Governor Grey

The Governor Grey

A new schooner, called the Governor Grey, has been built at Wanganui, and is intended for coasting. [New Zealander 20 March 1847]

The Governor Grey was built for Merchant Mariners Taylor and Watt of Petre (the official name of the town of Whanganui at the time) by a Mr Walker and launched on 4 January 1847. The Reverend Richard Taylor recorded in his journal of the day, “The new vessel was launched. It is about 30 tons and was first named the Harvest Home but as everybody laughed at the name the owners substituted that of Governor Grey.” The launch was reported to be attended by most of the citizens of the town of Whanganui who cheered her into the water. Apparently, these worthy citizens had requested the name change, and thus she was christened in honour of the Governor of New Zealand, Sir George Grey, who had been appointed to his post in 1845.

2. Taylor & Watt premises on Taupo Quay

Taylor & Watt premises on Taupo Quay.  Photograph thought to be by WJ Harding, 1860s.  Ref: W/S/TW/18

Thomas Ballardie Taylor and William Hogg Watt had arrived in Whanganui in 1841 and begun trading immediately. They built a store on the beach (now Taupō Quay) and then a jetty for their ships. The company built up a significant business in Whanganui, often acting as “bankers” to settlers all along the coast.

The new schooner replaced the Catherine Johnstone, known locally and affectionately as the Kitty J, a single masted cutter of only 10 tons, built in 1841. The cutter had traded between Taranaki, Wellington and Nelson, and occasionally Sydney, until the Taylor and Watt cargoes grew too big for her holds to carry. After the launch of the Governor Grey, Captain Taylor took on command at sea while Watt ran the business ashore. Business increased and the small vessel had plenty of profitable voyages.

Rigged with two masts and about 30 tons in weight, the Governor Grey was only 44 feet long and a mere 12 feet wide. Never-the-less, she managed to transport her fair share of goods and passengers between Whanganui and Wellington, sometimes venturing further to Nelson. In a November 1854 issue of New Zealand Spectator and Cook’s Strait Guardian, a report records her carrying “1010 feet timber, 220 bags potatoes, 18 kits maize, 1 beer engine, 1 bundle bedding, 10 barrels 3 cases bottles.”  She was also advertised as a regular packet, to sail between Whanganui and Wellington once a month, with “superior accommodations for a few Passengers”.

1. Watercolour of Governor Grey

Watercolour painting of The Governor Grey.  Artist Charles Heaphy, late 1840s.  Ref: 1910.2.1

Artist and draftsman Charles Heaphy painted the Governor Grey in watercolours in the late 1840s. In the painting, the schooner is at sea, with Mana Island immediately behind her. It is probably an exact rendition of her rig. Three small figures can just be made out, two aft and one fore.

The Governor Grey was wrecked on the Whanganui River bar in a gale in November 1854. While much of her cargo was recovered, the heavy swell prevented the schooner from being saved and she was completely wrecked.

 

Libby Sharpe is Senior Curator at Whanganui Regional Museum.

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The Rutland Stockade

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By Karen Wrigglesworth

The earliest colonial settlers arrived in Whanganui in1841 but land disputes meant that many who had paid the New Zealand Company prior to leaving Britain had to wait more than six years to take up the land promised to them. In 1845 there were some 200 Europeans in Whanganui, and around 60 dwellings. By comparison, the Māori population along the Whanganui River was approximately 4,000, mostly in good relationships with the newcomers, but not with the New Zealand Company.

By late 1846 local unrest led Governor Grey to establish a military post at Whanganui. In December officers and 180 men from the 58th Rutlandshire Regiment, four Royal Artillery gunners with two 12-pounder guns, and two Royal Engineers sailed from Wellington aboard the frigate HMS Calliope and the Government brig Victoria. They also brought a small gunboat with a brass swivel gun. The troops set about fortifying the new town.

Rutland Stockade was constructed on what is now generally known as Queens Park (Pukenamu or Sandfly Hill) above the Repertory Theatre, and at that time, near the northern end of the town. It is thought to have been the largest stockade erected in New Zealand at a cost of £3,500.

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Taken from Shakespeare’s Cliff looking towards the Rutland Stockade and Market Place, later Moutoa Gardens, 1870s (B-ST-029)

The stockade measured 55 by 30 metres and included two strong wooden blockhouses, one at each end of the enclosed space. Palisading consisted of rough timbers and whole trees (some more than 25 centimetres thick) set closely together, sunk over a metre into the sandy soil and standing two and a half metres high. They were braced by two inner horizontal rails. The tops of the logs were sharpened, to shed water and prevent decay, and for security. Loopholes for musket fire were cut all around, and the two 12-pounder guns landed by Calliope were mounted at each end of the stockade.

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Looking towards the corner of Drews Avenue and Ridgway Street with the Rutland Stockade on the hill behind, 1880s (B-ST-004)

Both blockhouses had upper floors that projected almost a metre beyond the lower storeys. They were the first defensive structures with overhanging upper storeys to be built in the North Island.  During the subsequent wars of the 1860s most frontier blockhouses were modelled on the Rutland blockhouse design. The larger blockhouse, designed to accommodate 80 soldiers, consisted of two buildings. The larger, 24 by 12 metres, was set at right angles to the smaller, six by six metres. The smaller blockhouse had a ground floor area of 12 by six metres and was occupied by 20 soldiers.

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Above Rutland Stockade with a view inside the fence and Shakespeare Cliff visible on the far side of the Whanganui River, 1870s (B-ST-016)

The lower walls of the blockhouses were three metres high and built from thick timbers lined inside with two and a half centimetre boards. The main uprights were almost two metres apart and 30 centimetres square, with intervening spaces filled in with horizontal planks. Smaller bullet-proof scantlings (timber pieces) were used in the upper storey, which also had a six centimetre-thick floor. The projecting part of the upper floor could be raised on hinges between each girder for musketry fire. Both storeys were had loopholes with horizontal slits, 1.2 metres long  and 15 centimetres wide, filled in with glass and shuttered outside. Māori called the large blockhouse the “peep house”, while Whanganui residents nicknamed it the “Acropolis”.

There was considerable difficulty in obtaining timber supplies for the large blockhouse, as most timber was upstream and on the opposite side of the river. In the end Māori supplied most of the timber, cutting and towing huge rafts of timber from 16 kilometres upriver (probably near Kaiwhaikī) to sell to the garrisons.

Rutland Stockade was completed by April 1847 and was garrisoned by the 58th Rutlandshire Regiment. The stockade saw action when Māori made a first determined attack on Whanganui in May. The attackers were repulsed by, but the situation was considered so serious that another stockade was erected at Patupuhou (or Patupuwhao) near where the bell tower now stands at Cooks Gardens. York Stockade was simpler in construction than Rutland Stockade, and consisted of barracks and a flat area surrounded by a high fence. It was completed by July 1847 and occupied by a detachment of officers and men from the 65th Yorkshire Regiment. York Stockade was never attacked but troops stationed there did take part in the Battle of St Johns Wood (which happened near where Collegiate now stands, on 19 July 1847).

Parade of 18th Royal Irish Regiment (2nd Battalion) and its goat mascot in front of the Rutland Stockade, January 1870, Photographer: W H Harding (M-G-40)

Parade of 18th Royal Irish Regiment (2nd Battalion) and its goat mascot in front of the Rutland Stockade, January 1870, Photographer: W H Harding (M-G-40)

Other early Whanganui defences included a Lower Stockade, which encompassed the Commercial Hotel and was built in 1846 on land now occupied by Trafalgar Square. There was also a fortified area known as the Lower Works on the corner of Ridgway and Watt Streets, below the Savage Club buildings.

York Stockade taken from Rutland Stockade with the spire of Christ Church visible, late 1860s (B-ST-021)

York Stockade taken from Rutland Stockade with the spire of Christ Church visible, late 1860s (B-ST-021)

Rutland and York Stockades were garrisoned by British Imperial soldiers until the late 1860s. Both were later used by the Armed Constabulary. Rutland Stockade was demolished in 1887.

About the author: Karen Wrigglesworth is a Whanganui engineer and writer, and a research volunteer at the Whanganui Regional Museum.

Transforming Flow into Flour

Like most migrants, our earliest colonial settlers missed familiar foods from home, and in addition, New Zealand’s native food sources were often difficult to procure in edible form. Dairy and meat supplies were relatively straightforward to establish, but staples such as bread proved more difficult.
In 1813, Northland Chief Ruatara became the first Maori to cultivate wheat, which was ground using a hand-mill provided by Reverend Samuel Marsden. Hand mills were portable but broke easily, and were often thrown away rather than being repaired.

Mill at Pipiriki

Mill at Pipiriki

Mechanised flourmills quickly became the most widespread industry in New Zealand, and remained one of the largest local industries throughout the 19th century. Wanganui’s first wheat was grown by William Bell in Wanganui East in 1844, and the first local flourmill was built by Tom Higgie at Putiki in 1845. By the late 1800s, a further five mills had been built at Pipiriki, Matahiwi, Jerusalem, Koriniti, and Kaiwhaiki. They were among the earliest mills in operation in the country. A millstone from the Jerusalem mill is currently on display at the museum.

Kawana Mill, probably early 1900s

Kawana Mill, probably early 1900s

Kawana Mill, near Matahiwi, is the only one of these mills remaining. It is also the oldest water-powered flourmill still in existence in New Zealand. Kawana Mill – full name Kawana Kerei Mill – was named for Governor George Grey who donated the millstones as a personal gift to the Nga Poutama people. There was also a Kawana Kerei Mill at Pamangungu near Rotorua, although like most early mills this one has not survived.

 

The Matahiwi mill was built in 1854 by millwright Peter McWilliam using salvaged totara logs, millstones from Australia, and machinery and bearings from England. Canoes were used to transport the heavy millstones upriver. In contrast, stones for a mill at Waitotara had to be rolled from Wanganui by hand.
Richard Pestall from France was Kawana’s first miller. His son continued to operate the mill after his father’s death until the mill closed in 1900 and was abandoned in 1913. The mill has a 5 metre iron-and-timber high-breast wheel, with water supplied at above axle height. Overshot wheels (where water falls from above the wheel) are more efficient, but they are also more difficult and expensive to construct.

Kawana waterwheel prior to repair in the 1970s

Kawana waterwheel prior to repair in the 1970s

The 1.2 metre diameter millstones are made from quartz pieces fixed together with a cementing compound (the French traditionally used plaster of Paris), and trimmed to interlock and work as a single stone of even quality. They are bound with an iron hoop around the outer edge.
The bedstone is fixed with a flat but grooved upper surface, while the runner stone above it has a concave lower surface and rotates via a central shaft geared to the waterwheel outside. The bedstone’s dressings are carved in ‘French burr’ (cheese segment) fashion and allow flour to flow via centrifugal force from the central eye where grain is fed from the hopper above, out to the stones’ skirt and through a chute to a sack below.

Dresser at Kawana with internal rotating brushes for grading the flour

Dresser at Kawana with internal rotating brushes for grading the flour

Stones are ‘dressed’ using a small pick to ensure grooves remain clean. Blunt or clogged stones produce poor-quality flour – and can cause machinery to jam. The stones are housed in a wooden tun, with a wood-framed ‘horse’ above to support the feed hopper. Wooden cogs in the cast iron wheel reduce operational noise, and a leather strap across bottom of the hopper rang a bell to alert the miller when grain ran low.

 

 
After grinding, flour was cooled before being returned to the upper floor for grading using a wire mesh cylinder with waterwheel-driven internal brushes. Kawana Mill had three dressers positioned one above the other – Grade 1 flour was collected from lowest level.
The waterwheel and millstones at Kawana are authentic, but the mill building is a replica designed by architect Chris Cochran and opened by Governor-General Sir Keith Holyoake, in October 1980.

 

Article by Karen Wrigglesworth, local engineer and writer.