Last year, the Post Newspaper ran a Letter to the Editor with regards to the unmarked graves of the pioneer children at the Manukau Heads Lighthouse (20 December 2016). Clyde Hamilton writes in reference to the story that the Post ran earlier this year, (February 7 2017, pg 11) following a response from the Ports of Auckland, who own the and that the graves are situated on.
The story of the his forebears, Charles White and his wife, formerly Mary Sophia Sustins, is well told in the Awhitu historical publication, ‘Heads, Harbour and Hills.’ When funds were being sought to build the present replica Lighthouse, one of the reasons for erecting the new Lighthouse was that it would serve as a memorial to the lives and efforts of the past dedicated Manukau Heads Lighthouse Keepers and their wives.
The Harbour authority at the time was the Auckland Regional Council, which delegated control of its land to the Ports of Auckland organisation. They allowed a lease of the relevant land to the Committee that was the parent of the present Manukau Heads Lighthouse Trust.
Charles Partridge, the SIgnalman and his family, had been living in a house provided by the Government since 1867, and when the Telegraphist was appointed in 1874, another house was built with the Telegraph Office attached. This became the home of Charles and Mary White. Neither house was intended to be ‘comfortable’ in the modern sense, and it is little wonder that their first five children died.
When the replica Lighthouse was being built, daffodils were noticed about ten metres to the south-east of the sight which many years before had been occupied by the first of the Manukau Heads Signal Masts. It would probably require the services of an experienced archaeologist to determine which group of daffodils are above the graves. A basic Memorial to the children, made of painted sheet metal, is held within the Waiuku Museum.
Later children surivived and the surnames Pyle, Vaughan and McCully have been historically recorded in the Waiuku area, the three daughters having married men of these names. Murray McCully, Minister of Foreign Affairs, is one of the current descendants of the White family of Manukau Heads.
Clyde Hamilton, Waiuku.