Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 14, October 1970


The family of Haszards has been connected with Waihi for many years, and today several descendants reside in the town and on the Plains. Mr. Robert Haszard emigrated from Prince Edward Island in the mid 1850's. He did not come alone. The families of Bagnall, Morpeth and Haszard sailed in their own barque, named the Prince Edward, built especially for the purpose. The small ship brought them safely to land after a prolonged voyage, the mere thought of which makes the modern traveller flinch.

Robert bought land up at Manganui, but this proved too poor to farm, and as a farmer his experience was nil. These two facts made success impossible and the family moved to the Kaipara, where Robert taught for a number of years. Over the years several boys and two girls were born:- Henry, Douglas, Morpeth (my father), Reginald, Norman, Carl and Maud. Carl was later Mrs. Kenrick, and Maud Mrs. Pollen.

The boys of the family became either mining engineers or surveyors, Norman leaving for Malaya, where he spent many years helping in the development of the country. Reginald, a mining engineer, lived in Chile until his retirement, when he returned to Waihi, and took up farming on the Plains.

I am naturally more conversant with the life and career of my father. He was educated at Otamatea and Paparoa schools, and later at the Auckland Grammar School, and in 1879 he entered the ranks of the Civil Service and commenced a long and distinguished career in the Land and Survey Department.

He was promoted to the rank of Assistant Surveyor in February 1884, and carried out extensive surveys in the Auckland District. In 1887, on the annexation of the Kermadec Group by the N.Z. Government he accompanied the Assistant Surveyor General, and helped to hoist the N.Z. Flag, and to make a topographical survey of the group. In 1896, at the time of the Thames mining boom, he acted as Inspecting Surveyor in charge of the numerous surveying groups then working on the Coromandel Peninsular.

He was promoted to be District Surveyor in 1898, and in September 1903 executed surveys for the Cook Islands Administration of Nuie Island. In June of that year he left the field for the office, being appointed Chief Draughtsman in the Land and Survey Office in Christchurch, and acting Surveyor until 1910. After gaining experience in that capacity he was appointed Commissioner of Crown Lands, Chief Surveyor and. Conservation Officer of State Forests for the whole of the Westland District. In that year he passed his examination and was admitted as a Fellow of the Royal Geographic Society.

Early in the year 1915 he was promoted to the office of Lands and Survey in Invercargill, and. at the end of four years was posted to the Christchurch office under the same titles. He retired on March 31st 1921. I can well remember the farewelling function in Christchurch which was held in the beautiful Provincia1 Chambers. I sat on my father's left on the dais, feeling important and grown up.

In addition to his ordinary duties he was appointed to many Commissions. He was Chairman of the first Royal Commission of Forestry in 1913, and according to the records, with his fellow members, one of whom was the Hon. William Massey, presented a most valuable report on the subject. Another Commission on which he sat was the Landless Native Commission.

On his retirement he moved North to Waihi where his brother Fenwick lived, and where he owned land in conjunction with his brothers, on the road to Waihi Beach. My husband Dick and I also came north from Taranaki, to manage the farm during its first breaking-in operations. In these days access from Waihi was by a dirt road through the tea tree, and our first "carriage" was an old block dray. The winds in the early days on the Plains were appalling. Dust would rise as a dark curtain in the air, blocking out the sky, and land ploughed for sowing would be scoured out to the depth of the furrows. Those days seem a World away from the lovely pastures, mature trees and good homesteads which now grace the Waihi Plains.

A short resumé of the origins of the family might be of interest to posterity. The family is of Norman extraction and of considerable antiquity. Two members took part in the Second Crusade. After troubles with the King's Party in France the family fled to England, and their lands in the south of France were confiscated. They settled in the County of Devon, changing their name from de Charanté to that of the Manor House in which they lived, namely Hassard, Hasard, finally to become Haszard. During the following centuries members of the family held many important offices, and one Reginald was appointed in A.D. 1216 the first Praesortor Officer (Advisor to the King). (Lyon's Britannica, Devonshire).

In 1639 one Thomas Haszard emigrated with his family to what was to become Rhode Island, a State on the East Coast of America, landing on the Pocasset to camp in the lonely solitude of the unbroken forests. On May 16th of the same year he with eight others purchased about one quarter of a million acres from the natives and laid out the town of New Port on Rhode Island. Thomas's signature is one of the Original on the document signed on the 28th day of February, 1639, which states "By whose hands are underwritten to propagate a Plantation in the midst of the Island or elsewhere. And so do engage ourselves to bear equal charges answerable to our strength and Estates in Common, and that our determination shall be by the Major voice of the Judge and. Elders."

The family grew and prospered, and through the centuries took part in the civic and parliamentary life of the small State. One George Haszard was the first Mayor of New Port. From the time of the early settlement until 1850 there was never a Legislature elected without one or more Haszards on it, and the perfect religious freedom the State has so long enjoyed is said to have been caused in a great measure by the influence of the family.

Much could be told of the history of those times, bit suffice it to add that at the time of the break away from England the Thomas Haszard of the period remained loyal, and refused to take the Oath of Allegiance to the American Government; his estates were confiscated and he left with his family for Prince Edward Island. We have come full circle, as it was from here that the family came to New Zealand.