[Mobile Unit. Alfred Eccles on Johnny Jones]

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Mr Alfred Eccles of Matanaka [Waikouaiti], the grandson of Johnny Jones, tells the story of Johnny Jones's early life, whaling days and early settlement in Otago, including his land claims and purchases, his relations with the Māori, his character and the establishment of his homestead, Matanaka [believed to be New Zealand's oldest surviving farm.]

He talks first about Jones' whaling interests: by 1839 he had established seven whaling stations [around the south coast of the South Island] and was employing 280 men. Jones was living in Sydney but the stations were between Jacob's River and Moeraki. Some of the stations were owned in partnership with other whalers, such as the Weller brothers. He also discusses his grandfather's ships and the wrecks of several of them.

He says Jones visited New Zealand in 1835 and again 1839 when he took five [Māori] chiefs back with him to o Sydney and persuaded them not to sign a treaty prepared by Governor Sir George Gibbs. He bought the whaling station at Karitane in 1838 and worked it until 1843 when it closed due to scarcity of whales. He comments on the hard life the whalers had and the heavy drinking was was the norm at the time.

He talks about his grandfather's land purchases: he bought land from Māori when he bought the Waikouaiti-Karitane whaling station, paying 3,957 pounds. He says he has not heard a story the interviewer mentions about purchasing all the land he could see from the top of Puketapu.
He says his grandfather lost out after British sovereignty was proclaimed over New Zealand, receiving only the maximum 2,560 acres, despite repeated claims to Governors Fitzroy and Grey that he was entitled to more. Finally in 1867 an act of Parliament , the John Jones Land Claim Settlement Act was passed, and he was given the he right to select a further 8,500 acres in Otago - still less than he felt he was entitled to.

He acquired the land around Matanaka, as well as other estates: Tumai, Hawksbury and Cherry Farm, with his first land grant and built the house at Matanaka in 1843, when he moved there permanently to live. He says the name has been corrupted and should be Matainaka, the Māori name for the lagoon - a place of small fish.

He then reads from a book by Donald Reed about Jones' place among the first European settlers in Otago. He refutes the story that cherry Farm was named after a nickname for Jones' wife Sarah. Instead, he says it was named after Captain Cherry, the captain of one of Jones' ships, who was killed by Māori near Mana Island in Cook Strait in 1838. His widow lived with the Jones' household.

Although Jones lived at Matanaka he often spent time in Wellington on business and was there in 1848 when the large earthquake occurred. The family (of 8 children) then moved back to Matanaka permanently until 1854 when they moved to Dunedin. The Dunedin house was destroyed in a fire on the night of the celebrations marking the end of the Boer War, and many of Jones' records were lost.

He talks about his grandfather's temperament, saying he was famous for his outrageous temper but was also kind-hearted and decent. He gives several anecdotes about Jones coming to blows with men but then inviting them for a drink or a meal.

Mr Eccles mentions several books on Southland history by Mr Hall-Jones, which talk about Jones and his relationship with Māori, especially the chief Tuhawaiki. He denies the legend that Jones purchased all the land between the Waikouaiti and Pleasant Rivers for a bag of sugar.

After a break in the interview he talks about Jones' attempt to introduce prohibition on his estates, which failed.

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Reference number 5600

Media type AUDIO

Collection Sound Collection

Credits Eccles, Alfred, 1880-1951
New Zealand Broadcasting Service. Mobile Recording Unit

Duration 00:45:27

Date [1948]