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

The Aurora

The Aurora.

Taking the emigrant vessels, not in the order of sailing from England, but in the order of their arrival at Port Nicholson, we have first the Aurora, 550 tons, Captain Theophilus Heale, which brought out 148 souls, 58 being males and 90 females. Among the cabin passengers were Major Richard Baker (the magistrate appointed by the New Zealand Company) and Mr. Edward Stafford, afterwards Sir Edward Stafford. Of the voyage out there is nothing of exceptional interest to record. It was very much like hundreds of other passages made in subsequent years by other emigrant ships, but there is always attaching to the well-named Aurora the special interest that she was actually the first of a long train of vessels to arrive in New Zealand with people who had come over 12,000 miles of ocean to found the Britain of the South.

Wellington people have had the good taste to give the names of their first fleet ships to various streets, and the result is that wherever one goes in the town there is a name that recalls the stirring days when the city was born. Aurora, Oriental, Tory, Cuba, Adelaide, Bolton, and so on—you will find them all figuring on the street name-plates, and you cannot help thinking it is fitting and proper that the "old barkies" should have their memories perpetuated in this way. One could only wish that the younger generations knew a little more about the real meaning of these names.

Like all the ships of the New Zealand Company, the Aurora was well victualled, including supplies of "wine, spirits, and porter," which were described as ample.

The passengers, being all picked settlers, had no difficulty in amusing themselves on the long voyage, and we read of the dancing and other forms of entertainment which are very much the sort of thing with which the immigrants of to-day amuse themselves on their brief run in steamers that keep to a time-table.

On the whole the weather was good, but off the Cape of Good Hope and in the Southern Ocean some heavy gales were encountered, and the ship lost a topmast or two, as well as a yardarm. She was a good sea boat, page 18 however, and came gallantly through it all. Christmas Day was remembered on account of an immense iceberg that was passed.

It was not until January 17th that New Zealand was sighted, and on that day the ship entered Port Hardy. There a whaler named McLaren gave Colonel Wakefield's message, which was to go on to Port Nicholson. The Aurora was off the Heads on the 20th, but a nor'-wester kept her out for a couple of days, during which time she was visited by Wakefield, who had by this time returned from his travels.

Piloted by Captain "Georgie" Young, the well-known whaler, the Aurora entered port on the 22nd of January, 1840, after a passage of 126 days. She dropped anchor about half-way between Somes Island and Petone Beach, and her welcome was a salute from the Cuba's guns.

This epoch-making voyage of the Aurora was to be her last but one. In April of the same year she left Port Nicholson for the North, and was totally wrecked on the northern head of the Kaipara Harbour when leaving the river loaded with kauri spars, and carrying Port Nicholson mails for England.