‘Pakeha Bill’: William John Mcclear, a Pakeha who lived at Te Aroha
Hart, P. (2016). ‘Pakeha Bill’: William John Mcclear, a Pakeha who lived at Te Aroha. (Te Aroha Mining District Working papers, No. 44). Hamilton, New Zealand: University of Waikato, Historical Research Unit.
Permanent Research Commons link: http://hdl.handle.net/10289/10356
Born in Ireland to a Scottish soldier named McAleer, McClear, as he would re-name himself, was uncertain of his age, his birthplace, and the spelling of his name – for, like his parents, he was illiterate. After his drunken father, who abandoned his wife and family, sold him to unknown Maori at an unknown date, he was educated in a Maori school and was unable to speak English until the early 1870s, when he was living with Ngati Rahiri at Omahu pa, at Te Aroha. When Pakeha visitors first met him in 1877, he was a popular resident there and known as Pakeha Bill (or Pakeha William). Possiby involved in mining before the Te Aroha rush, he both invested in and mined in several claims there from 1880 onwards, and at the end of that decade was one of a small group of Waiorongomai miners who took up a claim at Thames. When not mining, he took whatever jobs were available, struggling financially, in part because of a fondness for drink. As, unlike other Pakeha Maori, there was no evidence of his forming a close relationship with any Maori women, he did not benefit from a Maori wife’s landholdings, and he died in poverty.
Historical Research Unit, University of Waikato
© 2016 Philip Hart