The Blenheim passenger lists record Angus McMaster aged 36, ploughman. He was on the initial list as a ploughman from Kinlochmoidart, with the comment by Donald McDonald, “Has been 23 years in my service previous to 1839.”
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Angus McMaster and Mary McKenzie
Information from his descendants suggests that Angus McMaster was born in Strontian parish in Argyll around 1800, with his parents being Archibald McMaster, a labourer and lead miner, and Ann Cameron.
Angus McMaster married Mary McKenzie on 13 December 1842 at the Scotch Church in Wellington. Mary was the daughter of Hugh and Catherine McKenzie, and had also travelled on the Blenheim.
In the passenger lists, Mary was recorded in the family of Hugh McKenzie, as a housemaid aged 17. Donald McDonald’s notes on the family say, “This family have been known to me all my life and have mostly been in my own and my Brother’s service.” Mary McKenzie was born in Ardnamurchan, Argyll, around 1823, to Hugh McKenzie and Catherine McDonald.
After initially living in the Wellington area at Evans Bay (known for a time as McMaster Bay), in 1843 Angus took his family to the Wairarapa, where they settled at Tuhitarata, near Featherston and Martinborough.
The Dominion of 26 November 1910 carried an article on the pioneering experiences of Angus McMaster and his family, with some extracts below:
PIONEERING EXPERIENCES: THE WAIRARAPA SIXTY YEARS AGO: MR. ANGUS M’MASTER’S VENTURE: A STORY OF ENTERPRISE REVEALED.
There is probably no better known name in the Wairarapa than that of M’Master, a family which took up its residence in the district some sixty-four years ago. Mr. Angus M’Master, one of the stoutest hearts who over carved out a home in an untrodden wilderness, was the first of the name to journey to the district. This pioneer found his way over the then trackless Rimutakas, and pitched his whare at Tuhitarata (sweet smelling tree), a section some twenty miles from the town now known as Featherston, but which in the forties had no existence. It was here that Angus M’Master made his home and brought up his family, including his well-known sons, Hugh, Duncan, John, and Donald; it was here he worked, braved many a danger, endured many a hardship, and finally, after he had retired to Greytown, and had paid his debt to Nature, it was Tuhitarata that was selected as his last resting-place, at the ripe ago of 87 years…
Angus: M’Master was born at Fort William, Scotland, about 1820. He came to. Wellington in 1840; a grown man, in the good ship Blenheim, and for a time he was overseer on the road which was then being constructed between Wellington and the Hutt. His first whare was pitched at a spot near Evans Bay, and which was known for some years as M’Master Bay. It was about 1843 or 1844 that he cut his way over the Rimutakas, and journeying on, camped at Tuhitarata…
The Te Ara biography of Te Hiko Piata Tama-i-hikoia, a leading Wairarapa chief from the 1840s to 1880s picks up the story:
In the mid 1840s Te Hiko leased land to Angus McMaster and his wife, Mary, settled at Tuhitarata after an 11 day journey on foot from Port Nicholson (Wellington). Thus McMaster became Te Hiko’s client, living under the protection of his mana, and known to the Wairarapa people as ‘Hiko’s Pakeha’. The two men were sometimes at odds, when the one thought the other was encroaching on his rights, but their close relationship endured and extended to their families. The descendants of the McMasters often called their children by names associated with Te Hiko. Angus’s son Hugh was also known as Tuhitarata. After the Pakeha family was established, Te Hiko built his pa at Te Waitapu, not far from their homestead. He lived there for the rest of his life.
Angus and Mary had nine children, and then sadly she died in 1864 as the result of a miscarriage when pregnant with their tenth child.
Angus married again about a year later on 6 July 1866. His second wife was Hannah Jones who had emigrated from Wales. They raised six more children, two sons and four daughters.
The Evening Post of 27 February 1888 included the following obituary:
The Late Mr. A. M’ Master.
Mr. Angus M’Master, one of the oldest settlers in the Wairarapa, died on Saturday, it 4 p.m., at Greytown. The deceased gentleman was supposed to be 88 years of age at the time of his demise. He came out in the ship Blenheim, in the year 1840, and landed at Kaiwarra on Ist January, 1841. Mr. M’Master was a native of Strontian, Argyleshire, Scotland, and commenced his eventful career in the colony as overseer to a body of men constructing a road from Kaiwarra to the Hutt, mostly his own fellow-passengers. He then commenced a small dairy at Evans’ Bay, where he first established his home. He was a man remarkable for his sterling integrity and good qualities, and was on that account selected for many positions of great trust in the early days of the settlement. While at Evans’ Bay he once proceeded on foot from thence to Wanganui with a fellow-passenger, in search of suitable land for settlement. About the year 1845 Mr. M’Master took up his abode in the Wairarapa, at Tuhitarata, where he continued to reside until about 1874, when he removed to Greytown, where he died. For some years Mr. M’Master was the owner of the property at Gladstone, now in the possession of Mr. W. C. Buchanan, M.H.R., and known as the Tupurupuru station, which he disposed of in August 1873. He leaves a family consisting of the widow (his second wife), and 14 children, all of whom were, with the exception of one daughter, around his bedside when he passed away. The absent daughter is the wife of Mr. Stevens, late M.H.R. for Rangitikei. He had also lost by death, in addition to his first wife, two sons and a daughter, making in all the large family of 17 children, comprising eight sons and nine daughters. The deceased was always, even in his declining years, of a most active disposition, and had a kind, cheery word for all with whom he came in contact. The remains will be conveyed to-day (Monday) to his late home at Tuhitarata, where it has always been been his wish to be interred beside the bodies of his first wife and departed children, and this last sad ceremony will take place to-morrow at 1 p.m. The Wellington friends who may desire to attend will find the Kahautara-road, via Featherston, the most convenient, as arrangements have been made for crossing the river Ruamahunga, near Tuhitarata, and the distance is much shorter from Featherston Railway Station than by any other route.
Angus and Mary’s children included:
- Hugh McMaster, born in 1846, died in 1902.
- Duncan McMaster, born in 1848, died in 1896, married Dolina Catherine Drummond in 1874.
- Donald McMaster, born in 1849, died in 1919.
- Ann McMaster, born in 1851, died in 1893, married John Stevens (son of Blenheim passenger) in 1880.
- Bethiah (Bessie) McMaster, born in 1854, died in 1898.
- Sarah McMaster, born in 1856, died in 1927.
- John McMaster, born in 1858, died in 1935, married Mary Colman (cousin) in 1895.
- Jessie McMaster, born in 1860, died in 1884.
- Mary McMaster, born in 1862, died in 1892.
Hannah (Jones) McMaster died in 1917.
Angus and Hannah’s children included:
- Ellen Jones McMaster, born in 1867, married Ruben Uru Te Miroi in 1892.
- Hannah McMaster, born in 1870,
- Archibald McMaster, born in 1872.
- Angusina Kate McMaster, born in 1874, died in 1931.
- Angus McMaster, born in 1878, died in 1937.