White Wings Vol II. Founding Of The Provinces And Old-Time Shipping. Passenger Ships From 1840 To 1885
Survey Party Sent Out
Survey Party Sent Out.
There was a business-like deliberation and thoroughness about the company's preliminary arrangements for founding Nelson. It might have been thought that the company's agents in Wellington would have been instructed to make all the preliminary arrangements for the Nelson contingent, but that was not the company's way. A separate organisation was set up, and three ships were fitted out to carry the survey expedition to New Zealand—the Whitby, 347 tons, Captain Lacey; the Will Watch, 251 tons, Captain Walker; and the brig Arrow, 212 tons, Captain Geary. On board the Whitby were 59 officials and labourers, under Captain Arthur Wakefield, R.N., who was to be the company's chief agent at Nelson. The Will Watch carried 45 labourers and others in charge of Mr. Frederick Tuckett, chief surveyor, who afterwards selected the site of the Otago settlement. The Arrow carried stores.
It will be noted that the Wakefield brothers figured prominently in the early history of New Zealand—Edward Gibbon Wakefield was the father of the whole colonising scheme, Colonel Wakefield was agent and chief resident officer for the Wellington settlement, and Captain Wakefield was agent and chief resident officer of the Nelson settlement. They were all men "who got things done." Unlike his brothers, the captain had conciliatory manners, and was described as "wise, temperate, and firm; unassuming, with self-confidence, commanding respect when seeming to show it; never for a moment the slave of passion, always the active servant of duty; he was by nature cut out for the founder of a colony, for a leader of men." He was evidently a man of fine character, and his tragic end surrounded his name with something of a halo.
The Whitby and the Will Watch sailed from Gravesend on Sunday afternoon, May 2, 1841, after a service on board the Will Watch. They went down the Thames to the accompaniment of a salute of twenty-one guns, for those were the days when we did picturesque things in a picturesque manner. Nowadays we are too busy, and leave the docks with three hoots from a steamer's siren. The Arrow did not get away until May 21, but she beat the other vessels of the expedition and arrived at Port Nicholson on August 28. Next to arrive was the Will Watch, which dropped anchor on September 8, and she was followed ten days later by the Whitby.
Hobson was in Wellington, and the expeditionary ships remained at anchor while he and Colonel Wakefield fought out the question of site. Hobson was emphatic in refusing to approve of going to Akaroa; he said he had instructions to place a church settlement there—evidently the germ of Canterbury—and he went page 58 off to Auckland again with apparently nothing definitely settled as to where Nelson was to be located.
As soon as his Excellency had left Port Nicholson Colonel Wakefield went aboard the Whitby and told his brother to go and see the leading chief at Kapiti (Rauparata) about getting some good land reported to be located about Blind Bay. The expedition accordingly set out on October 2. Captain Wakefield had a satisfactory interview with the chief, and the expedition went across the straits to Astrolabe Roads to spy out the land. Boats were sent off every day to explore. Encouraging reports were made, and it was practically decided to fix the site of the settlement at Kaiteretere, but Wakefield was not satisfied, and ordered further investigations to be made in the south-east corner of the bay, which resulted in the discovery of Nelson harbour, or Wakatu, to use its Maori name.