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The Old Whaling Days



The only French whalers reported on the Southern New Zealand coast during this year were at Banks Peninsula. Early in January the France was at Akaroa, and on the fifth of that month the captain called on Hempleman at Piraki, and the latter returned to Akaroa with his visitor. Again, on 18th February, a boat from a French whaler at Akaroa, called the Roland, took round a cask of beef to the Piraki station, and Hempleman returned in the boat at daylight next day. The crew of the Roland were very bad with scurvy, and two trips were accordingly made to Piraki and several boat loads of potatoes obtained for them.

We again hear of a French vessel at Akaroa, on 13th April, buying 3¾ cwt. of potatoes at the Piraki station. Two days afterwards the second mate of the French whaler was again at Piraki, with, Captain Chase of the George, and 3 tons of potatoes were sent round to Akaroa in Hempleman's big boat, towed by the two officers. During that week, until Sunday, 21st April, the French mate was at Piraki almost daily.

On 29th April the Perseverance came into Piraki, having on board of her some merchandise for Hempleman, brought from Akaroa. There was already in Piraki a French whaler called the Narval, commanded by Captain Duval, and from this time on, while they were in Piraki together, the relationship between the two French whalers, and the whaling station, was of the most friendly nature, although the keenest rivalry existed between them in the catching of the whales. Hempleman's log records the fact when one of his boats captured a large whale from “the French ships”; when the Perseverance supplied a crew to take the big boat round to Akaroa; when the Perseverance's page 322 boats were utilized by Hempleman's men; and when, on repeated occasions, the station's whales were cut alongside the Perseverance. When this vessel, which appeared to be the more friendly with the station, sailed on 27th July for Akaroa, “3 Pots, Try work, Gear, &c., &c., were transferred to Hempleman's boat, and on 11th August the station mated with the Narval until she, too, sailed on 26th August.

When the American whaler, Atlantic, was wrecked on the coast near Akaroa, on 12th June, the master, officers, and six of the seamen were taken to the Bay of Islands on board the France, which was then at Akaroa.