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Nelson Historical Society Journal, Volume 2, Issue 4, May 1970

H.M.S. Alligator

H.M.S. Alligator

In 1834 H.M.S. Alligator was off the coast of Taranaki, preparing to rescue certain white people taken prisoner by the Maoris. Among these people were the wife and two children of John Guard. A gale forced the ship to leave the coast, and Guard piloted her into Port Hardy, the northernmost of the two harbours on that side of the island. The ship was there for three days. During this time the soldiers on board were put ashore for exercise and target practice. This was the first time that British troops landed on New Zealand soil. Some years ago a farmer, Mr. R. J. King-Turner, who had a property in Port Hardy, saw that a sheep had slipped down a small clay bluff, and could not get up again. Whilst going to its rescue, he found a cannon-ball, about the size of a large orange, and weighing approximately eleven pounds. Possible this was a relic of this early gun-play, a shot that had missed the target.

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In October of the same year H.M.S. Alligator was back in Port Hardy, and during this visit Lieutenant Woore completed a piece of work begun on his first visit, a survey of the harbour. A high peak on the Island is named Mt. Woore, but the majority of the names recall a great naval hero. Out in the sea at the entrance to the inlet is a tall pinnacle of rock named Nelson's Monument. The southernmost point at the entrance is called Nile Head; a near-by island called Victory appears to sail on the sea like a ship at the head of its reef, Fleet Rock. Trafalgar Point is nearby, and of course the name of the harbour itself commemorates one of Nelson's colleagues.

Greville Harbour, another good anchorage to the south of Port Hardy, was discovered in 1849 by H.M.S. Acheron, at that time employed in survey work around the coast.