The Jubilee History of Nelson: From 1842 to 1892.
Sailing of the Preliminary Expedition.—Sermon on board the "Will Watch." Arrival at Port Nicholson.—Where is Nelson to be?—Pertinacity and obstinacy.—"Hobson's choice."—Departure for and arrival at Blind Bay.—Kaiteretere and Motueka.—Discovery of Wakatu.— Arrival of the Expedition there.—Christmas, 1841.—New Year's Day —First Cricket Match in Nelson.
The Preliminary Expedition for the choice and survey of the site of Nelson, sailed from Gravesend on Sunday afternoon, the 2nd May, 1841. The two vessels were the "Whitby," Captain Lacey, carrying the flag; and the "Will Watch,' Captain Walker. There was another vessel, the Arrow brig, Captain Geary, lying close to, laden with stores, but she did not sail until the 21st May. On the morning of that Sunday there was a large gathering on board the "Will Watch" of those who were going out by the ships; and there, too, were several who had come to wish the Expedition—God speed. Some of the Directors of the Company, including Mr Edward Gibbon Wakefield, the projector of the new scheme of colonisation, were present; and young Mr Francis Dillon Bell, the Secretary (now Sir Francis Dillon Bell, and Agent-General for New Zealand); and the late Mr H. S. Chapman, then Editor of the "New Zealand Portfolio," and afterwards for many years a Supreme Court Judge of the Colony. And amongst the crowd was a clergyman, the Rev. C. M. Torlesse, Rector of Stoke-by-Nayland, in Suffolk, a connection of the Wakefield family, who had come on board to say good-bye to his son, who was going out as an "improver" on the Survey staff; and to his connection Captain Wakefield, and other friends, and to preach a farewell sermon to the officers and men of the Expedition. The preacher took for his text the I Peter, iii. 13—"And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good?" The sermon was simple and practical, and therefore admirably suited to the occasion. The preacher assured his hearers that the Maoris were not the ferocious barbarians given to making murderous attacks on the settlers some ignorant and designing men had represented them to be. "The New Zealander," said the Rev. gentleman, "if struck, will strike again if provoked, insulted, or robbed and cheated by unprincipled or drunken men, will retaliate, and write his revenge sometimes in characters of blood, and if he remained patient under such treatment, he would be something much higher than a human being or something much lower. ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ The residence, unharmed, of the helpless missionary with his wife and children in the midst of them, for the last 20 years, is the best answer to the charges page 8brought against them of wanton and unprovoked cruelty. ∗ ∗ Your safeguard there, as here, is kind treatment to those around you." The following are extracts from the peroration of this appropriate sermon: "We have met each other for the first time, but shall probably meet no more in this world. In a few days the winds and the waves will have carried you far away. ∗ ∗ ∗ I pray earnestly that every earthly blessing may attend you; that you may carry British industry, British honor, British laws, to the remotest ends of the world. ∗ ∗ ∗ You are going forth to extend the British name in a far distant land, to lay probably the foundation of future greatness and splendour in the place of the forest which you will remove. ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ The heathen hear a good deal of Christianity from the missionaries, but they will judge it not by what they hear, but by what they see in you. However humble, obscure, and poor you may be, if you are honest, quiet, sober, and inoffensive in your conduct, patient under provocation, contented in the midst of privation, the force of this silent preaching by example will be very great; on the other hand, if you call yourselves Christians and yet exhibit no fruits of grace, but are immoral in conduct, violent in language, unjust in your dealings, they will pronounce the whole matter to be a trick, a lie, and an imposture."
That part of the Waimea Plain for some time called Brook Green, was on the building of the picturesque little stone church, named Stoke, after the village of the Rev. Mr Torlesse, who sent out the bell which hangs in the turret.
In the afternoon the anchors were weighed, and directly they were up and everything ready to start, a salute of 21 guns was fired, and the "Whitby" and "Will Watch" sailed away for New Zealand in search of a site upon which to estab'ish the settlement of Nelson.
Such was the history and character of the man as gathered from the oral testimony of a few of the survivors of those who knew him in the first days of the Nelson settlement; and from various letters and articles in the "Nelson Examiner," published shortly after his untimely death in the shocking Massacre at the Wairau. A poem entitled—
"The Recantation of the Gentlemen and Inhabitants of Nelson, to the High and Mighty Prince Fizgig," &c., &c. by the late Mr Alfred Domett,
has unfortunately been almost entirely destroyed. The following fragment has, however, escaped destruction, and is no doubt intended as a comparison between Captain Wakefield and Governor Fitzroy:—
"But there was a Scotch cap, and an old shooting jacket, And the form they enveloped was ever revered; And authority needing no gold lace to back it Was felt and acknowledged where'er it appeared."
On board the ships were, in addition to Captain Wakefield, the Surveyors and their staff of assistants. Their names are given in full, so far as it is possible to ascertain them, at the end of this chapter. In personal attendance upon Captain Wakefield was William Songer (who had charge of the flag), now residing in Halifax-street, Nelson, and the storekeeper was Mr James Howard, who had formerly served as a gunner under his present chief, on board the "Rhadamanthus," and was destined to die by his side, and to be buried in the same grave with him, at the Wairau. Dr Alexander MacShane was on board the "Whitby" as Surgeon in charge of the Expedition, and Doctor Beck looked after the health of those on board the "Will Watch." The late J. S. Cross, and W. Claringbold, came from Deal, as pilots; and the former, who died in 1882, was Harbor Master and Pilot for Nelson from a short time after his first arrival to the day of his death.page 10
According to the evidence of all the survivors of the Expedition, the brig "Arrow," although the last to sail, was the first to arrive in Port Nicholson; she was followed in a few days by the "Will Watch," and the "Whitby" arrived last.
Nothing definite had been settled before the Expedition sailed from England as to the site of the future settlement. A rather vague description of some excellent country suitable for the purpose on the East Coast of the Middle Island, had been sent by Colonel Wakefield to the Company, and there seems to have been a general impression in the minds of those on board the ships that they were bound for some place in the neighborhood of Banks' Peninsula.
This important question, however, was left to be decided by the Agents of the Company in concert with the local Government," whose special knowledge it was considered would be invaluable in selecting the best of several eligible sites.
But if the Company expected to have little or no difficulty in arranging the site, "acting in concert with the local Government, it reckoned without its host. Colonel Wakefield hankered after the fertile lands at the back of Banks' Peninsula, which from their proximity to the older settlement would have suited the Company admirably. The local Government, in the person of Governor Hobson (who came out at first with the rank of Consul) would not hear of any such thing. Let the Expedition go on to Auckland, where lands well adapted to their needs could be obtained. Auckland was to be the capital of the Colony—the prosperity of Auckland was therefore the first question; let the emigrants go there, and help to make it what the Governor wished it to be—the commercial capital as well as the seat of Government. For about three weeks the parleying went on. The Colonel was pertinacious, the Governor was obstinate. Neither would give way. The Colonel would not send the ships to Auckland, and the Governor would not let them go anywhere near Port Cooper. Time was slipping by, the intending settlers might be expected in a few weeks, and nothing had been done to select and survey the lands they had paid for, and of which they expected possession on arrival. Under these circumstances there was nothing for it but to look out for another site, somewhere near to Wellington, and Nelson was literally "Hobson's choice."
The Company was in this awkward position, that it had assured all those who had bought land, that the central parts of New Zealand would be the field of the Company's operations. Had the second Expedition been sent up to Auckland, the Company would have been exposed to the severe and deserved reproaches of the deluded purchasers.
The Governor cared for none of these things; Auckland had been selected as the seat of Government, and he was determined page 11to compel by all means in his power the migration to Auckland or its neighborhood of the Company's emigrants—and indeed of anyone else he could induce to go there.
It was no use waiting any longer, nothing would induce His Excellency to let the Expedition go to Port Cooper or Banks' Peninsula, and so one fine morning, Colonel Wakefield came on board the "Whitby," and said to his brother, "You cannot go to Port Cooper, the Governor won't sanction it; he says he has orders to make a Church settlement there, but I'll give you a pilot and an interpreter and you can take the ships and go and see the Chief at Kapiti. I have heard there is some good land about Blind Bay, and you had better go and find it."
The pilot selected was Mr F. G. Moore, who wag acquainted with the western shores of Blind Bay, which he had visited in his vessel the "Jewess" (indeed he had told Colonel Wakefield of the good land), and where he had established friendly relations with the Motueka natives. The interpreter was John Brooks, who was permanently attached to Captain Wakefield's staff, and perished with him at the Wairau Massacre.
There is some doubt as to the exact date upon which the Expedition left "Port Nic," as it was commonly called, but it must have been early in October when the ships weighed anchor and sailed across to Cloudy Bay, where the "Will Watch" and "Arrow" remained whilst the "Whitby" went on to Kapiti, and Captain Wakefield had a satisfactory interview with the Chief.
The "Whitby" then ran across the Straits to Astrolabe Roads, the "Will Watch" and "Arrow" following, and all three were soon safely anchored.
At Port Nicholson, Mr Charles Heaphy (afterwards so well known as Major Heaphy, V.C.) joined the Expedition as draughtsman; he was a friend of Mr Moore's, and came over in the "Whitby" under his pilotage.
The day after arrival was devoted to taking soundings and bearings, and looking round. The first boat to go ashore carried with others, Captain Wakefield, Mr Stephens, Mr Tuckett, and the interpreter Brooks. The older natives seemed to the new arrivals at first very hostile, but after some of the young Survey cadets had had a talk with the young Maoris, and explained what they had come to do—to settle among them and be friendly with and kind to them—they were all soon on good terms.
Several days were spent at Astrolabe; boats were cruising about every day; Survey parties were sent out; and their reports were generally good. It was practically settled that Kaiteriteri should be the site of the future town and the survey was even commenced. But Captain Wakefield was not quite, satisfied with page 12the port, or the probabilities of obtaining sufficient country lands in its vicinity. Doubtless he listened with willing ears to the suggestion that a better harbour might be found on the other side of the bay, and gave without reluctance his consent to an exploring party going in search of it.
Accordingly one of the two Deal boats was manned, J. S. Cross as coxswain, and young Brown, one of the Survey cadets, going with the seamen in her. They sailed across for the south-eastern part of the bay and struck the boulderbank. All got out of the boat except J. S. Cross, who remained on board to keep her off the stones as the rest tracked the boat down the bank. And so they came at last to the narrow entrance; then all got on board and pulled safely into Nelson haven.
At nightfall a bonfire was lighted as a signal to Captain Wakefield of the discovery of a harbour. Next day the boat started on its return to the ships, and met Captain Wakefield cruising about in the other Deal boat called the "Rhadamanthus, "off Motueka, and reported to him the glad tidings of the discovery.
Captain Wakefield had heard there was good land about the Croixelles, and he also wished to see the Wakapuaka natives, so he ordered the brig Arrow over to the Croixelles, with one of the big Deal boats in tow. The brig remained there one night, and next morning dropped down to Wakapuaka. Here she left the boat. There were nine or ten in this boat, including Captain "Wakefield and Brooks the interpreter, and J. S. Cross as coxswain. The natives were very friendly, and seemed pleased to see the pakehas.
The boat then started for the new harbour, and soundings were taken as she came along the boulder bank. Then the entrance to Wakatu (meaning a standing place or shelter for canoes) was reached, and for the second time the harbour was entered by a boat manned by a British crew.
Two days were spent, climbing the hills, and inspecting the country, and then the boat returned to Astrolabe. Captain Wakefield was satisfied there was a suitable site for a township close to a safe harbour, and a considerable extent of good open land near.
And so on Friday, the 5th November, 1841, the anchors were weighed and the Expedition sailed from Astrolabe for the newly-discovered haven.
The "Arrow" was the first to sail through the narrow channel, and hence the well-known rock at the entrance obtained its name—the Arrow Rock. She was followed by the "Will Watch," which also got in safely; but the "Whitby" unfortunately took the ground and stuck hard and fast, and when the tide went out was nearly high and dry. This was towards even-page 13ing, and there was no prospect of getting her off that day. However ropes were got across and all hands worked hard during the night lightening her, and keeping her in an upright position by making fast to the scrub; and at next morning's high tide she got off and swung into the harbour nicely. But her troubles were not quite over, for coming in she bumped on a blind rock, fortunately without sustaining any serious damage.
Some hands were sent to the wood for a sapling, which they were not long in finding, and with the tackle brought ashore the flagstaff, was speedily erected on the crest of the hill overlooking the entrance to the haven, and the Union Jack which Captain Wakefield had brought for the purpose from England, and had kept carefully wrapped in a leathern case in his cabin, was hoisted by him; and the British flag floated in the breeze, signalling to the world that yet another Colony of the British race had been planted on the shores of the Britain of the South.
That day was taken up with the erection of Captain Wakefield's tent on the side of the hill, near to where Sir Edward Stafford's house was afterwards erected, and in which Mr Everett now resides, and in rambling over the hills. At night all returned to the ships, but next day, Sunday, most went ashore early, and attended service in the Agent's tent, Captain Wakefield reading the Church of England Prayers.
The Company had agreed, that the men of the Expedition were to be paid on landing, and so, after prayers, Captain Wakefield proceeded to pay them—not in coin or notes, but by orders on the Company. Then arose murmurs and discontent. The men did not like it at all at first; but the Expedition was soon followed by one John Orr, who came over from Wellington, and pitched a tent in which he sold spirits and beer; and he was quite ready to cash these orders in payment, and so the grumbling mostly ceased.
That Sunday some of the Wakapuaka Maoris came over, and assembled on the hill side, where they held a service of their own, but did not move about at all-for it was Sunday—and some of these natives who had been brought under the influence of the Missionaries, were strict Sabbatarians.
The Expedition men had been told to form whares on any sites they liked best, and they lost no time in separating and looking out each for himself for a pleasant spot upon which to build a home; for the wives and children of the married men were to follow them before long.
Boats soon began coming backwards and forwards from Wellington, and Captain Jackson in the "Eliza," a small cutter brought over a supply of pigs and sheep.
There was rich feed of southistle, grass, and anise at the Port in those days, and the sheep doubled their weight in the course of six or seven weeks.page 14
The Company's store and shed brought out from England, were erected as speedily as possible at the bottom of the hill, not far from the entrance to the haven, and close to where Captain Wakefield's tent was first erected. The Survey party selected different spots, convenient for work, and some put up whares, whilst others were content with tents.
Christmas Eve, 1841, at length arrived, when all hands knocked off work, and prepared to celebrate their first Christmas in Nelson. That evening several large canoes came over from Motueka, bringing about a hundred Maori visitors—men, women, and children. Christmas Day was beautifully fine, and Divine Service having been celebrated on board the "Whitby," all went ashore, to have a pleasant time with their Maori visitors. Dinner was served on board the ships, the Maoris were invited, and there was great feasting and the usual tots of liquor, but the natives would drink nothing but water. After dinner everyone went ashore, and the Maoris entertained the Pakehas by dancing a haka.
Captain Wakefield had a little Christmas party in a tent on Church Hill, where also a rough building had been run up for the Surveyors, as a mess room. The brothers Tytler, Dr MacShane, and Mr H. Angelo Bell, were of the party; the fare was roast beef and plum pudding, and the latter had plenty of eggs in it, for Captain Wakefield brought out in the "Whitby" some very choice fowls for the Hon. Henry Petre; but finding on arrival at Port Nicholson that Mr Petre had left for England, the poultry were brought on to Nelson. The traders from Wellington used to bring a few common fowls across, for which they asked the modest price of 18s a pair.
New Year's Day, 1842, was celebrated in much the same fashion, and on that occasion the first game of cricket was played in Nelson; the Burvey cadets having brought bats, balls, and stumps from England. There were also boat and canoe races, fencing, cutlass practice, musket drill, foot races, and dancing to the music of fife, fiddle, and drum.
The Company's officers, surveyors, seamen, and Maoris all joined with kindly will and hearty good humor in the amusements of the day.
The "Arrow" was sent to Wellington during the second week in January, 1842, with despatches. Captain Wakefield went on board at the last moment, accompanied by J. S. Cross, who had been appointed Pilot pro tem., and who took the vessel out of harbor, and returned with Captain Wakefield in a small boat, after seeing the brig safely over the bar.
During December and January all the Survey parties were busy cutting lines and tracks through the bush, fern, flax, and toi-toi which then covered the site of the Town of Nelson. Wooden sheds were erected and made as comfortable as possible. page 15for the reception of the immigrants, who might now be expected any day.
The Company had engaged most of the Expedition men in England for two years, at twenty-eight shillings a week—foremen at thirty-five shillings. It was also agreed that the wages should increase or decrease in proportion to the current price of labour in the settlement—but in no case to be less Than twenty-eight shillings a week. The Company also undertook to supply rations to each man, upon arrival in New Zealand, at one shilling per day, to be deducted from the twenty-eight shillings per week, without reference to the cost of provisions in the settlement.
The Company selected their men with great care; they were mostly men of fine physique, and all had excellent characters from former employers. The judgment displayed in their selection, is proved by the fact that so many of them became industrious and respected settlers. Among them were men of considerable natural ability and strong common sense, and when Representative institutions were introduced, some of these Expedition men took their places as elected representatives of the people in the Provincial Council, of which they were by no means the least distinguished members. One or two were made Justices of the Peace, and discharged their magisterial duties with care and dignity.
The following is a correct list, taken from the Company's Ledger, of the officers and men of the Expedition who embarked by the "Whitby" and "Will Watch." In addition to these William Songer came out in the "Whitby" as personal attendant upon Captain Wakefield:—
Officers: Arthur Wakefield, Frederick Tuckett, Samuel Stephens, Thomas Duffey. Thomas Musgrave, David Brown, William Hughes, William Budge, Henry Angelo Bell, James Howard, Alexander McShane, —— Griffiths, John Thompson Bramwell, William Davison, Wm. Ernest Wilkinson, Charles O. Torlesse, Aldous Arnold, Thomas Brunner, Charles Fowell Willett Watts, J. C. Boys, Chas. Louis Harris Pelichet, Richard Felix Wilson Cumberland.
Men: John Attwood, John Armstrong, Robert Burnett, Wm. Brydon, Eichard Burnett, John Barnes, James Bradley, James S. Cross, James Chapman, Thomas Cresswell, John Cawte, Thomas Doughty, Thomas Dearling, Samuel Eves, John Fraser, John Forster, James Graham, Samuel Goddard, Thomas Hannem (foreman), James Hollis, William Hughes, John Hold-away, Thomas Hovenden, William Lodder, Henry Lunn, Joseph Logree. Richard Maund, Bernard McMahon, William Mickle, George McDonald, John McDonald, Alexander Mowbray, William Pennock, William Biggs, William Rayner, James Spain, James Spittal, James T. Smith (foreman), William Straith, William Taylor, Edward Whibby, David "White, Samuel Wells, Edmund Wastney, Thomas Bryant, William Claringbold, Thomas page 16Blanchard, Joseph Bungate, Thomas Butler, Mark Newth, Henry Fry, Thomas Dodson, Job Flower, William Dent, John Gillett, Henry Elliott, William Neald, James McGregor, Richard Rawlings, Robert Murray, William Thrush, Richard Ching, George Biggs, Thomas Sell, Henry Smyth, William Rawlings, John Windybank, John Sullivan, Thomas Rowling, John Brooks, William Marsh, Thomas Roach, John McIntosh. (The last named came to London too late to catch the "Whitby," and came out in the "Arab.")
Of the above, the officers are now all dead, the last survivor being Mr C. F. W. Watts, who died in Nelson on 28th July, 1881. After leaving the Company's service he was one of the first to take up land in the Wairau and Clarence. In the early days he experienced many hardships and privations—especially in stocking the back country, where there were as yet no roads. He was a very successful sheep-farmer.
The following men of the Expedition are the only survivors: —H. Fry, J. Bungate, T. Rowling, T. Blanchard, G. McDonald, J, Windybank, J. Fraser, J. Spittal, W. Songer, J. Armstrong, D. White, J. Bradley, T. Dodson, J. Gillett.
Mr William Williams, now of Collingwood, also came out in the "Whitby," as one of the ship's company.
Postscript.—Whilst Stoke was named after the village of which the Rev. C. M. Torlesse was Rector, the name was actually given by Mr Wm. Songer, who came from "Stoke by Nayland," where he was born, and who was the first settler in "Stoke by Nelson."page break