Journal of the Nelson and Marlborough Historical Societies, Volume 1, Issue 2, November 1982
Books Concerning Nelson and Books by Nelson Authors Relating to the Period up to 1848
Books Concerning Nelson and Books by Nelson Authors Relating to the Period up to 1848
Nelson has always been proud to have had amongst its settlers men of the highest calibre as literary figures and as historians. Early in the period of colonization men such as Domett, Fox and Saunders featured prominently on the New Zealand literary horizon, and following on we have been fortunate to have had the history of our province well documented by writers of integrity. This article refers to some of these contributors to our provincial story but it is realised that it can be no means exhaustive and that its omissions will probably out-number its inclusions. Reference will also be made to publications by authors who were not Nelsonians but who made significant contributions to the recording of Nelson's history, both Maori and colonial, its ecclesiastical history, its scientific and natural history, its social history and its place in the arts.
Limitation of space necessitates that the books discussed deal with events only up to 1848.
The first recorded reference to the coastline of Nelson was made by Abel Janszoon Tasman who spent an ill-fated period from 17th December until 21st December, 1642. in the coastal waters of what later came to be known as Golden Bay. Tasman recorded the incidents of the voyage and his observations in his "Journal" but many imperfect abridgements of and translations from this "Journal" were printed in most European languages during the 17th, 18th and early 19th centuries. It was J. E. Heeres, LLD., Professor at the Dutch Colonial Institute at Delft who in 1895 produced a facsimile of the original "Journal" with a translation and reproductions of the original illustrations and maps and thus provided a definitive and authentic version of Tasman's "Journal" from which later historians have been able to quote with confidence, e.g.
McNab—Historical Records of New Zealand—Vol. II (1914) p.24
McNab—From Tasman to Marsden–(1914) pp. 6–10
Sharp—The Voyages of Abel Janszoon Tasman–(1968) pp. 121–126
Both McNab and Sharp used the Heeres' translation of the "Journal", but one of the earliest versions available to English readers was published under the auspices of the Society For the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge and titled
The New Zealanders—The Library of Entertaining Knowledge-(1830)
The publication was for many years attributed to Lord Brougham, probably for no stronger reason than that he was president of the Society. It is now known to be the work of John Lillie Craik, L.L.D,' the professor of English Literature at Belfast. Craik relied on an earlier and inaccurate translation, even to the extent of quoting the month of Tasman's arrival as being September 1642 instead of December 1642. The account of Tasman's unfortunate encounter with the Maoris off the Nelson coast together with a facsimile of Tasman's drawing of the attack on his ships is given on pp. 20–23. The two names which Tasman gave to indentations on the Nelson coastline viz. Mordenaers' Bay (Murderers' Bay – Golden Bay) and Abel Tasman's Reede (Abel Tasman's Roadstead – somewhere not far east of d'Urville page 34Island, have both faded from the maps of the modern cartographer. A very readable account of Tasman's unfortunate encounter on the Nelson coastline is given by a local authoress –
Emily Host—The Enchanted Coast – 1976) pp. 14–22
Mrs Host has also set down some interesting biographical details of Tasman as well as an interesting Dutch ship's dietary scale.
The Nelson coastline, and indeed the whole of New Zealand remained secluded from European attention for 127 years until on Saturday 24th March, 1770, James Cook, sailing northwards up the west coast of the South Island rounded the cape that he was later to name Cape Farewell, and during the following two days he sailed across the head of Golden Bay and Tasman Bay to Stephens Island, thus completing the circumnavigation of both islands of New Zealand. On Saturday, 31st March, before departing at the conclusion of this, his first voyage to New Zealand, he wrote in his Journal "Between this Island (Stephen's Island) and Cape Farewell which is West by North and East by South, distant 14 or 15 Leagues from each other the Shore forms a large deep bay, the bottom of which we could hardly see in sailing in a straight line from one Cape to the other: but it is not at all improbable but what is all low land next to the sea, as we have met with less water here than any other part of the Coast at the same distance from-land. However, a Bay there is known on the Chart by the name of Blind Bay. But I have reason to believe this to be Tasman's "Murderers' Bay."
The above quotation from Cook's Journal is taken from –
"The Journals of Captain James Cook" – ed. by J. C. Beaglehole
published for the Hakluyt Society–(1955) Vol. 1, p. 273
Beaglehole adds a most pertinent footnote: "One regrets, however academically, that Cook sailed 'in a straight line from one Cape to the other'; for if he had turned Cape Farewell, or rather Farewell Spit, he could hardly have failed to recognize Murderers' (Massacre, now Golden) Bay. Unfortunately he had only an abstract of Tasman's Journal, but broadly he was right: what he called Blind Bay is in reality two bays – the smaller, or north-west one, where Tasman had his encounter, divided from the larger part by the irregular triangle of land that d'Urville later called Separation Point. The name Blind Bay was later confined to this part, until it became officially Tasman Bay."
Accompanying Cook in the Endeavour was Joseph Banks, a man of large private means who enjoyed a considerable scientific reputation. Banks kept his own diary of the voyage and this was also edited by J. C. Beaglehole.
The Endeavour Journal of Joseph Banks 1768–1771
ed. J. C. Beaglehole – 2 Vols. (1962)
Banks briefly records that passage between 24th March 1769 when the Endeavour "just turned the westernmost point" viz. Cape Farewell and 26th March when he reported that "at night came to an anchor in a Bay in some part of which it is probable that Tasman anchored." Beaglehole comments upon this entry by indicating that the bay was Admiralty Bay, off D'Urville Island, but nowhere near Tasman's first anchorage which was in Golden Bay.page 35
Another interesting account of Cook's contact with our north-eastern coast is given in –
McNab—Historical Records of New Zealand – Vol. 11 (1914) pp. 180–182
Where a facsimile of a log kept by some person on board the Endeavour is set out. The handwriting is not Cook's nor is it Richard Orton's, the ship's clerk. The log was in the possession of A. H. Turnbull when McNab was given the opportunity of reproducing it for his "Historical Records", but Turnbull had been unable to establish the authorship. Gore and Hicks had both been considered the possible writers, but both had been rejected, so the authorship remains uncertain, but there is no doubt that the descriptions in it were all made by an eye-witness who wrote down what he saw at the time. Cook records in his Journal that he sent an officer ashore to superintend the filling of water casks, together with the carpenter and some crew members to cut wood, but the writer of the log evidently remained on board sending the empty casks ashore and stowing the full casks in the hold. The area where this landing took place is just south of Old Man's Point on the Admiralty Bay coast of D'Urville Island. The Endeavour remained anchored in the area from Tuesday 27th March 1770 until Saturday 31st March when Cook weighed anchor and sailed westwards towards Australia. As is so aptly stated in –
J. C. Beaglehole—Discovery of New Zealand–(1939) p. 97
"First among the improvers on Cook came Cook." In his second voyage with the "Resolution" and "Adventure" he set out to establish the existence of, or to demolish the illusion of the Great Southern Continent (Terra Australis Incognita). Sailing northwards up the West coast of the South Island he rounded Cape Farewell on 17th May 1773 and recorded "About six leagues to the eastwards of Cape Farewell there seems to be a spacious Bay covered from the sea by a low point of land, and is I believe the same as Tasman first anchored in. Blind Bay, which is to the S.E. of this, seems to extend a long way in to the South, the sight in this direction was not bounded by any land. I think that it is not improbable that it may communicate with Queen Charlotte's Sound."
This quotation is taken from –
The Journals of Captain James Cook-ed. by J. C. Beaglehole, Vol. II p. 42
This was Cook's last contact with the Nelson coast, for he did not approach the area at all during his third and last voyage to New Zealand. Cook's Journals and narratives based on them were available to English readers in a wide variety of publications during the latter part of the 18th and throughout the 19th centuries. Notable amongst these were –
A Journal of a Voyage Round the World
–printed for T. Becket and P. A. De Hondt, in the Strand in 1771
the authorship of which is attributed to James Magra
John Hawkesworth – An Account of the Voyage etc in 1773
Sydney Parkinson – A Journal of a Voyage to the South Seas–(1773)
George Forster – A Voyage Round the World – (1777)
James Cook—A Voyage Towards the South Pole
– printed for W. Strachan and T. Cadeell in the Strand – (1777) This, the official account of the second voyage, was written by Cook himself.
Captain W. J. L. Wharton—Captain Cook's Journal – (1983)
A complete Cook bibliography is set out in –
Holmes. Sir Maurice – Captain James Cook
– A Bibliographical Excursion – (1952)
From 1773 until 1827 we have no authentic record of European visitors to the Nelson coast, but from 14th to 28th January 1827 Dumont D'Urville explored the coastline from Cape Farewell to French Pass, particularly the western shoreline of Tasman Bay, and in the course of this exploration he bestowed no fewer than 32 names on geographical features. D'Urville's account of the voyage was published by the French Government in parts during the period 1830–1835.
Dumont D'Urville—Voyage de la Corvette L'AstroIabe–(1830)
This monumental work was published in four divisions, the first divsion of which comprised five volumes and two folio atlases of 243 lithograph plates including eight charts. In 1950 Olive Wright, then living in New Zealand, translated part of Vol. II from pp. 1–244 together with some passages from officers' diaries and a few pages of Vol. 1 to serve as an introduction.
Olive Wright—New Zealand 1826–1827 from the French of Dumont D'Urville – (1950)
The events and observations recorded by D'Urville on the Nelson coastline are set out on pp. 71–100.
Another translation by S. Percy Smith of D'Urville's narrative appears in –
A. N. Field—Nelson Province 1642–1842 – (1924)
Field's work also covers the explorations of Tasman and Cook, and on p. 58 he gives a list of the names which D'Urville bestowed on the Nelson coastline.
The history of the Maori population in the Nelson district has been the subject of research by several historians, one of whom was the author of a work which has come to be regarded as the standard reference book in this field.
J. D. Peart – Old Tasman Bay – (1937)
During the early 1930's Peart travelled amongst the various Maori communities on D'Urville Island, Croiselles. Motueka etc. gathering his material from the Maori leaders, and it was indeed fortunate that the research which he so enthusiastically undertook was published. Peart also drew upon the work of earlier authors for some of his information. A notable source was
John White—The Ancient History of the Maori –6 Vols. (1887–1890)
Volume VI deals particularly with the tribes that occupied the Nelson area, and especially with the attacks on the South Island tribes by Te Rauparaha and his followers. White in turn relied on –
W. T. L. Travers—The Life and Times of Te Rauparaha–(1872)
This book was later republished as –
The Stirring Times of Te Rauparaha – (1906)
Other references to this facet of our history are contained in –
T. A. Pybus—The Maoris of the South lsland–(1954)
J. W. Stack–South Island Maoris–(1898)
W. A. Taylor–Lore and History of the South Island Maori–(1950)
In the last-mentioned book Taylor devotes the whole of the first chapter to the history of the Nelson settlement by the Maori.
The Nelson district is referred to as "No Man's Land" during the first forty years of the 19th century, for during that period no permanent settlement by Europeans was recorded and there are few authoriativc records of visits by traders, sealers or whalers to our coast, although such visits undoubtedly occurred.
A. N. Field – Nelson Province 1642–1842 – (1942)
Has researched this period in depth and quotes from Australian newspapers, particularly the Sydney Gazette. In the issue of 30th September 1824 the Gazette records the massacre by the Maoris of Captain John Dawson of the Samuel and five of his crew of sealers. Peart also refers to this incident on page 107 of Old Tasman Bay. "
R. C. Reid–Rambles on the Golden Coast – (1886)
Records on page 13 that from Cape Foulwind to Cape Farewell sealing parties under Green and Toms in 1836 visited various points in search of seals.
One definite visitor to the shores of Blind Bay was the whaler Captian John Guard who was travelling from Sydney to Cloudy Bay in the Harriet in 1834. Following the wreck of his vessel at Cape Egmont Guard was attacked by Maoris, but with six sailors and three friendly Maoris he set out in one of the Harriet's boats for Cloudy Bay After rowing southwards for two days and two nights the occupants reached Blind Bay where the boat was hauled up on a beach so that the party could shelter from the wind and the rain before resuming the journey to Cloudy Bay. However their troubles were not yet over for a heavy rain again forced them to land at the mouth of a small river (possibly the Whangamoa River) where they were again attacked by Maoris who robbed them of the contents of their boat including the oars. The event is recorded in –
McNab – Murihiku – (1909) p. 23
And set out in greater detail in –
McNab–The Old Whaling Days–(1913) pp. 112–115
In embarking upon a study of the white settlement of Nelson the reader has available material which deals exclusively with the Nelson district and so penetrates the local history in greater depth. One of the most important books for the student of Nelson history is –
Ruth Allan–Nelson–A History of Early Settlement–(196S)
When Mrs Allan died in 1958 her work was incomplete but under the guidance and editorship of J. C. Beaglehole. Nancy Taylor and Pamela Cocks were able to use Ruth Allan's notes to complete chapters on the German settlements and the exploration of the district so that the work could be published for the Nelson City Council in 1965.
On page 29 Ruth Allan makes reference to Captain James McKenzie Maclaren who settled on 150 acres of land on the east side of Croiselles Harbour in 1838 and so became Nelson's first white settler. Reference to Maclaren also appears in –
E. J. Wakefield–Adventure in New Zealand 2 Vols. (1845 and reprinted in 1908)
One of the early purchasers of land in the Nelson district was James Coutts Crawford whose
Recollections of Travel in New Zealand and Australia–(1880)
He relates his adventures in attempting to reach Wakatu. Crawford gave evidence to the Select Committee on New Zealand set up by the British House of Commons in 1844. This evidence can be perused in –
British Parliamentary Papers–Colonies New Zealand Irish University Press (1968)
These papers which are of very first importance to historians set out in Vol. II p. 643 the Appendix to the Twelfth Report of the Directors of the New Zealand Company the deed of purchase by Colonel William Wakefield from the Maoris of all land in the southern part of the North Island and the northern part of the South Island for the New Zealand Company on 25th October 1839.
One of the earliest descriptions of Nelson was written by that versatile draughtsman, artist, soldier and politician
Charles Heaphy. Narrative of a Residence in Various Parts of New Zealand – (1842) pp. 100–107
Heaphy confines his account of Nelson to its geographical features and makes practically no reference to the story of its settlement.
Writing under the pseudonyn "Kappa". John Ward, a young naval surgeon wrote a booklet –
New Zealand. Nelson, the Latest Settlement of the New Zealand Company – (1845)
Ward proposed emigrating to Nelson and his enthusiasm for the plan of settlement of Nelson was based on his observations of similar settlements in Canada.page 39
The fibres from which hisiorians have been able to weave the fabric of Nelson's history for the first 31 years of its settlement are contained in the columns of Nelson's first newspaper
The Nelson Examiner – Vol. 1 No. 1 of which was published on Saturday, 12th March 1842
The Examiner appeared regularly as a weekly newspaper until 1873, and during its life it prided itself upon having such eminent colonists as editors and contributors as Domett, Richardson, Fox and Monro. Ruth Allan quotes Richardson's editorial in the first number on page 162 of her history of Nelson wherein Richardson set out the lofty aims and ideals which elevated the Examiner to its esteemed place as the best of all the early New Zealand newspapers. Richardson was killed in the Wairau Affray on 17th June 1843 and the editorial chair passed to Francis Jollie and then to Alfred Domett who compiled the famous Wairau Supplement of the Examiner of 23 December 1843. The Wairau Affray was undoubtedly the most severe setback that the infant settlement could have suffered, and the account of the unhappy events are set out in a number of publications. Foremost of these is –
Appendix H1 to the Twelfth Report of the Directors of the New Zealand Company – (1844)
This appendix was one of the papers laid before the House of Commons Commitee and appears in
British Parliamentary Papers – Appendix p. 693–5
A fuller account is set out in –
Appendix to the 14th Report of the Directors of the New Zealand Company (1844)
An account which is generally regarded as being one of the most carefully researched is contained in a Marlborough publication –
C. A. MacDonald - Pages from the Past - (1933)
The details of the affair were also given in –
Lowther Broad–The Jubilee History of Nelson– (1892) pp. 45–70
Judge Broad includes Rev. Samuel Ironside's reminiscences on p. 60–62, and John Kidson's account on page 62–63.
The essential facts surrounding the affray are set out in many standard histories of New Zealand, e.g.
G. W. Rusdens–History of New Zealand – Vol. 1 p. 313-
Alfred Saunders–History of New Zealand – Vol. 1 – p. 186
Te Rauparaha's account of the events are given in –
John White–Ancient History of the Maori Vol. 6 p. 140
Two well-known histories of Marlborough also contain accounts viz.
T. Lindsay Buick–Old Marlborough – (1900) p. 250
A. D. Mclntosh–Marlborough–A Provincial History (1940) pp. 67–85
This latter book has a most useful plan of the site of the conflict on p. 80.page 40
Following the death of Captain Arthur Wakefield the position of Company's resident agent fell to Frederick Tuckett and the Nelson district was thrust into a period of apprehension and indecisiveness with no effective leadership. An insight is provided by –
(W. T. Pratt) An Old Colonist–Colonial Experiences – (1877)
Pratt landed in Nelson on 6th February 1843 from the ship Indus. Believing that the arrival of the vessel would be celebrated as a gala day the author landed in holiday costume wearing a black cloth cut-away coat and a bell topper. However, the men had to wade a few yards ashore from the boat which ferried passengers from the Indus, and in doing so he alighted from the boat on a treacherous boulder and fell prone.
Tuckett was succeeded by William Fox as Nelson's resident agent. Fox was a barrister who had emigrated to Nelson in 1842 and had supported the New Zealand Company's methods in a small booklet –
William Fox–Colonization in New Zealand – (1842)
In 1848 he succeeded Colonel William Wakefield as chief agent for the Company and wrote –
William Fox–Report on the Settlement of Nelson – (1848)
In the same year there appeared a pithy history of Nelson covering the first six years of settlement printed as a 16 page appendix to –
L. A. Chamerovzow–The New Zealand Question and the Rights of the Aborigines – (1848)
Chamerovzow was assistant secretary of the Aborigines Protection Society and in his appendix he took the view that the Maoris of the Nelson district had not sold their land to the New Zealand Company.
Bishop Selwyn was in Nelson from 21st August-8th September 1842 and his visit is recorded in Letters II and III from his visitation Journal and published on pp. 40–49 of
New Zealand–Letters from the Bishop to the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel – (1847)
The Bishop reported preaching at the afternoon service in the Emigration Barrack on Sunday, 21st August 1842, and visiting "Motueka, a native village" on the following Wednesday.
An important book published in 1848 was –
The Handbook for New Zealand. Compiled for the Use of Intending Colonists—by a late Magistrate of the Colony–(1848)
The author was E. J. Wakefield who had previously written Adventure in New Zealand referred to above, and his handbook gives a useful history of each settlement together with particulars of all 82 of the New Zealand Company's emigrant vessels up to 1848. Regarding Nelson harbour Wakefield remarks on the great rise and fall of the tide and the "unusual facilities of dry docks, which might easily be made there, thoroughly available for steamers of the largest size."
Previous reference was made to another publication by this author –
E. J. Wakefield–Adventures in New Zealand–2 Vols.–(1845)
To accompany these two volumes a separate oblong folio publication –
Illustrations to "Adventure in New Zealand"
Appeared in 1845 contains 15 magnificent lithographs with descriptive letterpress. Of particular interest to Nelson is No. 7 "The Town and Part of the Harbour", drawn by John Saxton and No. 8 "The Level Country at the South End of Blind Bay."
Another volume designed to give information and advice to intending emigrants is –
G. B. Earp–Handbook for Intending Emigrants to the Southern Settlements of New Zealand–(1849)
This publication reappeared as subsequent editions in 1850, 1851 and 1853. In the chapter on Nelson Earp speculated on the origin of the Boulder Bank and arrives at the conclusion that "the easiest, as well as perhaps the most probable solution is to refer it to the Deluge; or if New Zealand be of later origin, to the circumstances of general commotion which must have attended the elevation of the country, or the depression of the adjacent country from or below the waters.
The urgent need of extensive areas of flat land suitable for farming provided the incentive to send men to explore beyond the mountains which encircled the settlement of Nelson and its adjacent Waimea Plain. As early as January 1843 J. S. Cotterell and a party of settlers had reached Lake Rotoiti and climbed a peak in the St Arnaud Range, but their failure to find a suitable stock route to Canterbury did not deter others from undertaking explorations of the hinterland. Notable amongst these were Spooner, Heaphy, Fox and Brunner. The first reports of their early explorations appeared in the pages of The Examiner and later historians have found these reports fascinating material.
J. N. W. Newport–Footprints –(1962)
Deals extensively with these explorations whilst –
Nancy M. Taylor–Early Travellers in New Zealand – (1959)
covers the journeys undertaken by Heaphy, Fox and Brunner in depth, including Brunner's Journal of his expedition of 1846–1848.
Brunner's epic journey down the Buller River from its source to its mouth, thence down the rugged coastline as far as the Paringa River and returning up the valley of the Grey River to the Inangahua Valley and finally back via the Buller River to Nelson occupied a period from December 1846 until June 1848.
Brunner's Journal was first published in The Examiner in a series of four issues of 30th September and 7th, 14th and 21st October 1848. Charles Elliott, the printer of The Examiner reprinted the Journal with additions in a 17 page folio, and on 11th March 1850 the Journal was read to a meeting of the Royal Geographical Society and published in Vol. XX of that Society's Journal. The complete Journal with an introduction and notes by John Pascoe was published by the Pegasus Press in 1952.
Thomas Brunner – The Great Journey 1846 –8
A writer who has recently contributed much to the recording of local history embodied in the voyages to Nelson from Tasman up to the arrival of the early emigrant ships during the first three years of the establishment of the settlement is –
June E. Neale–Landfall Nelson, 1642–1842 – (1978) and Pioneer Passengers – (1982)
Mrs Neale has done a great service not only to the descendents of our first emigrants but to all readers interested in the conditions with which our early settlers had to contend, and in researching her two books she has used a wealth of material from letters, diaries and sketches which had not previously been familiar to the general reader.
It will be apparent from this brief bibliographical resume of the exploration and foundation of the settlement of Nelson in its infant years that we have been extremely fortunate to have had the historical aspects of the area so well documented by competent authors whose work has provided the sound basis for study and research by succeeding scholars and writers. Reasearchets of the future will undoubtedly continue to appreciate the foundations laid down by the recorders of our early provincial history.