Octavius Harwood – a real “Wellerman”

Wednesday, January 27th, 2021 | Anna Blackman | 4 Comments

Currently there is world-wide interest in the song “Soon May The Wellerman Come”. Social media is simply heaving with shanty mania. There is of course a Dunedin connection and a recent article in the Otago Daily Times explains the history of the Weller Brothers shore whaling station at Ōtākou and a little bit of background on the origin of the song. https://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/wellerman-sea-shanty-global-hit

The song includes the line “And bring us sugar and tea and rum,” referring to essential treats distributed regularly to the whaling gangs employed by the Weller Brothers. This reminded me I had seen many references to sugar, tea and rum in of one of our most significant archival collections – the Octavius Harwood papers.

The Harwood papers are probably the best collection of archives still extant from a shore whaling station in New Zealand. Octavius Harwood was employed late in 1837 to run the store and oversee some of the station’s activities and he kept extensive records that were preserved by later generations of his family and eventually came to the Hocken in the 1930s with the papers of George Craig Thomson.

Octavius Harwood’s journals describe what life was like for those working in the 1830s whaling industry around Ōtākou and the Otago coastline. With our help from current HUMS 201 intern, Caitlyn Duff, I have transcribed and edited an extract from the start of Harwood’s 1838 journal.

To make the extract more readable I expanded abbreviations and corrected spelling to modern spelling and removed some capitals. I also used square brackets to annotate some terms and names in the text.

The close relationship of Māori and European working together in the settlement of Ōtākou is clear in the journal with regular reference to the work Māori did at the station and in the whale fisheries. Many whalers, including Harwood and his employer Edward Weller married local women and an extensive network of whānau was created along the Otago coast.

Harwood’s original journal commencing in 1838, MS-0438/001 Hocken Collections Uare Taoka o Hākena

The original journal is hand sewn, probably by Harwood himself and bears the stains and scuffs of a hard life at the store. It is made of Downton Mill paper water marked 1834.

Harwood supplied provisions to the whaling gangs, who visited Ōtākou to pick up their supplies. The gangs picked up two or so weeks’ worth of supplies and dropped off the prepared oil and bone. On one occasion in this extract Taiaroa and Karetai delivered some supplies from Harwood’s store to the nearby Pūrākaunui whaling station.

The supplies almost always consisted of sugar, tea, grog (a rum and water mix), tobacco, flour and sometimes casks of salted beef or pork.  Whaling gear – rope, tools, casks or shooks (supplies for barrel making) and slops (cheap cotton canvas clothing) were also often supplied. Occasionally spirits were supplied to the whaling gang leaders. There seemed to be little fresh food distributed, perhaps the gangs supplemented their diet by trading locally, fishing, hunting and gathering.

The ship Dublin Packet was at Ōtākou at the time and Harwood spent much time unloading supplies and loading oil and bone on the ship. He also supplied a visiting French whaling ship.

Harwood supervised the cooper (barrel maker) at Ōtākou, and a team of usually six Māori who cleaned whalebone, and did other work such as building repairs, road repairs and fencing. He sometimes pickled pork in barrels and purchased potatoes from Māori.

He also issued provisions for “the House” – presumably the house where Edward Weller lived. Weller’s activities are mentioned occasionally. Edward eventually returned to live in Sydney when the business failed and further archival records of the Weller Brothers business are held at the State Library of New South Wales in Sydney, where they have been digitised and are available online. http://archival.sl.nsw.gov.au/Details/archive/110364025?_ga=2.66028653.2102099567.1611630649-263552842.1611630649

 

THE JOURNAL

1838

April 24th. – Received from the Dublin Packet a quantity of rope – Whale line – Grass rope – flour in casks – Boat planks – Chests tea – Cans oil – Iron pots – Tin plates – Rag stones – Adze. Mincing knives – Cases Soap – Tubs – Paint brushes. Issued whaling gear to Mr. Brown – Mr. Prices – and Mr. Williams, Mr. Chaceland – and also provisions for 1 week to Mr. Chaceland’s gang – Employed six hands regulating provisions in store &c. Broached cask flour.

Wed. – 25th.  – Employed issuing provisions to gangs – storing cargo – stowing away slops in casks, &c. – the six hands still employed.

Thurs. – 26th. – Issued whaling gear to Angas, Williams, Hedges, Chaceland & Brown – victualled 14 Māoris belonging to Mr. Chaceland and Price’s gangs for 1 week. Served out grog to same gangs – Received a quantity of flour, sugar &c. from Dublin Packet – Stored the same – Broached cask flour & beef.

Frid. – 27th. – Employed issuing stores to Tonguers [the workers who cut up the whales] – receiving and stowing away in the stores cargo from the Dublin Packet – gave Williams tea for Headsmen for Upper Fishery for 1 week.

Sat. – 28th. – Gave Black and Tandy carpenters rum for 1 week.  G. Ryan, Cooper, Tea for a fortnight – Chaceland’s gang day’s grog – Boat gear to hedges, Angas and Chaceland – 2 hands employed rolling cargo from Dublin Packet into store, &c.

Sun. – 29th. – Gave Mr. Price 17 fathoms rope for Middle Fishery – Mr. Chaceland tobacco – Mr. Cureton 1 breaker of oil & 1 axe for Middle Fishery. Mr. Angas 2¼ yds of duck fisher, Muckleroy & Davis one lot grog each. Mr. Price received 2 days allowance grog for his gang – 1 Māori employed cleaning bone.

Mon. – 30th. – Mr Chaceland, Mr Williams drew whaling gear from store. Issued 1 week’s provisions to Mr. Cureton & Abbot received 16 casks flour from Dublin Packet 2 labourers employed Fisher and Davis. Mr Price drew 2 days’ grog 2 for his gang.

Tues. – May 1st. – Issued Provisions to Mr. Chaceland’s Gang and to Mr. Cureton’s Boat Crew of 5 Hands – Employed filling pork casks with fresh pickle, stowing flour in store, and serving out slops to Manuel – Black etc – Broached cask beef.

May 2nd. – Served out provisions to Mr. Price’s Gang of 25 White People and 7 Māoris for 1 week – slops to Davis and Hewit, Brown & O’Donnel – Provisions to Roberts. Received a quantity of whale bone from the Tonguers of Middle Fishery – filled up pork cask with pickle – gave Māoris their tobacco at the Middle Fishery for 2 weeks – to Mr. Chaceland’s Māori 1 week’s tobacco – Broached 1 keg & 1 Hhd [Hogshead?] of flour 1 tierce [a tierce of pork was around 136 kg of pickled pork] pork – Shipped 6 casks oil.

Thurs. – 3rd – Issued provisions to 7 Māoris in Mr. Chaceland’s gang for 5 days – & 2 bone cleaners – also 2 week’s tobacco – Employed drawing off liquor – putting slops in casks – setting stove &c. Shipped 6 casks oil.

Fri. – 4th – Issued provisions to Isaac – for 1 Week – 1 piece pork for House – finished setting stove, made Carey and Russel’s accounts out. 3 bone cleaners employed.

Sat. – 5th. – Issued Slops to Manuel & Russel, and provisions to house – Grog to Upper Fishery etc & 3 bone cleaners.

Sun. – 6th. – Received 1 head of bone from Upper Tonguers. Issued slops &c. – dined on board the Dublin Packet. – Grog to upper gang and three bone cleaners.

Mon. – 7th. – 6 bone cleaners employed – Cooper at day’s work. Issued grog to Chaceland’s gang and bone cleaners – Gave slops to 4 of bone cleaners. – Provisions to House – Settled John Carey’s account – 3 glasses grog to Mucleroy, Davis, Fisher and Isaac each.

Tues. – 8th. – Issued provisions to Price & Chaceland’s gang – to 22 Māoris – Coe at his own work, stowed cleaned bone in store. Shipped 4 casks oil – Slops to Fowler – Broached 2 casks flour 1 cask pork – Provisions to House – Geo. Gray’s grog stopped by order of Chaceland, carpenter’s by Doctor – Cooper headed up cured fish.

Wed. – 9th. – 6 bone cleaners employed – Grog to Do [ditto] and Chaceland’s gang. Issued provisions to coopers and carpenters and 1 piece beef to House. Shipped oil on board schooner Dublin Packet. Blacked tanks and rolled 1 up into yard to keep bone in. Broached cask beef.

Thurs. 10th. – 7 bone cleaners employed. Issued grog to them and Chaceland’s gang. Provisions to House – Employed regulating accounts, &c.

Fri. 11th. – Issued provisions to Mucleroy and Isaac – House 1 piece pork – Black, Ryan and Tandy tea for 1 Week – Slops to two Māoris – Tobacco to people. Making people’s bills out. 6 bone cleaners employed – Geo. Smith’s grog stopped by order of Doctor. Stowed cleaned bone in loft – Mr Philippin one steer oar.

Sat. – Gave Mr. Williams tea for four for 1 Week – Grog to Chaceland’s gang. – 6 bone cleaners employed – finished cleaning bone – Tyro [Taiaroa] – Grog from this date.

Sun. – 13th. – 7 Māoris employed repairing fences – brought spare boat from fishery to be repaired – 14 lbs. flour for House, 1 lb. tea 2 pieces pork – 1 keg to Mr. Price.

Mon. – 14th. – 5 Māoris employed repairing shed for cooper – Employed making out people’s bills – issuing provisions &c. – Sent two casks peas, two casks flour aboard the French vessel “La Fawn” [“Faune” a French whaling ship that called in twice to Ōtākou in 1838] in exchange for rope, &c.

Tues. – 15th. – Issued provisions to 35 hands in Mr. Price’s Gang, to 28 people in Mr. Chaceland’s gang – to 6 Māoris bone cleaners – Provisions to Davis and Fisher – Slops to people – received four casks beef from the French vessel “La Fawn” – Māoris as yesterday – Gave Captain Bruce 20 lbs rivets – Whaling gear to Price, Hedges, Angas and Williams.

Wed. – 16th. – Provisions to carpenters and cooper – Grog to Chaceland’s gang & Māori bone cleaners – 6 – Employed drawing of spirits – 20 gallons – regulating store, &c. – returned the four casks beef received yesterday from on board “La Fawn” – and got in lieu 3 casks pork.

Thurs. – 17th. – Employed repairing fences – Cleaning bone 6 Māoris – Gave Captain Wells 4½ bundles hooping. Settled Mr. J. Russel’s account in slops – issued provisions to House – Grog to gang – Māori and coopers – Cooper made 2 Piggin, 1 Buckey, 1 Keg.

Fri. – 18th. 6 Māoris employed making a fence between the beach and Cooper’s Workshop with the Whales Head Bones – Making foxes to tie up bone with – Issued grog to Chaceland’s gang – coopers, carpenters and Māoris. Drew off twenty two gallons spirits for Captain Wells.

Sat. – 19th. 6 Māoris employed as yesterday – issued provisions to House – Mr. Weller shooting on the other shore with Captain Wells – Issued grog to Chaceland’s gang, Māoris, coopers, carpenters, cooks &c. Williams 1 pulling oar.

Sun. – 20th. – 6 Māoris employed fetching wood for fence, bringing bones from Upper Fishery, &c. – Gave the Captain Of “La Fawn” 25 pounds of 30 hundred hooping to repair his rudder. Issued provisions to House – dined on board the Dublin Packet.

Mon. – 21st. – Māoris as yesterday – Issued provisions to House – Grog to Chaceland’s gang, coopers, carpenters, cooks &c. Received ½ head bone from Upper Tonguers.

Tues. – 22nd. – Issues Provisions to Middle and Upper Gangs – Do. To 6 Māori bone cleaners – Received the other half head bone from Upper Tonguers – vice from French vessel – Māoris employed removing sand bank abrest carpenter’s House.

Wed. – 23rd. – Provisions issued to cooper and carpenters – to Mr Brown for Pūrākaunui &c. – 4 Māoris employed cleaning bone and received 30 bundles of shooks from the Dublin Packet – 2 Māoris left without permission.

Thurs. – 24th – Provisions to House. 5 Māoris employed cleaning bone – repairing road – fetching water &c. Issued slops to Chaceland – 1 Māori not returned – Drew off ten gallons spirits.

Fri. – 25th – Provisions to House. Issued slops etc to Mr Phillipine – Māoris employed making spun yarn for bone, bring bone from the Upper Fishery – to repair fence &c. – The Māori returned to his duty.

Sat. – 26th. – Provisions to House. 6 Māoris employed repairing cooper’s house, making fence, bring earth to repair road etc. – Mr Chaceland lost 40 fathom Whale Line & iron – Steward of Dublin Packet repairing the bellows – Killed a pig.

Sun. – 27th. – Sent three Māoris back to Mr Brown who had run away from Pūrākaunui – Māoris employed fetching grass for cooper’s house and fence – grog to gang, &c.

Mon. – 28th. – Issued slops to Davis & Fisher – Drew off 30 gallons spirits for Mr Brown – 6 Māoris employed as yesterday – set the bellows up.

Tues. – 29th. – Issued provisions to Price’s & Chaceland’s Gangs – to 6 Māori labourers – Māoris employed cleaning up bone – Quin once of Mr Price’s gang fell from a cliff and killed himself.

Wed. – 30th. – Issued provisions to Black, Tandy and Ryan – to Mr Brown 240 lbs sugar 30 gallons rum 6 pounds tea & 100 figs of tobacco – to Māori cook of Big House – 6 natives employed cleaning bone, repairing cooper’s house, building fence &c. Buried Quin in the ground behind Carpenter’s Workshop.

Thurs. – 31st – Had the honour of being threatened by Mr Angas that he would smash my bloody head – cautioned him against so doing – and told him if he did not succeed I should not make a light business of it – 6 Māoris employed as yesterday – sent provisions from Dublin Packet to Pūrākaunui – Grog to gangs, &c.

Fri. June 1st. – 6 Māoris employed cleaning bone, rolling provisions to beach for Tyro [local Chief Taiaroa] to take to Pūrākaunui, but did not go – scraping boat – finishing making fence by Cooper’s house – received 400 blades bone from Pūrākaunui by Tyro and Jackey White [local Chief Karetai] – as also a receipt from Mr Brown for having received 14 casks provisions – issued 30 lbs sugar to Dublin Packet.

Sat. – 2nd – 6 Māoris employed repairing chimney of cooper’s house, cleaning bone, scraping boat &c. Issued provisions to 1 Māori for Mr Cureton’s boat – clothes etc. – Mr A and – C. tea. Stopped Māori’s grog for not coming earlier in the morning.

Sun. –  3rd – 5 Māoris employed cleaning bone – Issued provisions to House – Tea to Mr Williams and Hedges. Slops to Fowler and Chaceland – Mr Weller out shooting and dined on board the Dublin Packet.

Mon. – 4th – Issued slops &c. to Mr Manuel & provisions to house. Māoris employed as yesterday.

Tues. – 5th Issued provisions to Price’s and Chaceland’s gang – To 6 Māoris – Bone cleaners. Māoris employed cleaning bone, rolling water up from and bringing lie [lye?] from tryworks – issued whaling gear to Chaceland – provisions to David and Fisher, and Mucleroy and Isaac Porter.

Wed. – 6th. – Issued provisions to cooper and carpenters – whaling gear to Mr Cureton, 6 Māoris employed cleaning bone.

Thurs. – 7th. – Māoris employed cleaning bone – sent three Māoris away in boat to Hobart town fishery with Lowe to bring up plank for to make a trough for lie [lye] – to clean bone in. Engaged a cooper of the name – John Clarke – to make casks at the rate of 20/- per ton on labour at the rate of £6 per month.

Fri. – 8th. – Māoris employed as yesterday – issued whaling gear to Mr Manuel Goombs and tobacco to himself and boat’s crew – also 1 lb of tea to Mr Brind – received 2 kegs 1 line tub and 1 old repaired piggin from cooper.

Sat. – 9th – Māoris employed clearing bone – shipped a Frenchman from the ship “La Fawn” of the name Victor Hobé  – Issued provisions to the same and to John Clarke (Cooper) Tea to Mr Williams and Hedges – Carpenter made trough for bone – Issued tobacco to Roberts – Williams, &c.

In preparing this blog I consulted the following sources on Harwood family history, the Wellers, Ōtākou and whaling:

http://www.toituosm.com/collections/smith-gallery/wall-1/octavius-harwood

https://ngataonga.org.nz/blog/nz-history/octavius-francis-harwood-a-journey-of-family-discovery/

https://teara.govt.nz/en/biographies/1w13/weller-edward

http://www.toituosm.com/collections/smith-gallery/wall-1/edward-weller

Church, Ian (ed), Gaining a Foothold : Historical Records of Otago’s Eastern Coast, 1770-1839, Friends of the Hocken Collections, 2008.

Church, Ian, Opening the Manifest on Otago’s Infant Years, Shipping Arrivals and Departures Otago Harbour and Coarst 1770-1860, Otago Heritage Books 2001

Harwood, Mac, Octavius Harwood, Titopu, Piro, Janet Robertson, published by Mac Harwood, Upper Takaka, 1989.

King, Alexandra, The Weller’s whaling station : the social and economic formation of an Otakou community, 1817-1850. https://ourarchive.otago.ac.nz/handle/10523/5533F

Tod, Frank, Whaling in Southern Waters, published by Frank Tod1982

West, Jonathon, The Face of Nature : An Environmental History of the Otago Peninsula, Otago University Press, 2017

Stirring up the stacks #5 – sauerkraut roll

Wednesday, October 30th, 2019 | Hocken Collections | No Comments

Post cooked up by Alex Scahill, Collections Assistant, Publications

I came up with this idea upon spotting a recent children’s book by Gavin Bishop, Cook’s cook: the cook who cooked for Captain Cook, appear on the new arrivals shelf at the Hocken. What caught my eye was that the cook in question, John Thompson, only had one hand. What a challenge it must have been for Thompson, attempting to prepare meals for dozens of men, on a ship being rolled around by the merciless ocean, using 18th century technology and ingredients that often did not store well or were opportunistically harvested along the way, many of which most of us would turn our noses up at today (anyone keen for penguin, seal or turtle?). Actually, I think that’d make for a great contemporary cooking show. Let’s chuck Gordon Ramsay into a cramped little box that pitches and rolls around like a ride at an amusement park, and make him cook haute cuisine for dozens of amused onlookers using an assortment of random (and questionably fresh) ingredients using nothing but a woodfire oven… with one hand tied behind his back. I’d watch that!

Cook’s cook: the cook who cooked for Captain Cook. Hocken G246.C7 BH57 2018

What attracted me to cooking something in the realm of what may have been served on board these voyages was that at the time I spied this book I was also (temporarily) one handed, having recently broken my elbow. So I endeavoured (insert cheesy dad joke grin) to become a one handed cook myself and see if the food served aboard the ships was really as bad as it sounds. Admittedly, extended preparation time of my dish, combined with a rather unfortunate mishap which set me back a few weeks (keep reading), meant that by the time it actually came to serve my dish to my colleagues my elbow was fully healed.

So what type of fare was typical on board Cook’s voyages to New Zealand? Cook set out with provisions for a two year voyage, unsure of where and when they may have the opportunity to resupply with fresh water and food. Eighteenth century sailors were a hardy bunch, and there was little room for fussiness when it came to food. Eat what you were served or perish.

Provisions list from Cook’s journal for July 1772 for the Resolution and Adventure (total 201 men). Burkhardt et al. 1978. Hocken VC370 .BY47 1978

While Cook had loaded his vessels with a variety of livestock, this was primarily for leaving behind on islands they encountered during the voyage, and generally only those animals which did not survive the voyage were consumed on board. What meat was available for consumption was usually subjected to heavy salting in order to prevent the meat from spoiling, thus extending the shelf life for long trips. Other protein came primarily from what birds or sea creatures could be caught along the way.  The same was said for produce, with unknown plants harvested for food from islands along the way. Consumption of some poisonous species in the South Pacific resulted in the deaths of a pig and a pet parakeet, although no sailors suffered the same fate (Burkhardt et al. 1978: 132).

However, due to the large number of Hocken staff who are vegetarian or vegan, I wanted to prepare a dish which would cater for as many of our staff as possible, so I opted to use two of the absolute staples from Cook’s galleys: bread and sauerkraut. The third major staple on board these voyages was booze, which was consumed regularly in lieu of fresh clean water, although I decided that serving beer at work during morning tea was perhaps unwise.

Sailors and Sauerkraut. Hocken VC370 .BY47 1978

In the stacks I found a book called Sailors and Sauerkraut (Burkhardt et al. 1978). The authors of this volume scoured the journals of Cook, Banks and others for references about the food and beverages which were consumed during their voyages to New Zealand, and subsequently produced a recipe book inspired by those references. I chose to recreate their recipe for Sauerkraut Roll.

This was perhaps a little ambitious considering I’d never even tasted, let alone tried to make sauerkraut before. The recipe seemed straightforward enough. Just cabbage and brine. But it does take several weeks to ferment. My first batch appeared to be going well and after a while began to take on the characteristic sauerkraut smell of ‘sweet farts’ (I’m really making this sound appealing!).

Enter catastrophe. After several weeks of waiting it came time to have a taste test. As I moved my container to the kitchen bench for tasting my clumsiness got the better of me and I ended up with my entire batch of sauerkraut pasted across the kitchen floor. So I started again.

Once the sauerkraut was ready it was time to prepare the rest of the dish for morning tea. I opted to double the following recipe.

The sauerkraut is ready

FOR THE ROLL

  • ¾ cup whole wheat flour
  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • yeast, sugar, salt, water
  • 1 cup lukewarm milk

Mix the yeast with the lukewarm milk and add the flour. Knead dough until it is smooth and elastic, then put in a warm place to rise until double in volume. Roll out the dough to a size large enough to wrap around the filling.

FILLING

  • 500g sauerkraut
  • 4 tablespoons oil
  • cracked pepper
  • 5 large onions
  • 2 cups croutons

Wash the sauerkraut under running water and drain. Fry one of the onions in a little oil until golden and then add the sauerkraut and pepper. Cook over a medium heat for a while. While the sauerkraut is cooking slice the remaining onions into rings and fry in oil until golden. Also prepare croutons.

Spread half the onions and croutons on the dough and cover with a layer of sauerkraut. Repeat. Carefully roll everything up, sealing the ends of the roll so that nothing will leak out during cooking.

Adding the filling

All rolled up (like a “sauerkraut calzone” according to my feedback)

To make it look a little less rustic (debatable) I prepared some caramelised onion as a garnish.

On the morning of serving I arrived at work with the rolls raw, gave them a quick glaze with olive oil, garnished with the caramelised onion and popped it in the oven first at 220˚C for 10mins, and then at 180˚C for a further 30mins until nice and golden.

Looks delicious!

They came out looking much better than I’d anticipated, but the real test would come down to taste. My personal opinion was that it tasted fine, but certainly better than expected. I just don’t think sauerkraut is really my thing. The following are a selection of comments left in the anonymous comments box during tasting:

visually appealing, which was surprising”

“this was so nice it gives me a false impression of what ships meals were like”

“…would definitely be great with a beer”

“Delicious! What were the sailors complaining about?”

“smells divine!”

and my personal favourite:

“tasty, and the perfect meal to prevent shipboard romance on long trips”

Overall, certainly a reasonable tasting novelty which provoked some decent discussion, but given the effort I think it’s fair to say I won’t be attempting this one again any time soon.

 

References:

  • Beaglehole, J. C. (ed.) 1955-1974. The journals of Captain James Cook on his voyages of discovery. Cambridge: published for the Hakluyt Society at the University Press.
  • Bishop, G. 2018. Cook’s cook : the cook who cooked for Captain Cook. Wellington: Gecko Press.
  • Burkhardt, B., McLean, B. A., and Kochanek, D. 1978. Sailors & sauerkraut, or, Recipes from Paradise, or, Making do with what you have : a reading cook book with extracts from the journals of William Anderson, Joseph Banks, James Cook, Thomas Edgar, Alexander Home, James King, David Samwell and recipes interpolated therein. British Columbia: Gray’s Publishing.

 

What else have we cooked up?

Stirring up the stacks #4: a “delicious cake from better times”

Stirring up the stacks #3: Bycroft party starters

Stirring up the stacks #2 The parfait on the blackboard

Stirring up the stacks #1 Variety salad in tomato aspic

The Lost Boot

Friday, July 17th, 2015 | Anna Blackman | 3 Comments

Blog Post prepared by Archivist David Murray.

LostBoot3_SSMaori

The Union Steamship Company steamer, Maori (Hocken Archives MS-1046/419)

In the winter of 1908, a curious complaint was sent to the Union  Steam Ship Company. It concerned a lost boot …

Denniston

27th July 1908

C. Holdsworth Esq.
General Manager
Union S.S.Co. Dunedin

Dear Sir,

The U.S.S.Co is noted for the care of and Courtesy extended to its Passengers. These pleasing qualities I am able to amplify from personal experience on many occasions, BUT, “The best laid schemes of mice and men gang aft agley”.

On the night of the 13th inst I boarded the S.S. ‘Maori’ en route to Lyttelton, “clothed and in my right mind”.

I retired (as sole occupant) to Cabin 34, and in due course sought oblivion in sleep, previously having disrobed, even boots and all!!! which boots, as events proved, I had better have kept on.

When the time arrived to dress on the morning of the 14th, only one boot belonging to yours truly could be found on the ship.

Not having a wooden leg, this was inconvenient and necessitated my leaving the boat in slippers.

Now I have never desired to form one of a party to explore Arctic of Antarctic regions, but whilst crossing the white-frosted wharf at Lyttelton to board the train, I felt as though I were going through an involuntary course of drill or training for such a project.

This idea was intensified during the cold railway journey to Dunedin.

I have all my life believed that many Biblical quotations can be aptly applied to incidents in our every day life, I am now more than ever confirmed in this belief – St Matthew 24ch[apter] 40V[erse] “The one shall be taken and the other left”.

Yours truly

JW Dixon

This is not a claim, therefore it suggests a “bootless” matter altogether – JD

LostBoot1

AG-292-005-001/104

The letter was meticulously filed, but disappointingly there’s no sign of a reply from the company. Dixon’s letter was addressed to General Manager Charles Holdsworth, who was on an overseas trip at the time. A newspaper notice in the Evening Post confirms that a Mr Dixon travelled from Wellington on board the Maori.

LostBoot2

AG-292-005-001/104

The writer was apparently Jonathan Dixon (1853-1911), manager of the Denniston Mine on the West Coast. He had an adult son who was also named Jonathan, and it’s possible he was the author, but the handwriting is a good match (though not conclusively) for the signature on Jonathan senior’s will.

According to the Cyclopedia of New Zealand, Jonathan Dixon was born in Durham, England, and educated in Sydney. He was a mine manager in New South Wales and was involved with the restoration of the mine at Stockton following a disaster in 1896. He took similar roles at Dudley, Greta, East Greta, and Burwood. He arrived in New Zealand in 1899 to manage the Millerton Mines (Granity) for the Westport Coal Company. After about two years as mines inspector in New South Wales, he returned to the West Coast to take up his position at the Denniston Mine, again for the Westport Coal Company.

LostBoot4_JonathanDixon

Jonathan Dixon

Dixon, who was married and had seven children, was described as a man who had ‘literary attainments and a taste for poetical composition’. An obituary stated that he was ‘a well-read, brainy man, with a decided literary bent, and would have made his mark in journalism had he abandoned mining’. He was also a strong supporter of educational movements and a staunch advocate of temperance. He died in August 1911 at the age of 58, following an operation for appendicitis.  His illustrated story of the lost boot survives as an example of his wit, and one of the cuter curiosities of the Hocken Collections.

 

References:

Alphabetical A – E, Inwards Correspondence, Union Steamship Company Records, Hocken Archives AG-292-005-001/104

Photographs of ‘Maori’, Cameron Family Papers, Hocken Archives MS-1046/419

The Cyclopedia of New Zealand, Volume 3. – Canterbury Provincial District  (Christchurch: The Cyclopedia Company, 1903)

Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate, 12 August 1911 p.6

The Maitland Daily Mercury, 11 August 1911 p.4

The Dominion, 14 July 1908 p.10

 

Thanks to the Papers Past and Trove newspaper databases, and to Archives New Zealand Christchurch Regional Office for providing access to Dixon’s will and probate file.

 

Busy lead-up to ANZAC Day

Thursday, April 23rd, 2015 | Anna Blackman | No Comments

Post prepared by Dr Anna Petersen, Assistant Curator of Photographs

Hocken Album 512 has seen a busy time these past few weeks with University of Otago Art History students opting to study it for an assignment and images copied for an exhibition at Fraser Island in Australia to commemorate the part the hospital ship ‘Maheno’ and its crew played in World War One.

The album first became available to the public in 2001 when it was purchased for the Hocken Photographs Collection at a local auction.  Some years later, Sandy Callister featured whole pages from it in her book The Face of War: New Zealand Great War Photography, Auckland University Press, 2008, partly singling it out from the many war albums dominated by images from the Gallipoli Campaign because of the excellent quality of the images.  Callister also found the content and arrangement of the photographs revealing in her quest to uncover the public understanding of the sacrificial cost of the war.

The four different pages shown below include rare snapshots of life on board the HS Maheno, glimpses of people from other countries who toiled to provide coal for the mighty, steam-powered ship as it traveled to the other side of the world, and images of soldiers at ANZAC Cove.

S15-108a

S15-108a P2001-009/2 Page 8

 

S15-118a   P2001-009 Page 15

S15-118a P2001-009/2 Page 15

 

S15-118b   P2001-009 Page 17

S15-118b P2001-009/2 Page 17

 

S15-118c   P2001-009 Page 19

S15-118c P2001-009/2 Page 19

 

No supplementary information came with the album regarding its creator or provenance but clues contained within it have led researchers to conclude it was most likely compiled from photographs taken by Lieutenant Howard Beecham Pattrick (1884-1962).  Pattrick first enlisted as a medic in 1915 when living as a student at Knox College, Dunedin.  He later became part of the New Zealand Rifle Brigade and suffered a serious wound on the Western Front in 1917.  According to the Honours and Awards to the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (p.251)

During operations lasting several days, he displayed conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty.  On one occasion he was blown up by a shell and badly shaken, but he declined to retire, and carried on with his men.  When all the officers had become casualties, he took command of the company, and it was largely owing to his fine and resolute leadership that the objective was quickly reached.  He set a splendid example to his men.

Pattrick was awarded the Military Cross in August 1918 for the acts described above, and was finally discharged from service on 25 November 1919.

Album 512 is available to patrons upstairs in the Pictorial Collections Reading Room under the accession number P2001-009/2.

The good ship Maheno, an ANZAC hero

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012 | Anna Blackman | 4 Comments

This wonderful image is a photograph of the ship Maheno, which served at Gallipoli as well as elsewhere in the Mediterranean during the First World War.  Along with sister hospital ship Marama, it transported over 47,000 wounded soldiers to safety. For the winter months of 2012 the Hocken Library is using this image to promote the current exhibition – Ship Shape – an exhibition based on the idea of “portraits” of ships.
Maheno in her building berth, 1905, Cameron Family Papers MS-1046/422
Maheno was built by William Denny and Brothers at Dumbarton, Scotland but Dunedin was its home.   Joining the Union Steam Ship Company’s fleet in 1905, the Maheno was the first turbine-powered ship to work the Trans-Tasman route.  The vessel had a strong link with the University of Otago as well since the Ministry of Defence offered the institution surplus money from the Hospital Ships’ Fund to build a hall for the military training of medical students in 1919.  Maheno and Marama Hall (as it was originally called) was completed in 1923 and is now occupied by the Department of Music.  A roll of honour in the foyer lists medical staff who served on the ships.
Maheno’s elegant profile was much admired, as were its comfortable and beautiful interiors. Original photographs of the ship from the Hocken Archives Collection are currently on show as part of the exhibition:
For more information about the exhibition, follow this link Ship Shape
 
Blog post prepared by Assistant Curator of Photographs, Anna Petersen, with David Murray, Acting Arrangement and Description Archivist.

Soldiers, ships and the ‘Waimana scandal’

Friday, February 10th, 2012 | Anna Blackman | 2 Comments

Among the treasures in a box of odd bits and pieces discovered during one of the Hocken’s building manoeuvres is this 1919 blueprint of the TSS Waimana, showing “accommodation for Australian families”. We don’t know the provenance of this plan, but a little research on the wonderful Papers Past website revealed its link to an event labelled by newspapers “the Waimana scandal”.
The blueprint, MS-3755
The Waimana, a twin-screw ship, was built in Belfast in 1911 for Shaw, Savill and Albion, to carry immigrants and cargo on the New Zealand run. In 1914 the Waimana took on a new role as troopship, for which she was “altered out of recognition”. She was one of the largest of the steamers that departed New Zealand in October 1914 with the main body of New Zealand Expeditionary Force troops. After a rapid conversion, the Waimana could carry around 1500 men, 62 officers and 500 horses. Through the war, the ship returned to its more usual duties, transporting cargo to and from Britain, but in 1919 troopships were again needed. In June 1919 the Waimana arrived in Auckland with 1675 returning soldiers, whose “behaviour during the voyage was excellent”.
Troopships were not renowned for their comfort, but soldiers generally tolerated some degree of privation without too much complaint. When it came to their wives and children, though, they had higher expectations. In October 1919 the Waimana was fitted out, as per our blueprint, to carry a group of 500 or so returning Australian servicemen from London, together with 400 women and 100 children under three. As soon as the passengers arrived, complaints began about overcrowding and inadequate facilities and supplies. The final straw for some may have come when one of the many babies aboard had its toe bitten by one of the ship’s large complement of rats. The military hierarchy agreed that the complaints were justified and the passengers disembarked while better transport was sorted out.
The origins of the blueprint remain a mystery – perhaps somebody kept it as an example of how not to fit out a steamer for families on long haul voyages.
Blog post prepared by Ali Clarke, Reference Assistant
Waimana at the Cross Wharf, Dunedin, 1922. Otago Harbour Board collection, S04-167a