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Caro

The Boy Colonists by rev Simeon Elwell

I am nearly finished a non-fiction account of a young man who came to New Zealand in 1859 and stayed for 8 years.  The Boy Colonists or Eight Years of Colonial Life in Otago, New Zealand.  By Rev Simeon Elwell and first published in 1878, reprinted by Capper Press in 1975.

The Rev Simeon was not one of the boys who came out, and seems to be working from an account given by Ernest.  I think Ernestís surname is given somewhere but I canít see it.  Itís a very detailed chatty account of work on early farms in southern New Zealand so the Rev Elwell must have been using his diaries or letters home.  They sometimes include a word-by-word account of adventures by other people Ernest comes across.  I canít find out much about the Rev Elwell but he was a vicar near West-on-Mare, Somerset.  Itís hard to believe, reading these accounts, that he hadnít spent time in New Zealand, but I canít find out.  He talks, seemingly from his own mouth, of the early Taranaki War and the topography of the land etc.  

It gives a clear picture of how hard the work must have been Ė Ernest had no experience when he came out, but spends days on horseback rounding up sheep and wrestling with bulls, crossing dangerous rivers, exploring the area, going for hours with little food when chasing animals, building his own accommodation,  and seeming to enjoy his life mostly.  

The book has 250 pages with no chapters or endings of any kind.  Itís very hard to know when is a suitable place to stop reading for the night.  Every second page has a heading of its contents so a random twenty pages show Ernest and the Bull, Paddy, Horse-breaking, Kapiti, a Maori burying place, Christmas Day, The Combat of bulls, Colonial work and garments, A cunning Duck, and Lost in a Fog.  The language in this book is fascinating as a time-piece of when words were used in New Zealand, and the words used for various flora.  And for anyone who has spent time on a sheep station it would be a historic revelation, I think.  

Cheers, Caro.

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