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

the Tory Sets Sail

the Tory Sets Sail.

On May 5th, 1839, the Tory left Gravesend, and her departure was really the starting-point in the history of the systematic colonisation of New Zealand. Colonel Wakefield's instructions were to select a site for a settlement, and for that purpose he was to "proceed to the Company's territory" on the West Coast of the North Island and to the shores of Cook Strait. Actually the Company did not possess a legal claim to any land whatever, but it had taken over the assets of the Company formed in 1825, which, through its agent, Captain Herd of the Rosanna, was supposed to have bought from the natives certain tracts of country—in particular, the land at Hokianga, named Herd's Point.

Calling at Plymouth, the Tory finally sailed from that port on May 12th, and as she was a fast sailer she made a good passage to New Zealand, at times doing over eleven knots. There is not much doubt that her turn of speed was not merely accidental. The British Government by no means sanctioned the enterprise of the Company, and sent a frigate in pursuit of the Tory, but not before the latter had secured a good start, and with her fine sailing qualities there was no fear of her being overtaken.

Twenty-six days after leaving Plymouth she crossed the Equator. Chaffers, being an old Navy man, was anxious to try the ship against a man-of-war, but he never had the luck to fall in with one. However, he consoled himself by overhauling and passing everything that he sighted bound in the same direction, including a large Spanish ship of 900 tons named the Colon, whose name is thus oddly enough perpetuated owing to the sporting instincts of the ex-R.N. skipper of the saucy Tory.

In six weeks the ship was off Rio de Janeiro, and the longitude of the Cape of Good Hope was crossed just two days under two months out from Plymouth. Thence Chaffers set a course that took him well to the south of the fortieth parallel, and he struck most unpleasant weather, most of it coming from the wrong direction.

A landfall was made a little south of Cape Farewell on August 16th. Chaffers then stood to the north, and next day, when off Jackson's Head, the ship was visited by some natives, who paddled off in their canoes. That night the anchor was dropped off Ship Cove, Cook's favourite refitting place, and next day, Sunday, August 18th, the Tory was warped into the Cove, a salute of eight guns was fired, and the New Zealand flag hoisted. Several days were spent here, and the surrounding country explored, but the look of it did not appeal to Wakefield, so on the 31st the ship got under way, page 11 and going through what is now called Tory Channel, visited the whaling stations at Te Awaiti and Port Underwood. It was at Te Awaiti that Wakefield met Mr. Richard Barrett, "Dicky Barrett," as he was called, the bluff, good-hearted whaler who had first settled at what is now New Plymouth, and married a Maori wife. At this time Barrett was residing at Te Awaiti, where he was head of one of the whaling parties.

When Barrett heard that the Tory's party was going to Port Nicholson, he agreed it was quite suitable for a settlement such as was proposed, and when the ship sailed on September 20th he went as pilot, bringing with him quite a retinue of Maori friends, who were accommodated in the 'tween decks. Port Nicholson, it may be explained, was observed by Cook in his second voyage, but not so named by him, the name Nicholson being bestowed by Captain Herd after his friend and patron Captain John Nicholson, at one time master of the brig Haweis, and harbourmaster at Port Jackson from 1821 to 1842. the Tory entered the port by what is now called Chaffer's Passage, and before she came to an anchor the two leading chiefs (Te Puni and his nephew, Wharepouri) put off to her and warmly approved the idea of a Pakeha settlement. Continuing her way, the ship dropped anchor at the northern end of Somes Island (then known as Matiu), and there she was boarded by a number of other natives hailing from the Petone end of the harbour. They all knew Barrett, who was related to some of the notable people through his wife, and the reception was a cordial one. Towards nightfall all the natives but the two chiefs previously mentioned went ashore, and Wakefield and his guests had a long korero about buying land.