Saturday, October 19, 2013

Angelo Parigi -- an early Auckland waterman

Official Bay just to the left of Point Britomart in the centre. Copy of an oil painting by Samuel Stuart showing Auckland waterfront. Ref 4-509, Sir George Grey Special Collections

A descendant of one Angelo Parigi (also recorded as Paragee, Paragei and other variants) told me via email a few months ago that he was an early Auckland waterman, essentially a water taxi proprietor. The watermen were an important part of harbour operations in the early days before even the imposing Queen Street Wharf stretching out from the Commercial Bay reclamation. With mud and shallows between immigrant and cargo ships and the port itself, the boats of the watermen were one of the main ways of conveying items and people ashore.

To the Editor of the Southern Cross.
Sir, Will you be kind enough to insert this in your next publication, as we are of opinion that we labour under a grievance, which may be remedied if publicity be given to our complaint through the public press. What we complain of is that on the arrival of a vessel in this Port, the Harbour Master's Boat is generally tendered for the conveyance of Passengers and Luggage on shore, although at the same time there are a number of Watermen very often standing idle for want of a Fare. This we consider is tantamount to taking away in a great measure our means of livelihood. We think that it is the exclusive privilege of Watermen to take Passengers to and fro' in the Harbour, and that although at present no Local Act has been passed to protect them in their avocation, yet we are of opinion, they are protected by implication from any infringement on their rights. Perhaps (and we hope it to be the case) the Harbour Master is not aware of the use made of his Boat, at all events we think that should this meet his eye he will put a stop to a proceeding which we assure you, Mr. Editor, has been for some time a serious loss to us. In conclusion we beg to observe, that there are a number of us who endeavour to obtain a livelihood as Watermen (and in these somewhat dull times not a very lucrative one), therefore any encroachment on (what we conceive to be) our exclusive privileges must, you will perceive, be rather sensibly felt by ourselves and families. We remain yours &c. The Watermen. Auckland, October 1st, 1847. 

Southern Cross 9 October 1847

Angelo was originally from the island of Malta, from the Tarxien district. He must surely have been one of the first immigrants from that island to New Zealand, if not the first. His span of existence here in Auckland was brief, likely little more than seven years, and his death raises questions to this day for those who claim him on their family tree.

He was also one of the city’s earliest competitive rowers, taking part in the sport at the annual regattas, during the days of the first Waitemata Boating Club.

The earliest possible trace I’ve found of him goes back to early 1847, when the New Zealander reported on the anniversary regatta that had just taken place: “The last race was of wherries, three of which started, and the race was won by Mr Thatcher's Mirage, jun., rowed by Angelo.” (6 February)

If this was him, by the end of the year he seems to have broken away from rowing other men’s boats, and was in business for himself, setting up at the “water place” in Official Bay – the Wynyard Pier, where ships came to take water from the Wai Ariki spring piped to the jetty. The Fear Not (later spelled "Fear-nought") was one of his boats, right through to nearly the end. Oddly, he advertised that it was for sale – or, he may simply have passed the name onto another, later boat.

FOR SALE, THE 'FEAR NOT,' a Waterman's Boat, with Anchor and Cable, pair of Ash Paddles, Rudder and Yoke, and Spread-sail complete. She is about nine months old, copper-fastened and roughed, and is in excellent repair. Apply to Angelo Paragee. Auckland, Dec. 13, 1847.

New Zealander 15 Dec 1847

He was still in business early the following year.

NOTICE. THE Undersigned informs the inhabitants of Auckland that he has a WATERMAN'S BOAT ready at any hour, Day or Night, at the Watering Place, Official Bay. ANGELO PARAGEE. Auckland, 14th Jan. 
New Zealander 15 Jan 1848

It could be said that Angelo was a man who didn’t shy away from a contest. Here he set up a swimming or diving challenge (it isn’t known at present whether anyone took him up on it.)

CHALLENGE. Swimming and Diving. THE UNDERSIGNED hereby challenges any person in the Port of Auckland to take him up in a match of either Swimming or Diving, on Wednesday Next, the 31st Jan., for the sum of Five Pounds a side. The distance and particulars to be arranged between the parties. Angelo Paragee, Waterman, Official Bay. 

New Zealander 27 Jan 1849

Family sources state that he married Roseanne McMullen on 4 July 1849, a 16 year old daughter of one of the Fencibles who had arrived with her family on the Ann not long before and lived at Otahuhu. They married, apparently, at St Patricks cathedral. A year later, their 8 day old daughter Mary Ann died from a bowel complaint, 31 July 1850. The death registration reveals that Angelo was illiterate.

Next, we see him taking part in the 10th anniversary regatta in January 1850, his British Queen bearing a flag with a red cross on white background. (Southern Cross 29 Jan 1850) He won the race, pulling a pair of sculls, but objections were raised. (New Zealander 2 Feb 1850) He responded in what may have been true Angelo Parigi fashion – with a challenge.

CHALLENGE. A DISPUTE having arisen out of the Race at the Regatta, between the boats British Queen, Red Rover, and Talyho, The Undersigned, in whose favour the decision for the prize was given, hereby challenges the same boats, to be rowed by the same men, to a Rowing Match, to start from the Albert Buoy, round Brown's Island and back to the Buoy, for Twenty Pounds against Ten. Angelo Peragi, Owner of the British Queen. February 4, 1850. 

New Zealander 6 Feb 1850

Again, no word on what outcome there was, if any. The following year, he issued another challenge.

CHALLENGE. I, ANGELO PARAGEE, hereby Challenge any Boatman or Amateur Rower in the Port of Auckland to a single handed match with sculls, either in two equal boats, or in one boat to pull a certain distance in a given time, for any moderate stake not exceeding seven pounds a side.

New Zealander 1 Feb 1851

His second daughter Susan was born 29 November 1851. At the twelfth anniversary regatta (1852), in race eight, waterman’s boats pulling two oars for a prize of £5, The “Robert” (Angelo) won. He also came second in the 11th race. (New Zealander 31 Jan 1852) In the 1853 regatta – he won the eighth race with his waterman’s boat, two sculls, Susannah, prize £5 5s.

Southern Cross 1 Feb 1853

Another mystery from around this time, linked with Angelo because he was apparently associated, is the first “Waitemata Boat Club”, which appears to have been involved somehow with the early regattas.

Waitemata Boat Club. THOS. WESTON & CO will Sell by Auction, THIS DAY, at the Victoria Pier, Commercial Bay, on account of the Waitemata Boat Club,
The racing gig "ALPHABET," with Oars, &c.
The racing gig SYLPH," with Oars, Masts, Sail, &c.
These Boats are in first rate order for the Regatta.
Also, THE BOAT SHED, situate in Official Bay.
The above may be seen any time previous to the sale, on application to Mr. Angelo Paragee, Official Bay, or at the Victoria Pier at 1 o'clock on the Day of Sale.

Southern Cross 27 Jan 1854

The Alphabet was a raffle prize for a competition at the Exchange Hotel in December 1850, with proceeds going towards “the Regatta Fund”. (New Zealander 14 December 1850) It, along with Sylph (which was raced by the Waitemata Boat Club) took part in the 1851 regatta. (New Zealander 29 January 1851)

In the last year of his life, Angelo Parigi took part in the 1854 regatta, but lost the ninth race (waterman’s boats) in his “Fear-nought.” In September, someone seems to have been mucking about with his boat.

The boat "Fear-nought" having been taken away from the Wynyard Pier, after 9 o'clock, on Friday night last and on looking for it during the night, I found the said boat unmoored under the Pier, with a few potatoes in the bottom of it. Whoever can give information as to who took the boat away off its mooring will receive the above reward. Angelo Paragee, N.N. Three bundles were found at the end of the Pier, the same evening. Sept. 11, 1854.

Southern Cross 12 Sept 1854

A month and a half later, on 29 October 1854, Angelo Parigi died at the Colonial Hospital in Auckland. The cause of death was given in the registration as “Irritative fever, the result of a severe burn.” How Angelo received so severe a burn that it led to a fatal inflammation and infection of his tissues, something like gangrene and tetanus, is not yet known. He was buried in the Roman Catholic section of Symonds Street Cemetery. Angelo’s third daughter Margaret never saw her father, as she was born January 1855. Later, in June that year, a set of by-laws were put in place by the new Provincial Council governing the watermen, concerning licences, fees, carriage of persons and luggage.

There is a family story that Angelo was somewhere in South Auckland in mid October 1854, helping to clear land with some “colonel friends” when he was badly burned, to the extent that his fingers were burned off. The names Balneavis, Haultain and Nixon are mentioned. However, there are no reports in either the New Zealander or the Southern Cross of any incident so severe – and in colonial times, something so horrific as the loss of fingers in the fire would have attracted some attention. Was there a fire near where he lived on Eden Crescent? Did one of his boats catch fire? Again, the newspapers and the records remain silent.

Angelo’s name had slipped into forgotten history long before a new Waitemata Boat Club started up in 1862, with no reference to the first club by that name. The days of watermen were numbered as the wharves and jetties extended out into the harbour, ferries began to appear, and cutters and scows handled most of the old ship-to-shore trade.

Angelo Parigi’s story, though, is intriguing. His descendants and I would love to know more.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Cucksey's mis-dated legacy in Mt Eden

It doesn’t pay to always take a photograph at face value. Certainly, they are a valuable resource in the quest to find out more about the past. But sometimes, putting a photograph over and above documented evidence creates a series of errors.

In 1989, the Mt Eden Borough Council commissioned author Faye M Angelo to put together a book on the area, The Changing Face of Mt Eden. In it, a photo was included, showing Cucksey’s Corner, on the corner Stokes and Mt Eden Roads. The original wooden Cucksey’s Building is shown, with “Est. 1873” inscribed above the wrap-around verandah.

Ref 7-A4322, Sir George Grey Special Collection,  Auckland Library

Angelo went with that as the date for the building; so did the researcher who compiled the Mt Eden/Maungawhau Heritage Walks brochure early last decade, an error repeated in the latest reprint, and this year repeated again in the journal Prospect, produced by the Epsom & Eden Districts Historical Society. All done in good faith – except that it is wrong.

Another example of the “Established date” thing can be found clearly across the fa├žade of Millar Patterson Metals Brasscraft Ltd on Halsey Road, just opposite Victoria Park. That declares “Established 1903”, when actually 1903 is when the business began close to Britomart Place, whereas John Stewart Millar began leasing the Halsey Street site from 1919-1920.

This isn’t to say all dates on buildings are wrong. It just pays to check, before rushing into print and spreading the error further.

As for Alfred Cucksey and his buildings …

On 27 September 1867, the clipper ship Siam docked at Queen Street Wharf, after a voyage of 105 days from England. Aboard was Alfred Cucksey (NZ Herald 28 September 1867), brother of Henry Cucksey, well-known “Instrument Music Seller and Publisher” of 202 Queen Street, well-known at the time for his Cucksey’s Music Saloon, “established 1863”. (Ad, Southern Cross, 21 October 1863) Henry himself had been in business 13 years in London before he arrived in Auckland, taking over “Mr Webb’s Royal Harmonium and Pianoforte Saloon” in Queen Street, (SC 21 October 1863) while Alfred later boasted 10 years’ experience before arriving in New Zealand “in the London trade”. (Ad, Auckland Star 5 March 1874) Henry and Alfred’s father was James Cucksey, who later died in Kent, England, in 1870 aged 64. 

Henry’s wife first wife Eliza died in October 1867 and was buried at Symonds Street cemetery together with an infant child. Henry remarried, to Annie H Irwin, in 1870. (Annie may have already been a widow. In 1890, she was applying for assistance from two grown sons by the surname of Irwin – Star 8 Feb 1890) In 1873, Henry Cucksey became part of a “Political League” in the city (NZH 24 February 1873), after a number of years of on-again, off-again reports as to him running for office, either on the City Council, or the fading Provincial Council. Later that year, he shifted from Queen Street to the junction of Queen and Wakefield Streets.

By April 1868, Alfred Cucksey was being praised by the newspapers for his doormats made from flax fibre, on display at an ironmongers’ store in Shortland Street, and at Alfred Cucksey’s first store at 138 Queen Street. (SC & NZH 27 April 1868) Around this time, Henry Cucksey was living in Nelson Street, where some items were stolen from his house. (SC 14 January 1868)

Alfred Cucksey married Margaret Catherine Williams in 1870. In 1871, Alfred was living in Nelson Street, where a daughter was born 16 December. Between 1868 and 1873, Alfred apparently spent time at Thames. A report in the Grey River Argus at the time may have erroneously named his brother, when in fact it was more likely Alfred’s discovery.
It is reported that Mr Cucksey, the music-seller in Auckland, has made an important discovery in respect to saving gold by a new method of treating tailings. The new plan is said to be most effectual in saving the finest gold in the smallest quantity. Mr Cucksey is about to apply for a patent so as to secure some benefit from his discovery. (24 Feb 1873)
Whatever happened, Alfred clearly returned to his flax after that. In June 1873, at the opening of the Auckland Markets on the Market Reserve (present day Aotea Square), Alfred exhibited his flax working as a local industry, (NZH 19 June 1873) winning first prize for his flax mat at that exhibition, and at the New Zealand Agricultural Society’s Show in November that year. (SC 20 November 1873) In March 1874, he took over a grocery and provision store in Wakefield Street. (Ad, Auckland Star 5 March 1874) His brother Henry had returned to England in 1875 – and by 1879 was producing “Cucksey’s Miraculous Mixture,” a “Celebrated Conqueror of Bronchitis, Diphtheria, Neuralgia, Headaches, Sore Throats, and All Diseases of the Throat.” In Auckland Alfred served as an agent for the medicine, selling his brother’s mixture from the Wakefield Street store. (Ad Star 15 November 1879)

On 29 March 1881, Alfred purchased Lot 4 of 11 of Section 6, Suburbs of Auckland, at the corner Stokes and Mt Eden Road, from John Batger. (Deeds Index 2A.1311) In mid April, he advertised for tenders “for the Erection of Shop and Dwelling House at Mount Eden.” (Star 13 April 1881). In July that year, he advertised his Wakefield store for lease, with immediate possession, (NZH 26 July 1881) and by August 1881, he had moved his business to the new store in Mt Eden.
Alfred Cucksey begs to inform his numerous friends that he has Removed from Wakefield-street to his New Store on the Mount Eden Road, near Smith's Stables. All Goods at town prices. First-class articles guaranteed. Families waited on daily. Agent for the Mount Eden Railway Station Coal and Firewood Depot. (Ad, Star 6 August 1881)
So, yes -- clearly the 1873 date on the photograph referred to when Alfred Cucksey established his business (in the central city), rather than had the first wooden store built at Mt Eden.

By 1884, Cucksey’s Mt Eden store became known as the Post Office Store, when Cucksey advertised for boys to run messages. (Ad, Star, 10 May 1884) However, this appears to have been a bit premature. In November 1885, Cucksey led the local community campaign to have a telephone bureau established at his store for public use, a campaign that proved successful when the bureau was set up at his store in June, with the expectation that a post and money order office would be set up soon after. (NZH 14 June 1886)

In June 1901, Catherine Margaret Cucksey died. In 1905, a permit application was approved by Mt Eden Borough Council for Cucksey to build “5 new shops” on his site, and these would likely have been completed by c.1906. “Mr A Cucksey’s Block of 5 new shops, corner Mt Eden & Stokes Road, area 132’ X 132’ (4 lengths). Builder Mr. W Firth, Architect Mr Jno. M Walker. Contract £2830.” (MEB 128/1, Auckland Council Archives) This is the Cucksey’s Building we see today.

Alfred Cucksey married his second wife, Charlotte Eleanor Nayler Smith in 1919. He wasn’t able to enjoy renewed married bliss for long, however; he died at his home, “Ravensbourne,” next to his Cucksey’s Buildings, on Mt Eden Road, 5 September 1922.
An old and respected resident of Auckland, Mr Alfred Cucksey, died at the Public Hospital yesterday morning, in his 79th year. Mr Cucksey was born in Greenwich, England, in 1843, and came to Auckland at the age of 23. Shortly afterwards he spent some time on the Thames goldfield, and on returning to Auckland went into business as a grocer in Wakefield Street. In 1880 Mr Cucksey went to Mount Eden and established the business that resulted in its location being known far and wide as "Cucksey's Corner." Mr Cucksey, who was known in the district as "the father of Mount Eden," retired from active life 14 years ago. He had not been in the best of health for some time prior to his death. He is survived by Mrs Cucksey, one son, and several grand-children. The interment will take place at Purewa cemetery this afternoon. (NZH 6 September 1922)

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Meeting Alice the TBM

Today being a fine day, and at the end of Auckland Heritage Festival, I trotted out as one of 20,000 holders of a free ticket to see Alice the Tunnel Boring Machine at Alan Wood Reserve in Mt Albert, the creator of two tunnels, northbound and southbound, over the next three years or so, part of the work on State Highway 20. Actually, the best view was this -- a large board right at the end of the 45 minute trek up hill and down dale. This at least lets you see what the business end of Alice looks like, the part that pumps in foam and cuts through the resulting slurry at -- wait for it -- 8cm per minute. According to the poster I picked up from an info tent, that's the top speed for a snail.

So, after winding through a snaky crowd-control path (the NZTA and Well-Connected Alliance must have taken tips from banks and the airports), we were off to see Alice. The name given to the TBM by a local school pupil who won a prize, after Alice in Wonderland.

Past a once-again altered Oakley Creek ...

On down the path through which, one day, cars and other vehicles will hurtle.

There's Alice -- well, the back end of Alice, where all the engines are, plus space for the 16 crew. The info poster says Alice needed to have a female name because of St Barbara, the patron saint of miners, tunnellers, artillerymen etc. Except that St Barbara has been removed from the Roman Catholic calendar since 1969, her story of martyrdom and association with lightning most likely a bit of Dark Ages storytelling. So, Alice the TBM is named after a fictional character due, most likely, to another bit of fiction.

I also expected Alice to be bigger.

It's the height of a four-storey building, they said on the poster. Largest TBM ever used in Australasia, weighing 3000 tonnes, the weight of 750 elephants, almost as long as a footy field ...

But ... I expected it to be something more. Even on a human scale, it doesn't look all that massive, not really.

This is a piece of artwork called "Te Haerenga Hou", "designed for the project by Auckland Ta moko artist Graham Tipene, "Te Haerenga (meaning "A New Journey) depicts the route along the volcanic landscape of what is now SH20 to the feet of Owairaka where the tunnels begin. At over 14m in diameter it is the same size as Alice's cutting face," according to a site map we were given today.

The spoil conveyor, where the resulting slurry is taken away from the tunnel, to Wiri where it'll be de-slurried and used for fill elsewhere.

It was cool, though, that they let members of the public sign these concrete launch segments, which will be used to line the tunnel. Yes, my name's on there now, too.

So, up around the corner, back out to Hendon Ave and a free bus to Mt Albert shops (and a Sunday-inconvenient -- at the moment -- train service. I took the bus back towards New Lynn.)

I'm glad I went, but -- I'm still underwhelmed.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Text of a talk I gave on Lynfield this morning, for Auckland Heritage Festival.

Lynfield: from coastal wilderness to modern suburbia.