Author(s): Linda Thornton
A very few pioneer New Zealand families have lived and farmed their land for six, even seven generations. These New Zealanders and their stories, shaped by the land itself, are an important part of the history of Aotearoa. This is the story of one such family whose forebears, Charles and Elizabeth Matthews, arrived in 1842 on the sailing ship London. They settled first in Wellington but, drawn by the pull of the land, moved to Wairarapa and purchased the first acres their descendants still farm today. Seven generations have lived on Waiorongomai. Diaries written by Alfred Matthews, the memoirs of his grandson, Jack, and tape recorded conversations with more recent members of the family, all play a part in this history. It is the story of a family devoted to its farming, the development of one of the country’s leading Romney sheep studs and the passing on of a love of the land from one generation to the next. It is also dedicated to all the men and families who have worked on Waiorongomai over the last 160 years.