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Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 10, October 1968

By VERNON E. PEGLER

My attention has been drawn to an article by Horace Harsant in the 9th issue of the Ohinemuri Journal [see Journal 9: Wigmores of Hahei - E]. My wife nee Elizabeth Harsant was a cousin of his and as the family history is particularly interesting, I am sending you some details as recorded, by Martin, my father-in-law, who was (1811 - 1897) eldest son of Dr. Walter Harsant, M.R.C.S. [Member of the Royal College of Surgeons – E]

The Dr., his wife and 11 children were all born in England and he had a thriving practice in London. About the year 1852, he and some of his family had a severe attack of scarlet fever, so he decided to come to New Zealand and travelled in the "Hamila Mitchell" in 1853. On 10-2-54 Sir George Grey appointed him Resident Magistrate and Colonial Surgeon for Otaheo - now known as Te Awamutu, but in 1858 he was transferred to Raglan in the same capacity. The Dr. was ambidextrous and could operate with either hand.

As there were no roads of any description the transit of the Harsant family and belongings from Te Awamutu to Whaingaroa (Raglan) was anything but easy. Maoris were engaged for the trip which took nearly a week, and Mrs. Harsant was carried every inch of the way. Each member of the family carried something, and Martin records that he was responsible for a bundle of fruit trees - very important in those early days. The family resided in Stewart Street, Raglan in their own house which they maintained for 21 years. They remained there during the Maori War in 1863 having great confidence in that great Chief Te Awaitaia who was willing to give his own life to preserve peace.

Because of his large family, Dr .Harsant also bought a farm in the Kauroa Valley and some of them went to live there, but gradually dispersed. The Dr. and his wife, died in Onehunga. Martin remained in the district and Lucy the eldest daughter, married Thomas Mitchell who in 1887 became Chairman of the Raglan County Council. John went to Australia and Roger who joined the gold rush to Australia and then to Thames, married Annie Savage who lived on a farm near my people at Raglan. They had 10 children of whom Horace was one. When Roger died the children were scattered among relatives, and from there I must let him take up his own story.


(EDITORS NOTE: We are grateful to Mr. Pegler, a nonogenarian of Raglan, for this interesting background of Mr. Horace Harsant of Hahei who adds a few notes as follows :- "I would like to pay a particular tribute to my mother who surmounted tremendous difficulties. Some time after my fathers death she married J.W. Roffey, a saddler in Raglan and he too was a very worthy character. I never knew a family more united than we were. For many years Walter, Fred and I worked together as "Harsant Brothers" on the Coromandel Peninsula and our sister Kate lived here too. Even when we grew up we always made a point of going home for Christmas. I mentioned in a previous article how we went from Tauranga to Whangamata and should add that my Step-father taught me how to make saddles and left me all his tools. These I passed on to Fred, my eldest son who has specialised in the work because of his great interest in it. He was given an old. Mexican saddle which he took to pieces so that he could faithfully copy it and now he makes tree [the raised frontpiece of the saddle around which a rope may be wrapped - E] and all. He has sent saddles all over New Zealand as well as to other countries and the prices range from £60 to £100. That is only his part-time job as he runs a big farm as well.)