The Floods and Starmount Farm

A Snippet of History by Tony Flood

In 1848 Jerome Nugent Flood arrived in Port Underwood with sheep from the Wairarapa for Clifford and Welds station. Because of a southerly storm, the ship “Bee” couldn’t land at Cape Campbell, so the sheep were unloaded in the sheltered waters of Whangatoitoi Bay. The sheep grazed the hills there for a while and were shorn at Cutters Bay. Yards were made by barrels of whale oil stood close together. Daniel Doherty and his wife ran a whaling station from Cutters Bay for some time. After shearing the sheep they were rowed by whaleboat to Rarangi Bay and driven around the coast to Marfells Beach (part of the Flaxbourne run).

While living and working at Whangatoitoi Jerome took a liking to Mary Anne Register who was living there on her own with her children, after her husband Captain Robert Register had died. Jerome Flood and Mary Anne Register married in Wellington in 1852. Mary Anne had been given around 50 acres of land in Whangatoitoi by the Maoris at the time for some good deeds she showed them. The New Zealand law at the time was, land could not be owned by women if they were legally married, so her land was transferred to Jerome Flood.

Mary Anne and Jerome had 3 sons while living at Port Underwood. Their marriage was fairly tumultuous at times with Mary Anne trying a number of times to drown Jerome. His family has it that he always said that if he built a new house he would put a post in the middle of the hallway. He reckoned with Mary Anne being quite large and he a skinny little man, he could escape from her. Eventually Mary Anne had had enough of Jerome and walked out of the marriage, walking with her daughter first to Hakana Bay; then to Hakahaka and over the hill to Picton.

With Jerome Flood coming from Ireland, the Floods there had quite large farms, but a lot was leasehold. Jerome travelled to Wellington and managed to lease a block of land in Port Underwood from the heads right down to Island Bay, back over to Tory Channel and up to Rahotia where the phone goes through, down to the point between Whangakoko Bay and Ngakuta Bay; nearly 10,000 acres in all. This was the start of the farm “Starmount”.

Jerome Flood wasn’t very energetic and spent a lot of his time living in the old telegraph hotel in Blenheim. About 1875 the 3 boys came back to the farm after working in the North Island, saw what the old man was up to and brought him back to Port Underwood. The farm was then split up into 3 with the sons taking a third share each. My father eventually sold his share in about 1950 but held onto the land where we have our baches.

Two of my sisters and I now own the land that has been in our name for over 160 years. I am the fifth generation to own this block and we now have sixth and seventh generations coming through so it appears one way or another, Floods will be in Port Underwood for some time yet.

Tony Flood.

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