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Historic Poverty Bay and the East Coast, N.I., N.Z.

Some Other Early Whalers

Some Other Early Whalers

John M. Jury (born in England in 1808) left the Royal Navy to migrate to New South Wales in 1837. In the following year, he joined Harris's whaling station staff in Poverty Bay. His wife was a relative of the chief Tu Tapakihi te Rangi. In 1842 he went to live in the Wairarapa. A son (John Alfred Jury) became a prolific writer, under the pen-name “The Scribe,” on Maori traditions, lore and customs. He was chairman of a Maori Parliament which was held at Waitapu (H.B.) in 1892. Its eighty-eight members had been elected by 2,000 natives; they included Wi Pere. Sir James Carroll, who was invited to attend, advocated that the proceedings should be conducted on strictly Parliamentary lines.

William Hazel was one of a number of American whalers who cast in their lot ashore on the East Coast. He whaled at Wharariki, Te Hekawa and Waipao in the 1840's and 1850's. Known to the natives as “Piri Karokaro,” and to the Europeans as “Yankee Bill,” he had four sons, Tom, Joseph, Tatari (Dudley) and Porikapa. All of them became first-class boatmen.

Charles Ryland (born at Manchester in 1803) whaled at Mahia before he moved to Mawhai in the early 1840's. Afterwards, he had stores at Te Puka, Te Ariuru and Waima in that order. Henare Potae told the Native Land Court that he was driven away from Te Puka because he would not pay rent. Colonel Porter regarded him as “rather a superior man.” He married Hiria Kapaika, and his descendants are well-known residents of the East Coast. When he died in 1886, the P.B. Independent said of him: “He was quite a respectable old gentleman, and was generally liked.”

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John Anderson (an Englishman) was one of the whaling fraternity at Mahia before he moved to Anaura in the late 1840's. His wife was Peti Karotapapa. Two sons, John and William, were born at Mahia, and Henry and Peti (Betty) at Anaura. Anderson became a trader at Anaura in connection with Matthew Fox, who also conducted a store at Puatai. Betty was reputed to be over ninety years old when she died at Anaura in 1940.

William Hillman, who was a cousin of “Yankee Bill” Hazel, lived at the Bay of Islands before he moved to the East Coast. He claimed to have assisted to cut the timber for the first church that was built at Russell (1834–35). On the East Coast he followed the occupation of a cooper at various whaling stations. He was one of the party which prepared the timber for Porourangi meeting-house at Wai-o-matatini in 1888. In later years he found employment on sheep-stations. He died at the Memorial Home at Gisborne.

Charles Gerrard whaled and built boats on the East Coast as early as the 1840's. Tiarete (one of his daughters) married the Rev. Rota Waitoa, and the youngest became Mrs. Arthur Brooking, of Hicks Bay. A son Charles (“Cocky”) was the native constable at Port Awanui.

George Babbington—an Englishman known as “Hori Paputene”—was first employed at, and then took over, the Mawhai whaling-station. In 1847, he had three boats and a staff of twenty men. Afterwards he kept a store at Te Puka. His wife was Mere Karaka Tiritapu, of Whanau-a-Rua hapu. During a Native Land Court case in 1897, his children were described as “old men.” Babbington drifted up the coast. Arapeta Potae told the court that he was then living with his sixth wife, and that his third wife had been Babbington's wife. John Babbington (a son) died in August, 1939, aged ninety-four years.

Captain Frederick Spooner (“Puna”) whaled at Poverty Bay, and had also lived at Tolaga Bay, before he settled in 1839 at Wairoa, where he was one of the earliest traders. “Spooner's Point” at Wairoa is named after him. He had served on American whaleships. Nothing authentic has been gleaned concerning his antecedents. In 1830–31 a Captain Spooner was in charge of the schooner Dart which traded out of Sydney to New Zealand. The skipper of the Eric, the first American vessel to engage in bay whaling off the South Island (1834), was a Captain Spooner. He left his vessel at the Society Islands and did not return to the U.S.A. Frederick Spooner died on 23 November, 1875.

One of the earliest whalers at Mahia was John Greening (“Happy Jack”). Previously he had lived at the Bay of Islands. In May, 1842, he claimed 700 acres “situated at Table Cape” (probably Whangawehi). The land, he said, had been given to him in 1837 by some chiefs whom he did not name. Evidence is lacking that there ever was a permanent whaling-station on the northern side of Mahia. When he retired from whaling he established a home at Te Mahanga (“Happy Jack's Landing”). In the 1870's he moved over to Whangawehi, where he maintained a light to warn mariners. After his death in August, 1880, his native widow carried on the good work in return for a small government pension.