Between visits to churches in Rawene Chris and I visited Clendon House. It’s a shame we weren’t there on a day it is open to the public but we enjoyed wandering around outside.
When I looked up Clendon House I became fascinated with James Reddy Clendon and wondered how the United States Consul at Okiato (the first capital of NZ) from 1839-41 came to settle in Rawene. I presumed he had been American but no, he was born in England. He started out as a ship owner (how does a young man get to be a ship owner?) married in Sydney, Australia and their first child was born in London. There’s a story there for sure, he married in October, 1826 and the child was born in January, 1827. By 1830 he had bought property in the Bay of Island (on the other coast from Rawene) and returned to London.
In 1832 he purchased a schooner and sailed back to NZ. He settled in Okiato, I guess that’s where all the action was as it was the capital back then, and started up a successful trading station supplying whaling ships working in the Pacific Ocean. He backed the winning party in a argument over sovereignty and witnessed the signing of the Declaration of the Independence of New Zealand in 1835.
Five years later, despite representing the US, he assisted in negotiating the recognition of British sovereignty over New Zealand and was a witness to the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi.
We went on to be a member of New Zealand’s first Legislative Council and a magistrate.
His first wife died in 1855 and in January 1856 (mmm), aged 55, he married an 18 year old girl named Jane. After six children with his first wife he then had eight children with Jane and they settled and built the house in Rawene in 1862. He died in 1876, leaving the still young Jane to pay off a mountain of debt in order to keep Clendon House in the family. In 1972 their descendents sold the house, complete with its contents, to the New Zealand Historic Places Trust, who have maintained it and opened it to the public.
I’ve looked but can’t find a book about him. Surely there must be one!
As is befitting an historic place, an historic tree is helped to stay upright:
I’d love to go inside for a look around next time I visit the Hokianga. As it was I could only take photos of the old clothes wringer and meat safe on the back verandah.