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.
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.
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.