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White Wings Vol II. Founding Of The Provinces And Old-Time Shipping. Passenger Ships From 1840 To 1885

Getting Ashore

Getting Ashore.

One of the passengers by the Duchess of Argyle has left a very good account of the landing of the people from that ship and the "Jane." "Our family," says the writer, "was the first to land. It was in Mechanics' Bay, where about thirty raupo houses had been erected—in the bay and on Parnell Rise—for the use of the immigrants. Being high water when we landed, we had no distance to carry our baggage to the whare we selected in the middle of the bay. Those that came after, when the tide had ebbed, had much further to convey their goods, and it was a sorry sight to see them carrying their children, boxes and bundles through mud and water up to their knees from low to high water mark.

"Governor Hobson had died about two months before we arrived, and things were very dull. Acting-Governor Shortland was then in charge. The immigrants applied to the Government, and had work given them—cutting down the top of Shortland Street. The wages were: Married men, £1 per week; single men, 16/ per week.

"Pomare, the native chief who had arrived in Auckland harbour with two cutters full of Maoris from the Bay of Islands, came on shore and was looking at the immigrants at work in Shortland Street, when there passed a strange Maori whom he recognised. Pomare rushed at the native, intending to kill him, as he had run away with one of Pomare's women from the Bay of Islands. The strange Maori cried out, and the immigrants went and rescued him, telling him to run to the gaol, where there was a guard of soldiers. Pomare was page 47 very angry, and he and his people went on board the cutters to bring ashore firearms. Mr. Felton Matthew, hearing what Pomare was going to do, came riding down on horseback to the beach where the armed natives were about to land, and as they approached the shore he told them that if they did not return on board with their firearms he would cause the soldiers on Point Britomart to fire with their big guns and sink their culters.

"The Maoris then went on board, set sail, and kept firing off their guns as they sailed down towards Orakei Bay, where they anchored. In the evening of the same day Chief-Constable Smith came to Mechanics' Bay, where the immigrants were living, and told them they had better keep a look-out during the night, as Pomare might make an attack on them for having rescued the Maori from him. He also said that if they heard any firing of guns, the women and children were to run for protection to Point Britomart, where there were soldiers. One of the immigrants, getting ready for action, was trying his horse-pistol when it went off 'bang,' which caused a great panic for a few minutes until it was found out what had happened.

"When we first landed there were no roads, only tracks through the tea-tree and fern. I have seen people waiting at our house in Mechanics' Bay for the tide to ebb out of the creek at the east end of the bay, so that they could get across to reach their homes, there being no bridge over the creek. In those days Auckland could boast of only one large bridge, which was called Waterloo Bridge. It spanned a creek which ran past the foot of West Queen Street (now called Swanson street) into the harbour at the bottom of Queen Street. This bridge, which was about a chain and a-half long by five feet wide, with handrails on both sides, was for foot passengers only. The creek ran down the gully across the foot of Wyndham, Victoria, and Wellesley Streets, but in those days there were no bridges to connect with any of those streets, so Waterloo Bridge had to carry all the traffic of the people who lived on Chapel Hill—so called after St. Patrick's—which was the name of the west side of the town in those days."

According to official records, the number of people arriving by the Duchess of Argyle and Jane Gifford was 552. The Duchess brought 297, made up of 90 male adults, 90 female adults, and 117 boys and girls under the age of 14 years. On board the Jane there were 255 persons—82 male adults, 81 female adults, the balance being boys and girls under the age of 14 years.