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Historical Records of New Zealand

Lieut.-Colonel Nicolls to Under-Secretary Horton

Lieut.-Colonel Nicolls to Under-Secretary Horton.

Woolwich, 20th Nov., 1823.


Herewith I have the honor to enclose for your information a tender made by Wm. Law Ogilvy Esqre. for the transport of the proposed military colony to New Zealand. Mr. Ogilvy has authorised me to say that no difficulty will exist as to the procuration of the sum contained in my estimate No. 5, and he will do himself the honor of waiting on you and giving you personal assurance thereof when you are at leisure to receive him. I have also to acquaint you that I am ordered to proceed to Portsmouth and embark in H.M. ship Victor for a passage to my command at Ascension. I must be there on Wednesday next. I shall have the honor of calling at the office in Downing St. on Monday to await any further orders you may have to give, but Mr. Ogilvy and myself will be ready at your call at any period between this and Monday.

I have, &c.,

Edward Nicolls,



London, 18th November, 1823.


In reply to your letter requiring a tender of 3 ships about 300 tons each to convey 100 soldiers and 100 convicts each to page 612 New South Wales, and from thence to New Zealand to load spars, &c., home to England, I am prepared to tender you the ships, to be approved by the Government agent, at 20/- p. ton p. month, and to take my payment from the sale of the return cargoes. Altho’ the nett proceeds may far exceed my demand for frt., yet as Government will have at your credit the charge for conveyance of 300 convicts you will give me their guarantee for any deficiency.

On the ships’ arrival at New South Wales, should you wish to detach one or two of them for supplies of cattle, &c., while you with the others proceeded to the settlement to prepare their cargoes, of course anny on monthly charter are at your command.

Yours, &c.,


John Moore.Wm. L. Ogilvy.

To Lt.-Col. Nicolls.

Note by Under-Secretary Horton.

This is an examination of a man which I made with reference to Colonel Nichol’s proposal.

R. W. H.

  • Q. When did you go out to New Zealand, and in what capacity?
  • A. I was sent out in October, 1819, from Woolwich Dockyard, as purveyor, principally for the purpose of selecting a cargo of masts.
  • Q. How long did you reside in New Zealand?
  • A. Rather more than eleven months—from June till May.
  • Q. In what part of the island did you reside?
  • A. In the vicinity of the River Thames, towards the northern part of the Northern Island.
  • Q. Under what circumstances is that country placed, as to the probability of aggression on the part of the natives in case a settlement should be formed there?
  • A.

    That part of the country in which I resided is populous: whether the natives there would make any aggression I do not know; but I believe they are desirous that some settlement should be formed, which might protect them from the aggressions of those who reside at the Bay of Islands, where the people are more numerous, and in possession of fire-arms. The chiefs from whom we obtained our cargoes have been cut off since we left the country, principally, as we suppose, in consequence of the articles which we gave them, and of the introduction of the fire-arms at the Bay of Islands.

    page 613

    Col. Nicholl here stated that the fire-arms introduced into New Zealand, and particularly into that part of the country called the Bay of Islands (which is at the northern extremity of the Northern Island, and 100 miles to the north of the River Thames), were conveyed thither by a missionary named Kendall. Who contrived to introduce them as cases of leather, and who has since been dismissed by the Church Missionary Society for that reason.

  • Q. Have you an opportunity of understanding precisely the nature of the establishment proposed by Colonel Nicholl?
  • A. Yes.
  • Q. Do you think that the establishment would be sufficiently strong to resist any aggression on the part of the natives?
  • A. I think it would, if carried to the extent which I understand Col. Nicholl to propose, namely, 300 men at first, with a progressive augmentation.
  • Q. Do you feel convinced that your local knowledge enables you to state conclusively that flax grows there indigenously in such quantities as to justify the expectation that such a settlement would be able to procure any quantity that might be demanded by the Mother-country?
  • A. To so great an extent I am not prepared to state. My own observation has been confined to the River Thames, but from what I have heard from other persons, who have visited other parts of the country, and who represent flax to be growing there in great abundance, I should presume that a very great supply might be afforded.
  • Q. Am I to understand that the flax, if taken from the ground there, will be reproduced without any process of cultivation?
  • A. If it is cut it will reproduce itself; if torn up by the roots the process of reproduction might not be so rapid; but the cultivation may be carried on to an indefinite extent.
  • Q. In what manner do you anticipate that the trade in flax would be carried on? For example, what British or other production do you propose to barter with the natives for the flax?
  • A. The only things necessary for that purpose would be shoes, axes, and other iron tools, and blankets and cloth. The outer and inner cloaks now worn by the chiefs (specimens of which are in the Colonial Depart’t) require an incredible length of time to prepare them, and the time so employed, if applied to the production of flax, to be exchanged for English cloth (which would equally satisfy the demands of the natives) would furnish a considerable quantity.
  • Q. Can you state what quantity of flax, in your opinion, might be exported from New Zealand at the end of the first page 614 and second years after the establishment of the settlement proposed by Col. Nicholl?
  • A.

    I cannot undertake to state what quantity might be exported, though I know it is very abundant.

    Col. Nicholl: I think almost jmy quantity that might be required.

  • Q. What kind of trees applicable for the purpose of naval timber grow in New Zealand?
  • A. There are two sorts of the cowree and the kakaiterre. There is more difficulty in obtaining the cowree than the other.
  • Q. When the spars are estimated at £190 each, in the paper drawn up by Col. Nicholl, are these of the cowrie?
  • A. They must be. The others are not nearly so valuable.
  • Q. If dependence is to be placed on Mr. Cruise’s account, the cowrie is very difficult to obtain?
  • A. It is; but the crews of the Dromedary and the Coromandel stayed in the country a very short time, and were unacquainted with the natives; and therefore had not that assistance from them which was necessary to enable them to procure those trees.
  • Q. You have no doubt that 300 would be sufficient?
  • A. I have no doubt that they would.
  • Q. (Col. Nicholl): What are the books to which you would refer as confirmatory of the views that you entertain respecting New Zealand?
  • A. Mr. Nicholas’s “Voyage to New Zealand, performed in 1814 and 1815 in Company with the Revd. Saml. Marsden,“ printed in 1817, Vol. 2, pages 119 and 135; “Some Account of New Zealand, particularly the Bay of Islands,“ by John Savage, Esq., surgeon and corresponding member of the Royal Zennerian Society; the Missionary Register for 1817, pages 71, 345, 427, 518, 521, and 535; “Proceedings of the Church Missionary Society for 1818,“ pages 73 and 93; do. for 1818 and 1819, Vol. 7, pages 195 and 345; do. for 1820, pages 221 and 305; do. for 1821 and 1822, Vol. 10, pages 193 and 347.

Baron de Thierry to Earl Bathurst.

The Baron Charles de Thierry has the honour to present his respects to the Right Honourable the Earl Bathurst, and having purchased a considerable tract of land in the Island of New Zealand, to which a number of persons are desirous to proceed for the purpose of colonization, he begs to submit the following questions to His Lordship, and will feel particularly obliged by his early notice of them:—

page 615
  • 1. Will His Majesty’s Government grant to British subjects in New Zealand the same protection as it grants to settlers in New South Wales, who have gone there of their own free will?
  • 2. Will land purchased from the natives be considered the property of the purchaser in case the island is taken possession of by the British Government; and in case such lands are again sold, will the sale of them be considered lawful and binding?
  • 3. Will the children of English settlers (or having an English father or mother) be considered as British subjects?
  • 4. Will the raw or manufactured produce of such British subjects be allowed to be imported into England on the same footing as the produce of other British colonies?
  • 5. Should settlers in New Zealand have trading vessels, will they be allowed to carry the British flag, and receive the same protection as is extended to ships of other British colonies?

Upon a favourable answer being received to these important questions, a number of colonists will venture upon their speculations in the New World, and their industry may prove a source of considerable wealth to this country, particularly after the working of the rich gold and silver mines which are known to exist in New Zealand, and from which pieces of fine ore have been received as specimens.

New Zealand flax and hemp are infinitely superior to any grown in England, and indeed H. M.’s Government will find that the field which is so unexpectedly opened to the British revenue deserves every protection, and the Baron C. de Thierry has no doubt but that he will receive from the Earl Bathurst unequivocal assurance of its being granted.

Read’s Hotel, 75 Lower Grosvenor Street, 2 Decr., 1823.