Association Officers 1969-70

Air Vice-Marshall A.H. Marsh, C.B.E.

Geoff Kape


Secretary                            Treasurer
Richard Lovegrove   John Caskey
Committee   Honorary Members
Tony Bromley   Mr A.I.E . Bacon (early settler Raoul)
Colin Clark   Mr M. Butterton (N.Z. Met. Service)
Ed de Ste Croix   Mr H. Carter (N.Z. Met. Service)
Ralph Hayes   Mr H. Hill (N.Z. Met. Service)
Peter Ingram   Mr I. Kerr (N.Z. Met. Service)
Vince Sussmilch   Mr C. Taylor (ex Agriculture Dept.)
Dave Thorpe    



At the A.G.M. held in Wellington on September 27th, Geoff Kape was elected President of the Campbell - Raoul Islands Association for the 1969-70 year.

Geoff is very well known to all Islanders of the fifties and early sixties. He was at Campbell first in 1954 as ionosphere observer in the old Tucker camp days. He returned as O.I.C. in 1956 when the new camp was being built, and was back again for another half-year as O.I.C. in 1958. He then did an extended world tour, returning to New Zealand in 1960 in time to go up to Raoul for a two-year stint as O.I.C. Geoff then got married, and stopped traveling!

We are delighted and honoured to have him as our President. Geoff wrought some colossal improvements during his tours on Raoul and Campbell, yet he remained one of the most popular and respected O.I.C.'s to have been to the Islands.


Definitely a resounding success! Once again almost 100 guests attended, many coming from distant parts of New Zealand. Our old friend and Patron, Tony Marsh, actually came across from Canberra. His presence was of course one of the highlights of the evening.

The informality of the buffet-style dinner was a marked improvement on the 1968 Reunion - everybody seemed to be agreed on that. Guests mingled freely and widely and many an old friend¬ship was renewed (we even hear that some new friendships were established - there is a little rumour about Vince Sussmilch and Jan Brown, daughter of Dr. Janet Brown, being seen together quite a bit since meeting at the Reunion!!)

Dr. M.A.F. Barnett, first Director of the N.Z. Met. Service, was our guest of honour. He gave a most interesting talk after dinner on the background to the establishment of the weather ("aeradio") station on Raoul Island. The present Director of the Service, Dr. John Gabites, also attended the Reunion, as well as many of our old friends from Kelburn, from Civil Aviation, from the Medical Directorate, and from M.O.W.

In the latter part of the evening the lively piano of Garth Young had the dancers in full swing. Owen Todd lent a genuine Island flavour to the festivities when he joined the pianist with his well-known accordion, the same accordion that has had many a party on Raoul singing in recent years.

Among the many Island identities who attended were: George Poppleton, Bob Rae, Kent Bradley, Marty Millane, Ralph Hayes, Ian Johnson, Geoff Kape, Lex Rapson, Colin Capper, Phil Abraham, and many others.

We can certainly commend this as an excellent Reunion.



Officer in Charge   Peter Julius
Senior Met.   Dave Paull (old Campbell hand)
Met. Observer   Mike O'Donohue
Met. Observer   Mark Crompton
Met. Observer *   Jim Carr
Met. Observer*   Bob Taylor
Technician   Clive Brunton
Iono. Observer   Philip Owens
Mechanic   Harlan Dazeley
Cook   Bryan George (ex Scott Base)
* Summer only    




Officer in Charge   Roy Swain
Senior Met.   Bruce Dowie (ex Raoul and Campbell)
Met. Observer   Mike Bale
Met. Observer   Barry Nesdale
Farm Manager   Ewan Thom
Mechanic   John Hunt
Technician   Trevor Mulligan
Cook   Bill Knapp
Maintenance Officer   Richard Lovegrove (till 7.12.69)



The History of Raoul Island, Part Two

Whaling came to the Kermadec Islands in the 1820's, after having been practiced in Australasian waters for some thirty years. Polack reported in 1837 that thirty ships were visible at one time from L'Esperance Rock in the south of the group. Not many sailors elected to live ashore and no attempt was made to introduce the "bay" whaling shore establishments that flourished around the New Zealand coastline. The pohutakawa was invaluable for providing firewood for the shipboard processes of rendering down blubber, and the warmer climate and sea temperature at this latitude made the wet work of whaling a lot more pleasant.

It was not long before West Bay (now Denham Bay) at Raoul Island had its own primitive post office where ships continuing a cruise could deposit mail ashore to be taken out by others returning to New Zealand for refit and provisioning.

In early November of 1836, the whaler "Cheviot" arrived at Raoul Island from Cloudy Bay (Cook Strait) with the first settlers for the Island. James Reid, his Maori wife and three children disembarked and made camp by the fresh water lagoon in West Bay. Also, six crew members of the Cheviot came ashore and disappeared into the hills until their vessel had departed. The group survived mainly on the mutton birds and the hearts of cabbage trees while they awaited the maturing of crops grown on several acres of cleared ground.

Captain Rhodes of the barque "Australian" landed on Raoul on Saturday 17th December 1836 and found Reid healthy and optimistic about later trading with passing whaling ships. Pigs and goats were already resident in the hills behind West Bay, as well as on Macauley Island, but were of poor quality.

In December of the following year, Rhodes once again visited Raoul Island and found Reid had made a bad start - his crops had failed due to lack of rain and he could not supply ships with any line of produce. In face, Rhodes stated there was barely sufficient to sustain the family. Reid reported that several persons had settled on the north side of the island, but he evidently knew little about them.

The "several persons" were Daniel Baker, a ship's carpenter by trade, and his Samoan wife, both having recently arrived from Samoa. They later moved to West Bay and settled near Reid, building a substantial four room cottage (from the raupo reed in the fresh water lagoon), complete with stone chimney and a large storehouse for storing "potatoes, maize, yams, taro and kumara, preserved fish and mutton birds." Baker returned briefly to Samoa in 1842 and brought back a milking herd of goats. He was industrious and happy with his island home, and five children were born to them in their ten years of residence. It was the earthquake activity that finally evicted them in the winter of 1848 and the family migrated south to New Zealand in the whaler "Ganges". It is not known exactly when James Reid left for New Zealand, but it generally is believed to have been the mid 1840's when the family was evacuated by the whaler "Montezuma" to Auckland's North Shore.

West Bay did not lack inhabitants for long however. An American, Halstead, and his Samoan wife arrived two years after the Bakers' 1848 departure. And a small settlers' party put ashore from Captain Clement's American whaler "Louis" in 1851 to live near the Halsteads. They were Henry Cook with his Maori wife and daughter, and two other Maori couples. In Cook's two years of residence, he was known to have never left the West Bay area, and observing steam venting in the bay cliffs and not at ease with the frequent earthquake activity, he was on his way to Lord Howe Island by 1853.

It is interesting to note that in April of 1853, Pitcairn Islanders far to the East had requested through the British Consul in the Society Islands, that Raoul or Norfolk Island be made available to them for settlement. Queen Victoria most graciously offered the Pitcairners Norfolk Island, the cultivation, houses, churches and other buildings, and when the last convicts were transferred to Tasmania in 1856, the Pitcairn Islanders took over and thus the Kermadecs did not see them.

Halstead stayed on despite the rapid drop in the frequency of visits by whaling ships, and was there to greet Johnson and Covat when they arrived in 1857. Johnson was a Scot with a Samoan wife and William Covat an American from Connecticut with a Micronesian wife from the Carolines, both couples having migrated from the latter group of islands.

Halstead was also there to welcome Captain H.M. Denham of the naval survey ship HMS "HERALD" on the 2nd July, 1854. For over three weeks, Denham charted the island's coast and sounded the adjacent waters. Moumoukai, the highest point of land, was found to be 1723 feet above sea level and was used to locate the island's position at longitude 177.52.33 West and latitude 29.16.03 South. The land mass was calculated to be 7260 acres in extent. The Herald Islets to Raoul's immediate northeast bear his ship's name and his own is perpetuated with the renaming of West Bay to Denham Bay. Unfortunately, the Captain's son, Fleetwood James Denham, aged 16 years, died on board ship on the 8th July of fever, and was buried ashore near the freshwater lagoon of Denham Bay. Mr. Reay, a ship's officer, reported a "considerable number of other graves in the same locality where some of the earlier settlers had been buried." The north bluff at the present site of the meteorological station living quarters bears young Fleetwood's name to this day. The "Herald" departed Raoul Island on the 27th July.



Yes, once again we are after your money! We regret it as much as you do, but we have to have it! You may be pleased with the new format for our Newsletter - but you wouldn't be pleased if we sent you the bill!

However, joking aside. At the A.G.M. it was decided to leave the annual sub at $2.00, but to introduce a new 3 year sub. of $5.00. It is hoped that this will suit most of our chaps who can never remember whether or not they have paid.

So, out with your cheque-books and send $2.00 for one year or $5.00 for three years to:
The Treasurer,
Campbell-Raoul Islands Association,
P.O. Box 3557,


Stern Grey cliffs rising reckless from the roaring Sea,
Whose rolling white-capped warriors ever try to tear them down.
Bush-clad ridges snaking up to mountains tall
And standing out among them, proud Moumoukai's great crown.
A sun-kissed wonderland of Nature unspoiled by human hand,
To which we nine came one short year ago,
Each hoping to fulfill a long-held dream,
Yet leaving, not quite sure that we've done so.
But when we leave for home in four weeks' time,
We'll each take with us cherished memories bright,
Which untold years can never hope to dim,
Of wonderful Raoul and a year that was so fine,
And dreams to carry us through many a night.

L.R. Jarnet
1968/69 Expedition



Final Bulletin from Richard Lovegrove, O.I.C.
(written in late October)

The 1968/69 Expedition year is coming to a close, and it has been a "vintage year" in every respect. July brought the arrival of the yacht "Clear Skies" on its way from Whangarei to Tonga, and the visitors stayed a week or more, coinciding with the second visit of HMNZS Lachlan. A shore party from the Lachlan walked across to Denham Bay and tidied up the Naval grave, while the DSIR Botanist, Bill Sykes, collected plant specimens from the crater, Trig 5, and the farm.

August saw another Airdrop with mail – ever welcome news from home.

September saw a complete disruption of the local harbour facilities. The 75 foot N.Z. ketch "Finisterra" arrived on Sunday, 21st September and departed for Fiji 3rd October. They carried outward mail for us. Monday 22nd heralded the arrival of HMNZS Taranaki for a brief visit. Tuesday 23rd witnessed three Korean fishing ships anchored side by side off Fishing Rock, as well as the yacht anchored nearer to the shore. Over 60 of the Korean fishermen came ashore during their two day stay, and the lawns surrounding the hostel took on a new appearance.

Just four days after the departure of the "Finisterra" the N.Z. ketch "Kochab II" arrived from Suva, on its way to Auckland. This yacht, a 53 footer, had participated in the Auckland to Suva Yacht Race a few months earlier. The skipper, John Evans, a retired doctor, had called in at Raoul in 1950 and was quick to mention some of the changes that had occurred in the nineteen years between visits. A tale of the old Ford V-8 truck running out of fuel on Raoul, and the island's petrol supply being exhausted at the time may revive memories of the personnel at the time. Apparently the situation was resolved by siphoning gas from the yacht's tanks to get the Expedition through their year, and the truck back to its garage.

To the readers interested in boating, the "Finisterra" had some rather unusual features incorporated into its design. The boat was all steel, about 55 tons, with an eight ton capacity freezer powered by a Fordson Diesel unit. The Gardner 5 cylinder diesel with 4 tons of fuel gave a powered cruising range in excess of 3000 miles. One of the six man crew had visited Raoul in May, 1969, on the American yacht "Maiawa". Once again, the Raoul Islanders were afforded the opportunity of some exciting fishing and the second circumnavigation of Raoul in the one year.

A drop of newspapers by an Orion aircraft from Whenuapai late in the month concluded what has been an exceptional year. The Holmburn is due to arrive from Noumea at 4.00 a.m. on Monday 27th October with over 100 tons of cargo to be off-loaded to Raoul, so we'll have a real Labour Day!!



Peter Julius reports

October 16th 1969 saw M.V. Holmdale drop her hook in Perseverance Harbour after a rough and hectic nine day marathon from Wellington via the Chatham Islands.

Under the care of Brian Smith, outgoing O.I.C., the servicing ran smoothly despite the extremes of typical Campbell weather, which ranged from snow and sleet to heavy rain, strong wind and then bright sunshine (all within two hours.)

From the minute that Holmdale departed amid the blaring of sirens, much waving and dipping of ensigns, not to mention a down-harbour escort by the pride of the Campbell fleet, H.M.C.I.M. Aurora, everybody settled into his job with a will. Already much has been achieved and a grand team is being welded together.

First social event of the current year celebrated Mark (Longfellow) Crompton's 21st, along with the 30th birthday of our famed mechanic, amidst much hilarity and good spirits.

The works programme is well under way. New culverts have been laid with concrete pipes, and the foundation for our luxury-type chook pen prepared and concrete poured. There is, however, absolutely no truth in the rumour that we intend to shift in on completion and let the fowls have the hostel:

Much island exploration has taken place and Dave Paull, our third-time Campbellite, is already well established with his bird-banding programme. Could this be in retaliation for those Southland birds who have tried to band him?

Finally, with regard to the plotted position of our Shangri-la (see page 49, March 1968 "Antarctic") I am assured by technical experts that the anticipated collision between Campbell Island and Guatemala can be averted by towing a sea-anchor of 12,347 empty beer cans. Two volunteers have already come forward in spirit of sacrifice to empty the cans. No doubt the authorities will provide the necessary supplies to help prevent the predicted calamity occurring?




They are only little places, but in both Nelson and Tokoroa there are ex-Islanders who extend a hearty welcome to Raoul or Campbell types who may at any time be passing through.

Tokoroa and George Poppleton are now synonymous. George, who was O.I.C. at Campbell three times, runs the fire protection service for Forest Products. He and Hera have entertained numerous Campbell and Raoul blokes over the years. They live at 3a Park Avenue, Tokoroa. If you are passing through and have never heard the background to the construction of the new station on Campbell, pop in and see George. You won't forget it !

Down in Nelson, Snow Edgar, handyman on Raoul in 1959-60, runs a contracting business. Snow lives at 666a Main Road, Stoke. He too extends a cordial invitation to any Islanders passing through to get in touch.


BOOK REVIEW by Peter Ingram

“The Kermadec Islands: Their Capabilities and Extent”
by S. Percy Smith; published, with illustrations,
by the Government Printer in 1887.

Over 80 years ago, George Didsbury's rumbling printing press turned out a small red cloth-bound book which still remains the Kermadecs' most complete and accurate history under a single cover.

S. Percy Smith researched a century's events of the region, and with the precision of a surveyor, which he was, put his facts together with convincing sources of reference, and went to press. Nevertheless, he admits to ...... “a difficulty in obtaining authentic and exact information about some periods of the early history ….. but the facts which are related here with respect to the early settlers are reliable, and state all that is in consequence."

The history therefore covers that period from the clumsy approach of the "Lady Penrhyn" in 1788 to the reading of the Proclamation in August 1887, with the hint of brief Maori occupation in the Kermadecs many centuries previously. (This latter point is covered in Sir Peter Buck's "Vikings of the Sunrise").

In the final pages of this factual "on the spot" account, Smith has little trouble in taking the reader back 80 years and showing him around the Kermadec Group, a fortunate literary accident of historic works written in the present tense. With some foresight he overcomes the obstacle of transporting supplies between coastal landing areas and solid ground above by stating ….."that this difficulty may be to a certain extent obviated by simple means in several places by making use of a wire rope, one end of which should be anchored out and the other fastened to the top of the cliffs, and down which cargo might be transported as on a wire tramway. This would be possible in several places, and further, both at Fishing Rock and Boat Cove, cargo could be frequently shipped by means of a crane which would lift it beyond the wash of the waves." His phrase "DOWN which cargo might be transported" points to his interest in the possibility of tropical fruits being grown for the Auckland market.

Naturally, this is rather a difficult little book to come by. In Wellington, the Turnbull Library has copies, and in my case, J.A. Henderson lent me his personal copy for reference. For a good keen Raoulite, it's well worth the finding.

Final Bulletin from Brian Smith, O.I.C. (written in October)

"My last rambling ended with us looking forward to the promised air drop during Mid-Winters Day celebrations. We were not disappointed.

After being delayed some 48 hours due to weather, mid-day of 21 June brought up a Bristol Freighter trundling down harbour. A magnificent sight to us, and even bettered when a total of 17 parachuted loads drifted to earth in perfect safety, landing in a radius of some 50 feet.

As soon as all gear was cleared to the hostel the entire expedition braved the briny for a mid-winter swim, having earlier arranged through 4ZA that we be sponsored at $1 per head, proceeds to I.H.C. An all time record I should think.

Mid-winter's Day dinner in the evening was a resounding success, enhanced of course by fresh fruit and vegetables.

The end of June was paused for the ceremony of "cutting the calendar" - two straight months to go, and morale was on the rise along with lengthening days.

July brought us back to the possibility of outdoor work. The major process being a complete overhaul of the station boat "Aurora". And to accomplish this the motor was removed and the whole boat lifted from the water using the wharf crane. From the wharf into the wharf store (with about 2 inches to spare), and there we left it until the 19 September when it was relaunched. A tremendous amount of work has been done on her, but she has served us back by looking really smart and operating the same way.

August, and 8 weeks to go. All attacked work with renewed vigour, and again the paint brush came into prominence both inside and out. The hostel lounge is a changed room with its bright new paint. The wharf buildings wear their new mantle well, and the whole wharf area has been spruced up.

These last few weeks have plagued us with underground power cable faults requiring a good deal of work not anticipated. Nor has the-medical department lacked custom. There has always been some lurgie requiring attention, and a couple of more involved cases where they were happily successfully overcome.

At the time of writing our servicing ship, the "Holmdale", has for the umpteenth time just had her schedule changed. However, no doubt she will arrive, and we will return home, and of course, we are all rather excited at the prospect.

It has been a good year with a good team, and we would wish the incoming O.I.C., Peter Julius, and his 1969-70 Expedition all the very best for their year in the Sub-Antarctic."


G.P.O. Box 3557,

(Copies of earlier newsletter available on request)
Editor: Colin Clark

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