1st British Colonists reach New Zealand
The 22nd of January 1840 AD
New Zealand, settled by the Maoris almost 1000 years previously, was ‘discovered’ and named by the Dutch explorer Tasman in 1642, but incredibly was then ignored by his nation. Captain Cook visited and mapped the coastlines in 1769, returning twice more on subsequent voyages. By 1814 a small Christian mission was established there, and gradually various adventurers arrived piecemeal. Certain senior British figures saw the potential of the islands, and in 1837 The New Zealand Association was formed to formalise and organise future colonisation, evolving into the New Zealand Company the following year.
The first company ship of colonists to arrive in the country was Aurora, captained by the wonderfully named Theophilus Heale. The 550 ton vessel arrived in Wellington with 58 male and 90 female colonists, doubtless reflecting the availability of many unmarried men in the new country. The ship had tantalisingly sighted land on January 17, but contrary winds kept her from port until five days later, when she was piloted to safety by a whaler captain, Georgie Young.
Tales of deprivation and danger attend many such voyages, but the Aurora’s passage was generally good, with the exception of some mast damage off the Cape of Good Hope, and according to records she had been well provisioned with ample supplies of porter, wine and spirits. No wonder the Kiwis are so much more relaxed than the Aussies, whose early arrivals were often under rather different circumstances.
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