Charles Caesar Otway

Charles Caesar Otway 1862-1947

Born: 01 Aug 1862
Died: 01 Feb 1947
Father:Caesar Hastings Otway
Mother:Julia Seton
Spouse:Florence Clapcott
Married: 1899
Children:Charles Leslie Otway, John Everard Otway, Kathleen Otway, Sheila Otway, Athol William Otway, Brian Kay Otway
Education:Auckland Grammar School
Occupation:Surveyor And Farmer
Other Partners:Daisy Violet Kay
Updated: 03 Oct 1996


Charlie was the second son of Caesar and Julia. Loftus, Charlie and the younger Caesar (Ted) were always "close" brothers. As we have said, his junior schooling was mainly from his parents but later he went to Auckland Grammar School. Unfortunately we have no record of Charlie's scholastic attainments while at Grammar, because the school's early records p rior to 1900 are no longer held. The School was at that time located in Symonds Street - later the building housed the Elam School of Art. Funds from sale of firewood assisted with his studies with a view to qualifying as a surveyor, which he did on 6th August 1889 after having spent almost 5¼ years "in the field”. In 1900, following the passing of new legislation, Charles Caesar was licensed to practice as a surveyor and remained licensed right up to 1st January 1928 (Gazette Notice of 12th January 1928). However new legislation then required all licensed surveyors to apply for registration. That he did not do so, indicates that Charlie was then too occupied in his farming ventures.

Following his qualifying as a surveyor, Charlie was attached to the Government Survey Staff in Wellington. Later surveying the "Fortv Mile Bush" in the Wairarapa (a "tough" spot for early bush surveys), he was granted a Land Transfer Licence which entitled him to undertake surveys for private landowners for Land Transfer purposes. He later returned to Auckland, opening an office at 18 Queen Street, engaging in contract surveys for the Government, including the 100,000 acre Te Akau Block which ran North from the Raglan Harbour to Port Waikato. Other surveys included around Whangarci, Maungaturoto, Waipu, Ruawai, Dargaville, and the Warkworth / Puhoil / Waiwera areas. He also surveyed for some time in Waihi, and surrounding districts, where he established an office in Seddon Street in what is now Wrightsons.

During a large part of this time he was associated with his brother, Loftus, on the Elstow (Te Aroha) land, now known as the Otway Settlement. It would seem that he was also fond of shooting and used to make many such trips to the farm (later being accompanied by his own family) staying in a small bach on the farm beside the river. Like Loftus, and many subsequent family members, Charlie was also fond of attending horse racing meetings, particularly at Ellershe and Te Rapa.

During much of his later surveving work, Charlie was accompanied by a Maori chainman called "Lemon". These two, we understand, established a fine rapport and they would very well need to, because survey work was certainly not for the weak and the countryside was not "open" like today. Even the theodolite was heavy by today's standards while its supporting tripod was made of heavy "rounded" timber and built more on the lines of a support for a polehome!

Charlie, at the age of 37, married Florence Clapcott and purchased a home in Ranfurly Road, Epsom.

Following the sale of the Te Aroha land in 1913, Charlie purchased an undeveloped block of 1100 acres situated in the Waimai Valley approximately 30 miles west of Ngaruawahia. Shortly afterwards, the family shifted there, living temporarily in a small whare. The Ranfurly Road home was retained but rented out.

Following the breaking in of some of the Waimai land, erection of a homestead was then "top priority" and in order to obtain a suitable site, Charlie had a "low" hill, adjacent to the road, levelled off by 2 bullock-drawn scoop. Timber for the home, mainly rimu and totara, was cut from the farm bush and milled on the site. Charlie was rather a big man, with a strong voice - even his footwear had to be specially made although to be "honest", this was largely due to one of his feet becoming permanently askew as the result of an earlier accident. He was not one to "do things by halves" and so it proved with his Waimai home for even by today's standards the house, all single storey, was enormous containing no fewer than 6 bedrooms, a full sized billiard room, a large dining room, a living room and a huge kitchen. If that wasn't enough, a separate "Man's Room” was erected at the rear of the homestead! This home is still standing today but with the growth of "camouflaging" trees the size does not appear so "stark" as when it was first erected. The farm is now owned by the Reeves family. Sheila recalls that the paddock, where the whare was situated, was always subsequently known as the "Whare Paddock". Similarly the mill site was henceforth known as the "Mill Paddock".

The Waimai farm was gradually broken in but in those days, with poor trading and communications the description "in the backblocks" was indeed very apt. Charlie owned the first motor car in the district - a "Rover", which, due to its size, had some difficulty negotiating many of the "tight" corners on the narrow roads. Initially, wool was loaded on to wagons and taken to the Awaroa Landing (approximately 15 miles distant) for subsequent barging by the Roose Shipping Company to the rail adjacent to the Waikato River. Fat stock were also driven out, usually to Ngaruawahia with an overnight stop in the vicinity of Pukemiro. Sheep were later sold at the newly established Waingaro saleyards.

Florence died in 1918 and Charlie subsequently married Daisv Violet KAY who had been Florence's companion and housekeeper.

Two further children were born:

Athol William on 28/10/1922 Brian Kav on 24/2/1925

In the late 1920s, Charlie purchased further largely undeveloped property in the adjoining Woodleigh / Maura / Waikorea Valleys. In order to gain access to this land from the Waimai Valley, he surveyed the route and gave financial assistance to the Raglan County Council for a connecting road. Charlie had served for a period on the Raglan County Council. The land in the adjoining valley consisted of three separate blocks each separated from the other by approximately two miles. The blocks were always known as "The Top Place", "The Middle Place" and "The Lower Clearing": not very original perhaps but nevertheless very apt. It is not clear whether Charlie purchased the blocks simultaneously: we are inclined to the view that the "Middle" place of 500 acres was purchased first followed the “Top” place of 110 acres and then the "Lower" farm of 64O acres. Today these properties present a wonderfuI picture, all being mostly fully developed even the "Lower" property which was subdivided into two farms in the late 1950s.

In late 1935 the Waimai farm was sold and Charlie moved to Woodleigh where he built another home on the "top" place - this home was also quite "roomy" although not on the scale of Waimai. Charlie had, around 1920, built an attractive ''roughcast" home in Gillies Avenue. Epsom, where the family were mostly "stationed". Sadly, this home was razed to make way for the Southern Motorway and vehicles now hurry over what was once the tennis court.

Charlie "commuted" to his farms: an arrangement which appeared to admirably suit the family as Daisy (known 'universally' as ''Mater'') was not particularly keen on the farming scene.

Charlie, like many of the Otway Family, did not "suffer fools gladly", called a "spade a spade" and was quite adept in advising people of his opinion on any matter or "of them'" if the need arose. Nevertheless he was very kindhearted and always prepared to help someone in need, particularly during the "depression" years; indeed he and his family did not live lavishly or extravagantly. Sheila recalls that so far as the Family were concerned the "depression", although it must have had its effect financially on Charlie, was not really noticed so far as their "living" was concerned; they had always lived rather frugally! Leslie often recalled the ''staple Waimai diet of rice and scones" - the latter, when baked by Charlie, were rather ''monstrous'' affairs! Charlie was well respected by associates, family and neighbours alike. He was particularly fond of his grandchildren. He continued to actively farm until his sudden death, in February 1947 while attending a War Assets Disposal auction sale.

Charlie was a hard worker and expected everyone to "follow suit". His diary includes the following :

Saturday XJuly 193X (when he was in Auckland) "Mostly wet day - 'X' and 'Y' SUPPOSED to be at the top place fencing."

Monday X August 193X "X" and self at middle place - filled the shed ready for crutching - cleaned woolshed and got everything ready. Fine day - frost in morning. Listened to wrestling - Lofty and Thomas (it is worth noting here that at that time, wrestling was at the peak of its popularity particularly through the exploits of Lofty Blomfield; the N.Z. champion, and his deadly "Octopus Clamp" vividly described to the listening public, over the YAs, by Gordon Hutter and the frequent urgings of comments man "Blind Peter", with his "C'mon Lofty!")

Next day, the entry "Clarion Call" won the Great Northern Stakes, was apparently worth recording, followed by the next day's succinct entries:

"X was supposed to have gone around stock at the middle place. Y working? I don't think any work was done!"

Whether Charlie subsequently checked on his "men" is not recorded but a few days after was the brief entry:

"X left"

While later : "Did 'J' work? I was in Auckland.", Followed by the brief: "J SAID he worked half a day."

ID: 21   Generated by GedTree on 27 Aug 2002

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