Book lays whaling history bare
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.