Info 1c, MacMahon Biog

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Not without courage : our first settlers, 1841-1843
Author: Pamela R Fry; Jennie Askew; Bruce Dickinson;
Published; Motueka and District Historical Association, 1992.
Reproduced by kind permission of:- Motueka and District Historical Association.

Bernard and Margaret MacMahon

Page 19

Two ships of the New Zealand Company's Preliminary Expedition for the choice and survey of the site of Nelson, the Whitby and the Will Witch, sailed from Gravesend on Sunday, 2nd May 1841. On board the Whitby was Bernard MacMahon, who was born (in Edinburgh, Scotland) in 1810. He Was 31 years old and listed as an agricultural Labourer.

The Whitby arrived safely at Port Nicholson, New Zeal and, where she achored for a time untill the decision was made to explore Blind Bay. Approximatly a month was spent there achored in Astrolabe, from where a search was of the coastline and rivers loooking for a suitable site for the New Colony. At First it was thought that the land on which Kaiteriteri is now situated would be a suitable site, but Captain Wakefield was not sure this was the best place and decided to explore the oposite side of the Bay.

It was during this exploration that what was to be known as Nelson Haven was discovered. The Whitby arrived at Nelson Haven on the 7th November 1841.

Margaret MacMahon, aged 24 Years and her son James, aged 18 months, followed Bernard on the Lloyds, Sailing from Gravesend on the 11th September 1841. Mother and Son shared berth No.9. On 20th September just nine days after leaving their homeland James died. After a sad and tragic voyage, the Lloyds reached Nelson Haven on the 15th February 1842.

Bernard MacMahon was one of the 14 members of Samuel Stephens' survey party which arrived at Riwaka on 2nd May 1842. for the first two weeks the men were occupied in building wharfs and generally settling themselves in.

Samuel Stephens recorded that On 16th May 1842 MacMahon and Brooks prepared the first Saw-Pit. This was the first established in the Atua and Western Districts. On the 17th and 18th Stephens, MacMahon and Brooks were at the Matu to prepare Saw-Pits which were the first in Motueka and second in the District. (It is interesting to note that John Brook was the interpreter permanently attached to Capain Wakefield and his Staff and who perished with him in the Wairau Massacre)

On June 13th, Joseph Paton accidently shot himself and on the 16th it was decided to take him to Nelson. The injured man recovered.

Page 20,

On The 17th and 18th Stephens, MacMahon and Brooks continued to work with the survey parties, mostly with the building of the Depot, the main Storage building used by the New Zealand Company, Surveyors and settlers. Between the 12th and 17th December, all hands were busy cutting survey lines betweeen Sandy Bay and the Marahau Valley. It was the end of this week that Bernard MacMahon ended his employment with the New Zealand Company.

Towards the end of 1842, the first of the wives of the survey party arrived at Riwaka, and with Margaret MacMahon came Elizabeth Bowling, Ann Fry, Ann Lodder, Euphemia Mickell, and Elizabeth White, bringing with them the first Children to settle in the District. The 1845 census showed the MacMahons sharing section 61 at the Atua with several other families. The 1849 census shows that the MacMahons were squatters. They had a family of two boys and 2 girls, and lived in a wooden house, and had 6 acres of land under cultivation and owned 5 cattle, 12 sheep and 2 pigs.
It was some time after this census that Bernard took up quite a large parcle of land in the Dehra Doon Valley and it was here he built his home and called his property "Clover Hill"

In 1852 Bernard was appointed one of the trustees of the Campbell Trust to administer the land which was gifted by Alexander Le Grand Campbell and F.H.P. Campbell for the purposes of building a school, School house and playground for the Riwaka comunity. Always interested in the working for the welfare of the people, it was to this end that Bernard headed a list of public figures who placed an advertisment in the Examiner 1855, requesting Mr. Thomas Jackson to stand for election to the Nelson Provincial Coucil. He was duly elected on the 24th October.

In March 1860 Bernard himself was elected to the provincial Council, on which he served untill October 1873 when it was abolished. He then became a member of the local county council, and was a member of the Riwaka road Board from its inception in 1857.

Page 21

1869 saw the first trustees of the Riwaka Cemetery appointed, they were; Messrs Bernard MacMahon, David Goodall, William Mickell, Robert Pattie, and David Drummond. (Burials have taken place at the Riwaka cemetery since 1857.)

Robert Pattie wrote he following;
Bernard MacMahon was one of Captain arthur Wakefield's Expedition men, and a member of the survey party, who arrived at Riwaka in 1842. He was know to us Rikaka-ites many years ago as Squire MacMahon as he possed many of the attributes of the country squire in the old country. He was a member of a number of public bodies, and represented Riwakak on the Provincial Council. He was our First Justice of the Peace , often occupying the bench on court days in Motueka where, to his ever lasting credit, he always delt out justice tempered with mercy. of the latter I my self have enjoyed practicle experiance.

In the Victorian drawing room at the Motueka Museum there is a set of Mahogany wooden farmhouse chairs which belonged to the MacMahons. Where these came from is not known , but it is most unlikely that they would have arrived with the early ships.

Six Boys and five Girls were born to Margaret and Bernard after their arrival in New Zealand.

Both Margaret and Bernard died at Clover Hill, Dehra Doon, 1889, and both are buried at the Riwaka Cemetry.

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