In compiling this history, no claim is made to literary fame or scholastic ability.
My one desire is that the events, important or otherwise, of the last 80 years may be recorded and preserved for posterity before they are lost and their recovery made impossible.
To write a history of each of the pioneers would be an impossibility in a work like this. That could only be done within the precincts of each individual family.
I have deemed it wise and taken some pains to record the dates that are given as accurately as possible, and to check where possible. A few are approximate only having been pinpointed by events closely related to them.
With the passing of time, many events have been forgotten but mostly of a minor nature. Those that are recorded here I trust will prove of some interest to the school, the present Muhunoa East community, and the generations yet to follow, so that the hardships and struggles of these fine pioneer men and women will not be lost sight of and will always be remembered with deep gratitude by posterity.
I was born at the homestead of my parents Richard and Alice Rolston, at Muhunoa East, on the 10th August, 1893, only 5 years after the first settlers took up residence on their isolated bush clad sections. I am the second son in a large family of thirteen children, seven of which including myself, are still living.
[Left: Photo of Samuel (uncle) and Richard (father) Rolston from the Horowhenua Historical Society Inc.]
My father Richard Andrew Rolston was born at Portadown, County Armagh, Ireland, on the 14th August, 1857, left for New Zealand on 24th August, 1874, by the sailing ship “Pleiades” [shown at right], landing in Lyttleton, on the 16th December, 1874, after a passage lasting 114 days. He spent about 11 years in the South Island contracting and on railway construction, being employed upon the construction of the line from Kaiapoi to West Eyreton and upon that from Pleasant Point to Albury.
Coming to the North Island in 1885, he lived for 3 years in Martinborough before acquiring a farm property at Muhunoa East, where he cleared the heavy bush to make his home, and resided there till the time of his death which occurred on the 27th December, 1935.
My mother Alice Rolston (nee Whiley) was born at Wainui-O-mata, near Wellington, on the 26th September, 1870, and died at Levin, on 4th November, 1946.
Having resided with my parents at Muhunoa East for the first 21 years of my life, and in the district for the last 54 years, it is only natural that I would have a good deal of first-hand knowledge of the events recorded in this history, some of which are first-hand and others handed down from parents, relatives and friends, without which this history would have been an impossibility.
I also wish to acknowledge with gratitude help given by the Railway Department, the Wellington Education Board, as well as the interest shown and help given by the Masters of the Ohau and Muhunoa East Schools, and to my niece who attended to the typing. To all I give my sincere thanks.