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


When dealing with the history of the beginnings of settlement in Hawke's Bay we are on somewhat different ground from that of other parts from which settlement spread—such, for instance, as the four large large ports, and New Plymouth and Nelson. In each ease, as far as the other provinces are concerned, we have something more or less similar—the decision to form a settlement, the dispatch from the Old Country of a ship or ships, the arrival at the New Zealand port, and then the gradual spreading of the newcomers back into the adjacent country. Hawke's Bay was handicapped to a certain extent by the fact that it had no good harbour, such as was possessed by Auckland, Wellington, Canterbury, and Dunedin. There was no doubt about the quality of the land, and had the district been blessed with a safe haven we would probably have heard of Hawke's Bay much earlier in the shipping history of New Zealand. Otago, which was the last of what we may call the provincial districts to be settled by parties organised in the Old Country, dates from the year 1848, but it is not until 1857 that we hear of an overseas vessel calling at Hawke's Bay, and even then it was not to bring passengers, but to pick up wool, which shows us the settlement of the back-country must have been accomplished in some way rather different from that to which we have been accustomed when reading of the founding of other provinces. Hawke's Bay was settled by way of the backdoor, and it was not until we come to 1864 that we read of the first ship to arrive from the Old Country direct with immigrants on board.

Being an open roadstead, except for small vessels, Hawke's Bay was long handicapped in the matter of shipping facilities, but her settlers were of the right stamp, and to-day they have triumphed over these disabilities in a manner that calls forth one's keen admiration.

Apart from the whalers there is not much doubt that the Rev. W. Colenso, the missionary, was the first white man to settle in the Bay. He arrived in the Nimrod from the Bay of Islands on December 29, 1844, which is a definite date in the history of the province. Dealing with these early days, Mr. W. Dinwiddie, in "Old Hawke's Bay," says: "The whalers were already here when Mr. Colenso arrived in 1844. Mr. Alexander settled at Onepoto in 1846. Hollis opened the first public house at the Port in 1851. In 1852 there were about 50 whites with their families settled at the Port, including Mr. Villers and Mr. McKain. Mr. Donald McLean was the first Government officer to reside there, and he held a magistrate's Court in the "Whare Kawana" erected for him by the natives in 1852 in Battery Road. By this time the Port was already a placepage 96 of trade in Maori produce. There were eight hotels, often full of travellers. The settlement of the country began in 1849, when Messrs. H. S. Tiffen and J. S. Tiffen came from the Wairarapa and settled on the plains. Land was quickly taken up and in 1852 Mr. Alexander and Mr. Burton did a good business carting wool and other produce from the country to the Port. The first sale of sections in Napier took place in 1855, and the same year it was appointed a port of entry.