There could have been no name better suited than Active for the 120 ton brig that was purchased with a view to setting up a Christian Mission Station at the Bay of Islands in New Zealand. Her first voyage saw her arrive in the Bay on 10 June 1814. Thomas Hansen was captain and he had onboard Thomas Kendall and William Hall who were assessing the situation with regard to bringing their families to live there and establish a mission. Pleased with what they found, Active returned to Sydney the following month along with three of the Bay's most important men, chiefs Ruatara, Hongi Hika and Korokoro. Among their cargo was flax and spars procured in New Zealand for trading. Active's role was not just one of transporting missionairies, their families and provisions, she would also act as a trading vessel to create a source of income to support the mission station. Captain Hansen's adult son became one of the first recognised European settlers in New Zealand. On December 22 1814 Active fired her guns as she hove into the Bay of Islands. She anchored off Rangihoua just long enough for the mission people and their possessions, including cattle and horses, to be put ashore, before departing for Whangaroa and Thames with Reverand Samuel Marsden onboard in January of 1815. Marsden's friend John Liddiard Nicholas was also onboard Active and his account of this time in the Bay of Islands remains an important record from the first days of organised European settlement in New Zealand. Active made two more voyages between Sydney and the mission station in 1815. Each time she brought provisions for the mission and took back spars and flax for trading. Active's first visit to the Bay in 1816 was in February when Captain Hansen arrived having rescued the survivors of the wreck Betsy at North Cape. Active then set sail for the first of three voyages to Tahiti and Marquesas in Eastern Polynesia. In 1817 captaincy was transferred to Joseph Thomson and the trading voyages between Sydney, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands continued with the brig carrying various cargos of pork, produce, spars, cattle, passengers, New Zealand pine logs, flax, plank and salted fish. The latter was being made at Paroa by a European called James Boyle who lived alone in a rush hut, but was forced to leave on Active in February 1821 after serious harrassment from the New Zealanders. Active was never more welcomed at the Bay of Islands than on that particular visit, the mission families were on the brink of starvation, it had been so long since they had received any provisions from Sydney. Twelve months later Active brought Samuel Leigh to New Zealand for several months visit. After delivering the Wesleyan Missionary to Rangihoua in the Bay of Islands Captain Thomson sailed for Hobart and made one more brief call at the Bay before sailing for the fishery to join the whaling trade. In July 1822 Active returned to Sydney with 35 tons of sperm oil and left under a new captain, Jameson, for Calcutta the following January. In 1836 a ship called Active was siezed by Maori at Port Nicholson.
The survey ship HMS Acheron arrived at Stewart Island on 15 April 1850 where she spent the best part of a month at Port William, Port Pegasus and Paterson Inlet. On board was William Hamilton who had a penchant for exploration. Hamilton covered a lot of unchartered territory around the South Island including travelling up Jacob's River as far as Otautau stream and becoming the first European to travel overland from the site of Invercargill to Dunedin.
In October 1816 Captain Elder left Deal for a two year voyage to the South Seas on the whaling ship Adamant. She called for ten days to the Bay of Islands from January 2 1817, during which time one of her crew members deserted. Chief Pomare took the runaway European named Mills to Thomas Kendall. Mills asked to stay and work for the mission. Not wanting to encourage settlement by those of improper character from New South Wales, Kendall declined the request.
In March of 1829 the schooner Admiral Gifford arrived in Sydney and reported her cargo to be potatoes and flax from New Zealand. She remained in the New South Wales port until early May when she departed on another speculative voyage. In 1830 Admiral Gifford was working along the east coast of Australia between Sydney and Newcastle, however in 1832 she arrived in Sydney with a cargo of flax from New Zealand, and having left Captain William Kinnard with a gang of men to establish a sealing station on Rocky Point. Unfortunately the gang suffered a fate similar to the seals when they were killed and eaten by Maori. On the November 1 1833 Admiral Gifford left New Zealand for Sydney, her supercargo including Europeans Spyres, Battersy and Thomas Baker and three native New Zealanders. Her voyage back to Sydney took 12 days.
Enderby owned ship Adonis, Captain Turnbull, shipped a number of sows and boars to the Bay of Islands in 1805. These came from Norfolk Island, at the command of Governor King in Sydney, as a gift to Te Pahi, Nga Puhi chief of Rangihoua. Venus and Argo also transported pigs to the Bay of Islands. Te Pahi was so pleased to receive such an excellent gift that he joined Venus on her return trip to Norfolk Island to thank his benefactor. Te Pahi then went on to Sydney to also personally thank Governor King, and to express his desire to increase opportunities for trade and industry.
Pakeha-Maori John Rutherford claimed to have been onboard an American Brig called Agnes when it was attacked and burned by Maori in a bay he called "Tokamardu", supposedly off the North Island's East Coast on March 7 1816. No record of this ship has been found.
The immigrant ship from London arrived at Port Chalmers, Otago, on 8 January 1849. 767 tons, Ajax had left London the previous September under Captain John Young. Ajax was wrecked oh her voyage back to London from Manilla in 1850 at Anjer on the western tip of the island of Java in Sundra Straits.
362 tons and registered in London, Albion was whaling off the coast of New Zealand's North Island in the summer of 1803. By the time she arrived in Sydney mid way through the year she had been out from London 12 months and her crew had taken on 65 tons of sperm whale oil. At the helm was Captain Eb Bunker, now on his third whaling voyage, no other whaleship captain had been in New Zealand waters as long as he. His experience bode well for his crew, as Captain Bunker was able to boast a completely healthy crew when the Albion arrived into port. A year later when she called at Sydney again Albion was full with 1400 barrels of oil taken from the fisheries around New Zealand and off Sandy Cape. The next time Albion made an appearance in the South Seas she was commanded by Captain Skelton and called only briefly at the Bay of Islands after working off Cape Brett, before sailing back to London.
In May 1803 the Sydney Gazette reported the whaleship Alexander as having arrived from New Zealand with 50 tons of oil. Captain Rhodes also had among his cargo 7 or 8 ton of good quality potatoes which he had obtained from the natives of New Zealand. Among his crew was a 16 year old New Zealand Maori, the son of a chief, who had joined the ship in the Bay of Islands. While in Sydney Teina stayed with Governor Philip Gidley King, and remained part of Alexander's crew for three years during which time he was joined by another Maori, named Maki. Maori crew travelled around the world on whaling ships. Most stayed in Sydney, but many were taken, willingly or not, across the Pacific, up the coast of South America and over the Atlantic. On Teina and Maki's voyage they made stops in Tahiti, Brazil and St Helena before arriving in England. Teina would never see his homeland or people again as he and two Tahetian crew members died while there. Maki was pressed into service on another whaleship.
In 1837 the whalers Weller Brothers had their newly pruchased boats Alexander Henry and Henry Freeling at Otago where they were taking on a load of oil from the Weller brothers whaling station. Alexander Henry had not long arrived from Sydney from where she had brought a whaling gang and stores ready for the whaling season which was about to begin. Among her crew was Joseph Price who left an account of his time in New Zealand. After leaving Otago Alexander Henry sailed to Banks Peninsula, stopping at Akaroa on May 10 and Peraki on May 16.
Looking from Hell's Gate towards Peraki on the south side of Banks Peninsula
One of a large number of American ships that called at Bluff in Foveaux Strait in the 1830s and 40s. Alexander Barclay was in port in 1838 and under command of New Bedford whaler Captain Clement Norton.
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