Early set­tlers were low-life whalers

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By SE´ AN MCMA­HON

Thar she blows!

Right whales run­ning the Mana Chan­nel in the 1830s did so at their peril.

Once the look- out sighted a whale, shore whalers would launch their boats from Pare­mata Point in pur­suit.

Hunted for their oil, blub­ber and baleen, whales were a ma­jor source of in­come in early 19th cen­tury New Zealand.

To­tal sales of whale oil from the Port Ni­chol­son area fetched £50,000 at the Lon­don mar­ket in 1846.

Shore whalers are in­vari­ably de­scribed as drunken, un­ruly and vi­o­lent men.

Of­ten ex-con­victs or ru­n­aways from sea, whalers fre­quently mar­ried into the lo­cal com­mu­nity and stayed on be­yond the whal­ing sea­son of May to Oc­to­ber.

It took a strong hand to control such men, and one such master was Joseph ‘‘ Ge­ordie Bolts’’ Thoms. This sepia sketch de­picts Thoms’ whal­ing sta­tion and ho­tel in Pare­mata ( now Ngati­toa Do­main), which he es­tab­lished in 1835.

He later pur­chased the five-acre Para­matta Block in 1939 from the lo­cal chief A Kie for goods to the value of £163 3s 8d.

He was mar­ried to Te Ua Torikirikiri, daugh­ter of Ngati Toa to­hunga No­ho­rua, and was the only Pakeha to sign the Treaty of Wai­tangi, as No­ho­rua’s wit­ness.

Later, when shore whal­ing in the Porirua area de­clined, Thoms ran his ho­tel for trav­ellers, and man­aged a ferry ser­vice across the ‘‘gut’’ to Porirua.

Land­mark: Toms’, Porirua [sic], artist un­known, de­picts the whal­ing sta­tion and ho­tel on land now home to Ngati­toa Do­main. (ATL ref: qMS-0613-070)

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