This is a set of notes taken on a trip to New Zealand in February or March, 1998. ``I'' generally refers to the transcriber, Nathan Torkington. Similarly, ``Grandpa'' is Ted Torkington and other relatives are from the perspective of the transcriber.Bill, b.1844 m.1867, 7 children, d 1923, buried Whangateau.
In the beginning was Bill Torkington, from Ashton under-Lyne which was then just outside of Manchester but is now just another suburb. Four of his kids died, and his wife died in childbirth, so he took his three sons Harold, Joe and Arthur to New Zealand.
He landed at Auckland in a boat called the ``Ionic'' in 1886, and enquired about land for sale. He walked to Ti Point, and then to Mangawai, then back to Auckland and bought several blocks of Ti Point. They set up their first camp, a tent, under the Puriri down by The Bay. [Tent: probably not remains of a Maori whare, which might have been down by the creek somewhere -bt]
Bill worked in the forestry across in Whangateau, a carpenter and bricklayer by trade. He was an expert tradesman, reputed to have built the Royal Palace in Tonga (where he met the Batties). He worked on the Kauri Timber Company factory in Customs St., Auckland. It probably disappeared around 1939, Americans taking over the site and building great big warehouses.
Leaving the two kids aged 10 and 12 to fend for themselves during the day. One evening, just before dark, a Maori guy with a moko wandered up carrying a still-wriggling John Dory that had been stranded in the shallow waters of the Bay. He squatted down by the fire, saying not a word, and tossed the Dory straight onto the fire. The three children were scared, but he was not unfriendly. What he was doing there we're not sure, possibly heading off to go fishing on Nellie's Point.
When it was cooked, he started to chew at it and offered them some [alternate version of the story is that he didn't offer it to them]. This, more than anything, showed them how to cook and eat fish, which they hadn't known before. They nearly starved those first two or three years.
[alternate version: speared the fish with a stick]
The bay was full of fish and shellfish in those days, as was the whole Whangateau harbour. Dad can remember sprats teeming in the water. The boys'd stand on the oyster rocks and throw the curdled cream into the water, which would seethe white with sprats. Then they'd guide the sprat net around the mess and bring them in. What'd they do with all those sprats? Feed 'em to the pigs?, I guess.