JOSEPH MASTERS AND RETIMANA TE KOROU
Buried less than fifty metres apart in
the Masterton Cemetery are the two main people involved
in the purchase of the site of Masterton, which led to
the establishment of the northern-most of the two Small
Farms Association settlements in Wairarapa.
In the Pioneer Section lies Joseph Masters,
prime instigator of the movement to establish the Small
Farms Association, while nearby in the main part of the
cemetery a simple grave marks the burial place of Retimana
Te Korou, Rangitane chief.
Te Korou was born in the later years of
the eighteenth century, son of Te Raku and Te Kai. His
parents belonged to the Rangitane and Ngati Kahungunu peoples
Joseph Masters was born in 1802, in Derby,
England, where his father was a leather breeches manufacturer.
His father died when he was very young, and he was sent
to work in a silk mill, threading the bobbins. Masters'
mother remarried and Joseph was sent off to live with his
grandmother, but he was soon shifted on again. He ended
up living with, and working for, his uncle in Rugby, where
he served an apprenticeship as a cooper. Masters seems
to have been driven by a strong desire to better himself,
and once he had gained his trade he left his uncle, serving
as a Grenadier Guard before working as a policeman and
gaoler. In 1826 he married Sarah Bourton, and in 1832 Joseph
Masters, his wife and his two daughters migrated to Tasmania,
where Masters found work as a cooper serving the whaling
About the same time that Masters was making
his move, Te Korou was also on the move.
The Taranaki tribes who had made their
way to the Wellington area with Te Rauparaha, had pushed
their way eastwards, and a number of families were living
in Wairarapa. At first the new arrivals lived alongside
the Kahungunu and Rangitane people they found living here,
but troubles eventually arose and a series of battles were
fought between the two groups. Some of these battles went
well for the locals, but there were bad setbacks too, with
some battles lost and some warriors captured. Te Korou
was among those caught. Te Wera of Ngati Mutunga was taking
him to Wellington when Te Korou escaped by killing Te Wera.
Realising it was no longer safe in Wairarapa, Te Korou,
his wife Hine-whaka-aea, and their children joined other
Wairarapa Maori at the east coast stronghold of Nukutaurua,
on Mahia Peninsular, where they remained until 1841.
Joseph Masters was still looking for ways
to improve himself, and deciding to leave Tasmania, headed
for New Zealand. He landed first in the Bay of Islands,
but quickly made his way south to Wellington. He started
business as a ginger beer manufacturer, but by the mid
1840s had reverted to his old trade as a cooper in Lambton
Te Korou had also headed south at the
same time, firstly as a member of a group of Wairarapa
chiefs that had made peace with the Taranaki Maori still
living in Wellington, then as a resident on his family's
ancestral lands. When the missionary William Colenso called
in to Kaikokirikiri pa, on the banks of the Waipoua River
above what was to become Masterton, a Maori teacher had
already converted Te Korou to Christianity. Te Korou's
family was all baptised and they adopted new names. Te
Korou chose Retimana (Richmond) as his new name, his wife
became Hoana (Joan) and his surviving children Erihapeti
(Elizabeth) and Karaitiana (Christian).
Te Korou was involved in encouraging pakeha
settlement, offering some of his coastal land to the pastoralists
Weld, Clifford and Vavasour, then later leasing Manaia
station to Rhodes and Donald.
Joseph Masters was also looking at Te
Korou's land. He had been writing a series of letters to
the Wellington Independent promoting the concept of small
farm settlements. His plan was that groups of working men
should pool together and buy blocks of land from the Government
that they could subdivide among themselves. Each of the
members would own a small town section and a 40-acre farm.
After a meeting in March 1853, a Small
Farms Association was formed and Masters and C.R. Carter
visited Governor Grey, convincing him of the merits of
their scheme. He informed them that he was happy to support
their scheme for settlement in Wairarapa as long as they
could convince local Maori to sell their lands. Masters
and his fellow committee member H.H. Jackson tracked to
Ngaumutawa paa to meet with Te Korou, who listened carefully
to what they had to say. After consulting with his family
members he decided it would be to their advantage to have
the new settlers on land near his village. His son-in-law
Ihaiah Whakamairu (who had married Erihapeti) was dispatched
with the small farm proponents on their return to Wellington,
to start arrangements for the sale. Retimana did not sign
the eventual deed of sale, although he did sign to other
sales around Masterton. His family's names appear on the
document however: Karaitiana, Erihapeti and Ihaiah.
Masters was not one of the first settling
party of small farmers that arrived on May 2, 1854, but
he did arrive shortly afterwards. With his great energy
and his determination to "get on", Masters threw
himself into establishing a viable future for himself and
his family. As well as successfully farming his small farm
he represented the area in the Wellington Provincial Council,
and was a vigorous promoter of the Trust Lands Trust. His
was a strong influence over the small community that bore
his name, a strong influence he jealously guarded until
his death in December 1873.
Retimana seems to have ceded leadership
of his hapu to his son Karaitiana and his son-in-law Ihaiah.
Both father and son became supporters of the King movement
in the turbulent years ahead, and Karaitiana spent some
time away from Wairarapa, fighting on the west coast. In
time Te Korou became reconciled with his pakeha neighbours,
and on his death in 1882, many of Masterton's leading settlers
joined in the 300-strong cortege that made its way to his
burial place, just metres away from the grave of his old
friend Joseph Masters.