Topic: George Jennings of Te Arai

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The following information was compiled from Erica Cowan's 1989 book - When You and I Were Young Maggie, The Jennings of Te Arai, Northland and their Connections. This extensive book is available at the Mangawhai Library.

George Jennings

George Jennings was born in London on May 24 1846, son of  Elizabeth(b.1820, nee Townsend Lane) and George Jennings.  The fate of father George is a mystery as Elizabeth came to New Zealand with her son only, age four.  They arrived in Auckland on the Constantinople on the 17th of May 1850, and the pair spent time on Kawau Island where Elizabeth met her second husband Malcolm Brown.  They were married in Auckland at St Paul's Church on the 4th of June 1851.  Both Malcolm and Elizabeth drowned in a boating accident when heading toward Whangarei Headson January the 26th of 1856. George was ten years old and was taken in by Thomas Henry and his family. Henry was prospecting for land in The Henry's owned at Tara, Mangawhai, where George still a teenager met Mary Grogan(b.1845, Ballylongford, Country Kerry, Ireland).  The two eloped, falsifying their age (George was 17, Mary 19 though George claimed he was 21 so he could legally marry without the approval of a guardian) and married in Auckland at St Patricks Cathedral on the 2nd of February 1863.

George and May moved to Te Arai in 1866:

George Jenning bought his first land, sixty four acres in the Parish of Arai County of Marsden. The land part of the 'Wastelands' was in two lots, a rectangular block of fifty-one acres (SP67) and over the road,one chain wide, a smaller block of thirteen acres (SP63)". Cowan, E. p55.

George, skilled in the timber trade, designed, milled and built Te Arai Homestead with his own hands.  Each piece of timber was pit-sawn by George Jennings and John Brown.  John Brown was George's neighbour at Bleak House, Te Arai and an able bush man.

Erica Cowan described the building of Te Arai Homestead: 

"It was exausting work, in which a log was towed and placed over a hole in the ground, about seven feet deep, or deep enough to accomodate one of them and his length of the saw, a long saw.  The second of them stood on the top of the log and held the other end of the saw.  With deft movements, the two sawyers were able to cut the log right down from end to end.  Thick slabs were cut, then planks." p 55.

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George Jennings of Te Arai

First Names:George
Last Name:Jennings
Place of Birth:London