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Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 15, June 1971

by Joan Stevens

"Poenamo", published anonymously in London in 1881, is the work of Dr. (afterwards Sir) John Logan Campbell, 'the Father of Auckland' and gives a first-hand account of Maori life and Pakeha settlement in the Hauraki and the Waitemata in 1840-41. It is one of the best books of its class, little known only because copies of it have been scarce.

John Logan, born 3.11.1817 in Edinburgh, was the only surviving son of Dr. John Campbell of Kilbryde. He took his medical degree in 1839 and sailed for Australia as ship's Dr. in the "Palmyra" in July of that year. At Adelaide Wm. Brown, a Dundee lawyer joined the ship and made friends with the young Surgeon, but they parted at Sydney, Brown to cross to N.Z. and Campbell to look at Australia before leaving for Wellington. On 13.4.1840 he and one McInness having shipped on the "Lady Lilford" for the Hauraki Gulf, arrived at Waiau (Coromandel).

Anchor was dropped at Herekino, the trading station of Big Webster (Wepiha) on Whanganui Island and there he re-met Brown then aged 32. Together with McInnes and Cook they explored the Waitemata with Webster, but failing in their attempt to buy on the mainland they bought the little island of Motu-Korea, later known as Browns Island. Its owners, the Ngati Tamatera, lived down the Gulf at Waiomu and being in great need of a boat Brown and Campbell went there to meet Palmer, a Sawyer who was to help them to build one. Knowledge of the Maori people gained while at Waiomu proved most valuable.

After many adventures they bought pigs from Kawau and on 13.8.40 crossed to their island again, where they began their farming venture. Meanwhile Captain Hobson had selected a site for the N.Z. capital and the city of Auckland was founded. Soon Brown and Campbell established "the Firm" by pitching a tent at Commercial Bay in the new settlement -"a stone's throw from the beach where stood the Government store - the tide then washed a gravelly beach where now stands the Post Office".

At the sale of town lots in 1841 "The Firm" bought land in Shortland St. and erected the kauri "Acacia Cottage", now in Cornwall Park. "The Firm" continued to grow, its owners making trips abroad and playing a major part in the affairs of the Colony. Brown held high political office and established a Newspaper; Campbell founded the Auckland Savings Bank and in 1855 became Superintendent of the Auckland Province. In 1853 he had bought farm land at "One Tree Hill" including Cornwall Park which he presented to the people of Auckland in 1901. Knighted in 1902 for his services, he died in 1912 aged 94 years, and was buried on the summit of "One Tree Hill" — "Maungakiekie".

[see in this Journal: Our Sojourn at Waiomu - E]


OUR CONTRIBUTOR PROF. JOAN STEVENS, M.A., is senior lecturer in English at Victoria University. Widely travelled and well-read she is an authority on literary matters and we are very grateful for her permission to quote from her Introduction to the 1952 edition of "Poenamo". She has a close link with this district, for many years owning a holiday cottage at Waihi Beach. We, and all New Zealanders, have good reason to be proud of her.