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Nelson Historical Society Journal, Volume 3, Issue 1, October 1974

Ngakuta Bay

Ngakuta Bay

A short climb and then the road descends to Ngakuta Bay. It is impossible in this short account to do justice to this bay. But briefly the Rev. Samuel Ironside established his mission station here at the end of 1840, it being the second mission station to be established in the South Island. It had been estimated that as well as the whalers there were 1500 Maoris in villages on the shores of Cook Strait. With his station situated here he was able to minister to the whalers and natives in the Port. After a short climb up Ironside Ridge and a descent down Missionary Ridge to Missionary Bay in Queen Charlotte Sound, where he kept a boat, he ministered to the Maoris in the Sound where 12 native chapels had been built. It is on record that in his boat he went as far away as Nelson, Motueka and Collingwood. The white cairn marks the site of the Rev. Ironside's large church, and was erected by Methodist Church people as their contribution to Marlborough Centennial in 1959. A sketch of the mission house came to light some years ago and is the only picture of any of the mission buildings that we have. When I visited the bay many years ago the mouldered remains of the mission house chimneys were to be seen, but ploughing operations removed them. However the site on the beach where he kept his boat is still to be seen.

Samuel Ironside will be remembered for interviewing Te Rauparaha and Te Rangihaeata after 17th June 1843, then rowing across Cloudy Bay in stormy weather and up the Wairau River to Tua Marina to bury the 22 victims of the affray. The boat in which he travelled was rowed by men from Michael Aldridge's whaling station.

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The poplar trees on the west of the bay mark the site of Michael's home and the fine oaks to the east are where his brother Henry lived. After the trouble at Tua Marina most of the Maoris fled to the North Island and Ironside was transferred to Wellington. A layman named William Jenkins lived in the mission house for six years and was then transferred to Motueka and the station here abandoned. If you read your Motueka church history you will find Jenkins's name figures prominently. Several times we have had his descendants visiting this spot. Just recently I have received a copy of a map of 1842 showing the mission station in the bay. We are very fortunate in that Mr H. G. Bothwell who owned the bay and gave us permission to erect the cairn, very generously donated to the church the quarter acre on which it stands. It was surveyed off and is now church property.