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A brief history of Gracefarm Land--- At North Albertland

Gracefarm is a small part of what is known as the “First Oruawharua Purchase” by the Crown. It was transacted on 27th January 1860 from the Te Uri O Hau hapu of the Ngatiwhatua iwi and signed by Te Otene Taraia and 18 others and John Rogan District Commissioner. It was witnessed by J William Kawau.

The area purchased was 30,000 acres and payment was five hundred pounds sterling. This land was subsequently allotted to intending British settlers under the “40 acre” scheme which was administered by the NZ Provincial Councils. Immigrants had to be “approved” and subsequently received “Land Orders” based on grants of 80 acres for a husband and wife for forty pounds sterling and 20 acres for each child aged between five and eighteen years for ten pounds sterling. (H Mabbitt 1968)

Crown land purchase in this locality was not acrimonious due to the local Maori history of the area combined with friendliness, wisdom and understanding from both  Maori and the British men involved. Who were John Rogan District Commissioner, Percy Smith Surveyer and William Gittos missionary who was known locally as “the friend of the Maori people”. (H.Mabbitt 1968)

The group who came to the area were known as Albertlanders and they were organised by William Rawson Brame. He promoted this Special Settlement Scheme for Nonconformist emigrants. This was welcomed by the Auckland provincial Council because the previous Church backed schemes in both Canterbury and Otago were perceived to have been so successful.

The first allotment holders of this farm according to an Albertland North map (Mabbett 1977) drawn late 1862 were a Robert Nicholson, his wife Ann, daughter Mary Ann and sons George and Edwin. They arrived in Auckland on the “Hanover” on 17th September 1862 and proceeded to their farm via the east coast. That is a story in itself (Brett & Hook 1927). They were allocated allotments 179,184,185 and 186. The farm today essentially follows the boundaries of Allotments 184 and 186. The others have been sold off either by the Nicholsons (Albertland District Museum records) or subsequent owners and these owners are recorded on Land Transfer Titles from 1916 (Land Information New Zealand) The names recorded are Harding, Close, Busbridge, Underwood, Grant, Litten, Cowlrick, Curel, Crawford & Woodham, Price and at present Hollis.

There appear to be no records of the Nicholson’s farming endeavours but their sawmilling enterprise is well documented and photographed. (Ryburn 1999, Mabbett 1977, Brett & Hook 1927, Borrows 1969).

Gracefarm was kauri land and these beautiful trees still grow at the south end of the farm. Small chunks of gum are still here to be picked up from time to time. It was also totara land and, there are at present, about three groves that were never felled. However, judging by the number of totara posts on the farm some of the trees that were felled never left the place.


Mabbett, H (1968) Tidal Creek to Gum Ridge, Lower North Weekly News.
Mabbett, H (1977) The Rock and the Sky, Wilson & Horton Ltd.
Brett, Sir Henry & Hook, Henry (1927) The Albertlanders, The Brett Printing Co. Ltd.
Ryburn, W (1999) Tall Spars, Steamers & Gum, Kaipara Publications.
Borrows, A L (1969) Albertland, A H & AW Reed.
Albertland District Museum, Wellsford.
Land Information New Zealand


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