Nelson Anniversary

Today marks the 178th Nelson/Marlborough Anniversary.

This day commemorates the arrival of the first New Zealand Company settlers in what is now Nelson, on board the ship Fifeshire. The first colonists in the area had come as whalers to Port Underwood about a decade earlier, and the first white men to visit Marlborough were Abel Tasman’s crew.


A lesser-known but significant part of the Nelson/Marlborough area’s history is its German influence. On the 14th of June 1843, Captain Schacht’s ship Sankt Pauli arrived in Nelson, and it and other ships’ passengers would go on to settle the area that was known at the time as Schachtstal (Schacht’s Valley).

Their villages were Sankt Paulidorf, named after the first ship the German settlers arrived on, Ranzau (now Hope) named after Count Kuno zu Rantzau-Brietenburg, who had financed the expedition, Sarau (now Upper Moutere), Rosental (now Rosedale), Neudorf, Neu-Hannover and Schönbach.

The last of these names were changed during the First World War, but to this day, many of the streets and roads in the area retain German names, and many of the regions people are descended from the German pioneers.

Only three days after the arrival of the first German settlers in Nelson, a massacre of twenty-three white settlers took place in Marlborough’s Wairau Valley.

The Maori chiefs Te Rauparaha and Te Rangihaeata had previously encouraged white settlement. Now they treacherously interfered with the surveyors sent to map the lands that they had sold to the New Zealand Company.

The Nelson city flag. The blue and white waves are the seas and Cook Strait, the mitre represents the city’s place as centre of the Bishopric of Nelson, and  the cross is taken from the coat of arms of Admiral Horatio Nelson, the  martyr of Trafalgar, after whom the city is named.

The Nelson city flag. The blue and white waves are the seas and Cook Strait, the mitre represents the city’s place as centre of the Bishopric of Nelson, and the cross is taken from the coat of arms of Admiral Horatio Nelson, the martyr of Trafalgar, after whom the city is named.

The Wakefield family were the main force behind the New Zealand Company and its settlement of New Zealand. Many Wakefields settled in New Zealand, and most lived to become prominent citizens of this young country.

But one of them didn’t get to enjoy that prosperity.

Arthur Wakefield

Arthur Wakefield

Arthur Wakefield set out with a posse of police constables, armed citizens and unarmed surveyors to the Wairau Plains, in order to arrest the trouble-making chiefs and carry out their business in peace.

They found the chiefs, and while the party was crossing a river, an accidental shot was fired by one party or the other (we will never know for sure who fired it), and the massacre began. Was this an ambush by the Maori, or a tragic mistake?

Either way, the violence came quick and heavy, and the group of Englishmen were on the defensive. Half of them were still on the opposite bank, or crossing the river, and many were unarmed.

A Yorkshireman named William Bennet Patchet was shot in the side as he crossed the stream. As he lay dying, a comrade, Richardson, came to his aid, but all Patchet said to him was “I am mortally wounded, you can do me no good. Make your escape.”

A deputised citizen, Thomas Tyrrell, was one of those who immediately responded to Captain Wakefield’s cry of “Englishmen forward!”, but a shot from a Maori warrior killed him outright. Two other men, Isaac Smith and William Northam, were then shot dead as well, in nearly the same spot, as they advanced.

Mr. Thompson gave orders to return fire. The natives, many of them sniping from the bushes, had the advantage, and several men were seriously wounded.

Captain Wakefield ordered his men to retire from the field, but the Maori followed them, shooting men down as they went. Finally, the Captain, Gunner James Howard, and a surveyor named Sylvanus Cotterell attempted to negotiate for a truce.

Before they even reached the group of Maori, Cotterell recognised a native he knew, and the Maori refused to shoot him. Sadly, two other warriors had no such hesitation, dragging poor Cotterell into some bushes and hacking him to death with tomahawks.

Captain Wakefield’s shout of “Kati!” (stop!) was accepted, and the chiefs Te Rauparaha and Rangihaeata approached and greeted their new prisoners. They shook hands and the Maori allowed the men to treat their wounded. Captain England, formerly of the 12th Regiment, even treated a minor injury of Rangihaeata’s.

The Englishmen probably thought the bloodshed was over. But suddenly the attitude of the Maori changed. Several of the men had their watches taken and their clothing stripped off, but the white men allowed it, fearing further violence.

Only one of those men would escape with his life. George Bampton managed to run to the bushes when his captors weren’t looking, and hid there until the massacre that was about to take place had finished.

Mr. Bampton later reported having heard one of the white men shout “For God’s sake, if we are to die, let us die together!”, followed by a number of gunshots and the sounds of beating and chopping with clubs and tomahawks.

Captain Arthur Wakefield, Police Magistrate Henry Thompson, Crown Prosecutor George Richardson, Captain Richard England, Gunner James Howard, Constables John Coster and William Gardiner and the civilians John Brooks, Eli Cropper and Henry Bumforth were all murdered after their surrender.

James McGregor, Thomas Pay, William Clanzey, John Burton and Thomas Radcliffe were also killed, either in the initial skirmish or the massacre.

A few of the special constables, and a number of the unarmed surveyors and boatmen had escaped beforehand, but two of the men, Thomas Maling and Edward Stokes would never be found, alive or dead:

The bodies of Captain Wakefield, Mr. Thompson, Captain England, Mr. Richardson, Mr. Howard, Bumforth, Cropper, Gardiner and Coster were found near the spot where the last of those who escaped left them alive; lying within twenty yards of each other, in their clothes as they fell.

Captain Wakefield's coat and waistcoat alone had been stripped off. Under his head, in savage derision, the murderers had placed a piece of bread, and a pistol across his throat. The skulls of all had been cleft with tomahawks, and generally disfigured with repeated blows, struck with such ferocity that every one must have been more than sufficient to have produced instantaneous death…

Macgregor's body lay a little to the right, lower down; Pay's about a hundred yards up the hill; and near it Brook's, dreadfully mangled; Mr Cotterell's in a manuka bush lower down, where he had surrendered himself. All these were placed side by side in one grave.

Tyrrell's and Northam's were brought across the stream, and laid with Smith's in a second; and Clanzie's and Ratcliffe's, found in the water, in a third, near the last. Mr Patchett's was buried alone where he fell. The body of Burton, found since, has been buried by Mr. Ironside.

Those of Maling, the chief constable, who was known to be severely wounded, and of Stokes, have never been found. It is most probable that they crept into the bush, and there expired.”

Their memory has not yet been extinguished, no matter how much our people’s enemies try to rewrite the story of that day as an “Incident” or “Affray” rather than a massacre. We are told that this is a tale of greedy Englishmen trying to steal land, rather than one of betrayal and murder on the part of the chiefs.

The New Zealand Company, the German colonists, and the Wairau Massacre are just part of the Nelson region’s proud and storied history.


Auckland Anniversary

Each January on the Monday closest to the 29th, Auckland’s anniversary is celebrated.

On the 30th of January, in the year 1840, British sovereignty was proclaimed in New Zealand. Our first governor, William Hobson, proudly flew the flag of the empire above the Bay of Islands, and even though settlers had already arrived in Wellington, it was here that the British government stepped in. This country’s fate wouldn’t be left up to the Wakefield’s company.

The foundation of Auckland itself was a wee while away, and proper settlement wouldn’t start in the modern city until the next year, but there were already a few hardy colonists in the far north, at Kororareka/Russell and in the numerous Christian missions, living among the Maori in the native pahs and villages, and in some small trading or whaling stations along the coast.

It was during that year that the site of the new settlement was chosen, and the land purchased from the local Maori. Governor Hobson, who was a Captain in the Royal Navy, named the place Auckland, after the then First Lord of the Admiralty, George Eden, the 1st Earl of Auckland, after who the suburbs of Mount Eden and Glen Eden are also named.

Auckland in 1840 was a far cry from the supercity that it is today. Most of the country’s white population was away to the south, in Port Nicholson and Britannia (Wellington and Petone), at Port Underwood (in Marlborough), at Port Louis-Philippe (Akaroa), and in a few other small early settlements. Only a handful lived in what is now Auckland.

Shortland Street in 1841

Shortland Street in 1841

None of those first pioneer Aucklanders could have known that some day a full third of the country’s total population would live in their city. In 1841, there were slightly less than sixteen million people in England and Wales, and to think that one day their new settlement would hold even a tenth of that number must have seemed absurd.

And yet it does. It is by far the largest city in New Zealand, and would actually be the second largest city in the United Kingdom if it were there and not here, in between London (8.6 million inhabitants) and Birmingham (1.2 million).

1939 Auckland Regatta

1939 Auckland Regatta

The seed planted by Hobson and his fellows has sprouted into a true global city, as much as we in the rest of the country all like to complain about the Jafas, we should be proud of their accomplishments and celebrate alongside them this 179th anniversary.

The Auckland coat of arms represents the prosperity of the city through a  cornucopia, the history of the region's gum-diggers and miners through a  pick and shovel, and it's history and place as a port city through a  ship sailing on the water.

The Auckland coat of arms represents the prosperity of the city through a cornucopia, the history of the region's gum-diggers and miners through a pick and shovel, and it's history and place as a port city through a ship sailing on the water.

Wellington Anniversary

The Monday closest to the 22nd of January is the day we celebrate our capital city’s founding. It was in the year 1840 that the first organised European settlement in New Zealand was created. This wasn't a whaling station or church mission under Maori protection, but a new town to be settled and ruled by the British, and to be named after the still-living Duke of Wellington.

Their ships had arrived at the shores of what they called Britannia (later renamed Petone) two days earlier, but they were unable to land due to poor conditions. After two days they were able to disembark and go ashore. It was on the 22nd of January that the city's history begins, although a few white men had arrived a earlier to survey for good land and arrange for its sale.

After some bad flooding in Britannia and uncertainties about the natives, most of the settlers moved across the harbour to Port Nicholson, the modern city of Wellington.

Wellington in 1858

Wellington in 1858

In that first year, the new village of Wellington would be almost unrecognisable. Not only was it a tiny settlement, not only was it a very different landscape technologically and culturally, but it was even different naturally. That clutter of ramshackle cottages along a high and rocky shore is now well away from the waterfront, the Great Earthquake of 1855 had yet to raise the country, and one and half centuries of land reclamation was yet undone.

But it was still Wellington. It was the seed from which the city grew.

Next time you walk along Lambton Quay and see the plaques on the ground indicating where the shoreline once sat, or look to the horizon and see the untamed bush on Ahumairangi Hill, remind yourself that if it wasn't for a few boat-loads of British idealists all of New Zealand would still be that primordial landscape. There would be nothing but rocky beaches and dense bush.

We should honour those men and women who left the safety of Britain to come here, it was a long and treacherous journey that many did not survive, and what would they find when they got here? Nothing but a blank canvas, nothing but what they brought with them, and nothing but that which they could build through their own blood, sweat and tears.

Many of the streets of modern Wellington are named after the ships that these earliest pioneers arrived on. there are Cuba Streets in both Wellington and Petone. Wellington has an Aurora Terrace, while Petone has Aurora Street. Wellington also has an Adelaide Road, to Petone's Adelaide Street. In the city you will also find a Glenbervie Terrace, Brougham Street, Bolton Street, Roxburgh Street, Coromandel Street, Oriental Parade, the suburb of Oriental Bay and Tory Street.

All named after ships that brought settlers to Wellington in its first year.

These men and women's achievements are embedded into our city itself, we just have to remember them.

We take Wellington’s anniversary not as a meaningless public holiday, but a day of genuine celebration of our nation's history. This day is for remembering our forebears who worked and sacrificed so that we - their descendants - could have a safe and beautiful home. Now it is our turn. As we go into the future, let the legacy of our first settlers inspire our young generations to carry on the work that they began 178 years ago.

The Wellington flag was officially adopted in 1963, and was first flown  during a Royal Visit of the city. The colours, Yellow and Black, have  been synonymous with Wellington (especially sports teams) since the late  19th century, and the city badge at the centre shows an English galley,  representing both Wellington's history and its place as a port city.

The Wellington flag was officially adopted in 1963, and was first flown during a Royal Visit of the city. The colours, Yellow and Black, have been synonymous with Wellington (especially sports teams) since the late 19th century, and the city badge at the centre shows an English galley, representing both Wellington's history and its place as a port city.

Those who sailed in to establish our capital city are listed below:

  • The ship Cuba, sailing from London, brought with it 34 settlers with the names Allen, Anderson, Batten, Bennett, Bethune, Carrington, Davis, Grigg, Hanson, Hast, Heaphy, Heyman, Jackson, Keys, Lee, Muttheim, Oulds, Park, Shannon, Smith, Stitchbury, Stokes, Storah, Stratford, Trigg, Webb and Wythe.

  • The Aurora took 148 passengers from London, named Baker, Barrow, Barry, Boon, Brown, Carter, Coppin, Davis, Deans, Deighton, Drake, Draper, Edwards, Farrance, Friend, Gebbie, Glover, Gratage, Groombridge, Hayward, Hicks, Hodnett, Holes, Houghton, Hunt, Langford, Lodge, McDermott, McGirk, Maxwell, Miles, Morgan, Morrison, Nicholls, Oxenham, Palmer, Park, Parker, Parkes, Petherick, Prebble, Pudney, Read, Richardson, Roper, Sawyer, Stafford, Stokes, Wade, Wallace, Welch, White, Whitewood and Wilkinson.

  • The Oriental sailed from London with 155 passengers. They were from the families Anderson, Baker, Barton, Betts, Binns, Boyton, Burgess, Catchpool, Clark, Cockburn, Cormacher, Crouther, Dean, Detcham, Downey, Duppa, Eaton, Elsdon, Estaugh, Everett, Fairbrother, Fardon, Fitzgerald, Foulds, Garner, Garrod, Gatley, Grant, Grumm, Hodges, Holmes, Hopper, Hornbrook, Hort, Howes, Ingham, Isaac, Jarvis, Johnson, Kentish, Kettle, Ladd, Levy, Lewis, Linfoot, McKay, McKenzie, McLennan, Mantell, Meech, Molesworth, Moreing, O'Brien, Palfrey, Payne, Petre, Rodgers, Salmon, Sayer, Seed, Shand, Sinclair, Spencer, Spiers, Sutherland, Taylor, Tucker, Walker, Walton, Welch and Wrigley.

  • The Duke of Roxburgh brought 167 settlers from (Old) Plymouth. Their names were Bills, Davis, Healy, Monteith, Parnell, Pierce, Baker, Bassett, Bryant, Clarke, Connor, Cooking, Cundy, Farrar, Fowler, Gilbert, Gomm, Goswell, Greenwood, Hartley, Hawke, Hebden, Hight, Hunter, Jackson, Jeffery, Knight, Lloyd, Lyon, May, Poad, Prouse, Reading, Reynolds, Roberts, Rule, Scott, Smith, Stephens, Thomas, Tucker, Turtley, Udy, U'Ren, Williams and Woodward.

  • The Bengal Merchant left Glasgow with 161 passengers, the progenitors of current Wellingtonians named Anderson, Buchanan, Carruth, Colville, Dorsay, Duncan, Hay, Johnson, Logan, MacDowall, MacFarlane, Marjoribanks, Reid, Strang, Todd, Wallace, Yule, Branks, Brash, Brown, Bryce, Burnett, Campbell, Cook, Crawford, Cullen, Dick, Dorran, Drummond, Dugald, Eckford, Forbes, Galloway, Gilbert, Golder, Londsdale, Leckie, Lockhart, McBeth, McEwen, McGechean, McLaggan, McLatchie, Miller, Mitchell, Moore, Murray, Neilson, Nisbet, Pollock, Rankin, Reid, Riddle, Rowand, Scott, Scullers, Simpson, Tannahill, Turner, Webster and Wilson.

  • The Glenbervie, of Gravesend, disembarked 9 passengers at Wellington, named Heaver, Inglis, Northwood, Smith, Watt, Clark, Wallace and McDonald.

  • The Adelaide, from London, left 176 men, women and children on our shores, among them the eccentric Baron von Alzdorf, as well as Alder, Cole, Cook, Daniell, Durie, Evans, Johnson, Kembell, Luscombe, Millar, Natrass, de Oliveira, Partridge, Reid, Revans, Riddiford, Ruther, Saint Hill, Smith, Taine, Thomas, Tilke, Andrews, Beaumont, Beckers, Bell, Bennett, Boyle, Bradey, Bradfield, Brown, Buchannan, Burcham, Buxton, Campbell, Clarke, Constable, Ellerm, Evans, Filke, Fox, Galpin, Guthrie, Harris, Henderson, Hewett, Hunt, Jones, Kempton, Knight, Laurance, Longman, Luxford, McKenzie, McKew, McNally, Marshall, Minifie, Montague, Pike, Shannon, Simpson, Stoddard, Swann, Ticehurst, Turnbull, Turner, Ward, Wade, Ware, Weston, Whiteman, Williams, Wright and Yates.

  • The Bolton, sailing from Gravesend, crammed 232 passengers on board, named Butler, Churton, Collet, Falwasser, Hargreaves, Harrison, Lowe, Minet, Saint Hill, Wadeson, Atkinson, Avery, Bannister, Castle, Catley, Clarkson, Clover, Cowdry, Craven, Creamer, Cross, Curry, Duffield, Edwards, Farmer, Florence, Goldsworthy, Gower, Harris, Hunt, Hurst, Jones, Judd, Kelly, King, Lancaster, Lockwood, Lovelock, Lowe, Madden, Maddox, Midgley, Millgate, Nankeville, Nash, Packham, Pilcher, Pinfold, Relf, Rumball, Scott, Spackman, Spinner, Sykes, Trevarton, Trist, Tyler, Waggon, Williams, Woodman and Zillwood.

  • The ships Brougham and Platina, both of London, gave us about 7 more settlers.

  • The Coromandel brought 44 passengers from London, and picked up another 3 at Sydney. Their surnames were Baker, Bales, Beardmore, Bligh, Crawford, Earp, Foster, Guyton, Minet, Petrie, Ridgeway, Smith, Annear, Butler, Cherry, Green, Hook, Pawson, Pilcher, Swallow, Walker and Walsh.

  • The David brought out 4 men, Daniell, Stock, Smith and Couper.

  • The Martha Ridgway, from London, managed 225 passengers. They bore the names Anderson, Ashby, Bolton, Bottomley, Brittain, Brooks, Brosnahan, Brown, Browne, Campbell, Canning, Cannon, Dallison, Day, Duncan, Goldie, Goodens, Harfield, Harvey, Head, Hobman, House, Howell, Howland, Hudgell, Hughey, Hunt, Jones, Judd, Mason, Medhurst, McGregor, McLelland, Milner, Mitchell, Moloney, Mount, Murphy, Parke, Pike, Pope, Pratt, Rea, Reed, Giddens, Renall, Robinson, Saywell, Seed, Sharpe, Small, Smith, Stent, Taylor, Walter, West, Whitley, Wilhelmi, Wouldham and Wright.

  • The London, ironically sailing from Gravesend, deposited 228 settlers on our shores, men, women and children named Aubrey, Baines, Brandon, Carrington, Churton, Connell, Hulke, King, Ludlam, Mayers, Niblett, Nixon, Wicksteed, Barraud, Burleigh, Dorset, Keith, Rogan, Smith, Spencer, Attenburrow, Baird, Barben, Berry, Birrell, Blyth, Brown, Burt, Chitham, Collett, Cummerfield, Curtis, Dean, Dolan, Downing, Duffy, Emery, Fell, Fox, Giddings, Gilberd, Gough, Gretton, Hales, Hammond, Hay, Henderson, Henton, Howe, Howell, Jarvis, Kelt, King, Leight, Levet, Lowrie, McFarlane, McIntosh, Marks, Miller, Minihan, Morris, Nairne, Neil, Nunn, Overend, Parker, Parks, Perrin, Pilkington, Pringle, Ryan, Scott, Sendles, Seymour, Signall, Symons, Tomlinson, Turner, Wakefield, Ward, Welch, Williams and Youlton.

  • The final ship to arrive in Wellington in the year 1840 was the Blenheim, sailing from Greenock, which brought 197 colonists to their new promised land, an astonishing 66 of whom were named Cameron. The others were from the families Campbell, Johnston, McDonald, McFarlane, Sutherland, Brown, Chisolm, Drummond, Easton, Ferguson, Frazer, Grant, Harvie, Keith, McCollsty, McConnel, McEachnie, MacGregor, McKay, MacKenzie, McKinnis, McKinnon, McLachlan, McLellan, McMaster, MacNaughton, McQuarrie, McQueen, Miller, Mitchell, Morrison, Murray, Nicholl, Rankin, Ross, Sinclair, Smith, Thompson and Turner.