Family rumour has it that my great-great-great-grandfather James Leader, a Pākehā (European New Zealander) lent his boat to Walter Mantell, Commissioner for the Extinguishment of Native Claims in 1852. Forced to cross the wide Jacob’s River without a boat, he drowned.
Mantell was in Riverton/Aparima, as his title suggests, to ‘extinguish native claims’ by the local Ngāi Tahu (Māori) people. Leader’s death was ironic. His wife, Meri Wehikore, was Ngāi Tahu, and now a widow, she was unable to keep their three young children who were then brought up by Captain Howell, a local Pākehā entrepreneur. This is the story I stitched in this embroidery in the flowing waters of the river. It is James’s hand that reaches desperately for air.