Pre-Treaty of Waitangi purchase 1838
The first European purchase of land on Aotea was conducted on 20 March 1838.
William Webster, Jeremiah Nagle and William Abercrombie claim to have
purchased the whole of Great Barrier which they incorrectly estimated to be
20,000 acres (Turton Private Deeds, Deeds 349, pp.310-11). Payment was made
in goods to the value of £1140 including a considerable quantity of guns and
ammunition. The signing took place in Coromandel, with the principal
signatories being Te Horeta Te Taniwha and his son Kitahi. Only 2 of the 19
signatures were Ngati Wai, who received only a minimal payment of three
pairs of blankets (Turton 1882:311, MLC Minute Book 21 Taitokerau 1993:3).
Although Ngati Wai Wai failed to protest at the time of this sale, the claim
was subsequently investigated and it was found that the land had been
unfairly sold by those who were not the rightful owners. It has been
subsequently claimed by Ngati Maru that the sale was recompense for the loss
of life inflicted on Marutuahu forces during the battle of Aotea (Murdoch
1993 and Tatton 1994:42-43).
addition to those living on Great Barrier at Katherine Bay, Ngati Rehua
people were still resident on Kaikoura at the time of its sale in 1838. At
this time Fairburn estimated the population of Aotea at approximately 170 (Monin
Claim reviewed 1844
Two years later in 1840 the Governor of New South Wales Sir George Gipps
issued a proclamation which forbade direct purchase of land from the Maori.
The Aotea claim was subsequently investigated by Godfrey, and on 10 June
1844 he reported that while Webster, Nagle, and Abercrombie intended to
purchase the whole island Maori had only affirmed the sale of the northern
part. Godfrey further recommended that no grant be allowed on the basis that
Webster had already received the maximum allowed of 2,560 acres in other
claims (AJHR 1893, A-4, p.6).
Godfrey’s claim was however reviewed by the Legislative Council who found
that considerable resources had been expended on copper mining operations
which were felt to be of great benefit to the colony (GBPP 1845 247:101).
Governor Fitzroy accordingly authorised Commissioner Fitzgerald to award a
total grant of 8,080 acres to Webster, 8,119 to Abercrombie, and 8,070 acres
to Nagle totalling 24,269 acres made on 6 July 1844 (Turton Deeds). The
boundaries were from the mouth of the Whangapoua River to Mount Hobson (Hirakimata)
to the Wairahi Stream and out to the coast at Akatarere, thus including
Kaikoura, Nelson and Motuhaku Islands. A native reserve of 3,510 acres was
excluded from this grant which enclosed many of the principal Ngati Rehua
settlements at Katherine Bay from Ahuriri to Maunganui (Tatton 1994:45
citing Te Mariri 1858 Vol.1).
Speculation and the Great Barrier Land, Harbour & Mining Co.
1854 many of the earlier land grants were again revisited and required to be
substantiated. Where evidence of purchase or payment was not produced the
earlier claims were made void and new claims issued. This appears to have
been the case with the Abercrombie grant of 24,269 acres, which was
surrendered and a new grant issued to William Smellie Grahame on 29 December
1854 (Auckland Deeds 9D:194-5). No case on behalf of the Abercrombie
brothers was brought before the Land Claims Court, possibly as they were by
this time living in Sydney and almost bankrupt. A little over 12 months
later on 17 January 1856 Grahame sold to Theophilus Heale for £6000
(Auckland Deeds 9D:195). Heale was surveyor and at that time appointed judge
of the Native Land Court. The deed was signed in the presence of Frederick
Whitaker, Heale’s partner in the ill-fated and scurrilous copper mining
enterprise on Kawau Island.
Shortly after on 30th June 1859, Heale on sold to the Great Barrier Land
Harbour & Mining Co for £20,000 (Auckland Deeds 9D:197). The Great Barrier
Land Harbour & Mining Co had been registered in England on 5 May 1857 just
over a year after Heale’s purchase with English businessmen Parke Pittar and
Phillip Wright, both of Middlesex, the principal shareholders and trustees.
It appears that these dealings had little impact on Kaikoura other than the
several changes in ownership recorded against the title. Heale’s interest
undoubtedly lay with the exploitation of the copper mine.
Early impressions of Port Fitzroy
From 1841 to 1859 the only settlement at Port Fitzroy had been the farm and
shipbuilding yard at Nagles Cove, at that time leased by John Moor. William
Bambridge, visiting Great Barrier on route to Sydney in December 1847,
completed several sketches of the area around Port Fitzroy. A sketch of the
Stirlingshire on stocks at Nagles Cove showing Kaikoura Island in the
background provides names for places on the island including Mount Mitre
(Mitre Peak) and Augustus Cove (Bradshaw Cove), but shows little else.
Bambridge also completed sketches of Wellington Head (Motuhaku).
Following the purchase of Heale’s interest, the Great Barrier Land Harbour &
Mining Co set about establishing farms on its newly acquired property. An
article in the Southern Cross in early 1862 reports considerable investment
in the establishment of farms by the Great Barrier Land Harbour & Mining Co
on its lands Kaikoura, Mohunga, Kairara and Kiwiriki (S.C. February 1862).
On 21st April 1863, the island was transferred via an indenture to Pittar,
Wright and Albert Allom of Great Barrier (Auckland Deeds 15D:749-63). A map
of the area included on the deed showing the boundaries and the farm
settlements, notes the island as ‘Waikoura farm & sheep station’ and also
notes sheep as being farmed at Wellington Head (Motuhaku). A hydrographic
map of Port Fitzroy by Bedford Pim in 1863 shows the western portion of
Great Barrier including Kaikoura with a farm settlement located at the head
of an inlet on the south-eastern portion of the island (Pim 1863:372).
subsequent article in Southern Cross reported the sheep and cattle on these
farms as being ‘in a flourishing condition’ (S.C. 07/09/1865). It has been
reported that George Moor lived on Kaikoura at one time, and he may have
been the original leaseholder, on the basis of his daughter’s birth
certificate of 12 February 1867 that states his occupation as Great Barrier,
Farmer when all other farms known to be established on Great Barrier appear
to be accounted for (Moor 1987:42).
Subdivision of the islands
Kaikoura, Nelson and Motuhaku were later subdivided from the remainder of
the property and sold to railway surveyor George Laurie for £250 on 26 Feb
1879 (Auckland Deeds 27M:885-88). Just under a month later on 25 March 1879
Laurie further subdivided and on-sold Kaikoura for £500 to Portuguese farmer
Manuel Silva who had been living at Whangaparapara (Auckland Deeds
No.62169). Laurie retained Nelson and Motuhaku Islands, and these were later
sold to Ellen Pittar of Port Fitzroy (Murdoch n.d.). Ellen Pittar was the
wife of Arthur Pittar, the brother of Parke Pittar who had sold to Laurie on
behalf of the Great Barrier Land Harbour & Mining Company (Moor 1987:81).
The Rev. Baker who visited Great Barrier in March 1881 reports Silva living
in Whangaparapara, but the Rodney Electoral role of the same year has him
owner and resident on Kaikoura. Cyril Moor suspects that Silva may have
built a house in Augustus Cove (Bradshaw Cove) giving it the name ‘Old House
Bay’ but his recollections of the bay from as early as 1916, never included
any buildings having been there (Moor 1987:77).
19th August 1881 Silva sold Kaikoura to another Portuguese Antonio de Varga
(Martin) (CT 19:83 No.3299). Silva and Martin had arrived on the same
whaling ship, and had abandoned the vessel together in the Bay of Islands.
Martin owned a farm at Tawharanui and Silva had worked for him there
(Murdoch). Following the sale Silva stayed on Kaikoura as stock manager.
Martin died only a year later in August 1882, and the deed was transferred
to his widow Agnes Martin and Matthew Martin. The island may not have been
fully paid off, as it was transferred back to Silva on 3 March 1883 (CT
Vol.19:83 No.4616). Meanwhile, in February 1882, Ellen Pittar sold Nelson
and Motuhaku to John Moor.
Silva himself died shortly after in December 1883, reported drowned in
Fitzroy Harbour although the body was never recovered. Kaikoura was willed
to his widow Mary Charlotte Silveira (CT Vol.19:83 No.168). It is assumed
that she was an absentee landowner as the Rev Hazelden visited the Great
Barrier in May 1884 and makes brief mention of several homesteads in Port
Fitzroy in his report in the Auckland Weekly News, but fails to mention
anyone living on Kaikoura (A.W.N. 17/05/1884). The island was sold again in
1885 to Ernst Engster of Pukekohe (CT Vol.19:83 No.7412). It is unknown if
he ever lived on the island (Moor 1987:106).
Homestead in Governors Pass
November 1888 the island was again sold, this time jointly to Allen Ashlin
Taylor and Edward (Ned) Paddison, of Karaka Bay (CT Vol.19:83 No.10718). Ned
lived for a while on the island (Moor 1987:85), before Taylor bought his
share to become sole owner on 26 April 1890 (CT Vol.56:218 No.11911). The
Taylors built the first permanent house on the island, and Moor reports a
house being present in Governor’s Pass in 1890 (Moor 1987:86). Remains from
an old house platform, jetty and boat hauler are still present today. Old
dams are also located in the heads of the streams above the house site. An
article in the Weekly News in June 1892 has Mrs Susan Taylor of Kaikoura
kindly lending her piano for a dance held at the Cooper’s hall in Port
Fitzroy (A.W.N. 4/06/1892).
Allen Taylor had a brother in South Africa and was interested in moving to
join him, so went about finding a buyer for the island. His brother and a
prospective buyer Mr Harvey arrived in December 1892. While negotiating this
deal at Kaikoura, Susan Taylor went into labour with their second child. A
decision was made to get help from the women at Nagles Cove, and the Taylor
brothers and Mr Harvey left to fetch them, presumably leaving Susan in
labour with only the company of their 21 month old daughter Eleanor.
Tragically the boat capsized in a squall, drowning both Allen Taylor and Mr
Harvey. Susan Taylor and her two children returned to Auckland on the next
steamer. Things went from bad to worse when on 14 March 1893 the Auckland
Weekly News reported the destruction of Susan Taylor’s five roomed house,
dairy and storeroom at Kaikoura (AWN 25/03/1893 p.21). The fire was believed
to have started beneath the dairy, and the caretaker, a man named Hamilton
who was in the house asleep at the time, was woken by a dog barking and wood
crackling in time to evacuate. The house was unfortunately uninsured.
May 1893 the island was purchased by Edward and Mary Darton (CT Vol.56:218
No.14627). The Dartons rebuilt the house that had been destroyed by fire.
Henry Winkelmann is reported to have photographed this house in 1902 (Moor
1987:111). The Dartons remained on the island until April 1907 when they
sold to Theophilus Wake (CT Vol.56:218 No.41773).
Early twentieth century owners
Wake owned the island for just over two years before selling to Charles
Owens, an Auckland farmer, in March 1909 (CT Vol.56:218 No.49622). Owens
likewise had the island for two years before selling to George Thomas Bayly
on 16 June 1911 (CT Vol.56:218 No.59926). The Bayly family owned the island
for nearly 30 years before selling in 1941 to William Warren, who lived at
Port Fitzroy (CT Vol.426:100 No.339135). The Bayly’s released fallow deer,
and although accounts differ as to when this occurred, it appears to have
been in the 1920s or early 30s (Harlow 2001:3, Woodcock 1995). Interestingly
a Lands and Survey map prepared for the Forestry Department dated 1922,
erroneously has the property owned by W. S. Grahame. As outlined above,
Grahame was issued the crown grant for the island including the northern
part of Great Barrier in 1854.
World War Two Occupation
During the Second World War moves were made to fortify Port Fitzroy as part
of the wider defence network for the port of Auckland. The German raider
Orion had already infiltrated New Zealand’s coast line and visited Port
Fitzroy in 1940, and it was apparent that additional defences would be
required to prevent similar occurrences in future (Corbett 2004:186). Three
camps were established on mainland Great Barrier at Port Fitzroy, and
consideration was given to mounting a fixed BL 6-inch howitzer gun on the
north-eastern point of Kaikoura (Cooke 2000:474-5), but at 160 ft ASL it was
rejected as being too high and the gun was instead mounted on the south side
of Man o War passage in 1942 (Cooke 2000:474; Bouzaid 2002:16-17). In July
1942 another gun was made available and was planned for the previously
rejected Kaikoura site, but this emplacement was cancelled before work began
(Cooke 2000:475). Controlle minefields were laid by the Navy in Port
Abercrombie and in Man-o-War Passage either side of the island to defend the
entrances to Port Fitzroy. Underground bunkers and accommodation barracks
were built in Bradshaw Cove, and an Observation Post constructed on the
headland to the west of Bradshaw Cove over looking the minefield. The base
at Bradshaw Cove was also linked to a radar station situated at Moors Peak
above Nagles Cove. In February 1943 a review of defence spending was carried
out. The Staff Officer (Torpedo and Mining) reported that NZ should be
focusing on the offensive and with the exception of those at Auckland and
Wellington the controlled minefields were a waste of resources. It was
proposed that the existing minefields should be manned as long as they were
operative, after which time they should be lifted or fired (Waters
1956:235). The buildings were abandoned on 29 June 1943 (Cooke 2000:475),
and the mines detonated in 1944 (Bouzaid 2002:16-17). Locals were
disappointed that they received no advance warning to view the spectacular
event (Bouzaid 2002:17).
New farm homestead
The Crawford family owned the island from 1945 to 1977, although Mrs
Crawford lived there on her own for most of that time following the
disappearance of her husband (CT Vol.426:100 No.369559, Weck pers. com.).
The Crawfords presumably built and occupied the farm house located in the
farm gully between the airstrip and the wharf shortly after purchasing the
island. The stream below the homestead was dammed, and pegs in the rock
below this suggest there was a waterwheel or pelton generator. The farm
implement sheds are reported to have been built in the 1970s. An aerial
photo from the 1960s shows the island largely cleared of bush, remnants of
which were mostly confined to small pockets along the south-western coast.
After the military buildings were abandoned Mrs Crawford used them as bach
accommodation, and continued using the line to Nagle Cove as her own private
line (Bouzaid 2002:17). The buildings and bunkers are still present today.
Remnants of the cable are still visible on the foreshore at Bradshaw Cove
and a recent side scan survey revealed a cable still running across the bay.
Commercial deer farming
Following the death of Mrs Crawford the property passed to her son Cameron
Crawford (CT transfer 206557/1). In 1973 the property was sold again to
Stuart Searle (CT transfer 243081.1) who with two other partners, Barry
Preddle and John Burres, licensed the island as a commercial deer farm. In
1980 the island was sold again, this time to a syndicate of five landowners
from Pukekohe (CT transfer 912738.2). During this time the deer farming
operation was expanded with the smaller first airstrip cleared
(perpendicular to the present day strip), a network of deer fencing erected,
and additional areas cleared for grass. George Mason lived on the island at
this time, occupying the Crawford’s house in the farm gully. In addition to
deer, feral goats and wild pigs were released on the island, although the
goats were fortunately eradicated in 1993 (Woodcock 1995). Farm clearing has
now ceased, with the last clearing being undertaken around 1980 (Cameron
1995:73). An aerial flown in 1979 clearly shows grassed areas and a road
network on the southern side of the central ridgeline.
The Pukekohe syndicate made plans to establish accommodation on the island.
Buildings for what would later be known as the Lost Resort were started in
December 1978 on the southern side of the island in Man o War Passage in the
vicinity of the present day wharf. Unfortunately the initiative encountered
financial problems, and was bailed out by the remaining syndicate members.
The Lost Resort was eventually finished and leased out (Weck pers. com.).
The resort closed down shortly after it had started in 1979 following a
failed arson attempt (Armitage pers. com.). The buildings are still present
and used as temporary accommodation.
Eventually it was decided to again sell the island, and attempts were made
to sell the island as a reserve to the government, who advised the purchase
price was beyond available funding. While scouting for a potential buyer,
expressions of interest were made by an Australian businessman, but
regulations under the Land Settlement Promotion and Land Acquisition Act
1952 prohibited sale to foreign land owners. Eventually Kaikoura was sold to
Auckland businessman, Stuart Galloway, who traded his title to Chase
Corporation for real estate on the Auckland waterfront in 1988 (NZ Property
Chase Corporation soon found itself in financial difficulty and forced to
sell many of it assets including Kaikoura Island in August 1990. The island
was able to be sold to foreign interests this time through exploiting a
legal loop-hole as the Land Settlement Act did not cover transfer of company
assets (NZ Property Dec 1990:2). The island was initially transferred for
just under $2.5 million to Westy Holdings Ltd., which was formed by
solicitors Paul Preston and John Waller on 13 July 1990. One week later
Preston and Waller were replaced as directors by real estate developer
Thomas Gentry, and solicitor Harvey Migdal, both of Honolulu. The shares in
the newly formed company were purchased for an undisclosed sum, subject to a
confidentiality clause (NZ Property Dec 1990:2). Due to the ill health of
the new owner very little happened on the island in the years following the
sale and the island became increasingly run down.
1995, when the island was again offered for sale, ‘Save our Islands Trust’
attempted to purchase it, but was unsuccessful, and the island was instead
sold to Don and Joy Fasher (NZFRT 2003:14). The Fashers continued farming on
the island and cleared the larger present day airstrip (Harlow 2001:3). Also
during this time the Vodaphone cell site was established on the ridge line
to the south of Mitre Peak. In 2003 the island was put up for sale with an
asking price of $10 million, and enthusiastically marketed hoping to draw
attention during the build up to the Americas Cup racing in February that
year (NZ Herald Press statement 09/02/2003). The proposed sale was opposed
by Ngati Rehua on the grounds of their outstanding Waitangi Tribunal claim,
and conviction that their wahi tapu sites should not be sold to foreign
owners (letter M. McGee to Secretary of Overseas Investment Commission
Motu Kaikoura Scenic Reserve