Surveyor - Canterbury, New Zealand 1850s


Samuel Hewlings

Reference The Pioneer Land Surveyors of New Zealand

Samuel Hewlings was born in Wallingford, Berkshire in 1820 and trained as a surveyor in England. Hewlings and Thomas Cass came to New Zealand with C.W. Ligar who had been appointed Surveyor general for the colony in place of Felton. They sailed from Portsmouth on 21st April, 1841, in the New Zealand Company's ship, Prince Rupert. This ship was wrecked on September 4th near Robben Island, Capetown, with the loss of one life. Some of the survivors remained in Cape Colony and the rest came on to New Zealand in the brig Antilla, which arrived at Wellington on 8th December and Auckland on 24 December 1841. On board was William Spain (English lawyer, appointed Land Claims Commissioner) and Charles Ligar (Surveyor General).

Hewlings assisted in the surveyors at Auckland and the Bay of Islands. In September, 1849 he undertook contract surveys for the commencement of the Canterbury Settlement directed by Captain Joseph Thomas. He surveyed the Heathcote River and part of the Christchurch district. Subsequently he was engaged in surveying the rural sections throughout the Canterbury Associations territory.

On September 1854, he accepted a position on the survey staff of the Canterbury Provincial Government, working under Thomas Cass, Chief Surveyor, who instructed him to commence the triangulation and topographical surveys of South Canterbury i.e. the territory southwards from the Rangitata River. In 1854 Alfred Cox acquired Raukapuka station on the eastern bank of the Waihi River. In the same year the surveyor Samuel Hewlings arrived, with instructions to survey the country at Talbot Forest and to "get up" a small hut "on what may probably be the future site of a town". Hewlings obediently "got up" his small hut, of totara slab walls and rush-thatched roof, and around the "Bark Hut" the township grew as sawmillers came to level Talbot Forest to the ground. The hut, the first in Geraldine, later served as Road Board offices and then as the town's first school. A totara tree planted by Hewlings beside his hut to mark the birth of his daughter, Catherine (Kate) Hewlings, the first child of European descent to be born in the Geraldine district, still flourishes. The tree and a commemorative plaque stand in Talbot St. opposite the police station. 

The Land Office, built by Mr Hewlings, was afterwards converted into a school, in which the first teacher was Mrs Grimmer; Mr J. Slipper also taught there, as did Mrs T. Ash. The first school was erected in 1873, Mr Upton, of Timaru, being the architect. The first master was Mr J. Hardcastle, now of Timaru. He followed by Mr J. B. Chisholm, and then for many years Mr T. Hughes, later one of the North Canterbury Board's inspectors, had charge, and under him it achieved great success. The 1911 master is Mr J. Montgomery., and the school in 1911 had the status of a district high school.

Photo taken in 1872
Press, 14 January 1909, Page 8 The South Canterbury runs were first surveyed in 1858 by the late Messrs Edward Jollie and Samuel Hewlings. His house had walls  of totara bark house and roofed with niggerhead was built by Mr Hewlings as his headquarters during his survey of the runs. The house, known as the "old bark house," was burned down some years before 1911.  In 1911 the house was where Mr E. H. Logan's store stood. In its erection Hewlings was assisted by Mr Geo. Rippingale, later a resident in Timaru.

On 7 Oct. 1857, Bishop Harper baptised four daughters to Sam Hewlings and Nga Hei, and in 1861 they were married in the bark hut by the Rev. Charles Fraser with William Kenneth Macdonald (Orari), stockowner and Catherine Macpherson, Raukapuka (Geraldine), gentlewoman. Nga had tattooed lips.

In September, 1858, Hewlings resigned from the Government service to join Edward Jollie in partnership as contract surveyors working for the Provincial Government. In 1863 they laid out the town of Arowhenua (later renamed Temuka). Hewlings had purchased adjoining land and subdivided it, naming the township Wallingford after his birthplace. Today Wallingford is the business centre of Temuka. In 1862 trigonmetrical surveys and topographical surveys were continued from Pareora to the Orari River, extending six miles inland. The work was undertaken by Hewlings assisted by Charles R. Shaw and Robert Townsend. the purpose of the survey was to define grazing runs. The work was based on magnetic meridian and consequently much revision was necessary at a later date. In 1862 the work was extended to embrace the whole coastline between the Rangitata and Waitaki Rivers and a depth inland of eight miles. Hewlings made his headquarters at Timaru where he took a leading part in the development of the town which became a borough on 13th July 1868. A Town Council had been elected in 1865 and functioned under a Chairman (Hewlings) who became the first Mayor when the Borough was incorporated. Hewlings succeeded Cyrus Davie as Chief Surveyor for Canterbury on 1st September, 1871 and retired from Government service at the end of 1876 when the provinces were abandoned.

Samuel Hewling's totara tree, Nov. 2008. Photo taken by Garry T.

Timaru Herald, 27 February 1896, Page 4 Obit- last paragraph
He afterwards lived in comparative retirement, and for a considerable, time previous to his death was in failing health. His death, however, came rather suddenly and a few days ago he was able to walk out in the streets. (His residence was in Armagh St. CHCH) His wife died about seven years ago, and he leaves one daughter. His remains were brought down to Timaru yesterday for interment, and a few old official and private friends accompanied them. Old identities of Timaru attended, but the funeral was not a large one.

South Canterbury NZGenWeb Project

Prince Rupert  - ran aground in Table Bay on 5th September 1841. Four crew members from another ship the Bucephalus together with a passenger from the doomed Prince Rupert were drowned trying to save emigrants.

Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand
Record Title : Shaw, Charles Reginald 1829-1906
Personal records Diaries, 2 folders (172 leaves)
Display Dates : 1866-1872
Reference Number : MS-Papers-3803. Copy held at MS-1934
Shaw came to NZ in 1853. He was a surveyor living in Timaru. Shaw's diary covers the period 10 Dec. 1866 to 5 August 1872. The brief daily entries describe the land he surveyed (the number of acres and the owner), and his activities around his home (gardening, maintenance of the house and furniture, and paying for household purchases). He also records information relating to the health and recreation of his wife and children.

New Zealand Herald, 15 August 1881, Page 4 Death
Hewlings - On July 29, at Russell, Bay of Islands, Jane Elizabeth, wife of Samuel Hewlings, of Christchurch, Canterbury, N.Z., aged 56.

Births
1860/1302 Hewlings Sara
1862/1312 Hewling Unnamed Male
1862/1313 Hewling Unnamed Male
1863/2367 Hewlings Catherine

Star 29 January 1897, Page 3 LAND SALE.
Timaru, Jan. 28. A very successful land sale was held at Temuka to-day. The sale was on account of the estate of Samuel Hewlings. Forty acres were sold at 35 per acre to Mr J. T. .M. Hayhurst. An eight-acre block near the brewery, Temuka, was bought by Mr H. Lee for l70, and four and a half acres next the saleyards were sold to Mr J. Mundell for 171.

See Geraldine News 12 May 2011

Press, 17 March 1911, Page 9
Much that has already been written descriptive of the adjoining district of Geraldine also applies to that part of South Canterbury that lies south-east of the Geraldine Road District to the sea, and south to the Opihi River...
There was a large settlement of Maoris at the Arowhenua bush, and some of their descendants still remain in the neighbourhood, and by them the Temuka river and probably the immediate district was known as the Umukuha, "the place of the flax," for on the rich alluvial soil flax made a prolific growth that is now never seen, at least in the South Island, for such land has all been found well worth cultivating. The Temuka River was commonly called by the early settlers "Tommy s Creek," after an old Maori chief, the course of the river having been changed by a flood and brought past the chiefs whare. The Opihi River was formerly known as the Arowhenua, as was the district on both sides of the river adjoining the settlement at the. bush. Then the settlement at the bush between the rivers was called Georgetown, after Mr George Rhodes. In later years Georgetown, disappeared, and the district is now known as Epworth. When Mr Samuel Hewlings, who had purchased the site of Temuka, laid out the township, in the survey work of which he was assisted by Mr Geo. Levens, still a resident of Temuka. He named it Wallingford, after his native place in England, but all that now remains of this name is its application to one of the hotels in the township. A township was formed in later years east of the railway line, and adjoining Temuka, and until its absorption into the borough of Temuka, it was called Arowhenua.