Wellington City Libraries

Te Matapihi Ki Te Ao Nui


Petone Road, painted by S.C. Brees The Rosanna Settlers, by Hilda McDonnell

Northern New Zealand
Chapter 8

Contents: introduction | chapters: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | Journal | Sources

Captain Farley of the Alligator was back in Sydney in June 1826, and reported that the New Zealand Company expedition had arrived in the Hauraki gulf area and that a fort was being constructed there with all possible despatch. Another account was that the emigrants’minerolgist having reported Pakihi to be extremely rich in iron ore the leaders of the expedition purchased the island, intending immediately to open an iron mine.

Captain Herd, having visited White Island and Mercury Bay, continued his surveying and chart making activities in the Hauraki Gulf. In 1828 the London chartmaker J. W. Norie of Leadenhall Street engraved “Part of the S.W. side of the Frith of the Thames in New Zealand surveyed by Captain J. Herd”: leading into Prince Regent’s Inlet were the Wairoa and Magoria rivers. Dumont d’Urville soon afterwards surveyed the same inlet, which he called “Le Canal de l’Astrolabe.

A Deed of Purchase, accompanied by a map (28x40 cm), was drawn up relating to the sale to the New Zealand Company:

Through its agent Captain James Herd and to its trustees George Lyall, Stewart Marjoribanks, George Palmer and Robert Torrens of the islands of Pakatu, Taratoia, Ponue and Pake in the district of Tamakie…signed by Tacadua [etc.] and by Thos. Kendall, interpreter. On board the Rosanna, 23 September 1826. (Auckland Public Library NZMS 774)
Seven days after the signing, however, a serious incident occurred on the Rosanna, resulting in a court case when the ship finally reached Sydney. At the Supreme Court, Sydney on 21 March 1827 (as reported three days’ later in the Sydney Gazette) one of the Rosanna settlers, Domus McDowal, flaxdresser, was charged with maliciously stabbing Alexander McClaren, turner, the previous 29 September with intent to cause grievous bodily harm:

Whilst [the Rosanna] was lying in the River Thames on 29 September 1826, about half a mile from the shore, a dispute took place between the prisoner [Domas McDowal] and one Grey [Gray], who afterwards absconded from the ship at the Bay of Islands. It appeared that this dispute arose in the hold, where the prisoner, Grey, and McLarne [McClaren] were at work. Grey had a piece of flax, which he was about to pass through the hackle when the prisoner interposed to prevent him, saying that he had no business there. Grey persisting in what he was about, some words took place and the prisoner snatched up a tongs that lay on the bench at which they were at work and struck him across the hand. Grey struck the prisoner in return, when the latter drew his knife which, when McLarne who was standing by saw he cried out “the d—d old scoundrel has got his knife out, will no body interpose to take it from him: The prisoner held the knife in his hand and said to Grey that he would “give him the length of it,” Grey replied “Will you?’ and doubled his fist, as if about again to strike, when the prisoner immediately stabbed him in the breast. Grey ran up the ladder onto the deck calling out “murder” and the prisoner then rushed towards McLarne who fell in the act of flying from his fury and whilst down was stabbed by the prisoner in nine different places, two of the wounds being in the breast, from which, on the testimony of the surgeon, death might have ensued but that the knife was prevented from penetrating deeper by the interposition of a rib. :
Both McDowal and McClaren were present in court during the hearing of the case. The jury returned a verdict of guilty on 3 April 1827. Dennis McDowal was brought up for sentence, having been convicted of stabbing with intent to kill. But the judgement was set aside on the grounds that the Court, under Lord Ellenborough’s Act, had no authority to try such a crime. New Zealand, where the incident took place, was deemed to be outside the jurisdiction of the Sydney court.

The following month the Rosanna, in company with the Lambton, reached the Bay of Islands. At Paihia mission station on 27 October 1826 missionary Henry Williams noted:

Yesterday arrived the New Zealand Company in their two vessels from the southward. They have been exploring the coast with great scare for the last seven or eight months. I went on board on their arrival and found Mr Lechmere, a relation f Mrs Cole’s at Hampstead. He brought four letters of introduction to William [Williams] and myself from different persons. He appears a gentlemanly young man though he has been disposed to be wild. This voyage will tend to sober him considerably. Captain Herd, who has charge of the expediton, seems to despair of success. His account is very interesting. But they have not landed to remain any time, as the natives behaved with hostility towards them and felt disposed to take the vessels or to attack them at Wangaroa.
Henry’s brother William Williams also wrote from Paihia on 6 November:

The flax company’s vessels are just arrived, having thus far failed in effecting a settlement in the island. Neither do I see the least probability of their succeding. Mr Lechmere nephew to Mrs Gregg I have seen a few times…
And on 7 November:


The New Zealand Company is likely to fall to the ground. The settlers are now in the bay concentrated in the two vessels, which brought them out. They proceded first to the Southern extremity of New Zealand and then examining the different harbours on the coast, at length arrived at the river Thames, where they remained for fifteen weeks, and there they would have established themselves had they not been intimidated by the natives. The people at first were very civil, but at length they began to form designs against the vessel, which most likely would have succeded had not the people been much on their guard. The annual expense of the persons at present employed is about 80,000 pounds. To defray the expense of which, they are not likely to obtain a fourth part clear from the sale of flax.
Botanist Allan Cunningham had sailed from Sydney in 1824 in John Oxley’s party of exploration in Australia. Now, in 1826, he was visiting the bay of Islands and occupying a room in the house of Henry and Marianne Williams. On 4 November Cunningham returned to Paihia from a botanising expedition:

It was not until after sun set that I reached Paiai when on observing an augmentation of the number of ships in the bay I learnt that of them were the New Zealand Company ships Rosanna and cutter Lambton, under the direction of Capt Herd who had come up from the Thames.:

Allan Cunningham, friend of Dumont d’Urville, and described by Marianne Williams as a very pleasant man, had sought permission from the New South Wales authorities to take his convict servant John Law with him on his investigation of the flora of New Zealand. He had applied in writing to colonial secretary McLeay but permission was refused.

At Marsden vale (Paihia) on 5 November 1826 Mrs Shepherd, Thomas Shepherd’s wife, gave birth to her second son, David. Marianne Williams was a trained midwife and may have assisted at the birth. The child was baptised by William Williams. As the New South Wales Census of 1828 was to show, this was the third child born on the voyage.

On Saturday 2 December 1826 Marianne Williams wrote from Paihia::

We found the settlers still in the bay. Mr Lechmere (a transcription says Mrs Lechmere) came over several times to take leave of us, and they did not sail till last Sunday. Mrs Shepherd wife of one of the principal settlers was on shore all the time. I was at Wangaroa and was confined at Mr Fairburn’s when William officiated.
The New Zealand Company vessels rounded North Cape and Cape Maria Van Diemen and sailed along the west coast of New Zealand as far as the Hokianga river, which Captain Herd knew from his 1822 visit, and entered it. Captain Herd made a surveyof the entrance to the river and a chart was printed in London in 1828 by Norie. Further up the Hokianga river, on board the Rosanna on 26 January 1827 near the place subsequently known for many years as Herd’s Point (Rawene), a land transaction was entered into on behalf of the New Zealand Company directors in London. It was witnessed by Luther Lechmere and young Thomas Surfleet Kendall:

Know all Men by these presents that I Moodewi, Awitu, in consideration of Five Muskets, Fifty three Pounds Powder, Four Pair Blankets, Three Hundred Flints, and Four Musket Cartridge Boxes now paid and delivered to me by Captain James Herd the Agent for the Company denominated the New Zealand Company instituted in London in the Kingdom of Great Britain have given granted bargained and sold and by this present instrument do fully freely and absolutely give grant bargain and sell unto George Lyall Stewart Marjoribanks George Palmer and Robert Torrens all of the City of London Esquires the Trustees of the said New Zealand Company and to their Heirs Successors and Assigns All that piece and parcel of land situated in the district of Hokianga in the Island of Eaheinomauwe [Te Ika-a-Maui], New Zealand, bounded on the East side by a branch of the River Hokianga, called by the natives the Wymar, on the West side by a branch of the said River called the Omania, on the North side by the Hokianga and on the South by a Valley extending from the Wymar to the Omania, to the South of a Pah called Tahare Together with all the trees growing on the said piece or parcel of Land and all other Rights Members privileges and appurtenances there to belonging together with the right of navigating the aforesaid River its branches and Creeks To have and to hold the said piece or parcel of Land and the Trees thereon and the Appurtenances thereto together with the right of navigating as aforesaid unto the said George Lyall Stewart Marjoribanks George Palmer and Robert Torrens as such Trustees of the said New Zealand Company their Heirs Successors and Assigns for ever and as and for their own Estate and property absolutely clear and freed from all taxes charges impositions and contributions whatsoever – In testimony thereof I have to these presents thus done and given set my hand on board the Rosanna, at anchor in the Hokianga in the Island of Eaheinomauwe, New Zealand this twenty sixth day of January in the year of Christ one thousand eight hundred and twenty seven [26 Jan 1827]

Moodewi, Awitu
his mark

Witnesses
Kitoka
Luther Lechmere
Thomas Kendall
I hereby certify that I interpreted the above to Moodiwy Awitu and that he fully understood the purport and meaning of its contents
Thomas Kendall.
(Archives New Zealand NZC 38/1)

While the Rosanna and Lambton lay in the Hokianga river tribal unrest and war broke out elsewhere: the Wesleyan mission at Whangaroa was destroyed and the Williams’ Church Missionary Society mission at Paihia was put in jeopardy. The Missionary Register, London printed intelligence from the Williams about events in New Zealand:

This evening [19 January 1827] a letter was received by the Rev. Henry Williams from Captain Herd of the New Zealand Company’s ship Rosanna, then lying at Shukianga [Hokianga], in which the Captain very kindly expressed the deep concern that he felt on hearing of our disasters, and generously offered to accommodate us with a passage to Sydney, and to render us any other assistance that lay in his power: such kindness, manifested by a stranger, under circumstances so peculiarly trying as ours were, excited in our bosoms the liveliest emotions of gratitude and respect.
Marianne Williams wrote to her husband, who must have been away from Paihia at this time:

We have just heard overland from Captn Heard and the settlers at Shukeanga. They are going to the Colony [New South Wales] and offer us assistance. All the tribes are rising there in war.
The missionary families in Paihia, however, did not take up Captain Herd’s offer of help and stayed where they were.

Chapter 9

Heritage Links (Local History)