An earlier survey for a subdivision at the top of the harbour near Dawson’s Creek had not been completed. Between 1852 and 1854 Charles Heaphy the Provincial Surveyor and artist supervised the survey of the Village of Mahurangi and lived here on lot 60 in Heaphy/Schoolhouse Bay. Below is a sketch of his cottage on the beach flats. Heaphy continued to spend summers at Mahurangi until he retired to Queensland due to failing health.
William Denham drew the Mahurangi Village survey in 1852. Denham was another colourful character. After the village went on to survey the route for the road between Warkworth and Port Albert, the settlement at Hoteo and one proposed by Captain Colbeck at Te Pahi on the Northern Kaipara. Denham was convicted for the robbery of an intoxicated new immigrant at an Auckland bar in 1879 but was still described as a government surveyor in 1880 after his release from prison. You can view the Wm Denham 1852 Township Survey Plan.
The first blocks in Village of Mahurangi were offered for sale in 1852 at a price of £5 an acre. Only four lots were purchased. Speculators including Heaphy himself progressively bought the majority of the land. The larger holders were James Lawrie, Dr. William Dyer (no relative to Dyers Creek) but related to Heaphy by marriage and Coombes & Daldy and Albert Hansard. The speculation appeared sound as Hansard reported that those purchased for £5 were soon sold for £25. Coombes and Daldy bought significant holdings both in the Mahurangi Village but also in the wider area to support their timber milling operations. The settlement at “Lower Mahurangi” never took off as settlers preferred Warkworth which was put into the hands of Albert William Hansard as an agent to sell and he appears to have promoted the settlement effectively.
Land was surveyed throughout the harbour. On the outer peninsular and early purchasers included an Auckland Militia doctor Dr. James Dalliston who took 105 acres as a country farm. He later expanded this to include all the land to Martins Bay building a brick house in Poplar Bay. The McGechie family held the land from there to Dairy Bay. Dr. Dalliston’s later life was also scandalous as after many years splitting his time between the Mahurangi and his upstanding life in Auckland he abruptly abandoned his wife Eliza and significant debts and eloped to Sydney with a married woman only to emerge in Yokohama where he established the Yamate General Hospital.
An English gentleman Robert Brooke and his wife built the large concrete house under Sadler point in 1884. He intended it as a hunting lodge and it was to be known as Rodmersham after his family home. He died on a visit to England seeking material to complete the house and his wife died shortly after. It was completed by Charles and Sarah Lushington and was known locally as ‘Lushingtons’. Charles died on 1 August 1907 and his obituary appeared in the Rodney and Otamatea Times. It provides some interesting historical background to his life.
(Post image is a drawing by Charles Heaphy if Mahurangi Harbour in the 1850s)