To earn his keep, Hansen worked for the missionaries, helping with building projects, bush and cattle work, and breaking in the land. Hansen and his wife acquired a small four-acre plot of land at Hohi Bay, at the base of Rangihoua Pa. There, they would raise 11 children. Their first was a daughter, whom they named Hannah King Hansen.
* From a comment made by Samuel Marsden, found at teara.govt.nz.
Hannah King Hansen was born on January 11, 1817, at Hohi Bay and was baptised by Reverend Marsden. Legend has it that the tall Norfolk Pine that still stands at The Landing today was planted to commemorate her birth. She was the second European girl to be born in New Zealand, and the first to live most of her life here.
Like her brothers and sisters, Hannah was brought up in a bi-lingual and bi-cultural community. English was their first language, but they were also fluent in Te Reo Maori. At 20, Hannah married Captain George Clapham, a whaler, and together they had three children: Maryann, Thomas and Hannah Elizabeth.
Many years later, Hannah’s daughter Hannah Elizabeth and her husband, George Mountain settled on the Purerua Peninsula, close to Te Puna, where the elder Hannah’s father Thomas Hansen II still lived. The elder Hannah lived on the Peninsula until her death in 1907, aged 90, and is buried at Russell Cemetery.
Hannah’s daughter, Hannah Elizabeth, would give birth to a son – Walter Clapham Mountain.
Local legends paint Walter C. Mountain as “one hell of a man, in anyone’s language.” As a youth from a hard-working background, he developed a hard-driving, charismatic persona and became well-known in the community.
His home was the Purerua Peninsula. The population, in 1880, had grown to over 800 and it was a thriving area. Walter took over his father George’s store and canning factory and began selling alcohol and other much-needed supplies.
When the law then came down on alcohol sales and suppliers, Walter decided to go underground. With his distillery hidden in two coastal caves on the Peninsula, he supplied most of the East Coast of Northland with illegal rum and spirits. He was very successful with this liquor operation, was known to have the fastest rowers in the bay operating for him, and was never caught.
“Walter Mountain was a man of action, vision, and charisma. He was also a man of the community, both Maori and Pakeha,” said a Northland newspaper when Walter died in 1930. The newspaper published a Maori verse read at his funeral, part of which translates as follows:
“This is a tribute of sorrowful regard for our beloved friend Walter Mountain, who now sleeps his long sleep. This man was a loyal friend of our parents and a loyal friend of ours. We considered him as our father, in connection with our affairs. Our father was deeply versed in the Maori language and our ways. Depart hence, o friend of ours, to thy place of rest.”
Walter C. Mountain was a father to 16 children: 15 daughters and a son, who was named Walter Jr and who continued to live in the area until 2008.
In 1999, Peter Cooper purchased land from the Mountain family, which would become The Landing.