CHARLES HUNT BORN 1787
Very little is known of Charles childhood days. He had dark hair and a dark complexion. As a young man, when clean shaven, his place possessed a bluish
complexion which gave him the nickname of "little blue beard" He was 5 ft 2 inches in height and this saved him from becoming a soldier - he was too short.
After schooling, if any, he learned the bakery trade. Charles became a member of the Wesleyan Methodist Society at Eastbourne, ENG at age treaty two. In
1812 he became a lay preacher at Eastbourne. Charles concentrated on building up the bakery business in Eastbourne but regardless of how much work he
put towards this, living conditions in England were deteriorating. Together with Naomi, they then migrated to NZ. Charles was then 50 two years old and
Naomi 44 years old.
On 18th September, 1839 Charles, Naomi and the four children, set sail from London on the ship Adelaide with the NZ Company, which was set up to assist
migrants to NZ The Adelaide was a 640 ton teak built craft and brought out 176 migrants - arriving in Port Nicolson [Wellington] on 7th March 1840 being 171
days out from London.
Charles then established a bake house at Raroa Road. He continued with his Christian work in the new land and was not only a preacher in the Church but
was a class leader, lay pastor, choirmaster and was a dedicated visitor to the sick and dying. As the population of Lower Hutt grew, so did Methodism,
requiring new bigger Church's to fulfill this expansion and growth, which also required more dedicated Church leaders to tend to be flock. Charles relinquished
his work at the bakery and devoted his time fully to Church work which he continued tell his death on 13th February 1871 aged 83 years. He was buried
beside his late wife Naomi.
In the Laings Road Methodist Church, Lower Hutt there is a brass memorial plaque in Charles Hunt's memory worded as follows
"In memory of Charles Hunt, born 1787, died 1872. Class Leader, local preacher and lay pastor for many years. For a pioneer and founder of Hutt Methodism
Only son of Charles and Naomi Hunt.
William was born on 17th November 1833 near Beachy Head, Eastbourne, ENG. When William was born, his three sisters were aged seventeen, fifteen
and twelve years old, which makes one naturally think that he was thoroughly spoilt by his sisters. No doubt they would all be a great help to their Mother who
was then thirty-nine years old. The name William would have come from his Mother's brother William Luxford. William's education began with a governess at
Beachy Head till this satisfactory tuition was interrupted by the decision of William's parents to move to NZ in 1839. After the six month voyage which would
seem a long, boring time to a five year old (actually had his sixth birthday on the ship) William returned to his schooling at the Wesleyan Day School held in a
room at the back of the church in Manners Street, Wellington. The headmaster was Mr R. D. Clark, who was competent to impart a sound English education to
On leaving school William joined his father as an apprentice in the bakery trade. As a child, William had attended Sunday School and, at thirteen years of age,
was converted under the ministry of Rev. S. Ironsides. James Knight and a publican's son, Bob Welsh were converted at that same service. William began to
preach and went with older preachers to conduct services in the Wainuiomata district. At the age of seventeen he was asked to prepare himself for the
Methodist ministry. Rev. J. Aldridge offered to coach him but William declined, a decision he later regretted. Just three months after William's seventeenth
birthday, his Mother passed away. During the following year he caught the gold fever and went to the Bendigo Diggings in Australia where he saw life
among the miners. The cost of living was high and, like many others, he paid dearly for his experiences and the little gold he won. William returned home to NZ
and continued working with his father in the bakery trade.
William was musically talented and played a wooden oboe in the Hutt Valley Hand during the 1860's His musical interests were put to good use in the church
(Laings Road, Methodist Church) being choirmaster from 1868-74. This position he took over from his father who was the first choirmaster in the church.
William was a Sunday School teacher for many years being the Superintendent during 1868-69. William spent his youth at the Hutt and this is where he met
his future wife Mary Hill, the second daughter of George and Ann Hill. Twelve days after William's twentieth birthday and fifteen days before Mary's twenty-first
birthday they were married at the Wesleyan Methodist Chapel in Aglionby at the Hutt on 29th November, 1853. Rev. J. Aidred officiated. The wedding ring
was made of gold, won by William in Bendigo. William and Mary had a family of twelve, ten of whom were born while they lived at the Hutt.
William's father, Charles lived them till his death in with February 1871. By 1874 the bakery trade was declining and William was finding it hard to pay his way
and keep a family. From 1870 land in the Manawatu was being surveyed and sold and already Mary's sister Charlotte and her husband Richard Pearce had
purchased land in the Manawatu. After serious thought of giving up the bakery and following in the Pearces' footsteps with the prospects of work being
plentiful, and even the possibility of owning their own farm William and Mary decided to make the break. This meant leaving the two eldest children, Charles
and Mary in the Hutt, as they had employment in the town. It also meant leaving Mary's parents, George and Ann Hill and her sister Elizabeth and husband
Joseph Hall and family. This was a big decision to make as William had no farming experience at all but was prepared to make the break and give it a try.
The hundred mile (161 km) journey from the Hutt to Taipo Bush, Campbelltown, took nine days in a cart drawn by two horses. The tracks were rough through
the bush. They travelled over the old hill road to Paekakariki and then up the coast to Scott's Ferry on the Rangitikei River ['In George Hunt's writings he
suggests the family came up the coast to Foxton and across to Taipo Bush but at that time there were no tracks through from Foxton, so all pioneers had to
travel up to Scotts Ferry. They had to cross many rivers and while crossing one the water was deep and almost swamped them out of the cart. They arrived at
Scott's Ferry after dark - tired and hungry. How they appreciated the bacon and eggs cooked for them by Mrs Scott at Scott's accommodation house, where
the meals were well known by travellers up the coast. There would be very little room for much baggage in the wagon with a family of seven, their ages ranging
from fourteen to three. No doubt they would have with them a camp oven, kettle, frying pan, pots, bedding, clothing, food and a few family treasures. William
possibly had his muzzle loading gun and ammunition to shoot the odd pigeon for food on the way, Eventually, they arrived at Taipo Road, Campbell-town, at
Pearce's farm where William was allowed ten acres (4 ha) to farm. A small bush settler's house of not more than four rooms was home for them all. This is
where William gained his first experiences of being a farmer. Although he was forty-one years old he was keen to learn.- As well as farming the ten acre block
he also went out- day working - bush felling, clearing the bush, whatever he could find.
1874 was a year of sorrows for William and Mary. They had left the Hutt to start farming in the Manawatu and it was in August that their eldest daughter Mary
Ellen died. Three months later, their eldest child Charles died at his aunt and uncles (Elizabeth and Joseph Hall) in the Hutt. So Mary and William had two very
sad trips all the way back to the Hutt for their children's funerals. In April 1875 Maurice, one of the twins died of typhoid fever aged six years. There were no
hospitals and few doctors available in the case of sickness. When Maurice was ill, William rode horseback to Foxton for a Doctor, but when he arrived back it
was too late, Maurice had died.
Warren, Martin and Kate were first day pupils when the Waitohi School opened in 1875. Prior to that a private school at Henry Hammond's residence on
Hammonds Line was established, but there is no confirmation that any of the Hunt family attended that school. George was born in October 1875. The Pearce
cousins, children of Charlotte and Richard Pearce, were of similar ages to the Hunt family, no doubt Mary and Charlotte (sisters) would have helped each other
at times of childbirth and sickness.
During 1877 the Douglas Special Settlement Block was surveyed and was sold at Public Auction on 5th May 1878 at Bulls, by John Stevens auctioneer.
This block consisted of land north, south, east and west of the future village, Campbelltown. Originally John Douglas and Robert Campbell purchased this
block with the agreement that seventy families were to be settled. It was cut up Into holdings of fifty acres (20 ha) and one hundred acres (40 ha) for intending
settlers. This Douglas block was named after John Douglas (also Douglas Square in the center of the village of Campbelltown). Campbelltown was named
after Robert Campbell, but as there was another place of the same name in the South Island, which caused confusion with mail, this Campbelltown was
changed in 1895 to Rongotea meaning 'bright news'
It was at the auction sale in Bulls on 5th May 1878 that William Hunt purchased fifty-one acres (21 ha) north of Campbelltown. This whole area was covered
with standing bush and heavily wooded with huge rata, rimu, totara and matai. There were no buildings or fences on these properties. Prices ranged from
£2.10s 0d to £6.10s 0d ($5-$13) per acre. The majority of the men who bought sections at that time had little or no cash beyond the sum required for the first
payment on the land. It was a hard struggle to make an existence on a bush section in those days. There was work in abundance, but unless the occupiers of
bush land had the necessary capital to develop their properties very little revenue was available from that source. The pioneers of that day had no illusions
about what was expected from them if they hoped to succeed. They had to work hard or go to the wall. Every penny that could be earned from work elsewhere
by road making, draining and fencing went back into the farm until such time as the land could be self-supporting.
William Hunt's farm was no exception. He had to start from scratch. First he felled and burnt two acres of bush and sowed grass seed where he intended to
build a house. Herbert (sixteen) and Warren (eleven) would have helped their father. Timber was split and a four roomed home was built, or it may have been
described as a typical bush hut, built of wooden slabs and a shingle roof. When the family moved in there was no floor or chimney - but those came later. The
timber front door was pit-sawn at Mr Philp's of Taipo goad, planed and cut into narrow boards. This door was later used on the washhouse when Warren Hunt
was on the property.
It was not until early in 1880 that William had the house ready for occupation and the family moved on to their farm which they named "Ringwood" after
William's grandfather's birthplace on the Avon River, South of England.
George, aged five, the youngest son described the move of two miles (3.22 km) from Taipo Road to "Ringwood" as follows - "Myrtle the baby was with Mother
and Father in a horse-drawn cart with all their belongings. Warren, Martin, Kate and I walked. My two eldest brothers carried the ducks and when they came to
"Deep Creek" as it was called the boys let the ducks go for a swim and a drink. One of them swam away down stream and was difficult to recapture. I was
afraid we would lose our ducks, but they were caught again and doubtless to say lived to provide many a Sunday morning breakfast for a growing family".
There were certainly no luxuries in this home. Lighting was candles made from melted fat with a piece of hemp for a wick. With the bottom of a bottle knocked
out, the candle was placed in the neck of the bottle which was used as a lantern. The camp-oven brought up from the Hutt was installed in the new house for
More heavy bush had to be felled, Warren and Martin were growing lads and could use a slasher on the under scrub and an axe on the trees. Huge rimus were
felled at the back of the house where an orchard was planted. The "burn off" of a clearing was quite spectacular, with the black smoke almost entirely
obscuring the sun. A "clean sweep" burn off was necessary to enable the sowing of grass-seed to follow.
The Hunts owned two cows, Spot and Cherry, very quiet cows which were milked by hand, out in the paddock. As more acres were cleared and grass grown,
William's dairy herd increased, by natural increase and purchases. Good shorthorn cows were fairly plentiful at that time and all the best bulls came from the
Oroua Downs Estate or Larkworthy's Carnarvon Estate. At first all butter was made on the farm and was traded for household necessities. The weekly
churning was a nightmare in the hot weather and it was very difficult to produce a consistent good sample. Therefore, it was a great boon for all the farmers
when the first butter factory at Campbelltown was established by Mr W.W. Corpe in September 1893. Then in March 1895 the Campbelltown Co-operative
Dairy Factory opened and William Hunt was among the first forty suppliers. The pay-out being 2½d to 3d per gallon of milk. One pound of butter was made
from 23 lbs of milk at an average manufacturing cost of I ¼d per lb. The factory in the first year sold butter for an average of 9d per pound.
One of the first difficulties the early settlers had to overcome was roading. Road lines were felled and stumped, with the long logs rolled to one side, a track
was made between them. Drains were made alongside to carry water, but they were treacherous in the winter months. In 1880 William was employed to clear
two acres at Campbelltown so a school could be built. Warren was thirteen and helped his father while Martin (eleven) boiled the billy and helped with the light
jobs. On 28th March 1881 the school was opened and among the eleven first day pupils were the Hunt children - Warren fourteen, Martin twelve, Kate ten,
George six and a half. William Hunt was the first School Committee Chairman, with the first headmaster being Mr Whitcombe from Marton. Mr Whitcombe
boarded with the local storekeeper while he erected a whare of 10' x 12' of pine slabs at his own expense. His furniture was transported by cart from Marton to
his new house at Campbelltown. The stumps and logs proved too great a barrier for the cart as it neared Campbelltown, so a wheelbarrow was used to
complete the journey.
William and Mary with other settlers to Campbelltown brought with them a Christian faith, which established a steady growth of believers in various
denominations in the area. In fact at one stage Rongotea was known as the "Holy City" having seven churches (Anglican, Presbyterian, Primitive Methodist,
Wesleyan Methodist, Brethren, Roman Catholic, Lutheran) and no hotel. Today the village has four churches and a tavern. Mr Toby Bull settled in
Campbelltown in 1878 and on the Sunday before Christmas that same year he gathered the local families together at Douglas Square in the village for the first
known outdoor church service. Mr Bull used a matai stump for his pulpit and his congregation sat on newly felled logs. Today, a matai stump sits in that place
in Douglas Square in memory of that first church service in Campbelltown.
Following on from this early service the Primitive Methodists built a small hall which was nicknamed the "Pill Box". This was replaced in 1881 by a larger one,
which in time gave place to a Church. The Hunts were foundation members of the Campbelltown Wesleyan Church. William's home, plus others were used for
services till the State School was opened, then services and Sunday School were held in the school till a church was built approx. 1891. From 1913 the united
congregation (Primitive Wesleyan) used this church while the Primitive Church was used for Sunday school and Youth Work till it was later demolished. The
original Wesleyan Church remained in use till the Methodists and Presbyterian became a Co-operative Parish and was dismantled in 1978 while services are
held in the modern Presbyterian Church. William and Mary Hunt and family were regular attendees at the Methodist Church in Rongotea. Firstly as Wesleyan's,
then continued at that church after the union in 1913. William was a trustee, a Sunday School teacher and gave loyal service to the church during his lifetime.
The Christian example set by William and Mary has followed through the generations of the Hunt family with some of their descendants still worshipping at the
combined Methodist/Presbyterian Church in Rongotea. Others of course have moved to other parts of NZ and some have ventured to other denominations but
nevertheless their ancestors' example remains the same.
William and Mary continued to live and farm at "Ringwood". Gradually the land became productive which enabled the mortgage plus interest to be paid off and
the farm supported their family. Fortunately William enjoyed good health which enabled him to strive on and make progress till his ageing years caught up with
him. The sons helped at home whenever possible but of course William could not afford to employ them so they found work in the farming neighbourhood till
they were able to establish themselves on farms of their own, except George who became a Methodist minister. The four daughters all married hardworking
men who proved to be good citizens and favourable sons-in-law.
Mary was a good mother to her family of twelve - experiencing the loss of four of her children at a very young age added to the trials and tribulations of being a
mother. She was content to work in the home with few conveniences as we know today. Mary was a tall, active, energetic woman and was always keen to help
others. She died of cancer on 21st May 1910 aged seventy-seven years. After her funeral service at "Ringwood" she was buried at the Rongotea Cemetery.
William was very lonely and heartbroken after his wife died till his son Warren with wife Grace and family moved In with him at "Ringwood". They all lived
together until William died on the 13th July 1915 in his eighty-second year. He was buried beside his wife at Rongotea Cemetery.
Source The Hunt Family History - 150 Years in New Zealand - 1840 - 1990 Vera Hunt
HUNT HISTORY - UNDER CONSTRUCTION