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Historical Records of New Zealand

Memorandum concerning New South Wales.*

Memorandum concerning New South Wales.*

* This statement is not signed, nor does it bear upon its face any indication of the person to whom it was addressed. It contains internal evidence of having been written by a person (apparently an officer) who was in the colony during the governorship of Hunter, and who returned to England in 1804. He was evidently familiar with the artillery at Sydney. The style and matter suggest that it was written by Barrallier. The supposition is strengthened by the fact that he arrived during Hunter’s administration, and left in 1804. No date appears on it; but it was found amongst the records of 1809.

In very distant and but seldom frequented settlements, like that of New South Wales, it is of the utmost consequence to husband page 290 with all possible care the Colonial stores of every description; but particularly such as are of European produce or manufacture.

As cables and cordage of every description is not only very expensive in the first instance, but extremely difficult to procure in so remote a colony, every possible means should be resorted to to preserve them. It is therefore absolutely necessary that three sets of mooring chains and bridles should be sent out and laid down in Port Jackson. One set equal to hold a ship of the line, and two sets for frigates. Such moorings would in a few years nearly repay their first cost by preserving the cables, and most likely the ships and crews, when employed upon necessary service on unknown, or at least very unfrequented coasts, where anchors and good cables are the only means of preservation.

North Harbour, near the entrance of Port Jackson, is a very proper station for ships of war for the protection of the port; but it is also necessary that one set of moorings for a frigate, or sloop, should be laid down directly opposite the town of Sydney, to command the navigation up the harbour, or occasionally the town and neighbourhood of Sydney.

No merchant vessels, except coasters, of whatever nation or country should be permitted, when entering the port, to proceed directly up to Sydney. They should be obliged to anchor in North Harbour, and wait for permission to proceed, or unlade. This would, in a great measure, put a stop to smuggling.

An able officer, combining the abilities necessary for master-attendant, harbour-master, and nautical surgeon should be appointed, and provided with necessary instruments.

A lieut. with a party of (not less than) thirty marine artillery, including a master gunner, should be sent out.

When I left the colony in 1804 there was not one artilleryman in the whole colony; and when the guns were to be loaded, even for a salute upon a holiday, the master shipwright was the person selected for that service.

I have known the brass field pieces in the front of the Guardhouse refuse frequently to explode, notwithstanding abundance of fire was applied to the priming; and the guns for the guard, or for alarm, near the entrance to the harbour were nearly burried in the sand.

A steady man in the character of ordnance storekeeper is absolutely necessary, as are four additional field-pieces, and as many 9-inch brass howitzers with their proper appointments.

page 291

An able assistant to the master shipwright is much wanted for the purpose of exploring the extensive forests, and selecting proper timber for constructing frames for ships of the line, and to point out the proper times and seasons for felling it; and occasionally to examine the fine spars and timber said to abound on the island of New Zealand.

A schooner of 80 tons, a bold sea-worthy vessel, should be constructed and employed upon the above service, or any other beneficial to the colony.

A sailing river barge is absolutely necessary—such a one as was proposed by me, and approved of by Governor Hunter in 1802,*—for the particular service of Port Jackson. A plan and draft of this vessel, as also of a schooner of 60 tons, was carried out in H.M. ship Calcutta, together with every article of furniture, such as masts, sails, yards, anchors, cables, and rigging complete; but neither of them were built.

A sailing pilot boat of about 30 tons is absolutely necessary, not only for the service of pilotage, but to keep up a frequent communication between the seat of Government and the very distant sub-governments of Van Dieman’s Land, and Norfolk Island.

A collector, or superior officer, of the Customs, together with an able, active assistant, should be appointed, and a proper boat furnished for that very necessary service.

This latter appointment is only necessary in the event of a want of vessels of war on the coast, or one (a gun brig) stationed in North Harbour, who would bring-to and examine every vessel that came in, and, by furnishing a sufficient guard on board, would entirely do away the pernicious and dishonorable trade of smuggling that has hitherto completely distracted—I may say almost destroyed—the colony.

This essential duty being intrusted to officers, not only respectable for the rank they hold, but for their honor and probity, would most effectually destroy every attempt at defrauding the revenue, and prevent the practice of engrossing and forestalling the markets.

In every department the port dues and public duties would be fairly collected and accounted for so far as related to the port.

This being once established, good order and subordination would soon follow; the Government would be properly respected and the colony restored to plenty, peace, and harmony.

A naval force is absolutely necessary on the coast of New South Wales; without it, experience has sufficiently explained to us that not only the Government has fallen into disrepute, but the nation has been insulted and His Majesty’s subjects actually page 292 taken out of their vessels and confined in irons, and this within our own ports, and by a power almost without a navy. In the year 1803 an American brig was sealing in Basses Streights and fell in with a small schooner belonging to Port Jackson, also employed in catching seals. The American, who was much superior in point of size, strength, and number, not only insulted and abused the master and crew of the British vessel, but ordered him away, and on refusal actually took them on Loard and confined them for some time in irons, and after completing his cargo drove all the seals from the shores and set fire to the woods to prevent their returning. Surely such disgrace and insult should not be repeated.

* * * *

Independant of the necessity of a naval force in conjunction with the military to aid, assist, and protect the Governor and the civil power as established by law (for it appears the military alone has not done it) from the violence of banditti, it is no less necessary to protect the colony from an attack by the French from the Mauritius, which would have taken place long ago if the enemy had possessed a naval force equal to the enterprize. There was no doubt but what it was their intention, when Monsieur Baudin took correct plans of Port Jackson, &c., purchased a vessel there for the purpose of exploring the passage to the Mauritius through Bass Streights, where he actually passed to the westward with his division and arrived at the Isle de France; and had he lived another year I think it very possible the Commodore would most likely have visited the colony for the purpose of annihilating the settlement.

* Evidently an error for 1800.

New Zealand.

Query: Is New Zeeland attached to or considered as part of the Government of New S. Wales?

2dly. Would not the Northern Island of New Zeeland be a much preferable situation for a colony than any part of the coast of New South Wales that we are yet acquainted with?

The northern isle extends from 34° 20′ S. to 41° 36″ S., a distance nort. and south of 436 miles, affording a great diversity of climate, and equal to produce grain of every description.

The southern isle is seperated from the northern by Cooke’s Streights, and extends itself from Cape Farewell, in 40° 30′ S., to Cape, in 47° 20′ S., a distance of 390 miles, in a climate the most temperate in the world when cleared of its immense forests of valuable timber.

On the coasts of these islands the whale and seale fishery may be carried on to any extent, and the preparation for boiling and page 293 curing all done on the shore. By this means the whalers would have no occasion to touch at Port Jackson for supplies and refreshments, nor would the convicts have such opportunities of making their escape.

The natives of New Zealand are a very different race of men to those of New South Wales; they are of a different colour, athletic, muscular men, arising no doubt from the superior nature of the soil and its productions. The sea also furnishes great quantities of superior fish of every description, and the forest timber is reported excellent. The spars for masts and yards are cut down upon these islands and carried to China where they fetch a very high price. Hemp and flax can be produced in any quantity, and the southern parts of the South Island the wool might be improved equal to the best in Europe.