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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Wellington Provincial District]

Featherston — Carkeek, Stephen.


Carkeek, Stephen. This old colonist, who died in Featherston in 1878, was born in 1815 at Swansea, Wales, and was a very prominent figure in the very early days of colonisation in New Zealand. Arriving in New South Wales as first officer of a convict ship, he afterwards commanded a revenue cutter, and landed in the Colony as an officer of the Customs Service in 1840. Under, instructions from Governor Hobson, he had command of the Government brig, and took the survey party from the Bay of Islands to jay off the site of the city of Auckland. In 1841 he established the Customs in Nelson, erecting the first wooden building, which he took with him from Russell. Remaining in Nelson till 1849, Mr. Carkeek was then transferred to Wellington as Collector of Customs, and became one of the members of Sir George Grey's first Legislative Council. In 1865 he established the Customs at the Chatham Islands, and in 1858 became the first Inspector and Commissioner of Customs for New Zealand. The first time-ball, to give nautical time to the shipping, was established by Mr. Carkeek, who was an enthusiastic astronomer. Retiring from the service in 1867, he settled in Featherston, where he constructed a private observatory. His widow (née Piotti) died in 1893 in Wellington. Of the surviving children, two of the sons are land surveyors in New Zealand, and a daughter is married to Mr. J. T. Stewart, of Aramoho, Wanganui.