Early years 1861-1884
Colin & Isabella
His first wife
Emily Key 1868-1897
Might Murdoch 1895-1962
His second wife
Waikaraka Tahana ?-1919
Te Hapua 1909-1922
Murdoch's final move, at the age of 48, was to a remote, largely Maori
settlement on the far north coast of New Zealand. According to daughter
Edie, he said he chose land at Waiheuheu (between Te Hapua and the north
coast) because he liked to feel he was on the 'fringe of civilization'.
It was here his children felt he was most at home, and where he became
a loved and respected member of the community. And it was here he was
buried, the first Pakeha in the Maori cemetary, overlooking the beautiful
Parengarenga Harbour. (The photo of the harbour above is taken from the
Murdoch's lease appears to have covered land from Tom Bowling Bay in
the north to the northern shores of the Parengarenga Harbour. We are not
sure how far east or west it spread, but it did include some land up towards
Spirits Bay. He held the lease from 1909 until his death in 1922, when
it was taken over by his son Alan until the late 1920s.
Our knowledge of his time here comes from two sources, the writings of
his daughter Edie, and the stories passed down by his second "wife",
Waikaraka Tahana, and their son Haretana.
Edie's unpublished Memories of the Far North are fascinating
impressions of a 17 year old Pakeha girl arriving in this Maori settlement.
They consist of only a few short accounts of aspects of life in the settlement.
But Edie was a talented writer (as well as poet and artist), and she brings
the time and place to life for us 100 years later.
The links on the right will take you to excerpts from her Memories,
as well as to her short story The Peaceful Warrior. This is
set around Te Hapua and obviously draws on local Maori stories. In 1957, Edie published a small book of poems entitled "The Lonely Pioneer and other poems". We have selected four of the poems which are inspired by Te Hapua. We have
also transcribed a letter she wrote from Te Hapua, which provides
descriptions of domestic life.
The descendants of Waikaraka Tahana and Murdoch give us the Maori perspective
on their relationship and Murdoch's place in the community.
We also include Murdoch's own account of the wreck of the Wimmera, sunk by a German mine in
1918, when he took care of the survivors.
The Journey North
Rapata Shows Me the Way
Sowing Grass Seed at Pakohu
The Peaceful Warrior
Letter from Te Hapua
Wreck of the Wimmera