Sunday, November 1, 2009

A visit to a Mangawhai Vineyard in 1872

Off and on I've been reading various histories on the New Zealand Wine Industry. It has always held my interest. Marlborough in the South Island ultimately now is the wine growing capital of New Zealand (I could be wrong of course - correct me if I am). However the Viticulture Industry began here in Northland with James Busby and other noted persons who had settled in the Bay of Islands. This article I found is a description of a vineyard in Mangawhai from the Southern Cross 24 April 1872


Mr Albetz of Mangawai, has for a long time attended to the growth of the vine. He is gentleman of much experience in this particular art.

In a recent visit to his vineyard, I was surprised to see such poor land yielding such delicious fruits, and was informed of the great amount of time and labour had been bestowed, in order to bring it into its present state.

The vineyard is laid out so that no danger can be experienced from the south or west wind, which so often proves destructive to crops more hardy in their nature than the delicate grape. Mr Albetz has a few acres dedicated entirely to the growth of the vine, which he informed me would this year have yielded very well but for a severe north-east gale, which swept over his place about two months ago, doing great injury to his young vines. Mr Albetz estimates his loss at £100 in consequence.

At every turn the eye was met by clusters of the finest grapes, the vines almost borne to the ground by their delicious load. There are to be seen the black and white Hamburg, the red and white Sweetwater, and the black and white Muscatel, also the Cape vine, &c.

On being conducted to the cellar, it was at once seen, by its rich store, in that way Mr Albetz disposed of his grapes. The large number of well-filled casks was sufficient proof that a good vineyard in the hands of a person such as the above gentleman can be turned to good account.

I was informed that in connection with winemaking there is a considerable amount of waste, which at present is cast away - from this material brandy can be obtained. But the present excise regulations prevent any advantage being taken of this waste by owners of vineyards. Can the same privileges not be enjoyed in this colony as are granted to vinegrowers in Australia?

I would suggest that power be given to use a still for a certain length of time throughout the year for a moderate charge, thus enabling the brandy producing material to be utilised, thus enabling a purer quality of spirits than is generally met with. In these days, when industries of local character are so needful in a growing colony, and when so much is spent in bring articles often of an inferior quality from a distance, it would be well for our Legislature to remove some of the restrictions that are placed upon distilling, and thus enable men of large experience - such as Mr Albetz - to make their vineyards not only a credit to the district but also conducive to the wants of the province. T.W.D

Just a quick update

You may have noticed this blog hasn't been updated for some time. Due to a few circumstances and lack of time I haven't had a chance to get back to keeping Back Roads Operational. The last post was about the Sophia Pate. A lot of research has gone into this particular event thanks to the massive efforts of the descendants of one of the survivors. Rest assured guys your efforts have not been in vain. I will as time permits put together first a complete time line for the Sophia Pate wreck then an essay. In the interim I will be putting up shorter posts about various articles I have found during my sojourns into the rich resource of Papers Past on the New Zealand National Library site. Northland has a rich and varying history. We cannot forget that it started with Maori and to simply just focus on settler history is not appropriate - I have mixed heritage myself with Ngaitahu descent through my mothers maternal side of her family. I am proud of it and value it greatly. I am going to try and cover all things where possible. I think Maps and Timespanner gave me a good wake up call. So I'm back and I'll try and keep Back Roads updated as much as possible. This blog is just a research blog - it's there to share with everyone. I have Timespanner to thank for developing my interest in the history of Northland.
Thanks everyone for your patience and support.


Friday, April 10, 2009

Kaipara Shipwrecks - 1841 Sophia Pate - A rough time line

Time Line for the Sophia Pate disaster

  • 1829 Built Yarmouth. Registered London. Owners Filby & Co – NZ Shipwrecks
  • 1838 Dr Richard Day on behalf of James Salter of Cork Ireland negotiates the purchase of 1000 acres of land in the Kaihu Valley from Parore for the Kaihu Settlement Scheme
  • 1840 – Families including Salter, Wilkinson, Stannard & Stewart embark on the Neptune from Plymouth
  • 1841
  • – April 4th The Neptune arrives in Sydney Harbour from Port Phillip
  • - Mrs Susannah Stuart Wilkinson dies on board ship from a burst blood vessel
  • - Mrs Stannard remains behind in Sydney
  • - James Salter Junior remains in Sydney
  • July 4th Sophia Pate leaves Sydney for New Zealand
  • July 16th Arrived in Auckland
  • August 12th Departed Auckland for Bay of Islands
  • August 18/19 Arrived Bay of Islands
  • August 18th – 22nd (?) Captain Harrison attempts to procure a pilot for the Kaipara Harbour. Offers passengers compensation if they walked overland to Kaihu but was refused. Three opted to disembark. Stannard & Stewart walk overland to Hokianga
  • August 22nd/23rd The Sophia Pate leaves the Bay of Islands
  • August 27th/28th Sophia Pate arrives at Kaipara Heads
  • August 28th/29th Stood off 24 hours waiting for the weather to clear
  • August 29th *Stannards account on date
  • 1 pm entered the Kaipara Harbour
  • 1 p.m. – 2 p.m. Vessel strikes the South Bank
  • 10 pm vessel broken up by heavy seas. Passengers washed overboard. Captain and crew enter jolly boat with John Stuart Wilkinson (aged 10 years) and Robert Harrison (aged 12 months)
  • 3 a.m. at low water survivors row away from the vessel to shore

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Kaipara Ship Wrecks - 1841 Sophia Pate -Updated (version 4)

*Note this is a draft article and may be changed,added to or corrected. I have also included small notations through out this post which may or may not be relevant to those reading it. Please bear with me on this one.
Grateful acknowledgement goes to Malcolm and Ashley both descendants of John Stuart Wilkinson who have provided a lot of invaluable information in regard to the background and precise date of this wreck and on their ancestor John Stuart Wilkinson. Also to Lisa Truttman my closest and dearest friend who has been a great help in the research. Lisa is a Historian of note and has taught me a lot about questioning the accounts of history. Thank you.

The Sophia Pate was a Brig of 165 Tons Built in 1829. Yarmouth
Owners: Filby & Co. Reg. London
. Commanded by Captain George Harrison
- (N.Z Shipwrecks* provided by Ashley)
She was wrecked on South Head Kaipara Harbour on the 31st of August 1841* with the loss of 21 lives.
- (*Buller - though Stannard maintained it was two days earlier being 29th of August 1841 - The Hidden Kaipara)
(* Date Information provided by Malcolm from the Wilkinson Family Bible)

The story began in 1838 *Buller with Dr Richard Day(* the indenture of land was completed and dated 1st September 1840) who was briefly at Hokianga purchasing around 1000 acres in the Kaihu valley from the Chief Parore on behalf of his friends in Cork Ireland. The bulk of the goods stipulated for by Parore to complete the purchase was to be brought by the settlers. None would truly know they would never complete either the purchase or the journey to their new homes.

In Ireland November 1840, three well known and respected men prepared their families for the long voyage to Sydney on the Neptune ( an Emigrant ship of 643 tons - although other reports state it was the Sophia Pate). Mr James Salter respectable jeweller, happily married and the father of ten fine children - perhaps had taken one last look at his fine home on the Grand Parade. He would say farewell to his friends, gathering his wife and children to head with along with all their worldly goods to the docks to leave their homeland for the last time. Also leaving their homes for the last time were Mr George Stannard a cabinet maker, his wife and family of Hammonds Marsh, and Mr John Wilkinson, his wife and their four children formerly of Daunt's Square. Along with other Irish Wesleyan families these hopeful settlers looked forward to their new lives in a new land called New Zealand. The Neptune arrived in Sydney Harbour on 14th April 1841 with 300 emigrants all noted to be in good health by the Sydney Gazette & New South Wales Advertiser 15th April 1841 these families amongst them. In Sydney the families prepared for the final journey to New Zealand and this is where the discrepancies in the story of their journey begins.

At this early point in my research I have no record available of which ship the families took from Sydney to Auckland. I have a passenger list for the Sophia Pate ( a transcribed secondary source see further notes at the end of this post) but this will have to be looked at from the original source in The Commercial Journal of the time - *however according to the Wilkinson Family bible the families left on the Sophia Pate from Sydney.

According to Reverend John Buller's account*see paragraph below (Forty Years in New Zealand) the families had arrived in Auckland (we have yet to research which ship they came on from Sydney) and finding no other way to get to Kaipara had chartered the Sophia Pate a brig of 250 tons.Under the command of Captain George Harrison they had left Auckland on the 12th of August 1841 for Kororareka in the Bay of Islands and ultimately their destination at Kaipara.

*This is contradicted however in an article written in 1893 by G. Eliott Eliott. Some fifty two years after the event the article claimed the passengers on board the Sophia Pate had been with her the entire voyage from Ireland. Research by myself and Lisa however into the contemporary accounts of the time of the wreck have agreed with Reverend Buller's account and that of the Sydney and Dublin newspaper reports of that period. The families had chartered the Sophia Pate (*see further notations re Wilkinson Family Bible where it mentions the families taking the ship from Sydney) from Auckland and not from Ireland as the much later article had stated. We can only assume that the basis of the article had come from oral history rather than the actual reports and records of the time. At this stage the accuracy of the 1893 article is being taken as a secondary source of information rather then a primary one.

The Sophia Pate made the journey to Kororareka in the Bay of Islands where Stannard (*later Reverend Stannard) and Stewart both passengers on the ship undertook to go overland via Hokianga then to Kaipara to make preparations for the rest of the settlers still on board the Sophia Pate. Passengers on the Sophia Pate for Kaipara from Kororareka were as follows:

Captain George Harrison, his wife and son Robert (around 12 months old)
Edward Farmer (First Mate)
Henry Harrison (Second Mate)
6 Seaman (not named)

Steerage Passengers:
Mr James & Mrs Salter & ten children (*James Salter Jnr a son had been left behind in Sydney)
Mr John Wilkinson & 4 Children * Mrs Susannah Stuart Wilkinson nee Stuart died on board the Neptune from a burst blood vessel in port at Sydney 1841 (Wilkinson Family Bible)
Mrs Stewart & 2 Children
Stephen Ellis - James Salter Snr's servant
Dr Hughes

Accounts of the Wreck of the Sophia Pate
From my research and information provided by Lisa, Malcolm and Ashley there are varying accounts of the event of the Sophia Pate's demise at Kaipara.

From the Herald Auckland Gazette 18th September 1841 - provided by Lisa

Wreck of the Brig "Sophia Pate"


It is our painful duty to give the following particulars respecting the brig Sophia Pate after leaving this harbour, on the 12th of August under the command of Mr. George Harrison, bound to the Bay of Islands and Kiapara, having on board 25 passengers, viz - Mrs. and Master Harrison (the Captain's wife and child) and Mr. Mackey, in the cabin; Mr. and Mrs. Salter and ten children; Mr Wilkinson and 4 children; Mr. & Mrs Steward and two children; Mr Stannard, and Mr. Stephen Ellis, in the steerage; the first and second mates, and three hands before the mast and two boys.

After a rather rough passage of eight days, the wind blowing hard from the E. and N.E., she arrived at the Bay of Islands.

On her arrival there, the commander being rather doubtful of the passage to Kiapara, offered the passengers compensation if they would waive their right of proceeding in the brig to that place, and wished them to go overland, being about 20 miles distant.

This proposal, however, they rejected, with the exception of three of the pasengers, two of whom, Messrs. Stannard and Steward, proceeded overland,with the intention of procuring a pilot for the vessel, supposing they would arrive before her (which, however, unfortunately, they did not), the third Mr. Mackie, left the brig in the Bay, and returned to Sydney in the Barque Jane, upon which Captain Harrison made every enquiry to find out a person acquainted with the entrance to the Kaipara Harbour, as the charts (of which he had three on board,) varied considerably.

Upon enquiry he found out that the only person in the Bay who was aquainted with the Kaipara Harbour, was a seaman belonging to a schooner lying there; but as his commander was away in the country, he could not leave her to go with Captain Harrison to Kiapara.

After waiting at the Bay for four days, and having shipped three able seamen, took on Mr Hughes (late surgeon of the ship Soucabaya), as passenger, with water and provisions, they weighed anchor and proceeded on their passage for Kiapara, the wind being from the W. they arrived off port after 2 1/2 days, when the weather coming on thick and hazy, the brig was hove to for about 24 hours, the next day the weather clearing up they stood in for harbour, keeping a good lookout from the fore-topmast head for the proper channel. (There are two heads, Bearing N. and S. at the entrance of the harbour, between which running from N. to S. and E. to W. are several sand spits forming three Channels or passages, called respectively the North, the middle, and the South passage.)

The principal and between which (according to the Charts,) there is the greatest draught of water, Captain Harrison made for about 1 p.m., and keeping a hand in the chains to take the soundings which had varied from 8 to 4 fathoms until they were about half-way through when it shoaled all at 2 1/2 fathoms, immediately after which the vessel struck about 4 o'clock p.m.

They continued in this awful situation, the sea continually breaking over them, until 10 o'clock, the flood being at its height, a heavy sea struck her, making a breach fore and aft the decks, sweeping the whole of the passengers overboard, with the exception of one of Mr. Wilkinson's children, lad 13 years of age; (most of them were, at the moment, offering up their devotions to Heaven.) The Captain's son, a child 12 month's old, was twice washed overboard and back again, but was eventually saved by the sailors. All the other passengers met a watery grave.

The captain and hands staid by the vessel until low water (3 a.m.) when they cut away the tackle of the jolly boat on the starboard quarter, dropped her under the stern, and lower themselves by a rope onto her. They staid on the beach for three days, during which time the bodies of Mrs. Salter and two of her daughters (Sarah and Martha), Mrs. Stewart, and her son Alfred, were washed on shore and interred by the sailors.

The following is a list of the survivors:-
George Harrison, master, Edward Farmer, first mate, Henry Harrison, second ditto, 6 seamen, and two boys, John Wilkinson and Robert Harrison, passengers.

The captain and the crew arrived here in a canoe on Sunday evening last, and underwent a lengthened examination before the magistrates on Tuesday and Wednesday last. After hearing the evidence, the magistrates came to the following decision: -

"The Justices assembled in Petty Sessions, are of opinion, from the circumstances detailed in evidence before them, that the attempt to enter so dangerous a passage as that is to Kiapara, was injudicious, but they do not deem any further blame attaches to the master of the Sophia Pate.

From the Sydney Gazette & New South Wales Advertiser 2 October 1841 p3


By the brig Porter, which arrived from New Zealand yesterday, accounts have been received of the total wreck of the colonial trading brig Sophia Pate, Captain Harrison, and the melancholy loss of 21 passengers, who were on board that vessel bound to Kiapara (Kaipara), New Zealand.

This vessel left Sydney on the 4th July last, with a cargo of sundries, and 44 passengers, for Auckland, where she safely arrived. On the 12th of August she again sailed from Auckland for Kororareka, and Kiapara, with the following passengers:-

Cabin,Mrs. and Master Harrison, (the Captain's wife and child) and Mr McKie, Steerage Mr and Mrs. Slater (mispelled name should have been 'Salter') and 10 children, Mr Wilkinson and 4 children, Mr and Mrs Stewart and 2 children, Messrs Stannard and Stephen Ellis; after a boisterous passage of eight days, she arrived at Kororareka, where the Captain touched to procure a person to pilot the vessel in the Kaipara, there being none on board who had any previous knowledge of the entrance to that port.

The captain being unable to procure any person who would undertake to bring the vessel round to Kiapara, offered to remit part of the passage money to the passengers, if they would leave and go overland to Kiapara, a distance of 20 miles. This proposal being refused, the Captain set sail, after three day's detention, having however taken on board three additional seaman and Mr Hughs. Mr Stewart, and Mr. Stannard; two of the passengers left the ship and travelled overland to Kiapara to endeavour to procure a pilot there, before the brig arrived, and Mr. McKie , another of the passengers left the ship and returned to Sydney on the Jane.

After a run of two days, she arrived off Kaipara, where she lay-to for 24 hours, till the wind had a little appeased. In running into the bay every caution was taken - a seaman was stationed in the fore-topmast to look out for breakers, and another in the main chains for sounding, but of no avail. She struck at 4 p.m. upon one of the sand banks on the south side of the bay. They remained in this state till 10 o'clock, when she separated.

During this time, the most of the passengers were washed overboard, even the captain's son, who has been saved, went twice over with the roll of the sea. The following parties were saved by betaking themselves to the jolly boat: - Captain Harrison, Edward Tavener (First Mate), N. Harrison (second mate), six seamen, two children, and Mr. John Wilkinson, passenger.

The bodies of Mrs Salter, and two of her children Sarah and Martha, Mrs Stewart and her son Alfred, were washed ashore and interred by the seamen who remained for three days at the scene of devastation.

The Sophia Pate was the property of Messrs Harper, Blundell, & Co., who have suffered considerably by the loss of this ship, as she was only insured for the sum of L2500.

Subscriptions were being got up at Auckland for the benefit of the unfortunate survivors.

From the Freeman's Journal & Daily Commercial Advertiser (Dublin, Ireland) Thursday January 20th 1842 - provided by Lisa


We regret much to have to record an occurrence which, as bringing deep affliction to several respectable families in this city, could scarcely be exceeded.

In the month of November 1840, three or four families of this city, remarkable for their industry and prosperity in their respective lines of business, including Mr James Salter, his wife and ten children, a respectable jeweller, residing for many years in the Grand Parade, - Mr. John Wilkinson, wife and four children, boot and shoe maker, of Daunt's Square - Mr Stannard of Hammonds Marsh, we believe a cabinetmaker - broke up their respective establishments, and sailed in the ship Neptune for Sydney, their place of destination being New Zealand.

Mr Salter had made an extensive purchase of property in New Zealand, through the agency of a friend who had been there and reported most favourably of the country, and took out a considerable quantity of plate and other property.

The Neptune arrived at Sydney in good order, and the emigrants landed, and sojourned there some three or four months. Mr Salter made provision there for one of his sons.

Matters being in readiness, and all arrangements perfected the families of Messrs Salter, Wilkinson, and Stannard proceeded in the month of August last, in the clipper Sophia Pate from Sydney, and arrived after a run of about three weeks in the Bay of Islands. Here having stopped a short time, Mr Stannard proposed to walk across the country, about fifteen miles distant, to the spot towards which they had looked for months in that spirit of anxiety and solicitude natural under the circumstances.

The proposition to walk overland was not agreed to by Mr Salter or Mr Wilkinson, upon the ground that it may not be prudent in them to leave their trunks and boxes to the care of others, and Mr Stannard accompanied by one of Mr Wilkinson's sons, set off, leaving the remainder to proceed coastways.

Upon arriving at the destined spot he was astonished that no tidings of the vessel had been received, and he immediately proceeded to the residence of the chief, of whom the property had been purchased for Mr Salter, and whose welcome was most gracious. Accompanied by a Methodist Missionary, in connexion with the London Institution, and a number of followers, the chief proceed to the harbour as being likely selected as a landing place for the clipper, when they were met by the master and crew, wearing Mr Salter's clothes.

Explanation quickly followed. The master reported that when close to shore the vessel struck, and had gone to pieces, and that all on board, except himself, the hands and a child of Mr. Wilkinson had perished.

The chief, and extremely intelligent man, instantly suspected that all was not right; his suspicions extended to his followers, and it was only by the greatest exertions of the missionary that the natives were prevented from tearing the crew limb from limb.

A portion of poor Mr. Slater's property, in plate, was found on the captain; and he and his crew being first stripped of the clothes on them, were conveyed to Auckland, a principal town in New Zealand, to await their trials.

Young Mr. Wilkinson is stated to have represented that when the ship struck Mr Salter entreated the captain to lower the long boat, and he did lower her, but it was to send her adrift; upon which he was asked to let down the jolly boat.

He refused at first; but upon letting her down he and the crew lowered themselves into her, providently pushing young Wilkinson, in the confusion before them. He got to the bottom of the boat, and thus escaped, the last scene he witnessed on board was Mr. Salter and family at prayer in the cabin, which at this time was filling fast with water.

These are some of the particulars of this severe calamity, derived from a source on which we implicitly rely - Southern Reporter

After the wreck

Reports concerning Captain George Harrison

October 1841

From the Sydney Gazette & New South Wales Advertiser
23rd October 1841 Pg 3

Captain Harrison of the Sophia Pate

We have been authorised by J.A. Murray Esq, passenger on the Julia, from New Zealand to give an unqualified contradiction in the yesterday's Herald, to the purport that Captain Harrison had been detained in Auckland on a charge of murder, from he, and the men under his command had acted in the most brutal and inhuman manner, by preventing some of the passengers saving themselves, when the Sophia Pate was lost - so far from this being the case, or chopping off the hands of those, who it is said attempted to escape, by grasping at the boat, he used every effort that was possible to save their lives.

Captain H., instead of being guilty of the conduct ascribed to him, had it not in his power to save his own wife, who was drowned. Captain Fox denies giving any information that could lead the Herald thus to libel the character of Captain Harrison.

May 1842

From the Sydney Gazette & New South Wales Advertiser 17th May 1842

The Sophia Pate

Having at the time this vessel was wrecked, mentioned several rumours prejudicial to Captain Harrison's conduct, we think it our duty to make the following extract from a late number of the Auckland Standard, by which it will be seen that his conduct was blameless -

Captain Harrison and the crew of the Sophia Pate -

Everyone remembers the disastrous wreck of this vessel, about six months ago, in the harbour of Kiapara. The loss of life caused a very strong sensation; and it appearing on an investigation, that the poor cast aways nearly naked and destitute, had picked up a few things, of no great value, which belonged to passenger, the captain and the crew were committed for trial at the Supreme Court.

These people, seven in all, were detained for nearly six months before the sittings came on. The Attorney General (who was not in the colony at the time of their committal), refused to find a bill, so they were not called upon to appear. Amongst the sufferers, it may be remembered, was the captain's young and beloved wife; but his son twelve months old, was preserved by miracle, the men resolved to save 'little Bobby', as they used to term him, when the nurse and him were on deck.

We can assure the numerous friends of Captain Harrison, both at home and in the colonies, that he will leave this, the scene of his disasters and troubles, without a stain upon his character, or any cause for reflection upon his professional skill.

.......more of this post will be coming very shortly

Further research notes:

An interesting post about James Salter Snr regarding Silversmith Hallmarks on Silver

Also on James Salter Snr again Silversmiths & Allied Trades Cork - 1824 (link provided by Lisa)

From the Auckland Chronicle April 18 1844 (?) Ships to Australia Website 1844 March-May - Secondary source I will have to view the Commercial Journal of the time to confirm this article.
THE “SOPHIA PATE”—This wreck has caused more speculation than most of the people of Auckland are aware of. She has been sold to five or six different parties, all of whom tried their best to raise her, but without success; the present owner Mr Morley, is likely to succeed better than any of the others, he has succeeded in cutting the cable, and we understand the vessel has risen by this act four feet. We trust as Mr Morley is a very enterprising man he may be rewarded for his labour, and the poor fellows who toil night and day with him in his undertaking—Auckland Chronicle April 18.

Sophia Pate Passenger List (transciption not primary source) 3rd July 1841 from the Sydney Free Press & Commercial Journal 6th July 1841

Sydney (3 Jul 1841) to Auckland
Under Captain Harrison

Ash Miss
Kitchen Mrs
Kitchen Miss
Stanley Mrs
Mitford Mr
Johnson Mr I.
Johnson Mr W.
Dalsey Mr
Mackie Mr
Cooper Mr

The arrival of the Neptune from Port Phillip Sydney Gazette & New South Wales Advertiser 20th April 1841

From Port Phillip, same day, whence she sailed the 14th instant, the ship Neptune. Captain Ferris, with sundries. Passengers, Mr. Harpur, Mr. Wetty, Mr. King Lake, Mr. Smith, Mr.and Mrs. Salter and ten children.Mr. Blake, Mr. Stannard, seven steerage passengers, and forty-three emigrants.

Land Claim Notifications from The Daily Southern Cross 10th February 1844 in which the names James Salter (Jnr), John Wilkinson and George Stannard are mentioned as being amongst the claimants

A brief background for Rev. George Stannard on NZETC where reference to the event of the wreck is made Chapter 12 The Rev. George Stannard : from Maori and Missionary: Early Christian Missions in the South Island of New Zealand. Author T. A. Pybus (1954)

Death Notice for Reverend George Stannard in the Wanganui Herald 8th December 1888

STANNARD - On the 8th instant at Victoria Avenue, Wanganui the Rev. George Stannard aged 86.

Rev. James Buller's Account written in 1878 - 40 Years in New Zealand. Personal Narrative Part 1 Chapter X Sophia Pate * Because of the length of time between the actual event and the writing of his memoirs this account may not be entirely accurate however most of Rev Buller's account does concur with those of the reports of the time. It should be noted however there is a discrepancy in this account as to which ship the families of Salter,Stannard,Stewart and Wilkinson came on from Sydney. Also Chartered could have meant the families had arrived on the Sophia Pate then chartered her from that point for the voyage to Kaipara I'm speculating on this but perhaps that was what Rev. Buller was referring to?

Perils of the Sea 19th Century from Te Ara mentions the difficulty concerning the the navigation of the Kaipara Harbour in the 19th Century

......The coastline was poorly charted. For example, when the Sophia Pate tried to enter Kaipara Harbour in 1841, the captain had three charts, each indicating a different channel to follow. He chose one, and the brig became stuck on a sand bank, resulting in the loss of 21 lives.

Also from Te Ara - Kaipara Harbour Charts with the Sophia Pate mentioned

Australian Ships Passenger lists - Oz Ships - link provided by Ashley

Mentioned in The Trail of Waitangi Website concerning a journey from Manukau to Paihia 1842 by Colenso

Mentioned in South Head - An article on South Head Kaipara by the Helensville Historical Society
Mentioned in a Poem about Harbours on Smithy on Line Website

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Kaipara Ship Wrecks - 1840 - Aurora Updated

The 500 Ton Barque Aurora met her fate on 27 April 1840 while leaving the Kaipara Harbour for Hokianga with a load of Kauri. Further research has brought to light the contemporary account of her final hours before she was totally lost as reported in the Sydney Gazette & New South Wales Advertiser 11 June 1840:

Total Wreck of the New Zealand Company's ship Aurora

The Aurora laden with timber, got under weigh from the upper part of the Kaipara River on the morning of the 27 April, and proceeded to the entrance of the channels, intending if possible, to go out by the middle one.

At 11 a.m., the wind draing to the S.E., and it being half ebb, came to an anchor between the entrances of the middle and northern channels. At noon the Captain proceeded in a boat for the purpose of sounding the northern channel (having entered that channel about six weeks previous), and found not less than five to six fathoms, so far as he was enabled to proceed, owing to the heavy rollers setting in.

At 4 p.m. the wind still blowing from the S.E and heavy surf on, determined on going out by the norther channel; accordingly weighed anchor, and made sail on the last quarter of the flood.

At 5.30 p.m., soon after entering the channel, the wind died away to a calm, and the vessel became unmanageable; let go the larboard bower and broght the vessel up, in swinging she caught her heel on a bank and continued to strike very heavy for some minutes.

Her masts were immediately cut away in order, if possible, to list her in shore, but unfortunately her starboard bilge being completely out fore and aft, she filled and listed the contrary way.

During the time she was striking the sea was making a complete breach over the vessel, and swept the whole of the her boats off the deck, with the exception of a small punt lying on the quarter deck with her side stove in.

A few minutes after the heavy roller broke the on the larboard quarter, and washed away the two after cabins on that side of the quarter deck, (occupied by the second officer and Mr White, a missionary.) Several attempts were made to get the boat remaining on the quarter-deck over the starboard gunnel, but the surf rolling in heavy, and the vessel lying completely on her beam ends, they were unable to succeed.

At 11.30 p.m., low water, two hands volunteered to take a raft and attempt to gain the shore, taking with them a line from the vessel, but did not proceed far before a heavy roller broke upon them, and they were seen no more; the line was immediately cut from the vessel to allow the raft to drif on shore, hoping they might succeed in reaching it again.

Midnight. Tide making; succeeded in getting the boat over the side, but being much injured and the surf running high, had much difficulty in keeping her afloat, and at 1 a.m., the remainder of the crew succeeded in reaching the beach in safety, where, to their great surprise, the found the two men supposed to have been lost from the raft.

At daylight the beach was strewed with the wreck, cargo and stores. Noon. - patched up the boat and endeavoured to save some provisions and clothing, but could not succeed owing to the heavy surf. Finding all attempts to save anything from the wreck (not a vestage of which could be seen standing), the captain, officers, and crew proceeded overland to the Bay of Island, where they arrived on the 9th ult., without the loss of a single individual.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Kaipara Ship Wrecks - 1839 Tory Grounding Update

I previously wrote of the grounding of Tory in an earlier post. Having learned a very good habit from my very very dear and very close friend Lisa aka Timespanner the information I did have somehow just didn't seem to be quite enough. So I went digging even further looking for Colonel Wakefield's own personal account of the incident. Searching the Australian National Library site (thank you Lisa for putting me onto it) I found a letter Wakefield had sent to the Sydney Gazette & New South Wales Advertiser published in the 15th December 1840 edition: -

After remaining in great peril during twenty four hours on the bank, the Tory rolled out of the bed she had formed in the sand, and forged into deep water.

I am happy to state, that although in seeking assistance from the Navarino, a large vessel lying up the Kaipara harbour, and in place my deeds in safety, a boat in which the cabin passengers were rowing me, was nearly swamped in the breakers, and was swept by the ebb tide out to sea - no life has been lost, and only a small portion of the cargo,such as bricks and pavement flags, was sacrificed. Five of the guns, a quantity of spars, three anchors, and a cable chain were also thrown overboard to lighten the vessel.

A copy of the ship's log will be sent to you by the first opportunity, in order that the necessary protest be made, in order to recover a part of the loss from the underwriters.

Finding that the Tory had received some serious injury, and was making water so fast as to keep all Hands employed in pumping, and that she must wait until the next spring tide to get high and dry, to be looked at and partially repaired, I walked over to this place and have chartered a small brig, to go to Kaipara, to take the cargo and passengers, and to proceed to the Sugar Loaf Islands, under the charge of Mr Dorset, to complete the purchase, and bring off the party I left in Taranaki, whilst I am to go to Port Hardy in a schooner of 40 tons to meet the emigrants.

The time of rendezvous being so near, has obliged me to take these decisive steps, after the best deliberation for the interests of the Company and of the settlers. My knowledge by means of the Sydney public papers of the fact of a large territory having being sold to the public by the company, has rendered it , in my opinion, imperative on me, as its representative, to incur the increased temporary expense of these small vessels to Insure the location of the first colony without delay, and to secure the agricultural districts of Taranaki. I have however, kept the additional expense as much under as possible, consistently with the vigorous execution of my views.

I shall by these means be at Port Hardy by the 10th instant, and shall proceed to plant the first settlement at Port Nicholson.

I have been confirmed in my intention in placing the first colony at Port Nicholson, and confining my operation as to the land I have acquired for the company in the neighbourhood of the Cook's Straits.

All further communications, therefore, and drafts of emigrants, should be directed to Port Nicholson.

I will forward a more detailed account of the late transactions, and of the accident to the Tory by the first opportunity.

I am. Sir, your most obedient servant
Bay of Islands 1st of January 1840

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Poutu Ki Rongomaraeroa - Carved figure Dargaville Museum

Over a thousand years ago my ancester Kupe voyaged from Hawaiki to Aotearoa in his waka to settle. Other waka came too which laid the foundations for the Maori Tribes European settlers would much later encounter. My Iwi is Ngaitahu (from the South Island or Pounamu) through Tei Tei who was a daughter of Paahi a brother to the sacred chief(Ariki) Te Maiharanui. Tei Tei married William Issac Haberfield in 1837 at Moeraki and my family through my mother's father descend from their eldest daughter Mere P. I am proud of my heritage. This carving on display at the Dargaville Museum is called Poutu Ki Rongomaraeroa. It was found at Poutu in 1991 and attributed to the Waitaha People. On a previous visit with Lisa aka Timespanner we had both viewed this carving and had asked the Curator questions about it. This carving hasn't been carbon dated to verify its age. Whatever story lies behind it this is a beautiful piece of art from the past. The image is a stiched together one the file size doesn't do the carving true justice. Last time it disturbed me greatly now I see it in a different light.

An update since this post was done. Maps from Reading the Maps raised the issue of the pseudo history behind this carving and the manner in which it was displayed. The carving was displayed lying down which caused me concern at the time. No carving should ever be displayed in such a manner. Thanks to Maps the Dargaville Museum have withdrawn the "history" and are making steps to ascertain the carvings true provenance. Well done Dargaville Museum for at last taking heed of well informed and very valid opinions.

Little Johnny's Composition about the American O'Possum from 1879

Searching in Papers Past on the National Library site comes up at times with amusing diversions such as this one from the Otago Witness 1 February 1879. The view of a young 'Johnny' about the O'Possum was just too amusing not to post up...

Little Johnny's Piece about the O'Possum

If there is anything names, this animil comes from Ireland, but them thats here calls theirselves jess Possums like they were natif born. Possums has a sharp nose and a long bald heded, wich is always cold, never mind the wether. Its jess like there tales was ded and no money for the funeral performance. The ole she ones has got a tobacco pouch on the outsides of their stomuckses, an wen the little ones is a fraid they smuggles in and don't care a copper wot be comes of their ole mother wich is outside.

When a dog finds a possum and it cant git to a tre it lies down and pretends lik it was ded.

One time there was a dog wich dident kno possums found one lying like ded, and after rolling it over a wile an smellin it, the dog twinkled his ear as much to say: "Mitty good job for you old fellow, that you was ded fore I came along." An then the dog he lay and went a sleep.

Wen the possum see the dog a sleep it stood up on its feet to go a way, but jest then the dog woke up. Sech a friten possum you never see, and such a friten dog you never see too, but the dog most. It got up, the dog did and made for home, yellin like its heart was brok, and fore it got home it changed with scare from a black Nufoundling pup to a ole bull dog, like Gaffer Peterses head!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Kaipara Ship Wrecks - 1840 - Aurora

I am still writing this post having found further information which I still need to follow up

The 500 ton Barque Aurora was one of the emigrant ships owned by the New Zealand Company.She came to grief on April 27 1840 while (possibly leaving from the Northern Wairoa River) with a load of Kauri spars and mail from Port Nicholson for England. The Aurora is noted in the New Zealand Gazette & Wellington Spectator as arriving in port on 24 January 1840.

She was noted again as leaving on 5th March 1840 for Java. (I note this isn't mentioned in the text by Sir Henry Brett however eventually she would headed for England)

Below is a full account from Sir Henry Brett's Book White Wings Volume 2. Founding of the Provinces and Old Time Shipping. Passenger Ships from 1840 - 1885 (NZETC) of the Aurora and her voyage from England to Port Nicholson then to her final fate at the Kaipara Heads when leaving with her cargo.

Taking the emigrant vessels, not in the order of sailing from England, but in the order of their arrival at Port Nicholson, we have first the Aurora, 550 tons, Captain Theophilus Heale, which brought out 148 souls, 58 being males and 90 females. Among the cabin passengers were Major Richard Baker (the magistrate appointed by the New Zealand Company) and Mr. Edward Stafford, afterwards Sir Edward Stafford. Of the voyage out there is nothing of exceptional interest to record. It was very much like hundreds of other passages made in subsequent years by other emigrant ships, but there is always attaching to the well-named Aurora the special interest that she was actually the first of a long train of vessels to arrive in New Zealand with people who had come over 12,000 miles of ocean to found the Britain of the South.

Wellington people have had the good taste to give the names of their first fleet ships to various streets, and the result is that wherever one goes in the town there is a name that recalls the stirring days when the city was born. Aurora, Oriental, Tory, Cuba, Adelaide, Bolton, and so on—you will find them all figuring on the street name-plates, and you cannot help thinking it is fitting and proper that the "old barkies" should have their memories perpetuated in this way. One could only wish that the younger generations knew a little more about the real meaning of these names.

Like all the ships of the New Zealand Company, the Aurora was well victualled, including supplies of "wine, spirits, and porter," which were described as ample.

The passengers, being all picked settlers, had no difficulty in amusing themselves on the long voyage, and we read of the dancing and other forms of entertainment which are very much the sort of thing with which the immigrants of to-day amuse themselves on their brief run in steamers that keep to a time-table.

On the whole the weather was good, but off the Cape of Good Hope and in the Southern Ocean some heavy gales were encountered, and the ship lost a topmast or two, as well as a yardarm. She was a good sea boat, however, and came gallantly through it all. Christmas Day was remembered on account of an immense iceberg that was passed.

It was not until January 17th that New Zealand was sighted, and on that day the ship entered Port Hardy. There a whaler named McLaren gave Colonel Wakefield's message, which was to go on to Port Nicholson. The Aurora was off the Heads on the 20th, but a nor'-wester kept her out for a couple of days, during which time she was visited by Wakefield, who had by this time returned from his travels.

Piloted by Captain "Georgie" Young, the well-known whaler, the Aurora entered port on the 22nd of January, 1840, after a passage of 126 days. She dropped anchor about half-way between Somes Island and Petone Beach, and her welcome was a salute from the Cuba's guns.

This epoch-making voyage of the Aurora was to be her last but one. In April of the same year she left Port Nicholson for the North, and was totally wrecked on the northern head of the Kaipara Harbour when leaving the river loaded with kauri spars, and carrying Port Nicholson mails for England.

Kaipara Ship Wrecks - 1901 - Lady St Aubyn

Lady Luck it seemed for the 150 ton schooner Lady St Aubyn didn't run on her side. Another victim of the notorious Kaipara Bar she ran aground on the February 25th 1901. No lives were lost in the stranding, but for the Lady St Aubyn this was to be her last voyage.

Her figurehead is on display at the Dargaville Museum a beautiful lady that didn't bring the vessel she was meant to protect in maritime tradition mercy from the perils of the sea. According to the information on the display board Lady St Aubyn was registered in Penzance, Cornwall, England. And thanks to Timespanner who consulted her book of NZ Shipwrecks I can now verify her year of 1871"The Lady St Aubyn, No. 58,381, 150 tons register, built at Penzance, Cornwall, in 1871 by Martin Matthews. Length 101ft., beam 25.6ft., depth 11.7ft. Owned by J. Pitcaithley of Christchurch (however I have noted a purchase of the vessel by Captain Savident and as being chartered by Messrs Pitcaithley,Wallace & Co see below), and commanded by Captain Alexander McDonald."

There is some question here as to the correct ownership of the Lady St Aubyn. I have noted a purchase by Captain Savident in July 1899 and during my research I also found this article in the Evening Post dated 21st May 1900 as follows:

Yesterday the Schooner Lady St Aubyn arrived in harbour with 135,000ft of timber, half of which is for Messrs Stewart & Co and Pronse Brothers and the remainder for the Gear Company's works at Petone. Captain Saivdent reports favourable N.E winds in his 87 hours passage from Kaipara. The vessel has been chartered by Messrs Pitcaithley, Wallace & Co to proceed from this port to Mercury Bay to load timber for Dunedin, thence to Lyttleton to take a quantity of machinery for Picton, and from, the latter port to the Manukau and back to Kaipara.
My question is did Savident sell the vessel to Pitcaithley? And was Savident still on board when she wrecked?

The first mention I have of her was from the Daily Southern Cross 21 September 1871. The Lady St Aubyn arrived in the port of Adelaide from Mauritius. From there she was mentioned numerous times as crossing from New Zealand to various ports around the Australian coast. She was a trader taking different goods back and forth to New Zealand and other ports. A well seasoned voyager with a list of mishaps to her elegant name.

In a report from the Grey River Argus 14 January 1897 a telegraph message had arrived from Melbourne reporting the schooner had put in to Melbourne after spring a leak in bad weather three days out from the Kaipara to Freemantle. The only thing keeping her afloat was the cargo of timber she was carrying...The schooner Lady of St Aubyn, bound from Kaipara to Freemantle, put in here disabled. She sprung a leak when three days out. Tempestuous weather prevailed throughout, and she had a terrible time, with five feet of water in the hold, and was only kept afloat by her cargo of timber.

In July 1899 Lady St Aubyn was purchased by Captain Savident for the Kaipara-Wellington-Lyttleton trade (Evening Post 29 July 1899).

1900 it seemed was a bad year for the schooner. June 1st 1900 the Lady St Aubyn dragged her anchor in a southerly gale while unloading timber at Petone Wellington, ending up beached.

"During a southerly gale yesterday the schooner Lady St Aubuyn, which was discharging timber at Petone wharf, dragged her anchor and drifted onto the beach. She lies on an upright keel, and is making a little water." Poverty Bay Herald 2 June 1900

Then in late October/Early November 1900 the vessel almost came to grief in the dangerous Cook Strait...

The Brigantine Lady St Aubyn had a very narrow escape of being wrecked in the Cook Straits on the passage from Wellington to Kaipara during the heavy gales a fortnight back. The vessel was caught in a heavy gale and driven to Long Island, getting close to the high cliffs of the island. Being in danger of being driven ashore, the anchors were let go, but before they brought the vessel up she was within fifty yards of the cliffs.. The boats were got in readiness, and as the vessel began to drag still further in-shore, Captain Savident, and the crew left the vessel to her fate, and taking to the boats, made for the island. After a most trying experience they landed in an exhausted state. Some time later the wind suddenly changed, blowing off the land, and the deserted vessel commenced to drift away from her perilous position. Seeing a chance of saving her, the captain and crew put off from the shore again and boarded the vessel. The schooner was got well off the land, and the weather moderating, she continued her course for Kaipara, where she arrived safely.
- Poverty Bay Herald 13 November 1900

On the 25th of February 1901 the sea had the final say on the fate of the Lady of St Aubyn. Entering the Kaipara Heads the schooner was becalmed...

The crew of the Lady St Aubyn, which was wrecked at Kaipara have arrived in Auckland. The captain states that the brigantine was beating over the bar, and had got between the Tory Shoal and the North Spit when the wind suddenly dropped to a flat calm. The tide and swell swept the vessel towards the North Spit, and on this she struck about twenty minutes after the wind had dropped. The heavy swell tide carried the vessel further and further up the beach, bumping all the time. The crew walked ashore when the tide fell. The vessel bumped a great deal at the next tide, and the iron fastenings and seams started, water coming in between the planks. A nautical enquiry will be held tomorrow.
-Evening Post 14 March 1901

The day after the crew's arrival in Auckland on March 14th the nautical inquiry was held on March 15:

A Magisterial inquiry was held at the Magistrate's Court before H. W. Brabant S.M, into the circumstances surrounding the wreck of the schooner Lady St Aubyn on the North Spit Entrance to Kaipara Harbour on the 25 ult. the enquiry was held on the application of the Collector of Customs, who conducted the examination of witnesses. The finding of the Court was that the master had committed a grave error of judgment in not letting go his anchor when his vessel was drifting towards the North Spit, but the error in judgment was not considered grave enough to necessitate interference with the master's certificate. The master was ordered to pay half the costs of the enquiry, the proportion to be paid by him not to exceed L5.
- Grey River Argus 18 March 1901

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Kaipara Ship Wrecks - 1867 Mosquito possibly Whakapirau

The Replica of the Bounty anchored in Whangarei 1980

The Kaipara Harbour with its many changing moods can be very unpredictable. While the infamous heads have their treacherous reputation, the inner reaches of the Kaipara could be just as perilous. More than one ship and small boat had met an end in the one of the many inlets and rivers. A brief mention in a faded newspaper before as the decades passed all but forgotten and unrecorded then lost to memory.

This perhaps is the case with a boat named the Mosquito. She was built by Thomas Condon for Albertland Settler Lionel de Labrosse. Labrosse had taken land up at Pahi with his wife and family in the early years of 1863/64. He was a French Count according to Dick Scott from his book Seven Lives on Salt River. Scott covers the life of Lionel de Labrosse describing him as 'the Count who ate with the crew'. I will be researching this interesting man later on. Thanks to a very close friend of mine Lisa aka Timespanner my mind enquired beyond the written chapter and I began to look further into the account of the sinking of de Labrosse's vessel. Below is a letter from Lionel de Labrosse to Captain James then pilot of the Kaipara Harbour as it appeared in the Daily Southern Cross 25th September 1867.

Loss of Life at Kaipara

We have been furnished with the following letter by Captain James, pilot at the Kaipara, detailing a boat accident, and loss of life at Kaipara.

To Captain James

Dear Sir,

I am sorry to have to relate to you a sad event which occurred on Monday last.

I left Helensville on Friday night, the 11th instant, on board my boat the ' Mosquito' having with me Thomas Condon, the builder.

We came that night as far as Shelly Beach, and anchored there for the night. On Saturday morning we left before high water for the Heads, but when as far as the buoy, finding the sea rather heavy, and having our after hatch not closed, which caused us to ship some water, we ran back to Shelly Beach, being all the time under double-reef mainsail and staysail, and jib, wind blowing about W.S.W all the time.

On Sunday, the 13th we left before high water, with a light breeze, carrying whole mainsail and staysail, and jib. We reached your place about 10.30, and came to anchor to wait for the tide to cross the Heads and get up the Otamatea.

We left your place about 3 o'clock, with your directions to cross the bank, which we accomplished satisfactorily . The breeze being light, we sent up the gaff top-sail, and reached Masefield's between 6 and 7 o'clock, and stopped there for the night.

On Monday, the 14th, about 5 o'clock a.m., got under-way for Pahi, with double-reefed mainsail and staysail, it blowing rather fresh from the eastward. We beat against the tide, and got clear of Masefield's Bluff in three tacks, when we noticed some very dirty weather to the windward of us. We brought up and anchored, took in the third reef, and waited until the squall was over. It blew fearfully, and rained the whole time. When the squall was over we got under-way on the starboard tack, so as not to get ourselves to windward, being able to run bar-free up the Arapaua. We experienced some very heavy squalls, which caused us to douse the peak several times. The sea was pretty heavy, but the boat was riding over it like a bird, not shipping a drop of water. We go on very well, and were as far as Whakapirau; the wind having moderated and heading us a little, we let go one reef, so as to get around the large bluff, which is just opposite Manukau's Point, without putting her round.

When getting near the township, Condon suggested to me that we ought to put the jib on her, the weather being clear and fine. I said I thought she had enough, but if he thought she might carry it, he might please himself; so he went and put it on. She was at the time running free. We passed the township, and, when about half a quarter mile from it, a sudden squall struck us, coming right over the bluff. I gave her all the helm I could, telling Condon at the same time to let fly the jib sheet. She lay down considerably, and would not luff anymore, having too much headsail; and Condon not letting go the jib sheet, a second squall struck her as she was lying over, and she began to fill in the after hatch. I told him to cut away the jib-halliards, but I believe the poor fellow had lost his presence of mind, for he stood motionless by the rigging. When half full she began to right herself and go down stern first. I then shouted to Condon to look our for his life, when all the answer he gave me was "I cannot swim." I told him then to catch hold of the oar that was on deck. I jumped off to windward, and having my oilskins on, did not expect to be saved; but with aid of my knife, I soon stripped some of my clothes off, and, turning round, saw Condon struggling with a box about ten yards from me; but I saw no more of him after that moment.

I saw one of the hatches which came up, and made for it, thinking I could get to him, but my oilskins became entangled about my legs, I was unable to reach the poor fellow before he sank to rise no more. Seeing no more of him, I thought I must now look out for my life, and catching hold of another hatch, I let the tide drift me up until I was picked up by Mt Herbert Metcalfe and Mr Coates, who were down at Mr Symonds's, and saw us go down.

Great praise is due to them, and to Mr Symonds also, for the exertions they made on our behalf, and for the promptitude with which they acted against wind and tide. We have been searching for the body ever since, and dragged the river, but without success.

I remain, dear sir, most truly yours

Lionel de Labrosse

Daily Southern Cross 25th October 1867

Further notes. From the description of the vessels' location and the assistance of J. Symonds (who had a timber mill at Whakapirau) I am taking an educated guess that the Mosquito sank just near Whakapirau Beach. Per haps she still lies beneath the harbour sands waiting to be rediscovered.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Kaipara Ship Wrecks - 1839 Tory - Grounding on the Kaipara Bar

Ship: Tory 3 masted Barque built 1834 by Frederick Preston, Southdown Suffolk for Joseph Soames. Registered 8th May 1834. Purchased by the New Zealand Company November 1834. Sailed from London in May 1839 under the command of Captain Edward Mein Chaffers with 35 passengers on board. She arrived in Queen Charlotte Sound on the 17th September 1839 and entered Port Nicholson (Wellington) 20th September 1839. Wrecked in the Palawan Passage 23rd January 1841.

The Tory was the earliest of the recorded vessels to come to grief at the entrance to the Kaipara Harbour. (She was not the first European vessel to enter the the Kaipara Harbour). She ran aground on the morning 19th of after setting anchor in 10 fathoms of water the night before in the Harbour entrance. It was fortunate Captain Chaffers had chosen to sail in summer. Winter time on the Kaipara Harbour was a dangerous time for sailing vessels. Storms from the Tasman would blow up without warning the fierce westerly gales dashing many an unfortunate ship upon the western shores. Her reasons though for entering the Kaipara were in themselves fascinating.

Colonel Wakefield had received instructions from the New Zealand Company to proceed to the Kaipara as follows (NZ Spectator 6th September 1839)

Extract from the Instructions given to Colonel Wakefield, the Company's Principal Agent in command of the Preliminary Expedition: -

Considering the excellent sailing qualities of the Tory, and that you are amply supplied with provisions and water, we trust that you may reach Cook's Strait, without touching anywhere, by the end of August. As soon as you have completed your business there, which we are in hopes may not occupy you more than two months, you will proceed to Kaipara, and thoroughly inspect that harbour and district. You will also take the best means in your power of ascertaining whether there is; to the southward of Kaipara a spot more suitable than that port to become the seat of the commercial capital of the North Island; and if you should discover such a spot, you will endeavour to make an extensive purchase there.

At Kaipara you will exhibit to the natives the original contracts of Lieutenant McDonnell, and will claim, on behalf of the Company, the lands therein named. You will also inform the natives, that Lieutenant McDonnell intends to proceed to New Zealand ere long; you will deliver to the chiefs the letter, whereby he informs them of his having transferred his lands there to the Company; and you will take whatever steps you may think most expedient, to obtain possession of this tract in the name of the Company.

Supposing you to have selected from any purchases that you may make in Cook's Strait, or in the neighbourhood of Kaipara, or in the district of the Company's lands at Kaipara that spot which you shall deem the fittest for a first settlement, - that spot which shall present the most satisfactory combination of facility of access, security for shipping, fertile soil, water-communisation with districts abounding in flax and timber, and falls of water for the purposes of mills, - and where the native inhabitants shall evince the greatest desire to receive English settlers, and appear most anxious to obtain employment for wages; there you will make all such preparations for the arrival of a body of settlers, as the means at your disposal will allow. Amongst these it occurs to us that the natives should be employed at liberal wages, in felling the best kinds of timber, taking the logs to the place which you may have marked out for the site of a town, and so in collecting and preparing flax and spars as a return freight for vessels which may convey settlers to the place. You should also make the native thoroughly aware of the nature and extend of the intended settlement, so that they may not be surprised at the subsequent arrival of a number of large ships. At this spot, when you quit it, you will of course, leave such persons as you may be able to spare, and shall be willing to remain, for the purpose of assuring the natives of your return, and of pursuing the labours of preparation.

After calling at several places the “Tory” set sail for Kaipara on the 16th December, 1839, and anchored in ten fathoms outside the entrance of that harbour on the 18th. The following morning Dr. Dorset, who was left in charge of affairs during the Colonel's absence up north, announced that the ship was aground, so the usual methods to get her off were taken, but in vain. Captain Chaffers and his crew exerted themselves unceasingly; five guns, three or four anchors and cables, a deck load of spare spars and several other heavy articles were cast over; some heavy mill stones and paving flags were hoisted from the hold and rolled overboard. One of them was carelessly sent through the best whale-boat, which lay at the gangway.

She was hove down on a sandbank at the first spring tide, and the necessary repairs proceeded with. Colonel Wakefield then proceeded overland to the Bay of Islands in order to charter a small vessel to take him to Port Hardy, to meet the first fleets of Emigrant ships.

- from Early Wellington P22 Author Louis E. Ward

Further Notes:
  • Post update 18th March 09 The personal account as written by Colonel Wakefield to a Sydney Newspaper

  • Lt Thomas James McDonnell had sailed into the Kaipara Harbour in 1835/36 in the schooner Tui and, announcing that he acted by authority, declared the harbour tapu and claimed extensive timber rights. In fact McDonnell only had a claim to his land at Horeke and nothing else. The New Zealand Company would later find out their so-called land purchases were in fact completely invalid. The Company in their journal from 1842 would later declare McDonnell as being a 'crimper' a comparison to the press gangers of the early sailing days. McDonnell was also known by many of the early settlers who had had dealings with this colourful Irishman as "McDiddle" a story I'll be doing a little later on once my research has been completed.

Read a full account of the Tory's voyage to New Zealand here
More on the Tory here

Kaipara Ship Wrecks - 1846 Mary Catherine

The Mary Catherine was a barque of some 400 tons commanded by Captain Howlett. She stranded on one of the many sand bars that criss crossed the entrance to the Kaipara Harbour. Declared a total loss the Mary Catherine was put up for auction in Auckland. She was refloated then returned to Auckland where she was rebuilt then renamed the Charles (Article Nelson Examiner & NZ Chronicle 23rd October 1847) . The Charles sailed for London from the Port of Auckland on 16th September 1847.

An account from The New Zealander 23rd May 1846 gave an account of the Mary Catherine's ordeal


New Zealander 23rd May 1846

On the 25th April, the fine barque Mary Catherine, Capt. Howlett, 400 tons, left Auckland for the Port of Kaipara on the western coast, to take in a valuable cargo of spars for England. It is with regret, we have to announce that advices were received last Sunday, overland, with account of the Mary Catherine having being driven on a sand-bank in the harbour of the Kaipara, after parting from the chain and warps, in that most tremendous gale which occurred during the night of Saturday, the 9th May. It is most satisfactory to state, that no lives were lost, and that what cargo there was on board of copper, oil, flax, and kauri gum, will be saved.

The Mary Catherine arrived off the harbour of Kaipara, on the afternoon of the 5th May, when she lay to until the following morning, Wednesday, the 6th; - when she entered the heads, with a north-east breeze, and work in, beautifully, between the shoals.

The Tory shoal was weathered at 5 p.m., and she anchored at 7 p.m., in nine fathoms water, off Point Dawson; she remained at this anchorage until Saturday, the 9th, when, at 3 p.m., as the barometer was rapidly falling and the weather bore a very threatening aspect, the barque got underweigh, blowing hard at south-west, under double reefed topsails; but at the first cast of the lead the water shoaled from six to two fathoms, and she immediately struck.

However, the stream anchor was immediately got out ahead, with 140 fathoms of good warps, and she was hove off to six fathoms water; but the breeze increasing to a perfect gale, it was found impossible to get her into deep water, and the larboard chain veered out, until her heel was in three fathoms water, and still holding onto the warps.

The gale during the night increased to a prefect hurricane, and continued until the following Wednesday, with increasing violence. On Monday, the 11th, the ship parted from both warps and chain, and was driven height on the sand-bank. It then being the full moon, the spring tides, added to the force of the gale, forced the vessel higher on the bank.

A survey has been held on board the vessel by the captains of other ships in the harbour of the Kaipara, where there are so few facilities as well as inhabitants, will be so great, that it will be more to the interest of the underwriters and all parties concerned, that the vessel should be publicly sold as she now lies.