a tree planting in Deans Bush. PHOTO: MARTIN HUNTER Mrs Manson gave them food and beds for the night, and directed them to the nearby Greenwood mill to find work. The Greenwood family also took the men in and gave them work, but when everyone was gathered for the evening meal that night the gang held up the household at gunpoint, stealing their money, guns and matches. The men were later arrested, but after the experience several Maori men stayed on the farm with Mrs Manson to protect the family while Mr Manson was away for work. The family’s luck eventually turned, and they went on to buy and farm more than 30 land plots in Banks Peninsula. They had 17 children over 24 years, and their descendents made a huge contribution to the developing colony, Mrs O’Loughlin said. The family’s stone cottage at Orton Bradley Park is now the oldest surviving stone building in Canterbury. It was badly damaged in the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes but is being rebuilt, and is set to open as a museum and information centre. Three oak trees were originally planted in August 1994 commemorating the Deans, Gebbie and Manson families’ work, but the Manson tree had to be cut down in April. The new tree was planted in its place. Darfield water judged the best in New Zealand • By Georgia O’Connor-Harding DARFIELD HAS the best-tasting drinking water in New Zealand. A blind taste test at the New Zealand Water Industry Operators Group conference decided the township has the tastiest water. It comes after a major upgrade to the Darfield water supply in 2014 with the installation of two deep ground bores, a 1000m3 concrete reservoir and a booster pumping station. A district council spokeswoman said the bores source the artesian water from deep underground meaning the water is naturally filtered providing a safe supply. Mayor Sam Broughton, who lives in Darfield, said it was nice to celebrate some good news after the improvements were made. He said the two bores provide an increase in reliability over the summer and if work needed to be done on either of the bores the supply will still be continuous. “I do enjoy the taste of water. It’s fresh,” Mr Broughton said. Darfield Community Committee chairman and Malvern Butchery owner Paddy McKay said the water quality speaks for itself and it is pretty good. The judging panel made up of representatives from the WIOG, chemical company IXOM and Altitude Brewing decided Darfield had the besttasting water based on how it looks, smells and tastes. The improved quality is a large turn-around in the township’s water supply. In 2012, animal effluent in Darfield’s water supply was the cause of a gastroenteritis outbreak affecting more than 110 people.