Retimana Te Korou

Retimana Te Korou was convinced by Joseph Masters that having a town near his village would bring benefits to his people.

Joseph Masters

Joseph Masters, the originator of the Small Farms Association that led to the establishment of Masterton.

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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 of Wairarapa.

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 industry.

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 Quay.

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.

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  Joseph Masters and Retimana Te Korou   Doctor William Hosking, medical pioneer
  The establishment of the Small Farms Association   Wairarapa's Pioneer balloonists
  The Masterton stockade - Major Smith's Folly   The Maori Peace Statue
  Papawai - the centre of the Maori Parliament   Russian Jack - the last of the swaggers
  The Fell Engine and the Rimutaka Incline   A night of terror - the 1942 earthquake
  Dear Sister - Oates Family   Flying in the Wairarapa
  Getting around   Getting fleeced
  Henley Lake   Lighting the way
  Masterton Park   Regent Theatre
  Samuel Oates   Taking a dip
  Te Ore Ore Marae   Featherston Military Training Camp