Book lays whal­ing his­tory bare

Marlborough Express - The Saturday Express, Marlborough - - YOUR LOCAL NEWS - MATT BROWN

In 1964 the last whale in New Zealand wa­ters was har­pooned off the coast of Kaik­oura.

The whaler who al­legedly made the killing blow, Trevor Nor­ton, had whal­ing in the blood.

His great-grand­fa­ther, Pa­trick Nor­ton, had been whal­ing since he ar­rived in New Zealand as one of the first white set­tlers to ar­rive in the South Is­land in 1831.

A book writ­ten by a de­scen­dant of Pa­trick Nor­ton, Don Wil­son, ‘Whaler by Prov­i­dence,’ on the his­tory of Te Awaiti in the Marl­bor­ough Sounds, the whalers and some of the first set­tlers will be re­leased in Pic­ton on Novem­ber 3.

The Nel­son au­thor had spent 25 years gath­er­ing and ver­i­fy­ing pri­mary sources for the his­tory and utilised Aus­tralian news­pa­pers as sources, some­thing he said many his­to­ri­ans failed to do in re­la­tion to New Zealand his­tory.

The book, which started as a fam­ily his­tory, would be launched by Pic­ton res­i­dent Tommy Nor­ton, an­other de­scen­dant of the Ir­ish rogue who ar­rived in New Zealand nearly 200 years ago.

Pa­trick Nor­ton at the age of 20 was charged with theft.

The young Ir­ish­man was sen­tenced to seven years trans­porta­tion to New South Wales.

‘‘The first record I found of Pa­trick Nor­ton, he was be­ing sent to New­cas­tle,’’ Wil­son said.

‘‘He did a run­ner and stole some­thing.

‘‘There were only around 160 peo­ple in New­cas­tle, so who knows what he stole, but he took 50 lashes for it.’’

Af­ter serv­ing his sen­tence, Nor­ton joined a whal­ing out­fit and sailed to New Zealand as a free man.

Wil­son said he wasn’t a writer but dur­ing his re­search, he found that a lot of the sto­ries of the early South Is­land were not right.

‘‘That got me think­ing that they should be rec­ti­fied,’’ Wil­son said.

‘‘I’ve been very very care­ful to hope­fully get it all right.

‘‘Ev­ery­thing that is in the book I can prove hap­pened,’’ he said.

The bib­li­og­ra­phy in the book is ex­ten­sive and Wil­son, with his wife Dianne, made sev­eral trips to Syd­ney to pore over old records re­search­ing for the book.

‘‘The book is to get the story out there, of one of the first Euro­pean set­tle­ments, Te Awaiti,’’ Wil­son said.

Wil­son said the re­search had made him proud of where he came from, of his an­ces­tors.

‘‘We didn’t re­ally know any­thing about them.

‘‘It’s made me feel more con­nected to the area,’’ he said.

The book, Whaler by Prov­i­dence, would be re­leased at 1.30pm, Novem­ber 3 at the Pic­ton Li­brary.

Don Wil­son had spent 25 years gath­er­ing and ver­i­fy­ing pri­mary sources for the his­tory.

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