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The Old Whaling Days



The plethora of news from Otago during the year 1834 gives place to a very commonplace repetition of arrivals, departures, and cargoes, during 1835.

On 7th January, the Lucy Ann sailed, with Captain Anglin in command, but beyond the fact that she left New Zealand on 23rd April, and returned on 15th May with 50 barrels of oil on board. nothing is known of her trip.

page 109

On 14th February the Joseph Weller sailed from the “southern part of New Zealand” with 1½ tons whalebone, 31 casks salt fish, 65 seal skins, 4000 dried fish and a cask of sundries, and reached Sydney on 4th March under the command of Stitt. Captain Stitt reported that he had seen the Hobart Town whaler, Socrates, on his passage up, and that while at New Zealand he had spoken the New Zealander and the Sydney Packet on the point of sailing for Sydney. The arrival of this large cargo of New Zealand dried and salt fish created considerable interest in Sydney, and 2 tons were sent straight away in the Currency Lass to Hobart Town. Another portion of the cargo got further afield, but that will be dealt with under another heading.

The brig Children was chartered and sent down to Otago with stores on 11th March. She was to call at another part of the colony for a return cargo of flax.

During her next trip to New Zealand (17th March to 11th May) the Lucy Ann, which was now a regular whaler, called in at Otago with 50 barrels of oil on board. She had suffered by “the neglect and desertion of one of the officers,” and was on her road to Sydney, where she arrived on 15th May, in charge of the mate. As she left under Captain Anglin it would look as if that officer was the man blamed for neglect and desertion.

Captain Camroux then went on board the Joseph Weller and sailed on the 24th May, with Edward Weller and a whaling gang for the Otago station. He returned on 25th July after a passage of 27 days, with 12 tuns of oil, 4 tons of whalebone, and 10 tons potatoes. T. Gray was the only passenger.

Shortly after the Joseph Weller left Otago on her last trip, Joseph Weller, who had been suffering from consumption, died. His remains were preserved in a puncheon of rum and shipped on board the barque Sushannah, which called in for a cargo and sailed on 6th September for Sydney. She reached her destination on the twenty-seventh. page 110 During her stay measles were making headway among the Maoris.

The Lucy Ann, as a bay whaler instead of a trader, began to seek for fresh places for the pursuit of whales and sailed on 1st June for Port Cooper. On 22nd September she left that port with 90 tuns of oil and a few tons of whalebone. She had been absent from Sydney for only about five months and Captain Rapsey stated that had it not been for rough weather he would have filled his vessel in that time. The Joseph Weller was the only vessel in Port Cooper when the Lucy Ann left. The former afterwards sailed to Otago, where she took on board a gang of whalers on 2nd December, and returned to Sydney on the eighteenth, with 8 casks of oil, 13 tons whalebone and 400 bags of potatoes, consigned to G. Weller.

On 8th December the bark Persian was sent down from Sydney to bring up the balance of the season's oil and then proceed to London with a full cargo.

We are able to give the exact production of oil at Weller's station, from a letter written to the Collector of Customs, Sydney.

Pitman's Wharf, Sydney, 22 March, 1836.


In reply to your letter of the 19th inst., I beg to inform you that the number of persons employed at my Black Whale Fishing Establishment at Otago New Zealand the last season were eighty five, three fourths of which were Europeans.

My Establishment was founded in the year 1832 and the proceeds during the following season viz. 1833 was 95 Impl Tuns of Black oil and four and half Tons Whalebone & in 1834 275 Impl Tuns of oil and 13 Tons Whalebone, and in 1835 430 Impl Tuns of oil and 20 Tons Whalebone, all which oil and whalebone has been shipped to London.

I further beg to mention that during the year 1835 I employed in transhipping supplies from this page 111 to New Zealand and return cargo to amount of 1015 Tons of British Shipping, besides a small schooner of 50 tons continually running between this and the Establishment.

I have the honour to be


Your obedient servant

Geo. Weller.

Major Gibbes, M.C.

&c., &c., &c.

The total produce of the Station since its establishment was, therefore, 800 tuns of oil and 37½ tons of whalebone, or 21 tuns of oil to 1 ton of bone.

The whaling operations carried on at Weller's Station were responsible for two very interesting decisions on the preferential tariff which at that time prevailed in connection with the whaling trade. The consideration of these two cases requires a short review of the circumstances which led up to the legislation and its terms, and to enable this to be done more effectively, the review, and all the cases which arose under the tariff, are brought together and dealt with under a common heading.