The European settlers of Titirangi

The first European settlers of Titirangi arrived in Little Muddy Creek the late 1840s and early 1850s to cut and mill the Kauri forest. Cutting rights were issued in the late 1840s, and blocks of land sold from the early 1850s.

John Diamond describes it in In Once..The Wilderness

Down in the valley of the Little Muddy Creek the McPike family were pit sawing and farming in the 1850s, while Joseph Yorke, Edward Murdoch, James Nixon and John Porter owned blocks around the headwaters of the stream.

Edward Yorke is still remembered in the name of one of the upper branches of Little Muddy Creek – Yorke Gully (on the Clark Bush Track). Another, Armstrong Gully (below the Huia Water Treatment Plant) is named after a later settler whose family had a long history in the area.

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Crown grants were made in the Titirangi district from 1854 onwards and amongst the earliest to settle were William Brimner who in 1855 took up two blocks of 110 acres, one of the slopes down to the tidal waters at Little Muddy creek and the other in the valley; Hugh Henry who in 1854 had 84 acres of land surrounding Mt Atkinson and Hibernia Smyth who between 1854 and 1857 aggregated nearly 550 acres on the northern slopes below Mt Atkinson and extending over Atkinson Valley. Following close on their heels where John Bishop and George and John Laing. Later arrivals where Reuben Haslop; Charlie Moore; William Pugh, John and Thomas Armstrong and de Brabandere so that in the second half of the last century there was a large population around Titirangi and the valley of Little Muddy Creek.

Census records show many itinerant sawyers employed.

In Settler’s Tales, Arthur Armstrong (son of early settler T. Armstrong) recalls:

Many of the families in the district were engaged in pit-sawing and later splitting shingles and palings…. Titirangi was then a very busy place with a population possibly greater than it is today. The old saw-pits and huge Kauri stumps and the sties of the old whares are still to be seen, and a magnificent Kauri forest extended down to the the Bishop homestead.

In Fringe of Heaven, Bill Bishop describes saw pits that remained near the family house (across the road from the Huia Water Treatment Plant) into at least the 1990s.

There was no sawmill in Little Muddy Creek, timber was rafted up and towed to Onehunga. Cutters used to sail in to a landing near todays Landing Rd (just below the Huia Rd bridge) – now almost impossible to imagine as Mangroves have filled the valley.

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