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Murihiku: A History of the South Island of New Zealand and the Islands Adjacent and Lying to the South, from 1642 to 1835

CHAPTER XXVIII. — Foveaux Strait and Vicinity, 1830 to 1835

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Foveaux Strait and Vicinity, 1830 to 1835.

THE Preservation Bay whaling station has long been held to be, or to share with Cook Strait the honour of being, the first shore whaling establishment in New Zealand. Both Williams and Shortland, of whom the former managed and the latter recorded its doings, make the date of the founding of the establishment as 1829, and Shortland further says that during that year three boats were employed and 120 tuns of oil taken at it.

So far however as New South Wales records can be ascertained they do not indicate that any oil was received at Sydney from Preservation Inlet during 1829. The Caroline, Williams, brought from New Zealand, flax, seal skins and timber, but no mention is made of oil. Her first cargo of that commodity reached Sydney on 11th August, after the whaling season of 1830 had commenced. Unless therefore the oil of the previous year was sold at the station to sea-going vessels, Shortland must be incorrect. We know of one detail at least regarding this station in which he has proved inaccurate. He names Williams as the owner of the station. Williams was not the owner. George Bunn & Co., of Sydney owned the station and Peter Williams managed it. Before taking over the management Williams commanded the Caroline, trading backwards and forwards to New Zealand. After he took over the management, the command of the Caroline devolved on Farley, and later on Anglem, after whom Mt. Anglem is called. Judged from the nature of the cargoes brought up in the Caroline, the establishment of the station for sealing and for timber cutting only can be claimed as early as 1829. All evidence points to 1830 as the date of the page 398 establishment of Bunn's whaling establishment at Preservation Inlet.

The Caroline made the first two trips of the year in February and in May with cargoes of flax and seal skins. Then came up the first oil recorded from Preservation. The first cargo consisted of 60 tuns and the second of 40, with 4 tons of bone and 125 skins. The season was a very satisfactory one and the July reports stated that at Dusky Bay the whales were tumbling over one another like porpoises and the only danger was that there might not be a sufficient supply of casks.

In his evidence before the Lands Claims Commissioners, Williams stated that in 1830 he built a dwelling house for himself and his family, and a store capable of holding 300 tons of goods for trade and to supply shipping. Six houses were erected for whaling companies and a boatshed for 16 boats. From 50 to 60 men were employed whaling during the season and, when that was over, sealing and sawing timber. The contents of the store may be judged from the ship's manifest on her voyage from Sydney to the station on 25th August:—2 pun. rum, 3 casks, 1 case slops, 10cwt. biscuit, 3 tons flour, 56Ibs. musket balls, 3 packages ironmongery, 1 cask vinegar, 3 doz. quart pots, 1 box medicines, 1 box raisins, 2 coils rope, 12 coils coir rope, 12 iron pots, 1 doz. whale lances, 2 jars turpentine, 2 grindstones, 1 bag rice, 1 box pepper, 40 tons casks and stores. No exception can be taken to the nature or variety of the material supplied.

During the year two other vessels took part in the sealing trade, the Fairy and the Emma Kemp. The former arrived in Sydney on 27th February with 600 skins and some flax, while the latter, under the command of J. H. Skelton, arrived on 12th November with 113 skins, 8 tons flax and 4 tons pork.

Before the whaling season opened, on 28th March, 1831, the schooner Samuel, under the command of Captain Anglem reached Sydney with a cargo of 500 seal skins and 10 tons of flax, and the following day the Prince of page 399 Denmark followed her with 25 tons of flax. These two vessels brought the distressing news that the Industry, under the command of Captain W. Wiseman, had been wrecked at Easy Bay, Stewart Island, in a dreadful gale of wind on 28th February.1 The captain, ten seamen, and six native women were drowned. Two men only escaped and were expected to come up to Sydney in the Caroline. Wiseman is described as a remarkably active and fine looking man whose father resided at the Hawkesbury. He was married to a daughter of Mr. John Grono, one of the owners of the Industry and left a widow with one child. Wiseman had been in New South Wales and connected with its shipping for a long time, and in the course of his trading voyages had visited New Zealand, South Shetland, South America and various places in the South Seas. Tradition among southern natives says that the Industry called at Codfish Island, where she was when the gale came on, and ran for shelter to Easy Harbour under the direction of Chaseland, one of the few who escaped a watery grave.

The captain of the Prince of Denmark, on the voyage on which he reported the loss of the Industry, brought with him a large number of human heads to sell to the collectors of curios at Sydney. A Maori chief staying with Marsden visited the vessel as she lay in port and was shown the contents of the captain's locker when he was horrified to recognise, among 14 heads placed before him, some of those of his own friends. In a great state of mind he immediately sought the assistance of Marsden who waited upon the Governor and urged that steps should be taken to get possession of the heads and have them sent back to the friends of the dead Maoris. As a result of this intervention the Governor issued the following proclamation.2

(No. 7.)

Colonial Secretary's Office, Sydney,
April 16, 1831.

Whereas it has been represented to His Excellency the Governor, that the masters and crews of vessels page 400 “trading between this Colony and New Zealand, are in the practice of purchasing and bringing from thence human heads, which are preserved in a manner peculiar to that country: And whereas there is strong reason to believe that such disgusting traffic tends greatly to increase the sacrifice of human life among savages, whose disregard of it is notorious, His Excellency is desirous of evincing his entire disapprobation of the practice above-mentioned, as well as his determination to check it by all the means in his power; and with this view, His Excellency has been pleased to order, that the Officers of the Customs do strictly watch and report every instance which they may discover of an attempt to import into this Colony any dried or preserved human heads in future, with the names of all parties concerned in every such attempt. His Excellency trusts, that to put a total stop to this traffic it is necessary for him only thus to point out the almost certain and dreadful consequences, which may be expected to ensue from a continuance of it, and the scandal and prejudice which it cannot fail to raise against the name and character of British Traders, in a country with which it has now become highly important for the merchants and traders of this Colony, at least, to cultivate feelings of mutual good will: but if His Excellency should be disappointed in this reasonable expectation, he will feel it an imperative duty to take strong measures for totally suppressing the inhuman and very mischievous traffic in question.

“His Excellency further trusts, that all persons who have in their possession human heads, recently brought from New Zealand, and particularly by the schooner Prince of Denmark, will immediately deliver them up for the purpose of being restored to the relations of the deceased parties to whom those heads belonged; this being the only possible reparation that can now be rendered, and application page 401 “having been specially made to His Excellency to this purpose.”

By His Excellency's Command,

Alexander McLeay


The year 1831 records nothing special about Bunn's establishment except the regular visits of the Caroline, taking up to Sydney 114 tuns oil, 2 ewt. whalebone, 674 skins and ½ ton of flax as follows: —

April 6 Farley 2 ewt. bone 20 tuns oil ½ ton flax 530 skins
July 8 Anglem 29 tuns oil 74 skins
Nov. 8 Anglem 25 tuns oil 50 skins
Dec. 26 Williams 40 tuns oil 20 skins
114 674

On arrival on 26th December permission was obtained to proceed from Sydney to Neweastle and tranship her oil to the barque Integrity lying there.

From Bunn & Co. 's. in 1832, the Caroline, Anglem, came up to Sydney on 2nd April, 17th June, and 4th September, bringing up with her 80 tuns oil, 12 ewt. bone, 685 skins, 26 tons flax and 12,100 feet of timber. At the end of the season Bunn put on the Bee, 134 tons, Burrel, and brought from Preservation another 90 tuns oil, 5½ tons whalebone, 3000 feet timber, 700 baskets of flax and 15 skins. Her passenger list comprised Mr. James Joss, Mr. Griffiths, Mr. Wareham, Mrs. E. Barker and a Maori woman.

About the end of the year Williams purchased from the local chief, Te Whakataupuka, the land from the northward of Dusky to the south head of Preservation Inlet for a payment of 60 muskets. Williams says it was effected in 1829 but no deed was drawn up until 1832, on which date Te Whakataupuka attached his moko or copy of his tattoo marks, to a deed of which the following copy is to be found amongst the papers connected with Williams' application before the Lands Claims Commissioners. This probably is the first conveyance of land in the South Island.3

page 402

“To all whom it may concern be it known that I Taboca Rangatera or Chief of the Southern Territories New Zealand, have this (9th) ninth day of November In the year of our Lord One Thousand Eight Hundred and thirty two sold unto Peter Williams of New South Wales his Heirs, Executors, Administrators or Assigns for ever all my right Title and Interest in and to all that portion of my territory situated being and lying on the West side of the Middle Island New Zealand beginning from the North Head of Duskey Bay in Latitude 45° South and 166° 15′ East and ending at the South Head of Preservation in Latitude 46° 30′ South and 166° 43′ E. also all those Islands within those boundaries and all the other Islands not herein mentioned including also all Rivers Streams Inlets Fisheries Tenements Buildings Cultivations &c. &c. to him the said Peter Williams his Heirs Exicutors Administrators or Assignes from henceforth and for ever in Consideration of which I Taboca Rangatera Acknowledge to have received Sixty Muskets In Witness whereof I have this day set my hand and Seal in my Tatto likeness Opposite.”

(The Chief's Tatto.)
Middle Island or Tavai Poenammoo.
Witness James X Spencer,

Peter Williams.

The Rev. R. Taylor, writing in 1855, described Te Whakataupuka as a great chief of the Middle Island, known to the sailors as Old Wig and celebrated as much for his cunning as for his courage. He died, Taylor says, of measles in 1833.

In 1833 the Caroline, after bringing up the very creditable cargo of 1000 seal skins with some timber and bone, sailed south on 18th April with fishery stores. During the succeeding months Anglem was occupied in visiting page 403 the southern islands sealing, and did not return to Sydney until the latter part of the year. The Caroline's place was taken by the Sydney Packet, a vessel of 84 tons, under the command of Captain Joss. This vessel reached Sydney on 24th June, 2nd September, and 11th November, with 409 casks of oil, 332 skins, and 259 bundles of bone. In addition to these cargoes the Waterloo, on 2nd August, brought up 39 tuns of oil from Preservation.

On 11th November the Sydney Packet came up from Bunn's establishment at Preservation Inlet, which she had left on 25th October, with 259 bundles whalebone, 127 casks oil and 200 skins. Captain Joss brought up an oar branded “Mosman,” supposed to belong to a vessel wrecked at Auckland Island between February and August. He stated that there could also be seen strewn on the beach wreckage of the vessel, wool and oil staves in abundance, cabin furniture made of cedar, flooring timbers, pitch pine spars, cedar plank and part of a wool press.

It appears that the wreck was discovered by a party of sealers belonging to the Caroline who were stationed on the island and who brought up the marked oar, part of an iron bar on which was W.C. in a circle and a five gallon keg on each end of which was branded “Knowles & Co.” Anglem of the Caroline, after bringing up these articles from the islands, gave them to Joss of the Sydney Packet who deposited them in Bunn's stores in Sydney. It was Anglem's intention to visit the scene of the wreck upon his next trip and see it for himself. The Sydney press suggested that as much anxiety was felt locally over the wreck a small craft should be fitted out to run down and ascertain whether further information could be got of the vessel which was believed to measure 400 tons.

The Caroline returned from the Auckland Islands on 14th March, 1834, having on board Mr. Edwin Palmer who had been sealing there and who had examined the wreck. He reported that no informatian could be got of the vessel's name. Many tons of the wreck had been beached and consisted of wool, oil and shipping stores page 404 Palmer thought she must have been wrecked eleven months before as he had visited that part of Auckland Island a short time previous to discovering her and had not seen anything of the kind. Palmer evidently had charge of the gang which discovered the wreck. In spite of the hopeless report it was still thought that an expedition might bring something to light, but nothing special appears to have been done. Captain Manley of the Eleanor, when returning from Macquarie Island in May, endeavoured to make the island for the purpose of examining the wreck but was prevented by heavy weather. Joss, returning in the Sydney Packet in August, reported that not a vestige of the wreck was then visible. The opinion prevailed in Sydney at this time that the wreck was that of a vessel called the Rifleman.4

On 9th January, 1834, Mr. George Bunn, one of the first merchants of Sydney and the senior partner of the firm which owned the Preservation Bay whaling station, died.

On 14th March the two Preservation Bay vessels came up to Sydney. The Sydney Packet, Joss, sailed from New Zealand on the second with 185 skins, 68 casks oil and 14 tons flax. The Caroline came up with a cargo of 350 skins. She had been at the Auckland Islands from which Mr. Edwin Palmer, who came up in her, brought a description of the wreck there, and she had sailed from New Zealand on the first. On her passage up she had spoken the Penelope, of Hobart Town, all well but with no success in sealing.

At this stage a sad accident took place in connection with the Preservation Bay whaling station. A boat's crew went to Ruapuke Island for a few days' recreation and as they did not return for some time, another boat was sent in search of them. On arrival at Ruapuke they were told that the boat had sailed for home. Nothing had been heard of them when the Sydney Packet sailed. Their loss was a severe one to the whaling establishment as three clever headsmen and two boat steerers were among the number. page 405 Their names were Fife, Williams, Russell, Lee, Garvin and Bonnivar.

The Sydney Packet returned on 7th April, taking down a quantity of whaling gear for the supply of the gangs belonging to the house of Bunn & Co. Her general cargo consisted of 12 casks flour, 24 casks beef, 11 casks pork, 22 bags sugar, 2 casks ironmongery, 2 casks slops, 2 boxes soap, 1 cask beer, 2 chests tea, 2 puncheons, 1 hogshead rum, 2 kegs tobacco and stores. The Caroline returned on 20th May, in ballast, but Anglem had taken over the Lucy Ann belonging to Weller, and his place was now taken by Bruce.

The Caroline, Bruce, returned on 21st July with 104 casks black oil, and as passengers, Messrs H. Harding, A. Mossman, and Thomas Mowat. She had sailed from New Zealand—from Bunn's establishment—on the sixth, with 36 tuns of oil. On her voyage up she experienced terrible weather, her bulwarks and binnacles were carried away, and one of her boats was stove in. She sailed again on 7th August in ballast. On 21st August the Sydney Packet returned from New Zealand, from which she had sailed on the first, with 150 casks black oil and 2 casks seal skins. The consignee of the cargoes of the two vessels was E. B. Mowle, that House having evidently taken over the business of Bunn & Co.

The Caroline, Bruce, reached Sydney on 11th September with 97 casks of oil. The “Sydney Gazette” says: “When the signal from New Zealand was yesterday displayed, we were anxious to know whether any and what information was brought from that quarter and on applying to Messrs. Mowle & Co. we learn that the Caroline is from Port Bunn where everything was tranquil. No intelligence of the Alligator has, of course, reached Sydney by this vessel.” She came up in eleven days, during which time she encountered very rough weather and a sea carried away seven of her starboard staunchions and bulwarks and broke in two the ironwork of the pump. Captain Bruce saw no vessel either going or returning. The excitement in Sydney was caused by a report brought up from Otago in the page 406 Lucy Ann that the natives had become very troublesome and that some of them had gone to Port Bunn to cause trouble there. H.M.S. Alligator had left for New Zealand to recapture the remnant of the Harriet's crew wrecked at or near Cape Egmont. From the report brought up in the Caroline the excitement under which the natives laboured while at Otago had effervesced before they reached the southern station.

The Sydney Packet, Joss, sailed with fishery stores on 26th September and returned on the twenty-first of the following month with 40 tuns oil and 8 tons whalebone. In the shipping report it is stated that E. B. Mowle & Co. had a large establishment at Port Bunn. The natives were reported to be in a state of perfect tranquility. The Customs record gives Williams as the master of the Sydney Packet. Probably he came up from the whaling station, as it was the end of the season, to make arrangements for next year's work rendered necessary by the death of Captain Bunn. At what date exactly the property was disposed of is not certain but it was owned by Jones and Palmer in March, 1835.

Throughout the year's traffic it will be noted that the timber trade had ceased, oil, whalebone and seal skins being the staple articles of export.

As a part of the southern trade the arrival of the brig Bee, Robertson, at Sydney, with stores from Macquarie Island, is here recorded. She had gone down and placed a gang there to ascertain whether the former glories of this island were still existent. On 3rd January she returned from Sydney for her men. Captain Robertson was however doomed to disappointment. He was unsuccessful in obtaining either oil or skins and was compelled to return to Sydney with a clean ship, bringing up a gang of 12 men and some 300 tuns of empty casks. He also called at the Chathams and found there some eight or ten runaways. He landed his men at Sydney on 19th May.

The day after the Bee left, the Sydney Packet, Bruce, sailed for her usual destination and returned on 12th page break page break
Johnny Jones.From a Painting in the Dunedin Art Gallery.

Johnny Jones.
From a Painting in the Dunedin Art Gallery.

page 407 March with Messrs. Palmer and Wareham as passengers. She sailed from New Zealand on 23rd February with a cargo of 496 seal skins, 10 tuns seal oil, and 47 casks black whale oil, consigned to E. B. Mowle.

On 11th March the New Zealander reached Sydney, having sailed from the southern part of New Zealand on 28th February. The schooner was under the command of Captain Cole and had on board oil and potatoes. Mrs. Cole was a passenger, but the places called at by this vessel were not given.

Early in April the schooner Sydney Packet was purchased through Mr. Polack, for £800 by Mr. Jones, for many years a waterman of Sydney Cove. By her new purchaser, who was now the owner of the Preservation Bay whaling station, she was fitted out for “bay whaling” and sailed on the twenty-first under the command of Captain Bruce. Her first voyage under the new ownership ended on 12th July when she reached Sydney with two passengers— James Spencer and a New Zealander. She left Preservation Bay on 22nd June with 45 tuns of oil. No other vessel was sighted during the trip. Her cargo was consigned to J. Jones. “Johnny Jones,” whose name was afterwards to become a household word in Otago, thus received his first cargo of oil from New Zealand.

In trying to ascertain the first record of Johnny Jones' connection with New Zealand trade the author found mention made of a boy named John Jones advertising his intention of shipping in the Venus in 1808.

It was noticeable that renewed activity was imported into the movements of the Sydney Packet when she came under the ownership of Johnny Jones. She sailed for the whaling establishment on 21st July with a cargo of casks, whaling gear, rum, tobacco, flour and stores, and returned on 16th September with 45 tuns oil, 30 cwt. bone, 1 cask seal skins and 5 tons potatoes. She had sailed from Preservation on 21st August and Mr. J. Jones is stated to have been supercargo. He had evidently gone down and superintended operations in person. The people on the page 408 schooner found the measles very bad among the Maoris. On her next run she reached Sydney on 31st October, with 80 casks black oil, 6½ tons whalebone and 4 tons potatoes. Mr. James Saunders was the only passenger. She set sail again on 5th December.

It will be remembered that Te Whakataupuka sold a portion of his land to Peter Williams in 1832 and that Taylor gave 1833 as the date of the old chief's death from measles. There is reason to believe that Taylor is wrong in the date given. As late as September, 1834, Te Whakataupuka took part in the raid on the Otago station, and left to raid the gangs at Port Bunn, when he was carried off by the measles which raged among the southern Maoris during 1835. On his death Tuhawaiki became the foremost Maori in the southern portion of the Island. He described himself as nephew and successor to Te Whakataupuka and stated that he received a portion of the payment made by Mr. Williams. He was present when the original deed was executed.

Peter Williams now applied to the new dominant chief and got his old grant confirmed, and that was done by a document of which he submitted the following as a copy.

“To all whom it may concern be it known that I Toawick are now become Rangatera or Chief of these Southern Territories do hereby Testify that the above deed is true and correct and that the above Tatto is the true likeness of the late Chief Taboca—likewise for and on behalf of myself I do Grant the same unto Peter Williams his Heirs Executors Administrators or Assignes for ever in Witness whereof I have set my Tatto likeness Opposite this 31st Day of December 1835.”


Peter Williams.

Witnesses—James Ives.
George Moss Mowry, X his mark.
Tomarama Mowry X his mark.
Barago Mowry X his mark.