Redcliffs Residents Association

Information for Redcliffs residents

Redcliffs, Christchurch, New Zealand

Watsonville History

(Watsonville was the first European name for Redcliffs.)

New Zealand Tablet, Volume XVII, Issue 51, 11 April 1890, Page 19

(From an occasional Correspondent.)

About two miles from Sumner proper, and opposite the rough-level tract of land, about forty-five acres in extent and known as Monck's Flat, there is a bay or broad flat valley that contains close upon fifty acres. The estuary formed by the union of the river Heathcote and the river Avon fronts this valley, and the hills on each side shade it completely from the east and south-west winds. The valley formerly formed one property and then belonged to the late Mr. Watson. But thirty-five acres were a year since subdivided into sections, and a township, known as Watsonville, was formed. Mr. A. Johnson purchased the remaining fifteen acres on the south side of the valley. The town sections range from a quarter of an acre to three or four acres, and were mostly sold. The average price of the land, which is generally good, though swampy in some places and sandy in others, was from fifteen to twenty pounds for a quarter-acre section. Mr. Watson's house and outbuildings, with two acres of land, formed one allotment, and realised £250. During last winter the sections were, mostly fenced and ploughed, and were chiefly planted with potatoes, tomatoes, strawberries, and with fruit and other trees and shrubs. The whole property also fronts on the Sumner road, and several streets in the township have been formed and gravelled and drains made. Since the sale three small houses only have been erected, and these have been placed a little up on the hillsides. But why do purchasers hesitate to build? Do they lack means or enterprise? Rumour runs that the effect on the sections of the coming winter's rains is awaited before further outlay.—The next valley towards Sumner belongs to Mr. Monck. Several months ago, when some men were getting stones for the roads from the face of a steep rock that is on Mr. Monck's property, and at the end of the spur that divides the two valleys, a cave consisting of two dome-shaped compartments was suddenly and unexpectedly discovered. The apex of the outer cave, which now consists of but half a dome, is about eighteen feet high, and the apex of the inner cave is from eight to nine feet. The outer cave is also about twenty feet long, and fifteen broad, while the inner cave is nigh forty-two feet long and twenty-four wide. To advance into the inner cave—inside of which it is so intensely dark that to see any thing a person must be provided with one or more candles—it was necessary to crawl on the knees, as the entrance is not more than two feet high. But Mr. Monck has cut a deep central trench, and there is now a walk from one end of the cave to the other. On the floor there was an accumulation of ashes and shells several yards in depth. This accumulation proves that the cave must have been a famous camping place for a very long time before the entrance to the outer cave was centuries ago accidentally covered and concealed by an earthquake or a landslip. The cave, like the larger one known as the Maori Point Cave, was originally simply an air bubble in a stream of lava, and it is very probable that there are several undiscovered caves at Sumner. Many articles of interest, such as a canoe paddle, and a bailer fashioned from a solid block of wood were found in the caves. Sinkers, fishing-hooks, and spears, parts of wooden combs, knots of skinned native flax, greenstone chisels and axes and a variety of bones were also discovered. In one place a large quantity of beautiful black curled glossy, human hair was found. This hair seemed as perfect as hair recently cut from the head of some Maori. Mr. Monck was anxious to preserve the caves as when first found, but when their discovery became known a whole army of persons rushed from the city of the plains, and these Cockney geologists soon destroyed what centuries had spared.

Source: National Library of New Zealand,
Transcription corrections by the Redcliffs Residents Association.

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