Walter Cameron [1862-1946]

A document by Rodney Cameron dated 10/07/2009 transposed here by his grandson Rob Cameron

Walter Cameron [1862-1946]

I will follow on from Marc Ulyatt’s history and start with my Grandfather and what I know and have been told and remember. At the time of his Father’s death Walter would have been around 4 years of age.  Two years later when his Mother married William Lowes she was hoping to keep the family together. However  Walter and Allan were placed with a Scottish couple and brought up by them until they went to work. We know this couple would send them a card at Christmas and encourage them to go to Church. Walter at school got a reputation as a boxer and could stand up for himself then we read in Marc’s history that he became Accountant in Turnbull and Jones, shipping agents. At the age of about 21 he left to join his brothers Robert and DJ. I understand he did spend some time working at Pahoao before he joined them. Like their Fathers family the brothers kept in close contact throughout their lives. I understand that Robert and DJ first grew grain on the land that Walter finished up farming. This was leased land from the Maoris and a lot of the land Walter farmed was lease land. The brothers seem to have been very successful in their farming in a short time. Robert’s Grandson Ewen tells me he has land deeds for Mauriceville land dating from 1881. So I guess they initially brought Walter and Allan to help with the work on their expanding operations. Marc didn’t realise that Robert and DJ farmed in partnership as Cameron Brothers and the partnership ending would have included Blackrock. Blackrock was were the woolshed was and the shearing was all done there, even the sheep from Mauriceville we understand were shorn there in the very early days. Perhaps the first separate woolshed could have been at Mauriceville. My Father in his younger days in the late 1920’s mustered for shearing over Blackrock and Walter and Allan’s properties, Including the Rangitumau property that Walter and Allan bought in 1908. This was part of the Stuckey property that was sold when Mr. Stuckey retired to England. He was the man who introduced Hereford cattle into New Zealand.

The introduction of power in the early 1930’s was probably the time when the separate properties built their own woolsheds. The Blackrock woolshed had a Tangye engine to drive the machines and grinder. A blowtorch had to be put under it some minutes before you could start it. The shearing at Blackrock would continue for up to 6 weeks and during my Father’s time often remittance men who walked the roads as swaggers would get work in the shed. Occasionally my Father [Ron or Sam] would stay in the quarters at this time, he said he heard Shakespeare spoken as he never heard it anywhere else, in the shearers quarters at Blackrock. These men were often well educated but had fallen out with their families, been sent to the colonies and an allowance was remitted to them as long as they stayed here.

Madeline Stewart Baldwin 1885-1969

Now to my Grandmother. On a visit to Sydney DJ took his whole family and his daughters, Ruby and Phyllis met and became friends with my Grandmother. And Grandma visited them on board ship and met DJ who invited her to come and visit them at Blackrock. And so sometime later she did, and that was how she and Grandpa met. There is a story, from Jep, that Grandma Lowes and Madeline’s Mother met on a boat trip and this is where the idea to bring Walter and Madeline together came from.  By this time Walter was about 41 and Madeline 18. And as Marc has stated there seems to have been alcohol problems among different family members and by this time Walter was a heavy drinker. So Grandma only agreed to marry him if he would give up the drink, which he did. I thought this was a pretty brave thing for an 18 year old to put to a 41 year old, anyway he did. I think we have to remember that the work the brothers were doing was hard physical work, and the opportunities for recreation we have today were not there.

In a way Grandma’s background was similar to Grandpa’s. They had both come from homes that were broken up during their childhood. Grandma’s Mother became pregnant and her Father married her to give legitimacy to the child. Then Grandma was their child and another brother. Grandma’s mother who was called Gannie took off and left her husband and led a wandering life. Sometimes with other men but mostly by herself in later life. She lived in Sydney and London. Grandma’s Father married again and she got on very well with her stepmother and she would travel over every few years to visit her. Madeline’s [Grandma] childhood experience affected her all her life and I think one of the things she sought was a stable family life. In fact both she and Grandpa did not want their children to leave home when they grew up.

The family of Walter and Madeline

Now on to the family of Walter and Madeline, Hinehauone Coralie Cameron born in 1904. The Chief at the Te Ore Ore Pa sent the name over to my grandparents. So Corrie carried this name for the rest of her life and I don’t think she ever got an interpretation of what it really meant although she made many enquiries. It had a meaning something like Daughter of Eve. Corries husband, George was an Anglican Vicar. The last responsibility before he retired was the Maori Pastorate in the Wairarapa.

The next child was my Father Ronald Stewart Cameron born in 1907. He was also sent a name by I think the Chief at the Te Ore Ore Pa. The name was Rangitawhio as near as I can remember. But Grandma passed that one up, Corrie thought she may have gone off Maori names by then. I only learned this in the 1980’s in a letter Corrie wrote to us, when I asked my Father if he knew about it he said yes. But he had never said anything to his family about it. Is it only our Scottish inheritance that our family members sit on these interesting stories and never tell us?

Their last child was Walter Norman born 1919. Named in remembrance of DJ’s son killed at Gallipoli. As Corrie was always called by her second name Norman was always called by his.

The picture on the next page is off the carriage and horse that Madeline Cameron used to go to town in. I think there was a gig she sometimes used too. The house is as it was originally built I think the date given is 1908. I am writing this in 2008, so the original part of the house is 100 years old this year. I will also include Corries drawing of the house as it is at present and a photo I took a few months ago. We acknowledge the Alexander Turnbull Library who the family have lodged Corries drawings with for use of these drawings.

It would take maybe half an hour to get the horse and carriage ready to go to town and I don’t know how long to travel the three miles into Masterton.

“Waiwhetu” is the name Walter Cameron gave to his farm.

These drawings are all by Walter & Madelines daughter Corrie.

In 1920 Corrie at age 16 had drawing lessons from Miss Beard, Masterton

1924 She was a student in oils of Mrs. M.E.R.Tripe, Wellington.

1924-26 She was a student at Wellington Technical School with Linley Richardson

Water colours with D.K.Richmond. Member of the Wellington Art Club.

1926 Member of the Masterton Sketch Club as Corrie Cameron.

1928  Went to London then Paris :- Private studio lessons from M. Renaud.

Then to Calvarossie and Le Grande Chaumiere to do quick sketch work.

1929 Back to London to Heatherleys under Fredrick Whiting and County Council School, Southhampton.

1930 Returned to New Zealand. At this stage I, Rodney Cameron will put an insert. This year my Grandparents Walter and Madeline had an overseas trip visiting Britain and USA. Corrie joined them in Britain. She had become engaged to a man over there and they visited this man and his parents. Apparently after this the young man went out to South Africa and while there contracted Blackwater fever and died. So this probably explains her return to New Zealand.

Through the next ten years she still kept up her art doing a lot of it around the farm. She also made a trip up to the islands, Tahiti I think. Then her parents bought her a garden in Otaki with a little cottage on it.

1940 I think it was in Otaki she met Rev. George Cook and they were married in that year. They shifted around quite a few places, Karori, Pongaroa, Bulls, Patea,Greytown and Carterton. And they had three children.

1964 Onwards a very active Masterton Art Club Member, exhibiting artist member of Academy of Fine Arts, Wellington.

After her husband died Corrie moved from Carterton to Stokes Valley to be near family. Her next shift was to thorndon in Wellington where her son Walter [Arch] had a flat on the back of his home in Tinakori Road. In late 1992 she shifted back to a rest home in Masterton. A few months later she was addmitted to Masterton Hospital where she died over Queen’s Birthday weekend 1993. Within a short distance of “Waiwhetu” where she was born and spent her younger years.

This is a painting of Corries done when she was 12 years old.

At the back of the house, in this drawing you will see a water tank on top of a wooden tower. This gave water pressure to the house, the water being pumped up from a well near the cottage I think. Underneath the water tank was a cool room, the milk was left there for the cream to rise which was skimmed off and after 3 or 4 days the cream would be made into butter. In my time the butter churn was an Alpha Laval Aluminium one. I did finish up with it but have lost it in our shifts. During the war Grandma gave us her butter coupons because they had all the butter they needed from their own cows. The water tower being of wooden construction and sloping became rotten and Norman took it down in the 1950’s and replaced it with a pressure system. However it had served as a good cool room specially in summer for keeping the milk and cream.

Floor coverings in the house as I remember it was mostly with Persian rugs on the wooden floors. The only room to have wall to wall carpet was the living room and it was never used as far as I remember.

The cottage in this drawing was built for my parents,Ron and Kay in 1930.

The house was altered to its present size around 1927-30. Basically all the rooms were taken out to the edge of the Veranda and a room added on the front, left hand side on the picture above. That was originally for Corrie but after she left it became Grandpa’s Office. And the four bay windows were added.

The area that Walter farmed was around 2000 acres. His brother Allan farmed a similar area and the Blackrock farm would have been at least that. Walter being the nearest to town had an automatic telephone in 1918. I think Masterton had the first automatic exchange in New Zealand. There was an earth return single wire starting at the Te Ore Ore Blackrock road corner and travelling across farmland all the way to Snowdon near Mauriceville and this was the telephone service for the other brothers for a long time. The Snowdon farm was still using this line in the early 1950’s. At the time this line was put up it only crossed three or four outside farms otherwise it was all on Cameron land.

Walter Cameron was essentially a horse man cars came to be around when he was in his 50’s and I think he found it hard to understand them. During the first World War he was made Manager of the Wellington Meat Export Company at Waingawa. This was before the Borthwicks Works. He was provided with a car. I suppose it was possibly delivered to him. Corrie was returning home by train and he thought he would surprise her by going in to meet her. However he drove up to the front gate and got out to open it but neglected to apply the hand brake and when he turned round it was disappearing down the gully. The next car he was taking the family up to see his brother Allan and when changing gears put it in reverse gear. The next time they supplied a car and driver. And any cars they owned Grandma drove. I believe the Wellington Meat Export Works at Waingawa went broke shortly after the war, I don’t know if Grandpa’s actions had anything to do with it. I think that is when Borthwicks started their works at Waingawa but on a different site. One of his achievements was the water race. It takes water out of the Ruamahanga river, runs down the side of the flat paddocks below the homestead. Then across the Te Ore Ore road between the Soldiers Settlement road and the Blackrock road and on down until it meets the next stream. This was put in by hand and of course gave water to those paddocks it passed through. In this day and age we forget the effort it took in former times when the work was done by hand. Also the hills were not as clean as we see them now and I understand the brothers did quite a lot of scrub cutting. When I was young wild dogs caused a problem from time to time. They became very cunning at evading people with guns and caused quite a bit of damage to stock.

They kept in contact with family, in fact quite a bit of their social life was amongst the family. I had in my possession some years ago books from the 1st War that had been sent to them by some of the MacFarlane family who had been in the camp at Featherston while they were in training and had visited them. We also have photo’s with Corrie and my Father of Cameron’s from Kaiwharawhara. And of course there was much contact with the John Cameron family when they had the Fernside home at Opaki. And later with Mick and Chris in Cole St. And some of the marriages were conducted by the Rev. Alex Thompson whose second wife was DJ’s daughter Robina [Ruby]. So we can see that from the early days when Walters Mother lived in Masterton and as the family expanded in that area, there was plenty of opportunity to keep in contact with different ones without going outside the family.

Marc Ulyatt’s history gives us a new perspective on the family that came to New Zealand, how they combined and did things together under the leadership of Donald The Weaver. This is still apparent in the generation of my Grandfather Walter and his brothers. The Cameron Clan had to stay united to survive over the long period of its History. And it seems this has been built in to the character we have inherited. The opportunities that we have had during our lifetime have taken us in to a wide variety of occupations and there is now a generation who knows very little of this early history. Again we are indebted to Marc and Peter Hargreaves to bringing this alive for us all.

My Aunt Corrie went to a lot of effort to make up a photo Album of her Father and Mothers Family the alterations to the Homestead etc., put it on acid free paper and deposited it with the Alexander Turnbull Library in Wellington. Her Family have also recently collected a record of Corries art put it on CD and deposited it with the Alexander Turnbull Library also. We have had comments from more than one source that Corries Art is of a high standard. All of this is available to the public from the library.

I will now include some photos of the Family to let you see the different family members.

This is the earliest picture I have of Corrie with her mother. Grandma [Madeline] would be around 19 at this time. She and Grandpa
lived first in a cottage a little beyond where the cottage that was built for my parents when they got married. And I expect this photo was taken there. The original house that Corrie drew was built about 1908.

Below on the left is a picture of Walter Cameron [Grandpa]

Possibly taken about the same time. Next photo taken around 1920 or shortly after. Norman was born 1919.

That would make my Father about 13 and Corrie about 17.

Looking back at the history from this time [2008] it seems as though the family advanced very quickly. This was from the start at Pahoao. There would have been a slow build up of stock numbers initially from the original 300 or so. But once they got the stock numbers built up they seem to have gone ahead in leaps and bounds. That momentum seems to have carried on in the next generation. After 1873 when the original partnership was dissolved. Robert and DJ from starting growing grain on the flats that Grandpa finished up on were buying land in Mauriceville by 1881. Obviously Walter and Allan were brought in to help in a rapidly expanding operation and by 1900 they seem to be well established on their own properties.

Taxation was not such a problem as it is today for those in business. And DJ was in a position to loan money to others establishing their own farms around 1910, as well as having investments in West Coast Gold mining operations. I wonder if the original family that made the decision to come to New Zealand ever imagined how successful they would be. From our point of view today I would say for us it was extremely lucky they did.

Walter Cameron lived to 1946 and was the last of the six brothers to die. DJ Cameron preceded him in 1942. These are the only two of the six brothers I met. My Father fell out with his Father for awhile as there was a court case to clarify why his younger single brother was at home on the farm while Dad [Ron] who had three children was in the Air Force. Grandpa [Walter] thought it was a jack up on Dad’s part, which it wasn’t. However they made their peace later and were reconciled before Walter died. Norman managed the estate then about 1956 took it over himself and exchanged Corrie his Rangitumau property for her share in Te Ore Ore. My Father sold his Rangitumau property in 1960 and we bought a property out of Waipukurau which he and I farmed in partnership for 5 years. We sold the property in 1965 and my parents retired to Waipukurau and I went first to Wanganui and then leased some land at Ohingaiti.

This photo is of some of the grandchildren of Walter & Madeline: – Back row Rodney Janet & Sally Cameron, Front:- Peter Cameron, Jane & Walter[Arch] Cook. Date of photo around 1943.

Missing: – Margaret Anne Cameron, Glenis Cameron and Susan Cook.

So maybe before they were born.

At this stage all in this photo are of retiring age, Janet in the middle of the back row turns 70 in a few weeks, Sally lives in Perth Western Australia, Peter after working all his life in the Catchment Board is retired in Masterton. Jane was a nurse and has lived in Sydney for many years, but is presently in Wellington helping her step brother assemble Corries Art and make sure it is preserved by depositing discs of it at the Alexander Turnbull Library in Wellington. Walter [Arch] works in the photographic section of the Alexander Turnbull Library so keeps his eye on these things too.  I Rodney live in Papatoetoe in retirement

Allan Alexander, Born 29th July 1864, Waiwhetu, Died 3rd January 1934. Allan and Walter were brought up by the same Scottish Couple. I am afraid I don’t know their names. He also started work in a shipping Office before coming to join Robert and DJ.

He never married, but was very successful in his farming operations and when he died his estate was divided up between his nieces and nephews. DJ bought his freehold land for his family. And the leasehold land held in Ruby Thompson and my Father’s name was taken over by them.

I am looking at a list of where the boys were born, 1st one 1854 at Kaiwarra, next 1856 Pahaoa, Next 1859 Kaiwarra, next 1861 Pahaoa, next 1862 Waiwhetu, and the last 1864 Waiwhetu. Six children under the age of ten and travelling backwards and forwards between Wellington and Pahaoa. A journey today of between two and three hours by car?

What in those days, two or three days at least on foot? We can only look back in awe at what Isabella must have gone through. Any Ladies in today’s family offering to follow in her footsteps? I think our lives might be too comfortable to even contemplate it. But we are enjoying what their efforts achieved for us, we are enjoying the icing on the cake in comparison to what they went through.

Looking again at where the children were born we see Walter and Allan were born at Waiwhetu. This would possibly fit in with Marc’s story that Donald the piper had either a bad accident with a horse or his health had been affected by the years of hard physical work. This could be the reason for being at Waiwhetu for at least the last four years of his life. I have obtained a copy of Donald the Piper’s death certificate, cause of death is said to be Advanced or Chronic Tuberculosis. Obviously the result of the hard life he had lived.

I have put these things down over a longish time. Perhaps at this stage it might be appropriate to open it up to family members to correct or flesh out and see if something reasonable can be put together to follow on from Marc’s excellent effort and Peters effort.

The whole thing would give today’s generation a picture of their past.

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