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The New Zealand Journal, Saturday, November 21 (1840)



Extract from the Journal of Emigrant who Sailed in the Aurora, from London in Sept., 1839, Addressed to his Friend in Birmingham.
Oct. 31, 1839.—Fine, but extremely hot morning. We have been beating about for nearly three weeks in trying to make the line; and now we are on the point of crossing it. The sailors are, I see, preparing their iron hoop for shaving. It is a splendid tool, and has two blades, each about two feet long; one is nicked like a saw, the other is about as sharp as the back of a carving-knife.
Friday, Nov. 1.—Damp morning and showery. I have been much amused in reading "Cobbett's Year's Residence in America." I wish a similar work on New Zealand were published, for the use of New Zealand emigrants. Saw several Nautiluses, or Portuguese men-of-war, this afternoon; they are small floating fishes, particularly beautiful; they carry sail very similarly to a one-mast vessel, and display brilliant colours; and when pursued, they reef their sails and sink to avoid the enemy. How very different is the weather here to what it is in Old England! I am without either stockings or shoes, and only a jacket, shirt, and trowsers on, with a loose silk handkerchief about my neck, and a straw hat on. There were gymnastic exercises on deck this morning.
Saturday, Nov. 2.—'Tia a beautiful morning, but very hot. The sun, moon, and a few stars were seen during the day at the same time. Cabin passengers were dancing this evening. Only 2 deg. north the line yet.
Sunday, Nov. 3.—Church this morning. Day hot, with very little wind. A gentle breeze sprung up about half-past seven this evening. Course S.W.
Monday, Nov. 4.—Fine windy morning. We are making ten knots an hour. Shall cross the line about 2 o'clock a.m. tomorrow. Neptune hailed us about 8, p.m.,—the grog flowed, and the music struck up—mirth and dancing were the order of the evening.
Tuesday, Nov. 5.—Fine brisk wind. Neptune came on board about 10 a.m., and shaving commenced; good humour prevailed. Both cuddy and steerage passengers (male) were shaved. As a brief description of Master Neptune's proceedings may interest you, I will proceed to give you a detail. Guy Fawkes' day! How different the amusement on board the Aurora to the sports of our friends at home! Fire is their sport; water is ours t To-day Master Neptune frolics with his lady (one of the sailors), together with his sons, constables, and a long retinue of other worthies. Last night the mate, at eight o'clock, gave orders to the watch on the forecastle to keep a good look out. "Aye, aye, air," was the answer. In a few moments the watch announced "a boat a-head;" and directly afterwards Neptune was heard over the bulwarks in the chains. He had a great speaking trumpet, similar to those used by the penny showmen at Birmingham fair. He enquired the name of our ship, and from what country; and was answered by the mate, "The Aurora, from England." Neptune then said, "I understand you have some of ray children on board." "Yes, Mr Neptune," was the mate's reply. Neptune then said, "I hope they are all well." "Yes, they are, Mr. Neptune," was the reply. Neptune was then asked if he had seen many ships. He answered, "No; the southerly winds have prevailed the last three weeks, and I have only spoken the Oriental, and she was all well." A few more words were exchanged, and Mr. Neptune, as he is facetiously termed, wished us all good night, and moved off towards the forecastle. During all this parley, the cabin passengers were attracted by the sudden noise and bustle on to the quarter-deck and poop, where Neptune's comrades were lying in ambush with buckets of water, which, on the disappearing of Neptune, they dealt out on all sides very profusely, and literally drenched all, both in and out of the cabin, paying no respect either to male or female—all had their share of the salt water! I omitted to say that Neptune's boat was a tar-tub, which was set afloat, after the tar was lighted; but the sea being very rough, it did not sail very far before it sunk. This fun lasted from eight to nine o'clock, and then grog was dealt out to all hands on board, no one excepted; after which the music struck up, and the dancing began, and the remainder of the night was spent in the merriest tune; and at ten o'clock this morning (Nov. 5), came Master Neptune with his retinue, all dressed out in the most ludicrous style, some with forks, others with sticks, and all with some kind of weapon; with which they sallied forth from the forecastle and commenced their sport. Having filled previously a large sail with water, they ducked every one of us into it, and afterwards we were blindfolded, and then led round the deck like culprits on their way to prison; and ever and anon we were saluted with a bucket of water, only as a beginning of what we were to expect. Having, at length, arrived at the sail, or pond, we presently tumbled into it: and then we had in turn to walk up a ladder, and there sit perched at the top of it where Neptune and his officers awaited our arrival. Neptune asked your name, country, birth-place, and whither you were going; and whilst you answered, or in the very act of answering, dab went the tar and grease-brush into your chops-over your face, chin, and throat, and immediately followed a saline draught down your throat, sent through the speaking trumpet which Master Neptune held in his hand; and then
you had to swallow one or two of his pills, and were roughly scraped or shaved with the before-named piece of iron hoop, with its teeth like a saw. Your attention was then engaged by several questions, and being thereby put off your guard and excited, you answer, and on a sudden you are bundled headlong into the pond of water, where Master Neptune's bear, with several of his officers, are ready to receive you, and almost stifle or drown you by keeping your head under water; and then you are allowed to scramble out of it as well you can and take the bandage off your eyes. And even here the ceremony does not cud, for buckets of water are liberally dealt over you immediately that you leave the precincts of Master Neptune. By this time you cut a pretty figure. You get the tar and grease off as well us you can, and you take up your bucket and assist in serving other culprits in precisely the same manner; and many was the bucket of water emptied over the poor half-drowned wretches who followed me. However, I came off pretty well upon the whole, as I had only a pair of trowsers on. Some of the cabin passengers had on their shirts, and some had on even their coats or waistcoats, and these were invariably torn from their backs. The ceremony being at last over, grog was dealt out freely, and the sons of Neptune and Bacchus got gloriously drunk. The day was calm and favourable, and the whole went off in the most perfect good humour.
Nov. 23—Fair. The Lucy Ann, an American whaler, alongside us. She sent a boat with the mate to us. The captain afterwards came. Our captain (Healed), Mr. Santry, the mute, and most of the cabin passengers visited her in the course of the day, and purchased cigars and tobacco from the American sailors, who are exceedingly liberal fellows, for when they came on board they gave a large quantity of tobacco and cigars to both our sailors and emigrants. The American Captain dined with our Captain; he is a jolly good-natured fellow, with a red face, and a tub like an alderman. The Lucy Ann is a temperance ship. The crew looked equally as well as ours, who drink grog. The Americans are trying to introduce temperance amongst their seamen.
Dec. 11.—Misty and damp. Heavy swell. A splendid albatross was caught, measuring ten feet three inches from tip to tip of wing. It was caught with a hook attached to a line being out at the stern.
Dec. 13 to 19.—Chesney harpooned a porpoise, weighing from four to five hundred weight, which was cut up and cooked, and all hands eat of it. It was very much like beef; it is a red-blooded fish. Three large whales alongside; they do not stay long, but appear frightened, and give a snort, swish their tails, and down they dive to the bottomless deep. Course E.S.E. For the last week, or more, large quantities of sea-weed has passed us, which indicates that we are in the vicinity of islands.
Dec. 21.—Misty. Nine knots. Course E. by S. This is the shortest day with you, but here we have seventeen hours daylight. A great quantity of albatross were seen round the vessel.
Dec. 22.—Weather fair. Twelve knots all day, Course E.S.E. A small whale alongside, about thirty feet long. No church. Mr. Lodge's little boy, William, very ill with inflammation on the chest.
Dec. 23.—William Lodge much worse, and but little hopes of his recovery entertained. Nine knots all day. A double allowance off flour, suet, and plums served out for Christmas puddings.
Dec. 24.—William Lodge died this morning at 20 minutes past 3 a.m. The doctor opened him and found that his lungs were decayed. He was sewn up in canvass; two cannon shot were put in to sink the corpse; and about 3 p.m. his body was committed to the mighty deep. The Captain read the funeral service. All hands attended the funeral. William Lodge was only five years old. All hands are very busy in preparing their Christmas-day puddings. Grog served out to all hands.
Dec. 25.—Christmas day. Weather fair. Seven knots. Course E.S.E. Grog and lime-juice served out to all hands. All hands could boast of a good plum-pudding; ours was excellent. R. B., W. F., and myself mess together, and having friends at court, are never at a loss for something good. Our pudding was really splendid, not without its &c., &c., &c.'s. All pleasant enough below, but no Christmas games going on. I hope you are passing a merry Christmas, and will have a happy new year. In the afternoon an iceberg was seen a-head off our starboard bow. We made for it, and in about an hour we came up with it, and a splendid sight it was. Thermometer 52 deg. Water and air very cold. The iceberg was about 150 feet high in some parts. I give you a rough sketch of it below.
Dec. 29.—We are now in the longitude of Australia.
Jan. 6.—We are now off Hobart Town, but shall not sight it, as it is 100 miles off.
Jan. 10.—A lovely sky seen to the eastward; I fancy it to be a New Zealand sky. We are only a few hundred miles off. Music and dancing in the evening.
Jan. 16.—Music and dancing. Sighted the Southern Island about six p.m. Could see it indistinctly.
Jan. 17.—Weather fair; beautiful morning; nearly all hands up by 4 this morning to see the land; which presented itself most majestically. A long range of hills or mountains towering to the clouds. Every hour made a difference in our progress; the wind was fair, and we sailed merrily along; all hearts buoyant! The scene was grand; the lofty mountains covered with verdure, and the plants even growing to the water's edge. About 2 p.m. sighted D'Urville's Island straight a-head. Made the Island 6 p.m., wind fair, and entered its rude but splendid bays; sailed round a few bluff rocks, and entered Port Hardy at 7 p.m., and let go the anchor. Port Hardy is, without exception, one of the most splendid harbours you cap conceive; it is, in fact, a large lake, and is completely land locked. The, tide rises and falls; ships have perfect shelter, for the lake is surrounded with splendid hills, covered with evergreens, the whole forming a most picturesque scene. It is, in fact, quite a fairy land. When coming into the straits we caught a vast quantity in baracouta, a fish much like our English salmon; and whilst in Port Hardy we took cud with hook and line as fast as we could pull them out. Several natives came on board, and gave us to understand that the Tory had been there a few days before; but not understanding from the natives what had become of her, we felt a little alarmed, and armed ourselves with muskets, and kept a strict watch all night.
Saturday, Jan. 18.—Beautiful, morning.; the natives came on board early, and several Whites (English) came on board; from whom we learnt that the Tory had struck a hole in her bottom at Kaipara, and had gone to the Bay of Islands to repair. Went on shore, and obtained all sorts of shell fish, and brought them to the ship. The coast abounds with lobsters, crabs, oysters, muscles, and a variety of other fish. At half-past 4 p.m. got under weigh with a favourable wind, and went out of harbour.
Sunday, Jan. 19.—Weather fair; head wind till 11 p.m., when wind changed with tide, and we sailed merrily down Cook's straits, and at one p.m. sighted the North Island; arrived at the land 8 p.m., hove to, and fired a gun.
Jan. 20.—Set sail for Port Nicholson at 3 a.m., tacking about till 10 a.m., when we entered the harbour, and let go the anchor; 2 p.m., Col. Wakefield came down the harbour in a boat from the Cuba. The wind blowing strong, we could not go up the harbour.
Jan. 21.—Wind still against our moving till the afternoon, when we managed, with repeated tacking, to get safely into the harbour alongside of the Cuba.
Feb. 19.—All purchasers of land have a small plot of land allotted them for a temporary resting place, till the sections are ready. I have nearly built my house; and have cleared the brushwood, &c., all round it; and I shall immediately begin to plant my garden. The town will be on the banks of a river, which runs a long way up the country.* The river is but small, though deep enough for boats to discharge the cargo of ships entering the harbour. The country is remarkably fine, very hilly, with here and there extensive valleys; it is covered with wood, and splendid vegetation, flax &c., from the tops of the mountains to the water's edge. Pigs, pototos, and fish, are to be had in abundance; the natives chiefly supplying them. Pork is 6d per lb.; potatos 1s per basket; but at times you may buy a pig for about 10s, weighing 100lbs; and a few bushels of potatos for about 6d, or a few biscuits—it all depends upon circumstances; but whatever the prices are now, I feel convinced that, in a short time, things will be cheap enough. As regards the soil, it is excellent, and will produce anything; but a deal of labour is required to clear the land ready for cultivation; and it must therefore be some time before the land can be cleared to any extent, though of course every day will make a great difference in the appearance of the country. Go where you will through the forests, you hear the sound of the axe, and see the sturdy tree bending and falling beneath the stroke of the sons of Britain. The woods abound with pigeons, as fat and as large as partridges, or rather small fowls. There are also parrots, and a great variety of other birds which you can shoot. There are ducks, snipe, curlew, redshanks, boatswains, shags, geese, and other birds which frequent the rivers.
The natives are exceedingly well disposed, and will, I think, become a useful race. They are perfect models of the human species, and really are a splendid and superior race. They are intelligent, generous, faithful, open, and brave, and they will not brook an insult; they are honest, very honest, and will, if you treat them properly, do you many little favours. The climate is fine and healthy, and I now enjoy better health than I ever did in my life. I have had to rough it a good deal, but am now getting more settled, and in another week shall have the house up, ready to receive any of my friends who may come out. All the land upon which our temporary houses are built is to be reserved for public purposes, such as wharfs, quays, public walks, parks, public offices, &c. &c. I wish all my family would come out, for I am sure New Zealand lis the country above all others to come to. I recommend all coming out not to trouble themselves to bring tools, or to lay their money out in anything; as plenty of goods are, and will be here on the arrival of the other ships. Any one intending to carry on an out-of-the-way trade, will do well to bring out their tools, otherwise let them bring all the ready-money they can. I'll venture my existence they don't starve out here.


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