Charles Clarke arrived in Auckland on the Queen of Beauty in August 1863 together with John Wyatt, his wife Mary Ann and three sons and one daughter. Three of their children did not make the voyage. The eldest of the sons, also named John Wyatt, was married to Elizabeth Jane and they had a small son who was born early in 1863.
Charles and John Wyatt busied themselves with the business of purchasing land at Omaha and by about November 1863 they were able to occupy their land on the north side of the harbour at Little Omaha, later to be called Leigh.
Unfortunately the diaries that describe this part of Charles life are missing, but we can imagine that Charles and John Wyatt’s family pooled their resources and immediately set about building shelters and rudimentary houses while breaking in the land to graze stock and to grow crops and vegetables. In January 1865 when the diaries continue, John Wyatt’s family consisted of himself, aged 46, Mary Ann aged 45½ and the three sons; John (22½, and his wife Elizabeth Jane and 2 year old son, John Charles), Thomas (19) and Joseph (15¾). The remaining member of the family was Mary Anne (aged 17½ and Charles future wife). Charles Clarke was aged 21½ at this time.
As we read his diary from January 1865 we get the feeling that Charles, together with two of the Wyatt sons, were living in Charles’ house while Mr and Mrs John Wyatt Snr, together with their daughter and married son, John and wife and child, lived in the Wyatt house.
Sunday 1st The day was very showery but it cleared up in the afternoon and the sun came out to welcome the advent of the new year. I have now been up in Omaha a little more than 14 months and I have made very little progress to speak of. I hope I may be more diligent this year and show more signs of civilisation and cultivation around me this day year, substituting flourishing crops for the primeval forest, this is my intention and with the blessing of God I purpose to accomplish.
Monday 2nd We finished earthing up the Maize and hoed up before the house in the afternoon. We had Pease for dinner to day it is the third time of having them this season, we had them first on Christmas day.
Tuesday 3rd Continued hoeing up in front of the house. Had some Broad Beans for the first time but they are a very small sort, they are planted two feet apart from row to row but they have not enough room. Jim Anderson came over in the evening to have a look round.
Wednesday 4th Continued hoeing up before the house. We had some Scarlet Runner Beans for the first time, they are planted in double rows 1 foot apart in the double row and three feet between the rows, they have plenty of room, but they want plenty of manure to make them produce well. I wrote to Henry today and sent it down by McKenzie’s schooner the “Isabella“.
Thursday 5th Continued hoeing up in front of the house; it was very showery all day. I singled the Turnips out on the flat the seed was very good for I sowed very little and they came up very thick, there are four varieties the Banghoulm Swede & the Golden Globe, the seed of which I grew at dear old Ridlington, and the American Red Turnip and the Snow Ball the seed of which Mr Wyatt gave me.
Saturday 7th Continued hoeing up. I stuck the Scarlet Runner Beans down on the flat. Gathered some Pease for Sunday, it is the sixth gathering we have had off of them, they yield very well.
Joe and I went over to the Andersons to have a look round, I had not been over for about a fortnight so that I saw a great alteration in everything.
Sunday 8th The “Isabella” arrived in harbour this morning, John brought me up from Auckland two letters from England, one from Lizzie and one from Janie, all are well and prospering at home, they have had a very dry summer and have got the harvest in without a drop of rain, but it is a very thin crop.
I went to see the Anderson’s and staid for tea.
Monday 9th We commenced to tar the roof of the house over again, we made some putty with ground clay and tar mixed with it and stopped the holes up. Sidney Anderson came over in the afternoon & staid for tea. In the evening Alfred and I cleared a little piece of ground down below to plant Cape Gooseberries in.
Tuesday 10th We continued to tar the roof , we used all the tar up having only done one side and a half. I shall have to get some more from Auckland to finish it with and give it another coat over.
In the afternoon we began to dig the well deeper near the whare.
Wednesday 11th In the morning we hoed up a little and in the afternoon we worked at the well. In the evening I went over to the Andersons to look round, their cow had calved the morning before – a heifer calf.
Thursday 12th We hoed up in the morning and went over to the Andersons to get 1 Cwt of potatoes, in the afternoon we worked at the well.
Friday 13th We burnt off down below where the ground is so broken, we made thirteen holes to plant Cape Gooseberries in, I intend to plant them all over that ground, it is too steep to cultivate or to sow down in grass, Cape Gooseberries will grow anywhere, they are very useful to make tarts or jam, they also sell well in Auckland.
We had a large gathering of Broad Beans for the second time. I cut two Cauliflowers and one Cabbage from the flat in the evening, they are from plants that Jim Anderson gave me they will have been planted out nine weeks next Monday and they were small plants when they were put in.
Until to day the weather has been intensely hot, but today it looks dull and cloudy and the sun has scarcely been out. Towards evening it became very misty all round and it began to rain.
Saturday 14th Planted some Cape Gooseberry plants down below, we went on to Kiri’s flat and brought four bags of soil to put in the holes with them.
Sunday 15th I cut my first cucumbers to day one for Mr Wyatt and one for myself. Went over to the Andersons in the afternoon and staid for tea. Mrs A. lent me “Harry Coverdale’s Courtship“, also a basin of sugar. I went out for a sail in the evening with the Anderson’s nearly as far as the Koheroa Peake.
Monday 16th We cleared and burnt off down below and planted some Goosberries, it came on to rain in the evening.
Tuesday 17th Continued clearing and burning off down below. Went over to the Wyatts in the evening to have a look round.
Wednesday 18th Continued clearing down below and burning off. We cut another cucumber for tea. Alfred and I split four posts in the evening.
Thursday 19th Continued burning and clearing off down below, we split six posts.
The vegetation on the flat and in fact everywhere is being eaten up by caterpillars, they abound in great numbers and I know of no way of getting rid of them except by hand picking them. The Kingfisher is the only New Zealand bird I know that devours them, before I considered it of no use, but now I consider it my best friend. I wish there were some English insectivourous birds out there to destroy these destructive virmin, the value of there birds in England until lately was not known, but science and observation of their habits have proved them to be invaluable to the farmer and gardener.
Friday 20th We continued clearing and burning off down below. It is a long job but there was a great many trees to clear away which had fallen down from above. The ground is very steep & unfit for cultivation. I am thinking of planting it with New Zealand flax (Phormium Tenax) it will both be an orniment and of use as it will save me the trouble of fetching it so far.
Saturday 21th We split 10 posts today also about half a ton of firewood and sawed off a Trsida (?) log to split some rails. John Wyatt set and sharpened my cross cut saw and brought it over at dinner time. I cut three Cucumber today.
Sunday 22nd John, Tom and Joe Wyatt & Alfred started early in the morning for Pakiri and left me all alone in my glory, they returned in the evening about eight oclock.
I went out for a sail in the morning with the Andersons and dined and had tea there. I took them over two cucumbers.
Monday 23rd I heard from a Mr Cooke who has just arrived in Auckland from Leicester. He writes to tell me that he has brought out some parcels for me from Lizzie & Aunt Ann and wishes me (when I am next in Auckland) to call at Mr Waytes, Queen Street for them. We continued clearing and burning off down below. Saw the comet in the evening.
Tuesday 24th It was very showery all day so that we could not work out of doors. I cut two fine cabbages and a cucumber from the flat. I transplanted out all the chalottes, there were six rows before and now I have made fifteen of them. Alfred made two new handles for the cross cut saw and Joe made two fishing line winders.
Wednesday 25th Alfred and Joe split fourteen posts. I cut my first Vegetable Marrow and we had it for dinner. I wrote to Lizzie and Alfred and also other business letters for Alfred to take to Auckland. The wind blows SE so the “Isabella” will not go out until it changes.
Friday 27th We dug up the piece of ground on the flat where the lettice were planted out and dug some leaves and ash in to improve the soil. In the afternoon we split a post log open and split three posts out of it. I cut a Cucumber and Vegetable marrow today.
Sunday 29th It was a very fine day and calculated to endue everyone with gratitude to their maker for showering down his blessings upon us and for clothing this world with a garb of beauty as to make us cheerful and happy. Nothing is more calculated to invigorate our mind and raise our spirits than a fine day, and nothing on the other hand tends to depress them than a dark and rainy day.
I took a walk over to the goat Island in the afternoon. On going over the fern hill you have a most splendid view, you look beyond the Little Barrier Island and the Hauraki Gulf into the Pacific Ocean (the most extensive ocean in the world). The New Zealand coast lays to your left hand and is plainly to be distinguished as far as Bream Head, the other side Whangarei, below this is plainly to be seen Bream Tail, below this the land runs pretty level being fern land and small bush but with no prominences jutting into the sea, upon this large tract of land are planted the settlements of Waipu, Mangawai, Te Ari and Pakiri.
Monday 30th We split six posts in the morning, and in the afternoon we rolled some logs together and burnt a lot of rubbish off, we also split about half a ton of firewood.
The “Industry” came in the harbour in the evening, she has been done up and looks like a new boat.