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

Troopships Of Maori War Days

Troopships Of Maori War Days.

An interesting chapter in Anckland's shipping history could be written round the troopships that have visited the Waitemata. Owing to the uncertainty of the attitude of the Maoris, troops were drafted to New Zealand at a very early stage, and after Heke's war of 1845 the feeling of insecurity was accentuated. Then when hostilities broke out in Taranaki, soldiers were rushed out, until by the middle 'sixties there was quite an army. Some idea of what the Maori War meant to Auckland in the matter of shipping and trade—caused through this large influx of troops—may be gauged from a study of the imports. In 1853 the total value of the goods imported into Auckland was £253,926, in 1863 it had risen to £959,219, while in 1864 there was a phenomenal jump to £2,219,287, which seems almost incredible, and as a matter of fact that figure was not reached again until 1900.

From a very early date there was a garrison of Imperial troops at Fort Britomart, the picturesque headland which now lies buried in the reclamation somewhere about the head of the present King's Wharf. After Heke's War with the sacking of Kororareka, Sir George Grey hit on a very good idea for the protection of infant Auckland. He arranged to bring out a large number of time-expired soldiers with their families, who were to be located in a cordon of villages running from Howick, through Panmure and Otahuhu, to Onehunga, to form a screen of protection against any possible invasion of Maoris from the Waikato, where there was always more or less disaffection. Many of these old soldiers came from Ireland, and in all these villages you will to-day come across many names redolent of the "Ould Sod." These pensioners, or "Fencibles," as they were called in those days, came out in the late 'forties and 'fifties. Each family was given an acre of land. A double cottage was built On the boundary between each two acres so that the villages were made up of these semi-detached cottages scattered about. It is interesting to know that the bricks for the chimneys were brought from Sydney. A few of these high-roofed cottages, somewhat modified, of course, are still to be found standing, particularly at Panmure, where in one of them is living an old lady who came out from Ireland in 1848 as a girl of twelve.

In dealing with the troopships I have taken them in their chronological order.

By the Minerva, a 691-ton barque, Captain McBrath, there arrived at Auckland on October 8, 1847, Major General Pitt, Mrs. Pitt and family of eight, Captain and Mrs. Greenwood and theirpage 117 sons, and Captain Smith of the 55th Regiment, who was accompanied by Mrs. Smith. Major Pitt remained in Auckland, where the family was well-known for many years.

A large party arrived by the Sir Robert Peel, a ship of 623 tons, commanded by Captain Champion. She sailed from London on September 20, 1846, called at Hobart for provisions, and made Auckland on January 4, 1847, bringing out Lieut.-Colonel Gould of the 65th Regiment, Captain Smilie of the 99th, 60 rank and file of the 60th Regiment, and detachments of the 11th, 58th, and 99th Regiments, together with 57 women and 79 children. The ship was bound for Sydney after discharge at Auckland, but was wrecked at Avoca Bay, about 50 miles north of Sydney Heads, no lives being lost.

The Ramillies, a ship of 750 tons, under Captain Maclean, which arrived at Auckland on August 5, 1847, after a passage of 111 days from London, brought Lieut.-Colonel Bolton, Captain Kenny, 80 men of the Fencibles, 56 women and 120 children.

The Sir Robert Sale, a ship of 741 tons, under Captain Louder, brought out to Auckland 60 of the Fencibles, with 60 women and 130 children. Captain McDonald, who was in charge of the party, was accompanied by his wife and family of six. The ship left London on July 1, and arrived at Auckland on October 11, 1847.

In the Sir George Seymour, Major Gray brought out a party of 77 Fencibles, with 58 women and 109 children. This vessel was a 867-ton barque, in command of Captain Millman. She left London on August 10 and reached Auckland on November 26, 1847.

One of the few ships that has her name perpetuated in the vicinity of Auckland as a place-name is the Ann, which brought out the pensioners who settled at Otahuhu. Ann's Bridge, on the Great South Road, near the Westfield Freezing Works, was built by the pensioners, and named after the old ship. A barque of 801 tons, under Captain S. C. Walker, the Ann arrived in Auckland on May 16, 1848, having sailed from London, via Belfast, on Christmas Day. Captain Hickson was in charge of the party, and he was accompanied by his wife and family. Most of the people she brought out came from the North of Ireland, there being 73 men, 66 women, and 107 children. On her way down the Irish Channel the barque touched the Arklow Bank, but was not damaged. She did not clear the land until January 7. A call was made at the Cape of Good Hope, which was reached on April 12, the barque remaining five days in port. A fairly bad epidemic of influenza was experienced on board, and twelve deaths occurred during the voyage.

During the passage of the barque Ichnumen, 565 tons, Captain T. Ennis, which brought out a large party of Fencibles, there was more than the usual number of deaths—twenty-two mostly among the children. Sailing from London on January 14, 1852, and Portland fourteen days later, she arrived at Auckland on May 27, landing 78 of the Fencibles, with 68 women and 113 children.

A party consisting of 48 sappers and miners, and four gunners of the Royal Artillery, together with a large number of womenpage 118 and children, landed at Auckland on August 26, 1850, from the barque Lord William Bentinck, 443 tons, Captain Allan. She sailed from the Downs on March 26, but sustained some damage during very severe weather in the Channel, and was compelled to put into Falmouth for repairs. She left Falmouth on April 7, the passage from the Downs to Auckland thus taking 153 days.

The ship Euphrates, 675 tons, Captain Barrow, arrived at Auckland on April 26, 1855, with a detachment of the 65th Regiment, consisting of Captain McGregor, Lieut. C. S. Harris, and 160 privates, and 22 women and children. She left Portsmouth on December 27, 1854, and had a pleasant passage until she reached 40 degrees south, after which she encountered a succession of heavy west and north-west gales, which, however, did but very little damage on board.

A protracted passage to Auckland was made by the Spirit of Trade, a fine barque of 450 tons, Captain McCulloch, which brought out a detachment of the 65th Regiment under Captain Barton from Queenstown, and a detachment of the Royal Artillery under Lieut. McNaughton from Woolwich. She arrived at Auckland on December 4, 1858. Her long passage was due to the very severe weather she encountered.

A detachment of the 65th Regiment under Captain George Lang arrived in Auckland by the Nourmahal on December 5, 1859 An exceptionally fine vessel of 846 tons, commanded by Captain Brayley, the Nourmahal left Gravesend on August 20, and crossed the Equator on the thirty-ninth day out. On October 18 she called at Tristan da Cunha for supplies. During the voyage a marriage was celebrated and there was one birth.

Another ship which brought some of the 65th men in 1859 was the Sir George Pollock, 630 tons, commanded by Captain T. H. Withers. Sailing from Queenstown on May 15, she passed the meridian of the Cape on July 19, and when in the Southern Ocean struck a severe gale, during which a big sea pooped the ship, the stern windows being smashed and the after-cabin flooded. There were three births and one death during the voyage. Captain C. F. Shawe, of the 40th Regiment, Ensign Nullit, and 60 men of the 60th Regiment, landed at Auckland. In addition the ship carried 47 passengers.

A vessel that brought a large detachment of troops to New Zealand was the True Briton, a ship of 685 tons, Captain H. W. Norris. Sailing from Deal on August 15, 1852, she arrived at Wellington on December 13, and landed 84 men, 14 women, and 13 children of the 65th Regiment, the officers being Lieut. Priestly and Ensigns Buck and Wemyss. She had a pleasant voyage, though somewhat protracted. There were two deaths and one birth on the way out. The landing of such a large number of troops created no little excitement on the beach, said the Wellington "Independent," recording the arrival.

The ship also had on board a detachment for Auckland, to which port she proceeded, arriving on February 7, 1853. Shepage 119 landed 87 rank and file of the Fencibles and the 58th Regiment, Captain J. E. Petley being in command.

After 1855 there was a lull, everything being quiet until the outbreak of hostilities in Taranaki in 1860, and then in the Waikato in 1863. Ten thousand troops were brought out to New Zealand to meet this new situation. Some came by sailing ship and some by steamer, and the sailing vessels concerned have already been dealt with in Vol. I of "White Wings"—included in that number being the Empress and the Light Brigade, two of the largest sailers employed as troopships.