Houston, writing in Maori Life in Old Taranaki , observed: "Many of the true owners were absent, while others had not returned from slavery to the Waikatos in the north. Thus the 72 chiefs of Ngamotu cheerfully sold lands in which they themselves had no interest, as well as lands wherein they held only a part interest along with several others.
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The Waitangi Tribunal noted that Wakefield's purchase, and the company's subsequent sales, were patently invalid: on 14 January George Gipps , Governor of New South Wales , of which New Zealand was a dependency, had issued a proclamation that purchases of Maori land by private interests after that date would be null and void and not recognised by the Crown. Wakefield had already been informed that the Plymouth Company was to take over some of the New Zealand Company land.
He urged Carrington to select a site at Ngamotu. Carrington invited Barrett to join his team and about 9 January , the pair arrived at Ngamotu with a party of assistant surveyors on the barque Brougham , ready to choose a site for the new town. He returned to Wellington, determined to examine sites in the South Island before making a final decision. Barrett guided the Brougham around barren areas near Nelson, highlighting swampy areas that would be unsuited to settlement.
On 26 January Carrington informed Wakefield that despite his reservations, he had opted to site his town at Ngamotu.
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He wrote to Woolcombe in Plymouth: "I have selected a place where small harbours can be easily made and with trifling expense, close to an abundance of material being on the spot I have fixed the town between the rivers Huatoki and Henui The soil, I think, cannot be better. There is much open or fern country and an abundance of fine timber. Carrington told Woolcombe he had wavered on the site of the town after making two forays up the Waitara River, where he discovered beautiful country. New Plymouth was laid out over acres 2.
By year's end his map of the town showed sections ready for selection by settlers, with streets, squares, hospitals, schools and parks surrounded by boulevards that separated the town from the suburban districts. For decades, however, Carrington would come under attack from settlers who thought the location of New Plymouth had been poorly chosen because of the lack of a natural harbour. The first of the town's settlers arrived on the William Bryan , which anchored off the coast on 31 March In steerage were 21 married couples, 22 single adults and 70 children.
George Cutfield, the head of the expedition, wrote a letter home, describing the settlement as "a fine country with a large quantity of flat land, but every part is covered with vegetation, fern, scrub and forest. The fern, on good land, is generally from four to six feet high. There are thousands of acres of this land which will require but a trifling outlay to bring into cultivation.
Temporary housing sites had been provided on Mount Eliot the present-day site of Puke Ariki museum , and frustrations mounted as settlers were forced to squat in homes built of rushes and sedges through winter, amid flourishing numbers of rats, dwindling food supplies and rising unease over the prospects of a repeat raid by Waikato Maori.
The first suburban sections were not available until October, while those who had bought town sections were forced to wait until mid-November. The second ship, Amelia Thompson , arrived off the Taranaki coast on 3 September and sat off shore for five weeks because its captain feared Ngamotu's reputation as a dangerous shipping area. Its passengers were helped ashore by Barrett and his men over the course of two weeks, each small boatload taking five hours to row from the vessel to the shore.
The ship's precious food cargo, including flour and salted meat, was finally brought ashore for New Plymouth's starving residents on 30 September. By one account, settlers were by now "moaning vociferously about having ever left England. Living was a continual battle to shield themselves against the elements and their food supplies against termites, insects and hungry animals. Drunkenness was rife among the labourers in a dreary existence with too little to do. Flour supplies had run out again and there was no likelihood of more until the next boatload of settlers arrived.
Te Ati Awa, too were hungry. The co-operative ones had planted more crops than usual, to feed the coming Pakeha, but so many more Europeans had turned up than they expected, that they also were short of food. As summer arrived, buildings began to be erected, gardens planted and wheat sown. Other ships soon arrived to provide more labour and food supplies: the Oriental passengers on 7 November ; the Timandra passengers on 23 February ; the Blenheim passengers on 19 November ; and the Essex passengers on 25 January , by which time the town was described as a collection of raupo and pitsawn timber huts housing almost Europeans.
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