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

Port At Last

Port At Last.

The Three Kings were sighted on October 6, and on the morning of the 8th they were off Point Rodney. "About one o'clock," the diary goes on to say, "we saw a sail ahead. It appeared a large vessel, and the captain thinks it is the Duchess of Argyle. The breeze favoured us a little, and we were making up to her fast, when we saw a boat go alongside her which we supposed to be a pilot. About 5 o'clock the town of Auckland was in sight. It became quite calm. At 7 o'clock a boat came alongside with the pilot for us. Two natives were in the boat. Every eye was attracted by these brown men. The pilot said the Duchess was only about fourteen miles ahead of us, and was on a sandbank. He informed us of the death of Governor Hobson, and of the dullness of trade in New Zealand, also the price of provisions, which rather disheartened the emigrants.

"We sailed along gently to Auckland harbour, and there cast anchor at a qnarter past ten, after a passage of 16 weeks, or 112 days, beating the Duchess of Argyle by 10 days. On Sunday morning the Duchess got off the sandbank and came up alongside of us. Her mate page 45 came aboard us to get the news. Strange to say, we had 17 deaths and 8 births, and those were the exact figures for the Duchess as well.

"Through being a blowy morning we could not get ashore, on account of there being no proper landing place. In the afternoon the wind moderated, and I got once more on terra firma. A numher of natives were standing on the beach to welcome us to New Zealand. They all seemed glad to see us, shaking hands with us and talking in their own language."

"Monday, October 10.—The two vessels arriving at the same time has caused a great deal of stir in the town. It is reported that the Government is going to give the emigrants employment at levelling the streets in the town. The married men are to have 2/6 a day and the single men 1/6, and that they are to have the use of the Courthouse and a large hall and a printing office for shelter until they can procure more comfortable accommodation for themselves. Empty houses are numerous, consequently rents will be low. I understand a small place can be got for about 6/ per week…. Had pork and potatoes for dinner—a capital dinner it was. I relished it better than any roast beef or mutton I ever had. New Zealand pork is similar to mutton. This is the worst season for potatoes, but they are not to be laughed at by a person who has not tasted any for three months previous.

"Tuesday, October 11.—The passengers are to be landed tomorrow. The expense of landing the goods is 6/ a ton, besides the risk of getting them wet.

"Wednesday, October 12.—The town of Auckland lies in a hollow, and the houses are built close down to the beach. They are all built of wood and roofed with shingles, which have the appearance of slates. Shortland Crescent seems to be the principal street in the meantime. The first shop is a grog shop, the next is McLennan's store, the next a shoemaker's, the next a baker's, then a grog shop, then a pork stand, and a grog shop, etc., etc. I should say that upon an average there is one grog shop for every three of all the other trades put together. Shortland Crescent is a pretty steep hill. On the top are the soldiers' barracks, the church, the customhouse, bank, and other public buildings.

"On the top of the hill there is a piece of level ground, and a road leads to the Manukau, a distance of about ten miles, where a coach could run the whole way, though there are a good many windings. My friend Mr. Gould and I went along this road about four miles to a place called Epsom, where there is a little cultivation going on, but none near the town. I saw some beautiful cottages and gardens looking splendid. I saw two farms of about ten acres each under cultivation. There were wheat and barley looking very well. I also saw cattle, which had bells under their necks, so as to ring that they may be easily found when wanted…. I observed one plongh at work, drawn by four bullocks."

"Saturday, October 15.—The emigrants have been employed at levelling the streets these last three days. They don't seem to like it at all."

The diary becomes very scrappy after Auckland is reached. On the 16th of October Graham put himself and his goods on board a page 46 cutter called the Black Hawk, and sailed for the Bay of Islands, where his brother David was established. The cutter was sailed by "an old drunk sailor and two native boys." The inebriated mariner knew nothing about sailing a vessel beyond what he had picked up in the previous eight weeks. Cold salt pork and potatoes was the "cabin fare." With such a skipper it was not surprising that the voyage took until the 28th, and they knew so little about the coast that they had to send the native boys ashore to find out from the Maoris whether a point they had reached was or was not Cape Brett. The diarist met his brother David, and was much pleased with Kororareka, which he thought a beautiful place. It contained about 100 houses and about 800 inhabitants.

For the next week or so the diarist only has time to note the weather, with one excursion to Kerikeri and another over the hills, apparently somewhere up Waimate way. On November 9 we find him bound for Sydney on the brig Catherine. The diary finishes abruptly on November 16, when the vessel was still at sea.

One cannot help wishing this interesting diarist had continued to jot down his impressions, so that we could reconstruct more of the unconventional life of the early days. The Grahams returned to New Zealand, and later the brother David had a drapery store in Queen Street, Auckland, just above the present Vulcan Lane. Robert Graham, the diarist, became very well known in the province. He pioneered Waiwera, and was afterwards equally well known at Rotorua, just as the family was later identified with Wairakei. Robert Graham was a fine type of colonist, and the memory of the high esteem in which he was held lived long after he had passed away.