The following is an interesting article about the first settlers of the Komokoriki/Ahuroa Parish.
A lot of the descendants of these families still live in the district.  The article was sourced from the archive department at the Warkworth Museum, however it appears to be most of Chapter 7 'Ahuroa and Komokoriki' from the book 'The Rock in the Sky' by H Mabbett, first published in 1977 by Wilson & Horton Ltd for Rodney County Council. 
The article includes some photos from the book as well as photos
supplied by Toni & Noel Sanderson.


On 3 June 1854 John Grant Johnson, a sub-commissioner for the Purchase of Native Lands wrote from Hot Springs (Waiwerawera) to his superior officer, Donald McLean, recommending the purchase of certain lands; “I have been disposed to recommend a liberal price for these two blocks (Wainui, H.M) with a view to incite the wonders of the land behind the Mahurangi known as 'Kaipara Flats' to bring the negotiations being carried on with them to a favourable conclusion.” (This John Grant Johnson was the son of John Johnson M.D who had been Hobson's personal physician. As he used the name ”Kaipara Flats” as early as 1854 it provides proof that the name goes back much further than usually supposed.)

The negotiations to which Johnson refers must have proceeded smoothly for on 22 June 1854 the Kourawhero-Ahuroa purchase of 13,800 acres for a sum of 1200 pounds was completed.

Then came the inevitable lag between the purchase by the Crown and sales to settlers. Surveys had to be completed and the availability of access was important. In those early days the sea was the main roadway for settlers. Settlement followed along the east coast, in this case it was the sea-coast of the Mahurangi Purchase which extended to Te Arai Point.

n the advice of Felton Mathew this Purchase was made in 1841; but because of the priority accorded surveys and land sales in the vicinity of the young capital, the first Matakana Sale did not take place until March 1853.

The first Mahurangi Sale came in November 1853 and in Omaha in 1855. Mangawhai followed in July 1858 and Pakiri in April 1859. Ahuroa came next in June 1859 and Kourawhero in January 1860. Apart from 'Mangawhai' which attracted settlers as a port – albeit a bar-port – Ahuroa and Kourawhero were the first local areas outside the Mahurangi Purchase to be settled. Then came Arai in 1860 with an open road stead with access by way of 'Mangawhai' port, Oruawharo and Wharehine Special Settlement in 1862, Puhoi Special settlement in 1863, Hoteo and Komokoriki in 1864 and Tauhoa including Chalmerston Special Settlement in 1867.


It is by no means easy to write a coherent story of these twin districts. The only access from which to write are the Purchase Facts, the Crown Sales Lists and the membership of Highway Boards and Road Boards... There was a gap of less than five years between their respective Crowns sales. In their District Boards it is fairly apparent that the Komokoriki Highway Board was made operative over the whole combined area. It had elective and rating powers; its first District Board included Isaac Glenny and Thomas Chaplin of Ahuroa, Alfred Woodcock from 'over the hill' at Woodcocks and Adam Laybourne and James Pettigrew who featured in the Komokoriki Crown sales lists.

Probably because of poor communications and scarcity of population, the Komokoriki Road Board began to fade out, to “lose its punch” and in 1892 the Ahuroa end successfully petitioned RCC to have its own Road Board defined. It operated very successfully until 1907 when it too 'folded' and voted to merge in RCC, holding its last meeting in no.2 school (at Woodcocks'). It had strong leadership from William Lowe Sanderson who had been its Chairman right through to 1906. Whether he was ill or had died is not clear yet, but within a year of his going the Board requested a merger with RDC which was granted.

At almost the same time that the Ahuroa Roads Board merged, the Komokoriki Road Board became prominent again. It does appear that local government had almost died out at the Road Board level although RCC was operating.

In 1907 Komokoriki Road Board began to function again under Herbert Armstrong, who retained the chairmanship throughout his Board's life until the seven remaining Boards were merged in Rodney by special order in 1923. It is an interesting little problem in jurisdiction elective power and rating power, but the Ahuroa Board which had merged seemed well represented on the new Board with familiar names appearing. It also extended into Glorit enlisting such capable men as Henry Hooper and John Gardiner. It also elected the second and third women Mrs. A Poyner and Mrs. A.O (Louisa) Parker to follow Effie Jones of Matakana East in taking a share in Rodney local government.

The First Families of the Area

The Chaplins:
Thomas Chaplin, the able little man who became Rodney's first County Clerk on 50 pounds p.a. was elected to the first Komokoriki Highway Board. Strangely enough his name was omitted from the Crown sales list so his property cannot now be exactly located but he was certainly there, local tradition placing him in the Ahuroa Village area.

The Chaplins with their five daughters came to NZ in the sailing ship “Mermaid” in 1860, getting to know the Haselden family on the voyage.  One married a Hudson, another Henley, another Woodcock... On the trip out the eldest girl, Emily, who married Alfred Woodcock was only 13 years of age.  Emily always enjoyed telling of her adventures in the new land. They lived in fashionable Parnell, with an eerie walk through the tall tea-tree from the wharf, while Dad went ahead to clear his land and set up a home.  Compass in hand he worked his way through the bush found his section and built a nikau whare.  He was busy clearing his land one day when a stranger appeared and pointed out his error.  He was miles out in his calculations and in the end had to cut a 7 mile track through the wilderness.  When the family first came to their new home they chartered a cutter which took two days for the trip.

Emily always claimed there was only one real house in Warkworth in those days but she was probably judging by Old World standards.

There are many Chaplin stories. One day Mrs. Chaplin was doing the washing in a galvanised tub supported on a timber stand.  She heard a swishing sound as somebody pushed through the scrub.  A man appeared.  He had a wide-brimmed hat; his clothes were old and scragged by bush-lawyers.  He asked her politely if there were any children to be baptised.  Mother thought he was a wandering Catholic priest and said, “ I don't think Captain Tuohy will let you baptise his – he belongs to the Church of England.”

“So do I" said George Augustus Selwyn, “I'm the bishop."  Word was sent round.  Selwyn baptised seven children and had tea with the Chaplins and went on his way.  Some time after his appointment as Clerk, the Chaplins moved to Warkworth.  His brother Charles Chaplin Woodcock served on the Ahuroa Board.

George Glenny was another of the original 1859 Ahuroa settlers.

He was Crown grantee of Lots 12, 13, 14 and 15, a total of 412 acres on his land order alone, no extra cash payment being shown. He probably had 8 or 9 others with him.

Another Glenny was James who also received quite a considerable farm of 234 acres in 1864 on his land order plus 14 pounds (20 acres) which would indicate that he too had a large family.  To make matters harder to follow another James Glenny was also Crown granted another 120 acres in 1864, again on his land orders.

When Government was (apparently) making an appreciation of the ratepayer population of the new County in 1875-76 it listed as possible ratepayers in Ahuroa-Komokoriki the following names – four Glenny families are given; Francis Moody Glenny, Isaac William Glenny, James Glenny Jun. and Joseph Glenny.

Where Neil Hawken farms today on the West Coast Rd not far from Glenny's Bridge, the land was once owned by the Glenny family and perhaps at one time, at least partly, by Herbert Armstrong.

Isaac Wm Glenny was a member of the original Komokoriki Highway Board in 1868-9 and then his name disappears. James Glenny, who could be the James Glenny Jun. named above, was the chairman of the 1874-75 District Board and there after no more Glenny names appear.

The Sandersons:
William Lowe Sanderson of Ahuroa was the second son of Thomas Sanderson a very early pioneer of Mahurangi. The original family must have come to Mahurangi very early for Thomas was a mature man when he contested the position of first County Clerk with Thomas Chaplin. Thomas was reputed to have settled on the slopes of Dome Hill, Waiwhiu, and his eldest son Alexander settled not far away between Falls Road and what became the main sealed road to Kaipara Flats through Streamlands.

'Byde the Wee - Ahuroa' - supplied by Toni & Noel Sanderson

One of the first houses of Ahuroa belonging to William Lowe Sanderson (foreground), Noel Sanderson's Great Grandfather and Aleck Sanderson, Noel's Grandfather on the horse (background) One of the women in the foreground is believed to be William's wife. The house was over the road from Noel and Toni Sanderson's current house (on the corner of Hawkens Road), the peach tree on the left was only recently chopped down. Circa late 1800's.

William Lowe Sanderson married Bertha Richards a daughter of the famous Albertlander renowned for many miles around for the quality of his edged tools. Note – This is a little open to question as Bertha could equally well have been the daughter of Evan Richards Junior who entered business at Matakana. However the family of William Lowe and Bertha consisted of Alexander William Sanderson of Ahuroa who married Martha Lena Berger of Ahuroa and Inez Martha Sanderson who married Val Rasmussen of Otahuhu and so dropped out of the Rodney story.

Alexander William and Martha Lena Berger's son, William Mervyn Sanderson married Christina Rauner of Puhoi and their three children all live in Rodney they are:

  1. Thelma Christina Sanderson who married Lawrence Charles (Mick) Hallet of Helensville who is now manger of the McElroy Trust farm at Pukapuka.

  2. Morris Mervyn Sanderson who married Christine Rose Tucker of the Herbert Tucker family of Warkworth and who is on the old William Lowe farm at Ahuroa.

  3. Noel George Alexander Sanderson who lives opposite his brother - a Sanderson farm on either side of the West Coast Road.

The senior Sandersons live today right at the top point of Wech's access Hill just where the highway starts to dip down towards Makarau.  In the three families there are eleven grandchildren so there is every chance that the good family name will continue in Rodney.  In Rodney's story of local government the name of William Lowe Sanderson will always have an honoured place.

The Armstrongs, Jordans and Dunninghams:
William and Susan Armstrong came from England in 1862 per the sailing ship “Robert Small” with their five children. William Henry Armstrong was born at Cambridge, England in 1843 so was still not yet 20 when the family settled at Komokoriki. He married a NZ born girl Catherine Sutherland and they had three children:

  1. Ernest Walter Armstrong who married Meta Louisa Schenk.
  2. Ethel Rosa Glastonbury who married Almond Edward Dunningham of “Riverside', Ahuroa.
  3. Oscar Vivial who remained single.

It now appears quite certain that William and Susan and the younger children lived at “Komokoriki” ('Komo' to them) now owned in 1976 by Mr. and Mrs. Leonardus Johannes Lemmen, and that Walter Henry Armstrong farmed in the next little valley where Peter Davie-Martin now lives.  In those days the house was known as the 'Bungalow' but in these days it was acquired the local name of 'The Homestead'. It was at this property that Andrew Davie-Martin lived and cleared the Komokoriki Hills of their remaining kauri in the mid 1930's.

Andrew Davie-Martin putting a 'side' on a kauri log for hauling, at Komokoriki Hill Road, circa 1935.
From 'The Rock in the Sky'

George Poyner's bullocks in Davie-Martin's Bush 
circa 1928 - supplied by Toni & Noel Sanderson


Clearing the Komokoriki Hills.  Francie Wech at leaders, George Poyner on log, William Davie-Martin, white hat, left centre. 
Two boys, Lionel and Peter Davie-Martin, Andrew Davie-Martin at the log.
Beyond the boys, Fred Wech and, facing him, Paul Turnwald. 
From 'The Rock in the Sky'.

The first entirely NZ born generation of Armstrongs came from the marriage of Ernest Walter Armstrong (son of the English-born Walter Henry Armstrong, above, and Catherine Sutherland). EWA married Meta Luisa Schenk and the issue consisted of three girls, Eileen Meta Armstrong, Ethel Kathleen Armstrong and Audrey Vivienne Armstrong. At that point the old Armstrong name faded out in NZ.

George William Armstrong and his wife nee Elizabeth Bishop also had two daughters and no sons and Herbert Armstrong remained single.

Walter Henry Armstrong sold his farm in 1917 and joined his brother George William Armstrong in his insurance business for 25 years until retired, dying aged 84 years. Mary Armstrong, William and Susan's elder daughter married Joseph Glenny and presumably lived on the Glenny farms. Rosa and Herbert, the two youngest children remained single living on at 'Komo'.

Herbert like William Lowe Sanderson devoted many years to the chairmanship of his local Road Board – for 16 years. He lost his life on 29 October 1942 when his home was destroyed by fire. He was buried near his parents in the Komokoriki cemetery a mile away from his old home farm. The secretary of many of Herbert's Boards was W.M Pine who was an employee of Herbert's and his farm manager on his return from the Great War.

The Jordans:
In 1925 Eileen Meta Armstrong married a young Auckland Lawyer Frederick Coles Jordan who became the only partner in 50 years on the old legal firm of Dignan and Armstrong Mr. Dignan had retired soon after becoming Mayor of Auckland but the firm has continued all these years under the style of Dignan, Armstrong and Jordan. This detail is given here because FC Jordan, probably best know for his advocacy of penal reform is a descendant of James Byrt Jordan some time proprietor of a Warkworth general store who had as partner a young Josiah Hill Hudson. Jordon and Hudson had a disagreement; Hudson who had just received a considerable legacy, bought land at Komokoriki and took up farming.

For 6 years he was chairman of the local Highway Board and then moved to Kaipara Flats but in the Upper Mahurangi Highway Board area. He was elected to RCC just at the time that Nathaniel Wilson's cement venture required all his attention, and for two years was chairman of RCC.

Byrt Jordan also took up land in the Kaipara Hills, the family later becoming strongly established in the Kaukapakapa district. Now the wheel has turned again and the Jordans are back in Rodney.

Talking about wheels: In 1951 Bruce Gardner Brown who had married Eileen Pamela Jordan the second child of Eileen Meta Armstrong and Frederick Coles Jordan bought 'Komo' from Mrs. Mabel E Clark who was one of the daughters of George Wm Armstrong and Elizabeth Bishop.

The Dunningham Connection:
The first of this Dunningham family to come to NZ was David Dunningham of Essex, England. In NZ he married Isabella Joy Bell, a very young lass from a village just outside of Belfast, Ireland. For many years they kept the 'Governor Brown' house in Auckland and had five sons and two daughters.

One of the sons, Almond Edward Dunningham married Ethel Rosa Armstrong a daughter of Walter Henry Armstrong. Ethel Rosa's brother was the Ernest Walter Armstrong who married Meta Louisa Schenk. Her other brother was the Oscar Vivian Armstrong who remained single.

“In the dying stages of the last century my parents went to live in Komokoriki near my grandparents, Ernest Walter Armstrong and Ethel Rosa. They lived in a shingled whare and then moved into a pit-sawn kauri house a mile away. When I was due to be born Dad got an Auckland midwife to come up by train to Ahuroa. She had to travel over the hills, - there was no road – and on horseback on a sidesaddle in the dark. She arrived a nervous wreck." This place was later owned by Andre and William Davie-Martin.

“Then we moved to the old Walter Ellen house... The floor was so rotten the bed fell through, so we built a cottage with a Dover stove....” Marsden Dunningham lived there until about 1913. Their mother and the three children lived near their Auckland 'Bubba'.

Marsden who is now a senior citizen of Papatoetoe married Doris Sanderson the youngest child of William Lowe Sanderson and Bertha, and showed the writer round the district. There was the old school site where Hall Skelton taught – later a well-known Auckland lawyer. Ormond Burton, a fine soldier who turned pacifist and was gaoled by Peter Fraser (with deep apologies), taught there too.

Thinking that some day the two Bubbas' – the thin 'Bubba' Dunningham and the fat 'Bubba' Armstrong – would live there in retirement the Dunninghams built a huge 13 roomed house at 'Riverside' on a branch of the Araparera, but the plans did not work out. The 'Bubbas' just wouldn't retire! When the writer saw it, the fine old house had been cut away from the 1200 acres of farmland and was used by a commercial potter...

In Marsden's childhood he once saw the whole district alight with bush fires... later he could remember the long rows of logs, kauri, rimu and kahikatea waiting beside the railway line where they had been hauled by bullock teams. Farming in those days consisted of clearing the land... but eventually it was a good farm. It is now owned at the least in part by the Poyner brothers and partly by Milton Lew.

The Moirs of the Big Hill:
On 16 June 1859 the brothers Alexander and Henry Moir were Crown grantees of lot 16 of 118 acres in Ahuroa on their immigrants' land orders. They had come from Queensferry, Scotland, in that same year, 1859, aboard the sailing ship 'Caduceus'. Henry got caught up in the militia and his son James was 9 months old before he moved up to the famous hill which bears the family name. Alexander never married and died in the old home on the hill. Henry had the little son mentioned above and two daughters, Henrietta and Charlotte. Charlotte married Tomas Oliver Jenkins, Bruce Jenkins' grandfather.

James Moir lived to the ripe old age of 87 years dying in 1949. For 25 years he had lived in retirement at Birkdale. The Moirs built up their 108 acres to over 600 but the land was worth much more for its timber than for its farming worth. It produced vast quantities of totara, much of this for railway sleepers. Much of the timber found its way to the Morningside Timber Co.

The old Moir home, about 5 chains beyond the repeater station and overlooking the Puhoi-Ahuroa Road has its site marked by a by a huge old magnolia tree and several other exotics. It was a very large imposing house but became well known as a rest station on the Great North Road for coach travellers and horsemen. The place was famous for its hospitality. Bishop Selwyn often made it a base on his journeys in and about the wilderness - the Anglican Selwyn became a close friend of the Presbyterian Moirs.

The Scots settlers were somewhat apprehensive about the Maori inhabitants. They need not have worried. The Maori people – they were not very numerous – became close friends of the Moirs.  A frequent visitor was Albert Pomare, educated in England and known throughout the English world as Queen Victoria's godson, Albert.

With the death of James Moir the male line died out in Rodney. On the female side of course it is continued in the Jenkins family as related above.

The Hawken family:
In the history of a local district 55 years is not a long residence for a family. With two generations of the Hawken family still on the property bought by Charlie Udy Hawken 1921, this Whangarei family is now definitely a Rodney family and could be here for many years...The Chas Udy Hawken family is a branch of old established farming family of Whangarei renowned for its knowledge of and expertise with farm stock.

Arnold Hawken who married George Woodcock's daughter Eileen has retired to Warkworth and the farm is in Neil's hands now. Neil married Lilian Berger of Ahuroa. Arnold was only 16 when his father bought about 400 acres from Tillsley, a second-wave settler in Ahuroa. Then he bought another 200 acres of the Herbert Armstrong land near Glenny's Bridge where Neil now lives. Another 100 acres of the old Albert Osbourne Parker land came next till the Hawken place reached 800 acres in all.

William Taylor was the original settler in what is now Hawken Road and the two Miss Turvery ladies lived nearby. In fact Mrs. Wm Taylor had been another Turvery, Elizabeth. The old Taylor-Hawken house was on two levels between the barn and the road, the barn was the venue for dances and farewells in the 'good old days'.

The Jenkins Family:
Thomas Jenkins was born at Trentham, England in 1840 and came to NZ on the 'Portland' in 1863. He was an accountant and lived at Herne Bay. It is family tradition that he never saw the land he selected. As an immigrant paying his own way he was entitled to a land grant and selected 50 acres of Pt. lot 59 in the Parish of Komokoriki. He paid 5 pounds for the extra 10 acres above his 40 acres entitlement. This was in May 1865. Today this piece of land is not part of 'Lynvale Farms Ltd'. Nor has it ever been. (It is situated on the Komokoriki Hill Road).

The marriage of Thomas Jenkins to Mahala Davenport took place in old St Matthews' in 1865. Mahala's people had a naval post in Auckland and the family tradition has it that the land later owned by her sons was a service grant. There were ten children of the marriage. Left as widower, Thomas married again, to Maud Johnson, in 1885. He died in Auckland as recently as 1912.

Thomas Oliver Jenkins, born 1866 at Wellington was the eldest of the ten children. He was educated at the old Grammar School in Symonds St and trained and worked as a journalist. Then with his brother Llewellyn he moved up to the ‘Davenport' about 1886. The two brothers both built shacks on the property, Llewellyn remained single but in 1893 Thomas Oliver married Charlotte Moir of the 'Big Hill'.

There were six children of the marriage:

  1. Thomas Oliver Llewellyn Jenkins who, after his return from the Great War, married Lillian Muriel Teychenne of Sale, Victoria in 1929

  2. Muriel Jenkins a school teacher who married George Hames a member of the old Albertland family at Paparoa

  3. Mahala Florence Jenkins who married Harry Town of Hamilton

  4. Henry Augustine (Gus) who left Ahuroa after the Great War to farm in the Waikato

  5. Cyril Vivian Jenkins who farmed Llewellyn's portion of the grant up to quite recent times and married Mary McKay of Waipu and moved there

  6. Athelstan who joined the NZR and left the district.

In a recent 'phone conversation, Cyril Vivian, who is as hale and hearty as a World War I soldier can be, told the writer, how Lyn, “Gus” and he, himself, were all away at the great war and all came safely home.

There were two boys from the marriage of Thomas Oliver  Llewellyn to Lillian Muriel Teychenne:

  1. Brian Teychenne Jenkins who was ordained in the Church of England and is now an Archdeacon on the North Shore.

  2. Bruce Llewellyn Jenkins who now farms 'Lynvale' Farms Ltd and married Shirley Joyce of Waiwhiu a descendant of two of Rodney's eldest families, the Sandersons and the Gathercoles.