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

Dickey Barrett

Dickey Barrett.

Barrett's name figures prominently in the early history of Taranaki, and in fact of all the early ventures of the New Zealand Land Company. There is a good description of him in Wakefield's book. When the ship Tory got to Queen Charlotte Sound in the spring of 1839 her people were amused at the rotundity of a whaler named Williams, but Barrett was even more so. "We had been highly amused at the comfortable obesity of Williams, and considered him a promising example of the good effects of New Zealand feeding," wrote Wakefield, "but what was our surprise on finding Dickey Barrett, as he is generally called, as much stouter in person, as he was shorter. Dressed in a white jacket, blue dungaree trousers, and a round straw bat, he seemed perfectly round all over; while his jovial ruddy face, twinkling eyes, and good-humoured smile, could not fail to excite pleasure in all beholders. And a merry party it was to look upon as we page 51 sat round the cabin table, listening to the relation of the wild adventures and hairbreadth escapes of Barrett and his two fellow-whalers. He had been in New Zealand for ten or twelve years, first as a flax-trader at the Sugar Loaf Islands, and the last five years as a whaler in Tory Channel."

Barrett was married to a Maori woman of high rank, and his descendants are still living in Taranaki. This good-natured whaler died at Taranaki in 1847, much to the regret of both Maori and pakeha.