NEWS FROM THE ISLANDS
With the servicing, Christmas and New Year now only memories, work continues to accumulate and two months of 1969 have seemingly flown by. The visit of HMNZS 'Otago', the Christmas airdrop and two RNZAF Canberras taxed the Raoul Air Traffic Controller to the extent that we may be listed as an additional non-landing airport in the New Zealand airways complex.
Christmas greetings were exchanged with Campbell Island, Scott Base and the United States Antarctic H.Q. at McMurdo.
Christmas dinner is one of those occasions that all Kiwis eagerly anticipate and usually remember with remorse. Our hearty congratulations to Ron our imported chef for & magnificent effort. To say the billiard table and the lounge table were laden would be the under statement of the year, there was still more in the kitchen. If a cruise ship had been stranded on the beach another 50 could have been fed, still leaving sufficient for tea.
Locally produced citrus fruit, slightly diluted with more potent liquids, induced the inevitable frivolity and revelry and 1969 was thumped in, in grand style.
With the willingness of the off-duty meteorological staff, the Denham Bay track was pushed through, even the chain-saw got over to the Denham Bay hut. Several hundred trees were removed from the track, the accumulation of several years' hurricanes. It is now possible to walk to the Bay without stooping under or clambering over the trunks and without touching the sides. The hard trek has now become a jaunt and the frequent weekend trips for bird banding a joy to participate in. The inevitable pair of parakeets ventured across to the mainland from their Mayor Island home on an extended sortie. The only rare bird sighting to date was that of an oyster catcher feeding on he farm.
January concluded with the visit by the mine-sweeper 'Inverell' which came into Boat Cove. The seventy cadets all crammed into the 90ft hull were a welcome sight to us.
The 771b groper landed at Boat Cove in November by Charlie (Farmer) has at last faded into the background after reigning supreme for 3 months. On a recent boating trip a 921b kingfish was boated by, guess who, yes Charlie again. He is a difficult angler to beat.
The tennis court is taking on its new look. Heavy water pipe, salvaged from Blue Lake Crater, is being utilised as poles and hori¬zontal framework to support the netting. Many hours of enjoyable recreation lie ahead, not only for the present party but also for our successors.
The removal of Pohutukawa stumps came to a temporary halt when an hydraulic arm came adrift from the frame of the old RD7 dozer or, as the operator explained, "the old ..... has pulled a muscle."
Several people hitherto unknown in the billiard world are rapidly becoming junior Lindrums. However, it's amazing how the odd ball still ends up behind the radio after one of the more tricky shots has been executed.
Our congratulations to the committee on the production of No 3 Newsletter and best wishes to all Association members, families etc wherever they may be. 68/69 Expedition, Raoul Island
The staff of Campbell Island have seen quite a variety of activities since the last notes for this Newsletter in November.
Christmas and New Year festivities went off very well; the cook produced a vast spread for Christmas Dinner which extended throughout the following day, and our Christmas broadcast from 4ZA was much enjoyed although some rather embarrassed characters were wishing there was some place to hide! Comments were many and varied as each man appeared in his best attire with white shirt and tie; many were almost unrecognisable. Our New Year's Eve party went with a swing, climaxing in 'Auld Lang Syne' around the billiard table accompanied by the fire siren.
Being in 1969 gave us a new lift; we seemed to be over a hump and the calendar had new meaning for us. Work around New Year was apparent with a touch-up paint job on the station boat and last minute work to complete on 'Aurora House' and associated walkway before the arrival of HMNZS 'Endeavour' on 8 January. She actually arrived on the evening of the 7th and unloaded on the 8th. The weather was absolutely perfect and the day was much enjoyed by all, the highlight being the official opening of 'Aurora House' by Cmdr D G Barnfield and the unveiling of a plaque commemorating this event; incidentally, this was filmed by the NZBC. This visit also brought us eight members of the Canterbury University Expedition to the Antipodes Islands, who had failed to make a landing there on the way down. They set up camp,complete with pre-fabricated Laboratory Hut west of the Balloon Shed, and completed some worthwhile work during their three week stay.
As if all this were not enough for us sheltered creatures, we also welcomed ashore the three man DSIR team, Gordon Keyes, Ian Johnson (an ex-Campbellite) and Des Rowles, for a two month stay in which to conduct their experiment into X-rays at the 100 km level during auroral activity. So far this project has been a complete success, and has also given the more permanent inhabitants an unusual interest and new subjects for the ever-popular photography. Possibly it has been some time since as large a number as 23 men have lived on the station for any length of time.
The next event of note was the second visit of 'Endeavour' on the 26th again in perfect weather; when the "Antipodeans" departed, and with them three of our members, Tony Ellis returning home after 13 months, and Barney Maguire and Mike Bell on their way to NZ for medical examinations. A sad day for us as we did not know at this stage if we would get either of the two men back.
Work has gone on steadily and quietly over the past month with the accent on paper work and records, as we wish to get as much of this out as possible on our last mail scheduled for March 4. Work on re¬sheathing the boat shed with corrugated iron is underway and we await a calm day to lower one of the R/T aerials for overhauling.
Another visit from 'Endeavour' on 13 February brought us our final stores for the winter months ahead, and another enjoyable day with the Navy, not to mention the ever welcome mail. Now we look forward to our last ship and last mail when we reduce to nine men and settle in for the winter. In many ways winter has the promise of being our best time, especially now that our two medical cases have returned.
B A C Smith, 22/2/69
This article, only slightly biased, was written by the Met. Team and is the account of a "type of rugby match" once held on Campbell Island.
A SUMMARY OF CORRESPONDENCE BEFORE THE MATCH:
- 1. Notice to all Campbell Islanders.
Rugby game on Saturday next 14 December.
Colours -Black Jerseys, Jungle Green Trou, Gumboots (black).
THE REST TEAM Colours -White Singlets, White Grundies, Bare Feet (white).
REFEREE Air Force Great Coat (blue). Secret ballot still to be taken.
PLACE OF GAME Bulbanella Park. Met. team to play down hill.
NOTE -The Referee's decision will be final and no correspondence will be entered into.
- Notice to the Met. Rugby Team. Tra1n1ng run to be held l530M Bulbanella Park. Dress will be informal and all members are requested to attend. This includes the Great South Island Forward.
Signed: Freda Allen.
- Note to Met. Office Campbell Island from Freda Allen
Your performance at practice run pitiful. Suggest you give up idea of trying to play rugby and stick to marbles. Regards, Freda.
- Notice to the Impostor of the Great Freda Allen
Look now lad this has just got to stop. You appear to be taking my name in vain.
I will not take over 'The Rest Team' in regard to molding them into an all-time great team, as the Met. boys will of course be, so just watch it boy or I will be forced to set the All-Time Great South Island Forward onto you.
Signed: The All-Time Great Freda Allen (Alias the Great South Island Forward)
- Notice from the Impostor
All this here writing will do thee no good. Thou shalt be well and truly trounced. The grounds of Bulbanella Park will see the fruits of sweet victory as 'The Rest' sweep to victory. We will win. Long live 'The Rest'.
Signed: Freda Allen Impostor.
This summary is as factual as possible. Names have not been changed to protect the guilty. Certain words have however been changed for obvious reasons.
A TRUE ACCOUNT OF THE EVENTS THAT TOOK PLACE ON CAMPBELL ISLAND 14 DECEMBER 1968:
And so it came to pass that the Met. Team were to play the Rest of the Party Team in a game which for want of a better word shall be called Rugby, at a place which only a few will have heard of, called 'Bulbanella Park'.
In the days preceding this event many wild and outrageous state¬ments were heard to be made as to the outcome of the match, and to other matters, but we shall only concern ourselves with the True Facts of the situation.
Indeed it was a colourful scene as the teams assembled outside the 'Bomb Shed' for last minute briefing, team photos and the 'count¬down'. With apparel ranging from the well known 'Jockeys' to mini¬skirts and the colours being many and varied, the sight resembled more a hippie love-in than an all-important rugby fixture.
Bulbanella Park was in perfect condition, and Met. winning the toss elected to play downhill with the wind behind them. Undaunted, the Rest, playing one man and a dog extra, kicked off and were the first to score with a disputed try, as all of them were. Met. came flashing back scoring three disputed tries but only one was allowed due to the possibility of the Referee being slightly 'one-eyed', so at half-time the score stood at 3-3.
After a prolonged half-time the Rest insisted that they change ends against strongly voiced opposition from the Met. boys. Met. kicked off uphill and against determined play had to resort to illegal tactical movements to score five tries to go into an 18-3 lead. The Rest came back gamely to score three tries against almost impenetrable defence to make the score 18-12 at which time the Referee, who by now had taken pity on the Met. boys, called no-side and grateful players helped each other off the field. The player who carried the day and won the hearts of the crowd was 'Peggy Muldoon' whose under-foot tactics baffled and bewildered both teams.
An enjoyable social function was held after the match enhanced by much-needed nourishment supplied by the cook.
This will be of particular interest to the ex-Raoul Island 1965 expedition as the visit from the American yacht 'Wind-wagon' was one of the brief highlights. But news is scarce. The 'Wind-wagon' is in the vicinity of Raoul Island and so far the radio schedules with the yacht have been too poor for any conversation. So we will look for¬ward to the next Newsletter to see if Raoul received their first informal visitors.
THE GROWING SCIENTIFIC ROLE
Both Campbell and Raoul Islands are well known in their role as watchkeepers on the weather and their strategic positions suit them admirably for this purpose.
Less well known is the dramatic blossoming in recent years of other scientific programmes the emphasis of which, unlike the weather observations, is on pure research, and the implications of this expand¬ing work have been far-reaching in terms of man-power and logistic support for the stations as a whole.
Those who have been to Campbell will know the 'C4', as the ionosphere recorder is affectionately known, or perhaps less than affectionately if you happened to be in charge of this sometimes contrary machine. The ionosphere station has been operating for many years and until recently, when the programme was reduced, two men were assigned to its programme. Many Campbell Islanders will be familiar with the work of the magnetometer which has recently been moved to a more commodious abode in Aurora House, which is the latest construction, erected this summer, to house the new all-sky camera which has the task, when overhead conditions permit, to photograph aurora. Other compara¬tively recent innovations are scientific satellite monitoring and the installation as recently as 1967 of a seismograph which, at first thought, seemed out of place in an area which experiences few earth¬quakes. However, it is of use mainly to assist in fixing the position of earthquakes on the New Zealand mainland.
Apart from these permanent activities of DSIR on Campbell Island, interested groups including the islanders themselves make observations of all kinds, and seldom does a summer go by that the island is not visited and eagerly examined by naturalists and students covering many physical sciences. The most recent such visit involved a three month exercise this summer by a three man DSIR party from Lauder, Central Otago, which included veteran Raoul and Campbell Islander and Ant¬arctic explorer Ian Johnson. This project involved the release of balloons each carrying an X-ray transducer and transmitter to measure and record on the ground concentrations of X-radiation at varying atmospheric levels.
Although Raoul Island is at a latitude where abundant information on various phenomena has been collected, it is ideally situated to record the frequently intensive seismic activity originating in the area of the Kermadec Trench and for this purpose a continuously recording seismograph has been operating for many years. Those who witnessed the eruption of Green Lake in November 1964 and who experienced the preceding rash of earthquakes will recall the value of the seismograph as a monitor of the activity of this island volcano.
The eruption of 1964 caused the complete evacuation of personnel including a 12-man ornithological party which had just arrived for a two month study of Raoul's bird-life, but the permanent expedition 'returned to Raoul two weeks later with a team of DSIR experts to diagnose the island's ills. In a week this team of geologists, seismologists and chemists completed their studies and declared the island fit for habitation. During this week three extra seismographs were temporarily installed at Boat Cove, Fishing Rock and at the west end of the farm in an attempt to locate the source of activity, and a tiltmeter to measure small changes in the island's inclination was installed on Low Flat and remained in operation for four months. The opportunity was taken to upgrade the permanent earthquake recording facilities with the installation of a new seismometer and chart recorder.
With the installation in 1964 of an ionosonde at Raoul a major programme of ionospheric observations was begun. This was originally intended as a temporary operation, but has since become permanent with the installation of a permanent aerial mast after the original wooden mast collapsed in 1966 and with the standardisation of the scale of the programmes at all New Zealand's stations at Rarotonga, Raoul Island, Christchurch, Campbell Island and Scott Base.
Apart from these permanent operations at Raoul Island, visual observations are made regularly of the crater activity; lake water samples are taken and temperatures recorded. Occasional visits are made by individuals and groups representing various scientific inter¬ests but the lack of regularly available shipping limits the number of these visits.
The development of scientific observing facilities is expected to continue, particularly at Campbell Island, and the number of staff required to man these facilities is bound to increase. Few changes are expected in the meteorological programmes but the question of providing wind-finding radar at Raoul Island has been mooted for many years, and the difficult question of a site and its cost may be resolved. One proposal is that a low powered radar with its own power generator be installed on high ground somewhere possibly between Ngaio and Trig Five but access remains the real problem.
David H Thorp 15/3/69
ON THINGS HISTORICAL BY PIERRE
THE HISTORY OF RAOUL ISLAND
The articles which follow on this subject must be regarded as a preliminary sketch on the history of the Kermadecs and are of course open to contribution and criticism from members at any time.
Historical reference to the Kermadec Group can be found from an encouragingly large number of sources and it will be from the more authoritative of these that the history will finally be compiled.
Part One: 'IN THE BEGINNING ...... '
Many centuries before Columbus nervously ventured westwards into the Atlantic to find an easier and more direct route to the great treasure-houses of the Asian continent, the Pacific Ocean was being , criss crossed by a noble race of people who had never held with the theory of eternal space travel when the oceanic horizon was reached. They were the Polynesians who had moved into the maze of Pacific islands through the Carolines, Gilberts and Ellice, and then branched out to the Fijis, Cooks and Society Islands -forever settling, expand¬ing and remotivated by economic necessity -true wanderers guarded by mythological beliefs and primitive nautical experience.
The great leader Kupe is the first hero of New Zealand history who reached North Cape in the tenth century, backtracking from Tahiti by using the south-east trade winds. Did Kupe therefore know of the Kermadec Islands? Maori legend cannot recall who the first visitors were, as the size and nature of these volcanic outcrops must have been of little significance when the goal was 'Aotearoa' to the south. Sir Peter Buck records in his book 'Vikings of the Sunrise', that pointed stone pieces for primitive slingshots have been located there in the past, and this was a true weapon of the Polynesians, who had brought the device southwards with them from Micronesia. The ancient Maori used no such weapon in New Zealand in tribal warfare. He had become efficient in hand to hand combat utilising the club and the short thrust of the spear. The slingshot was redundant. Whoever these early visitors were, their arrival dates back a long time.
In the fourteenth century, a great migration directed by the knowledge of Kupe and the explorers of his age left Tahiti once more for 'Aotearoa'. Eight mighty oceangoing canoes, traveling not in a body as one might expect, but scattered over the seas at different times under the personal leadership of their respective chiefs. The canoe 'Aotea' eventually made landfall at the Kermadecs, which were subsequently named Rangitahua. The crew fed on the bountiful fruit of the karaka and carried its kernel to their new homeland only to find the tree well established there, possibly by Kupe's efforts. Rangitahua was now one of the thousands of directional milestones in the Pacific known to the Polynesian, its position recorded verbally and the gaunt bluffs patiently awaiting the next adventurers.
When Captain Arthur Phillip RN sailed from the Isle of Wight on 13th May 1787 to found the earliest of the Australian colonies -New South Wales - he had amongst his fleet of eleven ships a transport, "a clumsy and heavy sailor", the 'Lady Penrhyn' of 340 tons, commanded by Lieutenant John Watts RN and carrying a living cargo of 102 female convicts for the proposed penal settlement at Port Jackson. This task was accomplished and the ship once more set sail eastwards on 5th May 1788, now under the command of a Captain Sever with Watts compiling the ship's journal. After calling at Lord Howe Island their next landfall was sighted on 30th June 1788, at 1500 hours, and consisted of two islands; one lay to the N.E. by some 21 miles and the other to the S.E. by 18 miles . The islands of Rangitahua had been rediscovered.
The rediscovery was attributed to John Watts and on inspection of the southern island it was found to consist of two islets which were subsequently named the Curtis Islets, after Timothy and William Curtis of London, the 'Lady Penrhyns owners. Sever and a Mr Antis went ashore on the island to the north and found it much larger in extent, covered in coarse grass and a mangrove-like scrub (possibly stunted ngaio). The island received the name of Macauley after a friend of Sever in London, Alderman G M Macauley. Great numbers of rats were apparent, finding an easy diet from the young of the burrowing seabirds. Finding nothing further of significance, or any other islands in the group, they set course for Tahiti.
When the French explorer La Perouse failed to return from the Pacific area, from which he had set sail in 1787, two ships, the 'La Recherche' and 'L'Esperance', under the command of Rear Admiral Antoine-Raymond Joseph de Bruni D'Entrecasteaux, left France in 1791 with the slim hope of rescue. (The remains of the unfortunate French¬man's ship were not found until 1826 when Dillon located the wreckage at Vanikoro in the Santa Crus Islands.) So it was during this search that D'Entrecasteaux, whilst sailing to the north away from New Zealand, came to Rangitahua, five years after Sever and Watts.
The first sighting was a barren twelve acre rock in the far south of the group on which he bestowed the name Rocher de L'Esperance. This took place on the afternoon of 15th March 1793. He wrote in the log, "The height of this lonely rock prevents it from being much of a hazard; the night would have to be very dark to so obscure it that one would not have time to take avoiding action." On the morning of March 16th, they sighted what they correctly believed to be an island "which is found in English charts under the name 'Curtis Island'." And "almost at the same time we sighted an islet which in the same charts is called Macauley Island." They sailed northwards not attempting to land, and in the evening, Joseph Raoul. 'La Recherche's' quartermaster, was the first European to see the largest island which now bears his name.
Of the event D'Entrecasteaux wrote: "It was more than 60 kilometres away when it was sighted the night before, and, in spite of the drift which, with the southerly wind, should have carried us toward the island, we were still, at daybreak, 45 to 50 kilometres distant from it. Raoul Island consists of a high sheer mountain covered with forest. As we approached we noticed near the eastern end, rocks and islets which seemed to extend more than a kilometre and a half out to sea. I set course toward the most westerly point, near which we encountered a shoal which does not extend more than three cables from the shore and which forced us to veer a few points to port. We then headed to the northeast in order to run along the northern coast for as far as possible. This island is of triangular shape and is no more than 16 kilometres in circumference. We followed the coast around closely enough to establish that it offered neither shelter nor anchorage; its cliffs are battered by a very strong swell which makes any open boat approach dangerous."
And so they passed, intent on their search for their lost countryman, and having no need to land for any purpose. The full group of islands was named after Huon Kermadec, the captain of the 'L'Esperance', who afterwards died of scurvy in the Solomon Islands. It is interesting to note that one officer of the expedition, Labillardiere, understood the intended name for Raoul Island was instead 'Recherche', and subsequently recorded it in his work 'Relation du Voyage'. But the error did not rest here. G F Angas, when compiling his map 'Polynesia', which was later published in 1866, must have counted up his islands Wrongly and gave the name 'Recherche' to Macauley Island. In reading the translation of Labillardiere's account, ambiguity is most certainly present due to scant and inaccurate information.
Nothing further happened in the area for three years, until a Mr Raven in command of the hired transport 'Britannia' sailed into the northern zone of the Kermadecs on Sunday 6 November 1796. The ship was eastbound after visiting Norfolk Island for the purpose of taking aboard Norfolk's Lieutenant Governor, Captain King and family, and the Judge Advocate and Secretary to the Colony of New South Wales, Colonel Collins. Collins stated that Sunday "was passed in examining an island which Mr Raven was decidedly of the opinion had never been seen before. The whole appeared to consist, like Norfolk Island, of hills and dales." The name Sunday Island was written into the chart and Raven sailed on. And so Raoul Island mistakenly became Sunday Island and generally was referred to as such for the following century and a half. However, what Raven did not know about modern history, he made up for in his accuracy of navigation. He placed Raoul Island only 6 miles to the west of Denham's 1854 survey position of 177.52 degrees west and 29.16 degrees south.
Rangitahua had been shaken from her great sleep, been given a new name and would silently bear future witness to the restless nature of man in the coming centuries.
'SOUTH SEA VAGABONDS' by J W Wray
First published 1939, revised edition 1952 printed in the United Kingdom for Reeds of Wellington. Illustrated.
Johnny Wray is one of the most remarkable yachtsmen the Hauraki Gulf has ever produced, a trier if ever there was one. I have only met him once; at Matangi, Waiheke Island, one New Year's Eve, while riding out a gale force noreaster in the old gaff rigged 'Piri'. I remember little of the meeting as it was at the height of the cele¬brations, except that Johnny was wringing wet due to a miscalculation in a recent ship to shore maneuver. His cutter, the 'Ngataki', I knew better. When Sandy Brown had her at Whangarei, we quaffed our ale in a cabin that looked like a turn of the century kitchen -all solid kauri, tons of room and well-proven hardware projecting from the walls. She was no 'Greyhound of the Pacific', but did make an astound¬ingly fast run from Raoul to Auckland in 1936, covering 705 miles in exactly four days -176 miles a day. If she didn't normally have speed, she always had strength, and could have beaten a coastal scow in a duel, so stout and welt-fastened were the timbers.
Johnny first sank his teeth into a Raoul Island orange in September of 1934, an experience which turned him into a regular visitor to the Kermadecs. He took Alf Bacon up to settle in May of 1935 and J A Henderson did his coastal photography from 'Ngataki's' decks for his topographical survey of Raoul in 1938.