The Jubilee History of Nelson: From 1842 to 1892.
Arrival of the Emigrants.—The "Fifeshire."—The "Mary Ann."—The "Lord Auckland."—Wives and Families of the Expedition Men arrive by the "Lloyds."—Dreadful Mortality amongst the Children on the Voyage —Generally ill-regulated state of things.—Company's Depot full.—Camping out.—Meeting of Emigrants on board "Mary Anne."—Foundation of first Benefit Societyand Nelson Institute.— Building Operations •—Maori Costumes.—Early Settlers' fashionable Attire.—An early Settler's Whare.—Rats.—Delays in Surveying Town Sections.—First Distribution of Sections.—Street Nomenclature.— Arrival of the "Brougham."— Comes through French Pass.—Gets on Reef.—Arrival of the First Police Magistrate.— 'Nelson Examiner' first Published.—Tenders for Gaol and Court House.—The First Court.—A Curious Gaol.— First Post Office.—Mr Thompson, P.M.—Wreck of the "Fifeshire."—Nelson Harbour described.— The Landowners and the Company.—First Temperance Association. —Complaints against Government.—Death of Mr H. Angelo Bell.—Arrival of the "Bolton."—Visit of Rev. Mr Hadfield.—First Christenings.'—First Death.—The Port Road.—The Trafalgar-street Ditch.—Fires.— Condition of Nelson at end of March, 1842.— Climate.—The Wood.—Prices of Provisions.—Wages.
Some five months after the "Whitby" and "Will Watch" left England four other ships were despatched by the Company— "The Lloyds," "The Lord Auckland," "The Fifeshire," and the "Mary Anne." The first, took out the wives and children of the Expedition men; and the other three, the first of the agricultural and other settlers. The Directors of the Company and the principal friends of the enterprise took leave of the settlers at a public breakfast at Blackwall, in sight of the vessels in which they were about to embark; His Royal Highness the Duke of Sussex and other distinguished guests being present.
The "Lloyds" was the first to sail. The "Lord Auckland," the "Fifeshire," and the "Mary Anne" all left the Downs together on Saturday, 2nd October, 1841.
The "Fifeshire" anchored in Port Nicholson on the 19th January, 1842, and left for Nelson on the 28th, arriving on the 1st February. The "Mary Anne" anchored at Wellington Heads on the 28th January, and in the harbor on the 29th, and left for Nelson on the 2nd February. The site of Nelson not having been fixed when these ships left England, the Captain of the "Lord Auckland" thought it best to sail round the southern end of New Zealand in the hope of arriving at the end of the voyage somewhere on the Eastern Coast, and so avoid going to Wellington to ascertain the ship's destination. In this he was disappointed—no signs of a settlement were anywhere visible, and so the "Lord Auckland" went on to Port Nicholson, where she arrived on Monday, the 7th February, 1842.page 18
Here, according to the invariable custom of the time, the crew all left to a man, and it was not until the 23rd February, that she arrived off Nelson, and, owing to light winds, did not get into the harbour until the next day, where she found the "Fifeshire," the "Mary Anne," and the "Lloyds;" the latter having arrived on the 15th'February.
The "Fifeshire" had a very favourable passage so far as wind and weather were concerned, but soon after leaving fever broke out among the passengers and seventeen died. "It was very melancholy," says Mrs Duncan, one of the survivors, "to see so many of our companions buried in the sea, and a very uneasy feeling prevailed in the ship until the fever abated."
Coming through Cook's Straits, the "Fifeshire" had a narrow escape from shipwreck The pilot took the vessel between the mainland and Stevens' Island, and, as the light wind failed entirely before the vessel got through the channel, the current was fast drifting her on to the rock; when Captain Arnold sent out a boat with a kedge anchor, just in time to save his vessel. It was a beautiful sunny morning, with very little wind, when the vessel came slowly to her anchorage outside the Boulder Bank, and nearly all the cabin passengers went ashore in one of the Deal boats, which had come out to meet the ship.
The first to walk ashore was Mr Alfred Saunders, afterwards Superintendent of Nelson, and at present a member of the New Zealand Parliament for a Canterbury constituency.
In the first boat from the "Fifeshire" were some sick people, and with them was the late Mrs. Ann Bird, who was the first female European to set foot on the Nelson Settlement.
The Company s depot, on Church Hill, was a tent, and was filled to overflowing by the emigrants from the "Fifeshire," so that when the "Mary Anne" arrived her passenger had to camp out the best way they could. A few sticks with a blanket stretched over them formed the connubial apartment of one well-known old settler and his wife (Mr, and Mrs. Tidd), and their bedding was thick, close, dry fern, on the night of their arrival. Luckily the weather was fine, and they did not fare so badly.
The "Lloyds" arrived on the 15th February, with the wives and children of the Expedition men. The officers of the Company had taken every care they thought, to keep the promise made to husbands and fathers, of safe conveyance to them of their wives and families. A particularly fine 3hip was selected, the provisioning was of the best and the dietary scale unusually liberal. When the ship arrived there was a sad tale to tell. Sixty-five children had died on the voyage, and there had been generally an ill-regulated state of things. Severe comments were made upon the conduct of the Captain, who was said to have set a bad moral example, and to have failed to enforce rules for the preservation of common decency. The Surgeon page 19was also blamed, and Captain Wakefield, as the Company' agent, refused to sign the certificate relating to the proper treatment of the emigrants; without which neither the Captain nor the Doctor could get his remuneration.
As an experiment this sending out of a shipload of women and children without the protecting care of husbands and fathers, was a lamentable failure.
There was a meeting of emigrants held on board the "Mary Anne" on the voyage out, which is worthy of record, because at that meeting were laid the foundations of the first Benefit Society, and of the Nelson Institute. The meeting was held on Monday, January the 12th, 1842, for the purpose of considering and deciding upon the expediency of establishing in the Settlement of Nelson a Benefit Society or Friendly Association A Committee was appointed for the purpose of making preliminary arrangements for the promotion of the proposed Society, as follows:—Messrs McRae, Hopton, J. G. Saunders, W. G. Young, J. Bathe, G. R. Richardson, C. Vincent, R. Boddington, Elliott, Fuller, and Gill.
It was also resolved at this meeting that it would be desirable to form eventually in connection with the projected Society an Institution for the purpose of diffusing among its members literary and scientific information, by means of a reading room, a public library, the delivery of public lectures, and by such other means as might thereafter appear expedient.
This meeting bore fruit, the resolutions were not forgotten, and a meeting was called by advertisement in the Examiner, of the 6th April, 1842, to which the public were invited, and at which resolutions were passed, which eventually led to the establishment of both a Benefit Society and a Literary and Scientific Institute; to which further reference will be made later on.
The site of the future Town of Nelson was soon a scene of lively activity. Tents and huts were scattered about in all directions. Building operations were going on all around, but progressed slowly owing to the distance everything had to be fetched. Poles had to be carried from the Wood through the Maitai River on men's backs for the frames of buildings. The walls were mostly fern, until there was time to substitute mud Thatching was done with toi-toi supplied by the Maoris, who took payment in any kind of spare clothing; clad in which some of them presented a comical appearance —the light, if not elegant costume most in favour, consisting solely of a white shirt and black bell-topper.
The time was not far distant, when some of the early settlers were compelled to resort to strange expedients to procure garments for themselves—corn sacks cut into fashionably-shaped. page 20breeches, regardless of the brands, becoming with several the only available article of attire.
A graphic description of a settler's hut in the earliest days is supplied by Mrs Cresswel', of Stoke. She says, "My father went near the Maitai River, near where Mr Lightband now lives. Our house was part clay and part manuka, and some were not so well off as that—their houses were just four poles stuck in the ground, with fern on top for a roof. That was a sad time for fathers and mothers, but us children did not mind it so much. I remember one poor sick man was brought in and laid on the mud floor in our house because the rain streamed in upon him in his own. ∗ ∗ ∗ We had no fire-place in the house at first, and my mother and I set to work to make one. I brought some flat smooth stones from the river, and we got some of my father's clay he had made ready for the walls of the house, and so my mother and I built it something like an oven round to the wall, and put what they called on board ship a boulli tin in for a flue, and that was our first chimney. There were many not so well off as us. It was rather a wet time after we landed, and much sickness."
Mr. Alfred Saunders, to whom the writer is indebted for a good deal of interesting information, thus describes, what may be called "the plague of rats:"—
"The native rats were an intolerable nuisance. They appeared not to have the slightest fear of man, but as soon as it was dark, ran about the house in swarms, walked deliberately over our feet, climbed on the table and would drop like flies from the thatch. At night we had to keep a stick in hand to thrash them away from the candle, but, worst of all, they ran over us all night, and would come creeping up the blankets to smell our ears and chin, so that we never felt sure they would not want to taste them too. They would devour our boots, or any possibly edible thing that was not suspended by a wire or small string. All the poison that could be procured was soon given to them, but without, any apparent effect. I had brought a cat from Wellington, but they would not allow her to stay in the house, and, in spite of everything we could do, they continued to increase, until some rat-killing dogs were introduced, when they suddenly disappeared, or so entirely altered their habits, as to become almost as timid as civilised rats usually are. In no part of the world have I seen a plague of rats anything to be compared to that on the banks of the Maitai for a few weeks after the arrival of the "Fifeshire"."
Although the Preliminary Expedition preceded the land purchasers and emigrants by five or six months, the latter found on their arrival, that the surveys were in a very backward condition, and very little land was ready for allotment. The survey of the town lots was not completed, and it was not until the 11th April that the first distribution actually commenced, and it took five days to complete the work.page 21
The attendance each day was numerous, and the interest excited naturally very great. On the first day, the choices were mostly towards the Haven, so as to secure beach frontages. The first section chosen was Number 11 on the survey plan. That was the acre on which the Company's offices had been erected, and also the hospital for immigrants. Among the early selections were the acre on the Haven Road, on which a coal seam had been found; two of the acres on Fifeshire Island, and the range of acres extending along the beach. Mr. Thompson, the Police Magistrate, and Mr. Tuckett, the Chief Surveyor, selected the sections reserved for the Maoris, and secured some of the best.
On the second day the tendency of choice was towards the centre of the town, and all sections in the neighborhood of Trafalgar Square, were eagerly sought after. The acres in the Wood came next in order of appreciation. On the third day the acres ranging along the little valley, known then by the name of "Poisoned Valley," were amongst the earliest selections.
On the fourth day corner sections in Toi Toi Valley were the first chosen, and after that, the tendency of choice was towards the little valleys on the right of the Waimea-road, near Hampden Terrace and Emanu-street. On the fifth day the excitement had collapsed, and the few sections now remaining to be chosen, were selected in various parts of the Town.
There had been some noise made a month before with reference to street nomenclature,—public meetings were called and a Committee appointed for the purpose of ascertaining the wishes of the inhabitants,—the members of this Committee were Captains Wakefield and England, Messrs Graham, Greaves, Jenkins, MacShane, Otterson, Patchett, Richardson, Sclanders, Stevens, Thompson, Tuckett, Tytler, Valle, and Young. At the first meeting it was proposed that "no names be selected which will serve to perpetuate the recollection of Copenhagen." But an amendment was carried by 8 to 3, that "the reserve for the barracks and parade ground be called Copenhagen Mount." Finally it was resolved, after hot debate, "that the Committee proceed in the first instance to choose names to commemorate the career of Nelson, and that the succeeding names be at the discretion of the Committee." The result of their deliberations was that the names of the streets as they now exist were mostly selected; but we should find it difficult to discover Fort Bastia, Fort Calvi, Aboukir Battery, and the Heights of Agamemnon.
On the 6th March the barque "Brougham" arrived from London via Port Nicholson. She came through the French Pass, and was detained eight hours on a reef, with one fathom of water on one side and seven on the other. The vessel was somewhat injured, part of her fore-foot being carried away, which prevented page 22her answering her helm, but with the assistance of the Deal boats, and those of the "Fifeshire" under the direction of Capt Arnold, she got safely into the harbour.
The passengers by her from Port Nicholson, were Colonel Wakefield, Mr, F. A. Thompson, the newly appointed Police Magistrate and his wife, Mr Murphy, and Mr Cook, of Taranaki.
The first number of the "Nelson Examiner and New Zealand Chronicle," appeared on Saturday the 12th March, 1842. It was "printed and published weekly by the proprietor, Charles Elliott." The price was one shilling per copy, or £2 per annum.
Among the earliest advertisements, we find one calling for tenders for the erection of a gaol and Court-house The Police Magistrate could no more get on without these, than a carpenter could without hammer and chisels, and by the beginning of May these evidences of the arrival of civilized men on the shores of Wakatu, were completed, and later on backed up by the "Stocks," which were specially imported from Cockatoo Island. The gaol contained four cells, and a room for the Gaoler and Constable. The cost was £150.
The Police Magistrate, Mr F. A. Thompson, did not, however, wait for his Court-house and Gaol but within seven days after his arrival held a Court in Captain Wakefield's tent, at which was heard only one case—an information for larceny laid by Henry Hargreaves, against three men belonging to the "Lord Auckland," for stealing some wearing apparel. Hargreaves and his family were camped on the hill side at the Port; there was no room for their boxes in the tents, so they were put outside and covered with fern. One night a noise was heard, and on the alarm being given the prisoners decamped, but were pursued, and some articles which had been abstracted from the emigrant's boxes, found upon them. The witnesses examined at this the first Police Court case heard in Nelson, were Henry, Jane, and Sarah Hargreaves.
The prisoners were convicted and sentenced to three months imprisonment. But it was all very well to sentence them, the next question was where were they to be kept in custody—there was only one room in the raupo gaol or lock-up, and only one policeman, W. Figgis. It was finally arranged that the convicted felons should "reside" with the policeman upon giving their words not to attempt to change their place of abode. The raupo residence of the constable was rather crowded by this addition to the household, but they all appear for some time to have got on very well, and to have been particularly comfortable. They took it by turns to cook and go marketing for the gaoler, and themselves, and to tidy up the place; and were permitted to take a ramble over the hills, turn about, conditionally on their returning "home" by a stated hour.
Things cannot always go pleasantly, however, even with page 23convicted felons, and their happy home was intruded upon on the 18th of the same month, by another "unfortunate," who had likewise taken a liking to someone else's property, and who had in consequence been sentenced to six months' imprisonment with hard labor. Figgis, would not have had a true policeman's heart in him, had he not rejoiced in the conviction; but his joy was tempered by the prospect of another inmate of the already crowded whare. Besides the new comer was not nearly such a nice fellow as the three jolly tars. He objected to washing at any time—and although sailors are notoriously given to the use of occasional expletives of a rather spicy sort—this man's language was such as to cause even these sailor men to open their eyes a bit. And then the fellow never would come home in time for dinner—and more than once stayed out all night. These last were intolerable breaches of discipline, Something must be done or the domestic harmony of the whole establishment would be seriously disturbed. It was decided to enlarge the "gaol," and all hands set to work to build an additional raupo room for the special accommodation of the last comer. Whether this consideration for his comfort, or the threat of transporting him to finish his sentence at Wellington, had the desired effect, it is difficult to say; but after taking possession of his new apartment which had been made as comfortable as circumstances would permit; his habits were much more regular, and his language comparatively speaking, inoffensive, and their further stay made more pleasant for all parties.
A post office was opened shortly after the arrival of the "Brougham"—the office hours were "for the delivery and posting of letters every day, except Sundays, from 10 till 11 a m." Mr. Thompson acted as Postmaster as well as Police Magistrate, and in several other capacities, such as lay-reader, which included the reading of prayers on Sundays, and of the burial service over the dead. He was a man prone to warm outbreaks of temper, but brave, kind-hearted, and courteous to everyone—his irascibility hurt no one but himself. There is one grimly amusing story told of him. The wife of one of the emigrants died, and the widower came to ask Mr. Thompson to read the burial service. The P.M. was in a towering rage because something had gone wrong with his gooseberry bushes, and he was still stamping and fuming and tearing his hair, when the afflicted man arrived and preferred his request. Recovering himself instantly, Mr. Thompson turned to him, and with a polite bow said, "Bury your wife. Oh! certainly, I shall be most happy."
We shall hear more of Mr. Thompson in the course of this history; and in the story of the Wairau massacre, in which he played a prominent part, take our leave of him, and those other brave fellows, who having shared with him the inconveniences and discomforts of the first settlement, fell at the same time; and page 24whose bones, with his, have long ago mouldered into dust, in their common grave, on the slope of the hill above the placid stream of Tua Marina.
The wreck of the "Fifeshire" as she was leaving the Port, is a memorable event of the early days. She weighed anchor at 10·30 on the morning of the 27th February, with Captain Moore on board as pilot. The wind was very light, owing to which she did not arrive at the entrance to the channel until the tide had ebbed some little time. She had nearly passed through the channel, with every appearance of getting out well, when the wind suddenly failed, and the tide way carried her right on the rocks where she fell broadside on to the Arrow Reef. All efforts to get her off were unavailing; at low water she was nearly dry fore and aft—the ledge of rocks lay immediately under her mainmast, and her back was completely broken. She was condemned, and the wreck advertised for sale. Mr. Poynter, a Solicitor (and afterwards Police Magistrate), bought her, got her afloat, and brought her into harbour, where she was broken up and sold piecemeal. The purchaser is said to have made an uncommonly good bargain. She was a new vessel of 557 tons register, and this was her first voyage. There was much sympathy with Captain Arnold, but no blame appears to have attached to anyone; the accident, however, elicited the suggestion that it was improper for a vessel of any burthen to attempt leaving the harbour, without boats to tow her out, and give help in case of need. It was also suggested that the island—Fifeshire Island as it was afterwards, and still is, called—was suitable for making docks, which, if made, Nelson would have the means of laying vessels up for repair equal to any harbour in New Zealand.
There is an amusing story told of one of the passengers by the "Fifeshire.' He bought in Wellington from Baron Alsdorf, a pair of rabbits, for which he gave twenty shillings each, and from which he expected to realise a large fortune. He bored everyone with his coming wealth. He would rub his hands in great glee, and say "A pair of rabbits in three years will produce half a million ! Now supposing I only get ten shillings each for them, what a fortune that would be." Unfortunately his dreams of rabbit-made wealth were soon dispelled, for he found shortly after his arrival in Nelson that his two rabbits both belonged to that sex which does not concern itself with maternal duties.
For a right understanding of much that follows, it is necessary to mention that there had been from the first some dissatisfaction with the Company on the part of several of the "original land purchasers."
The following was one ground of complaint:—
The printed land orders handed to them just as they were on the point of sailing, were found to be unsatisfactory, because they contained conditions, which had neither been agreed to nor mentioned before—such as the obligation to remain in Nelson 12 months, or to pay the full price of a cabin passage which had been offered to each purchaser without any such conditions—and they omitted an important condition which had been made much of, viz., that the site of Nelson was to be the best available in the South Island at the time of the selection being made. A protest was made, which was the first of many the land purchasers found it necessary to make against the proceedings of the Company. The question of the right of the Company to substitute fresh conditions for those originally agreed upon was subsequently raised by Mr Deans, from whom was demanded the £75 for his passage, upon the ground that he had not remained 12 months in Nelson. Mr Deans said he had not agreed to anything of the sort; that the land order originally sent to him contained no such stipulation, but that he had been asked to send back that order to the office of the Company "in order to correct an informality"— that he could not get the amended order back before he sailed— but he was told it would be sent out to the Company's agent for him by the first opportunity. Mr Deans came out and was not satisfied to remain. On applying for his land order, instead of receiving that which he left with the Secretary in London for "the correction of an informality," he was offered another marked "Special and not transferable," and which contained the condition as to residence, which the original order did not. The agent demanded the £75, which Mr Deans refused to pay, and made an angry protest that the land order was not the same, or of a like nature with that delivered to him when he purchased the land, and that he would not consent to the new conditions.
There was a long correspondence between Mr Deans and Captain Wakefield and the Directors in England. The latter were threatened with an action for damages by a brother of Mr Deans, who was a writer to the 'Signet' in Scotland, with the result that the Court of Directors took counsel's opinion, and in consequence of this opinion agreed to forego their claim against Mr Deans, and to give him a land order in the original form.
"The New Zealand Temperance Association" was formed during the first month after the arrival of the emigrants. In the page 26first number of the ' Examiner,' an advertisement informed the public, that "a Society has been formed in Nelson in connection with the New British and Foreign Temperance Society, and that the Committee will be happy to receive the names of individuals who may be disposed to unite with them. The books are kept by Mr A. Saunders, who will feel much pleasure in giving any information as to the nature, objects, and prospects of the Society."
The first members usually addressed public meetings on Sunday afternoons from Ben the bullock driver's cart, who was by no means a shining example of temperance habits. Ben, however, was converted and soon became an earnest apostle of teetotalism. He gathered a large proportion of the Nelson children into a Band of Hope, which was not without influence upon the drinking habits of some of the residents. In this he had the hearty support of Mr Mathew Campbell, of whom we shall hear more in connection with the establishment of primary schools,
There was much indignation at the imposition of Customs duties upon stores and effects brought out by the emigrants, and a general protest was made against this and other alleged sins of commission and omission by the Government, in the columns of the local newspaper. This was the beginning of a long series of complaints.
On the 8th March the settlement was saddened by the death of Mr Angelo Bell, who was Secretary to Captain Wakefield, and a brother of Mr Francis Dillon Bell (now Sir Francis), the acting Secretary to the New Zealand Company in London. Mr Angelo Bell was universally liked, and to this day old settlers speak of him in warm terms of kindly regret. He shared in the hardships to which all were more or less exposed, and caught a cold from sleeping on the damp ground, which settled upon his lungs, and carried him off in the twentieth year of his age. He was buried in the cemetery at the Port, the burial service being read over his remains by Dr. Mac Shane, Resident Medical Officer. Minute guns were fired from the "Lord Auckland" and the "Brougham" during the progress of the procession, the flags of all vessels in port were half-mast, and nearly everyone in the settlement attended to pay a last mark of respect to the memory of a most estimable young man.
On March the 15th, the "Bolton," Captain Robinson, arrived via Port Nicholson, with 354 emigrants, and the following cabin passengers:—Mr and Mrs Tod, 3 children, and 2 servants, Mr Byng, and Mr Titchener. Dr. Morgan, Surgeon Superintendent.
On the 19th March the Rev. Mr Hadfield (now Primate) arriyed from Kapiti, and on the following day, Palm Sunday, performed Divine Service in the Mess-room which had been erected for the surveyors on Church-hill. On Tuesday morning page 27he christened several children—the earliest natives of Nelson of British descent.
The first to die in the new settlement was Thomas Cresswell, who came out in the "Whitby," but was removed on arrival here on board the "Will Watch," which had been turned into a kind of hospital. He was buried on the Fifeshire Island, but all efforts to find the exact spot have been unsuccessful.
The necessity for a road to the Port was recognised, and the work was put in hand without delay, and by the end of March it was making good progress.
The next important work was the cutting of the Trafalgarstreet dyke or ditch to carry off the water which must descend from the hills during the winter. The Company's agent made arrangements for cutting this large ditch, the water from which would run into the river and serve as an outlet for the drains which it would be necessary to cut in various directions. The ditch was completed, and was long one of the most noticeable, as it was one of the most useful artificial constructions in the Town, but there is no sign of it left now.
The last day of March saw the arrival of the barque "Hope," nine dayg from Sydney. She brought 70 cows with many calves, 3 bulls, 6 mares, and a number of goats. Ten cows died on the voyage, and one bull was so much upset by sea sickness and the discomforts of the ship, that he was not expected to recover, but history does not tell us whether he did so or not. On this day, too, there was a fire, which destroyed two houses under one roof, situated near the Maitai, and belonging to Mr Macgary and Mr Nichol. The lower part of the building and the chimney were of clay, and the upper part fern and toi-toi. A spark from the hearth ignited the more inflammable portion, and in a very short time the building and contents were totally destroyed. There was no insurance in those days, nor would the "risk" be such as any Company would have accepted. The loss was a serious one—alleviated, however, by the ready and kindly help of friends and neighbours, some of whose fragile and inflammable houses had been similarly destroyed.
By the end of March the Company's emigration barracks were empty, with the exception of a few women and one sick man. The demand for labour was such, that the Company were asking for more men at their rate of wages, and private employers did not find it easy to get their work done. There was work to do, and plenty of it, with fair but not exorbitant wages. Four brickfields were in a state of forwardness, and brick chimneys were being built. Arrangements were concluded with private surveyors to lay off the country sections, the Company's staff being insufficient to push this most necessary work ahead fast enough. Mr Tuckett, the Chief Surveyor, had sailed in the "Rory O More "for Massacre Bay, on an exploring expedition page 28for the purpose of ascertaining more fully the capabilities of the land there, both as to its geological productions and its fertility as an agricultural district. The gardens of Messrs. Tytler and others who came out with the Preliminary Expedition were producing lettuces, potatoes, turnips, onions, and very fine french beans—and the place was assuming a settled and thriving appearance.
The climate of Nelson was thus described by a settler who arrived in 1842:—" The climate of this place (Nelson) is certainly delightful, and I should say constitutes the settlement's greatest value—indeed this is the country's praise, The thermometer in my house last summer ranged between 65° and 75°, and in winter from 45° to 55°: the former was characterised by a bright sunshine and clear atmosphere, warm but not oppressive. We generally had a few hours' rain at full moon and change, which caused vegetation to spring rapidly. In the latter we had rain more frequently, but the general character of the weather between May and August is a smart frost from between three and four o'clock in the morning till seven; then followed by a clear and beautiful sunshine, and much more agreeable for working out of doors than the summer season. There is very little broken weather for the labourer in this country; he at least may safely calculate on 50 out of the 52 weeks of the year. I have had in my own garden beans and peas in blossom all the winter, and never for a single day have wanted plenty of vegetables, such as brocoli, brussels sprouts, savoy, cauliflower, turnips, &c., &c. Although the soil is generally light, yet my opinion is that the superiority of climate will more than make up for it, and should the settlers go to work in a proper way, a very few years will give them plenty of everything and to spare."
It is difficult to realise now, that in 1842, on one side, and for some distance up the Maitai River, and up the Brook-street stream (this last locality being then called Little Scotland) there was a dense forest of trees of large size, and considerable value. There were to be found mati, pukatere, tikotea, totara, white and red pine, several kinds of birch, and the curious milk tree, which, when tapped, yields a sap like milk, and by no means unpalatable. There is nothing left of this primeval forest now, although the locality is called "the Wood." Birds, too, were plentiful in the Wood, and afforded some sport to the settlers. The wild pigeon, the kaka, the weka, and the pukaki, were numerous; but have entirely disappeared before the progress of settlement, and the native rat, once so serious a nuisance, has taken to other haunts, although once or twice, of late years, we have been reminded that he is by no means extinct.
Early in June, 1842, the prices of various artioles of food were as follows:—Beef, 1/-; mutton, 1/2 per lb.; fowls, 12/- per pair; ducks, 20/- per pair; bread, 1/1 per 21b. loaf; eggs, 4/- per page 29dozen; potatoes, £4 10/- per ton. There were no geese or turkeys. Wages were 12/- a day for mechanics, and from 5/- to 7/6 a day for labourers.
Postscript.—Among the passengers brought by these three vessels were—
"Fifeshiee": Mr and Mrs Poynter, Mr and Mrs "White, Mrs Stevens, Mrs Duffy, Mrs Durley and child, Mrs Wallace, Miss Wallace, Messrs Jolly, William Cullen, J. R. Cotterill, Alfred Saunders, Cyrus Goulter, Alexander Kerr, Trower, Draye, and Slater; ship's doctor, Spence; and 150 male and female emigrants, including children.
"Mary Anne": Mr. and Mrs. Elliott and two children. Mr. and Mrs Vallè and five children, Mr. and Mrs. Howroyd and daughter, Messrs Boulcott (2), Cautley, Greaves, Young, and Richardson, and 176 male and female emigrants, including children.
"Lord Auckland": Mr. and Mrs. Otterson, Mr. and Mrs. Jenkins, Messrs Patchett, Greenhow, Sclanders, Fell, F. Jenkins, Moon, Graham, Sweet, Barnicoat, and Thompson; and 155 male and female emigrants, including children.