CAMPBELL - RAOUL ISLANDS' ASSOCIATION (INC.)
NEWSLETTER N0.9 DECEMBER 1970
Association Officers 1970 - 71
Air Vice-Marshall A.H. Marsh C.B.E
|Richard Lovegrove||John Caskey|
|Ed de Ste Croix||M. Putterton|
|Tony Bromley||H. Carter|
|Robin Foubister||H. Hill|
|Tom Taylor||I. Kerr|
|Ian Bailey||C. Taylor|
THE PRESIDENT NOTES THAT ••••••••••
The 1970 annual Reunion: - was our third and the most successful reunion to date with an attendance of 113. Sir Francis Kitts, as our Guest of Honour, sounded as informed as any past expedition member to either island, and in a short address to the gathering, stressed the value of such Association activities as being a real part in forming the history characteristic to New Zealanders. The ‘not so fit’ suffered more from the fast tempo set by the dance band, rather than the liquid refreshment that kept them on the floor. But it was all very much worth the ordeal. The Association's Patron, Air Vice-Marshall A.H. Marsh, unfortunately could not be with us this time as Australia is no short distance even for reunions , but he did make possible the gift of two books during the evening, which were presented to the respe ctive O.I.C.’s of the ingoing expeditions.
The New Committee: - you will note is larger and stronger than ever with four newcomers to add their ideas. Bob Rae is actually on the station inventory for Campbell Island and has no right to be in New Zealand, but we welcome his company bef ore the Department notes his presence. Tom Taylor adds a historical note with his tour of Raoul in the late 1940's and Dave Leslie vows Raoul is best after two tours. Robin Foubister swears by the southern latitudes, going on to a tour of duty as O.I.C. Scott Base after a happy year at Campbell.
It was one of Those Stag Parties: - that gave birth to your Association on a wintery night in Khandallah. Seventee n thirsty fellows took a supper bre ak around 10 p.m. on Wednesday 13th September, 1967 at 19 Lucknow Terrace. Eloquent speeches drew a total of $44 to launch the dream and nobody was allowe d to look back. The unusually late finish to this evening of 4 a.m. may well be a good omen for the long life of the Association.
Raoul Revisited: - by two lucky fellows was due to the extraordinary efforts of your secretary in interesting the National Film Unit in using the isolation of this island as a theme for a coming film soon to be seen through out the country. Richard and I returned after two and a half weeks in the Kermadec Group with heartfelt thanks for the Department's co-operation and the hospitality shown by Ron Craig's excellent team of fellows. Armed with a superior camera this time - I have at last filled those gaps in my slide collection. Richard writes of the adventure in our next newsletter.
The Season's Greetings: - are warmly extended to all our members by the committee. If it is a little late in life to come forward for another tour in 1971, we sincerely hope your pleasant memories of the islands remain fresh through the continued efforts of the Association.
Regards, Pete Ingram
THE PASSING OF ALFRED BACON
I regret that I have to inform members o f the death of the Association's first honorary member, ALF BACON, on 4th October of this year in Auckland. A wreath and message was sent by the Committee to help mark this sad occasion in the 100th year of Alf's life.
Alf was a "three tripper" to Raoul, having originally travelled there when 19 years of age, with the 1890 settlers in the U.S.C.'s 'Wainui'. The settlement was not a successful one, but the Bacon family fared better than most by shifting out of the Denham Bay area and living near the Thomas Bell's on the North Coast. However, torrential rain, washed out their camp and they returned to New Zealand 18 months later by the Government steamer ‘Hinemoa’. He was back again by 'Hinemoa', on the 5th Novenber 1927, in company with Messrs. Parker and Ashworth, and lived on the 275 acre freehold (originally owned by Thomas Bell) until 1931. In New Zealand, he successfully acted on behalf of a group of would be settlers, 'The Sunday Island Association’, and obtained the freehold property for the princely sum of £450. Johnny Wray' s yacht 'Ngataki' provided Alf with the necessary transport to return to his beloved island in May of 1935, and with Bruce Robertson, built the comfortable 'Baconsflat’ at the back of the present hostel. Alf then spent his days in melodious company with his zither while his inventive mind periodically made the living even more comfortable and easy. But it had to end in December of 1937 when the Ministry of Works moved in to take over the freehold property. And Alf shipped back to New Zealand on the 'Maui Pomare’ in the 100th and final of Raoul's development era. He retired eventually to Keri Keri and today is survived by two of his four sons.
Alf lives on with us through the pages of these newsletters. From time to time in the future you will read about him and his great love for the Kermadecs. And I am sure this would have brought him great pleasure to be so remembered.
(Summertime on MacQuarie Island)
by Mary Gillhan
(Published for Reeds, 1967)
This book is a self contained refresher course for past Campbell Island expedition members who wish to remember the unique forms of sub-antarctic animal and bird life with which they were once familiar. Also it can be an excellent introductory work for the resident member who finds himself suddenly involved in work which he once thought would have been the last subject to be taken for a hobby. The follow-up will naturally be the more technical 'Campbell Island' by Sorensen and Bailey.
Mary Gillhan is an English botanist who visited MacQuarie Island for the 1965 servicing, along with three other women scientists. Despite her calling, she only devotes about 20 per cent of her writing to the botanical aspect; but with equal authority and reference, turns more to the birds and mammals of the island and lays down their respective habits and life cycles with good observation and quiet humour.
Wisely, she keeps away from lengthy descriptions of the expeditions home and members and only mentions the normal pranks of servicing in passing.
The overall effect keeps the reader out in the field and it is with no difficulty that the cold and damp, the smells and sounds soon surround him once again. Mary Gillhan undoubtedly feels herself sharpened to the thin end of the wedge this invasion of a man's world, but she sensibly holds her peace until the final paragraph when she feels it must be told. "In an age when science has eliminated so much of the physical hardship from life in the Antarctic outposts and when woman has proved herself an astronaut, it would be foolish to continue to exclude her from contributing to the interpretation of the Polar continent's half discovered wealth of data. The heartfelt thanks of the few lucky ones goes out to the men who had the vision to perceive this truth."
Should their dedication and contribution be similar to Mary Gillhan's, I think room will be soon in coming.
ON THINGS HISTORICAL
As these historical articles progress from issue to issue, the reader may notice modifications to happenings, dates and spelling. It is unfortunately unavoidable as this history is at its formative stage and more authoritive articles and notes are uncovered from time to time. I draw notice in this article to the older spellings of Reed and Johnstone, rather than Reid and Johnson as formerly quoted, and Reed's departure date is now known to have been 1845 after the volcanic activity on Raoul of that year.
CHAPTER THREE: - BY WAY OF LIVING
The first settlers on Raoul Island - Reed, Baker, Halstead, Cook, Johnstone and Covat, occupied the period from 1836 to 1872, and may well have been typical of the tough pioneering stock of immigrants which came to New Zealand in the 19th century. Certainly some points were in common amongst the six 'hopefuls' resident on this small volcanic island.
All had married girls native to the islands of the Pacific, James Reed and Henry Cook to Maoris, Daniel Baker, the American, Halstead and Chris Johnstone to Samoans and William Covat to a Micronesian from Strong Island in the Carolinas. Except for Johnstone and Covat who were planter-traders, they came from the whaling ships with the purpose in mind of providing fresh vegetables and fruits to the whaling fleets and all departed from fear of Raoul's continual earthquake and volcanic activity. They averaged nine years each in residence, Cook reducing the average with the shortest term of only two years, but from this, one can easily see that a determined effort was made at permanent settlement.
The period was untimely, as local whaling was in steep decline after 1840 and the richest man was naturally the first - James Reed. He left the island after the first known volcanic eruption in 1845, with two boxes of gold and American dollars which indicated a small fortune for his trading efforts. He had the business background from being a ship's officer in whaling and had a labour force of possibly a dozen slave Maoris, a thoughtful wedding present from Te Rauparaha’s POW stock on Kapiti Island where Reed marrie.d a distant relative of this fierce Maori chief. Five of these slaves were known to have died on Raoul in the nine years of settlement, but to the credit side, James Reed departed with a family of five children born on the same shores, as did his neighbour, Baker.
Henry Cook also had willing help from two Maori families who arrived with him on the ship Louis in 1851, but he would have hardly had time to establish himself before flight to the more stable island of Lord Howe in 1853. Certainly Denham Bay, or West Bay as it was known prior to 1854, must have been somewhat fri ghtening during the frequent earthquakes - with the thousand foot cliffs to the rear of the camp, and the deep sea frontage. The open terrain of the nor th coast failed to draw the settlemen t over the island's backbone of forest clad ridges. Shipping, by tradition, had to have the deep water bay, and the abundant fresh water supply from the lar ge lagoon held the settlers to their precarious perch on the southern shore .
How would this small settlement have looked then ? The houses and huts f ollowed the same monotonous pattern over the years, looking like s o many browsing yaks at the base of the cliff, with the heavy t hatch o f their roofs almost brushing the ground. Pohutukawa was a fine timber f o r the uprights, and the straightness of the Nikau was ideal f o r the ridge poles. The smaller limbs of the Ngaio formed the network to which the thatching o f raupo reeds and nikau fronds would be bound. The floors had clay pounded into them, and once again, the raupo reed was in demand, this time for bedding. The boxes that the original stores had arrived in were stacked into crude cupboards, and the smoking candles which dimly lit the interior at night, barely survived on their diet of oil from the muttonbird.
Outside, the rickety corrals that kept the milking goats from their nocturnal wanderings were circled by the sandy paths that linked the small community. The primitive domestic plumbing meant the homes were always close to the lagoon‘s edge, although at odd times isolation was desired by some members and huts appeared at the western end of the bay. The food stores were raised from ground level, Maori fashion, to escape the appetite of the rats. The brown Polynesian rat was disappearing, but he was being replaced by the grey shipboard rat that disembarked from visiting whaling ships. A well formed road appeared half way down the bay and rose over the high ground from the upper breach to descend to the lagoon's shore for the purpose of rolling the ships' water casks for refilling.
In 1863, a black hulled barque anchored in Denham Bay. It was one of the infamous ‘blackbirders’ sanctioned by the Peruvian Government in 1861 to seek out slave labour from the central Pacific Islands for the purpose of working the mines, gauno fields and plantations of Peru. Ideally, ten thousand able bodied men were required, but unfortuneately only two thousand were secured before the government ceased operations in 1863. The Polynesians, now softened in their outlook by the roving missionaries of Christianity and familiar with sailing ships in their coastal waters, made simple captives. It was later estimated that 200 Tokelau natives were aboard the fast slaver as it rode at anchor in the shelter of the bay.
The full horror of what was happening was now known to the families of Johnstone and Covat, as boat loads of sick natives were rowed ashore to the beaches. One hundred were disembarked to die in the hot fever of typhoid until a merciful escape by death overcame them. Johnstone was made to hand over his small herd of cattle to the ship's crew - but horror of the visit continued, Covat ‘s wife and three of his children became victims of the disease and soon died. A mass grave was dug at the western end of the lagoon and within a week, silence and peace had returned to Denham Bay. This was the turning point for Johnstone , who, never at ease with Raoul's earthquakes and now with weakening eyesight, boarded the first passing ship which carried him northwards to Apia in Samoa. Amazing, Covat elected to stay on despite the great loss within his family.
In 1870, Sterndale, a New Zealand politician of the time, reported the Covat family to be happy and industrious, but the final blow was still to come. Early in 1872, a shattering volcanic eruption took place at the edge of Green Lake in the central part o f the crater basin. It was a ‘hot’ one. The Covat family was quickly evacuated by a passing whaling ship, which, 'seeing the flames', diverted to search for inhabitants. Black cinders and ashes soon burnt back the forest in the south west sector of the adjacent lake. The subterranean passage ruptured under Denham Bay, and with the sea boiling over a wide area, an island of cinders suddenly broke the bay's surface. The pyramid of steaming debris finally attained a size that was sufficient ‘to provide adequate shelter for a ship at anchor', and was later named Wolverine Rock after the ship that used it for this purpose.
Sterndale returned in September of 1872, the reason being that 'myself and companions having lost our vessel which had foundered at sea a hundred miles off this place….. Some black cinders and ashes were strewn about the margin (of the lagoon) but all was becoming green again, Covat’s house was uninjured, and the banana trees had fruit on them'. Rangitahua’s unpredictable temper had finally rid herself of the first settlers.
The second settlement phase of the island was not to start until 1878. In the interim, nothing of note happened except the stranding of a section of the schooner Vibilia's crew in May of 1876. The schooner was south bound to Auckland and called at Raoul Island, to replenish water and food supplies. The captain in company with the supercargo, boatswain and an Arab seaman, rowed ashore after having given the mate directions for a later rendezvous. The ‘Vibilia’ subsequently deserted the shore party and sailed for New Zealand arriving at Auckland on May 16th. The mate reported to local newspapers that they had sailed the coastline of Raoul for three days in a vain effort to sight the shore party. But the stranded Captain Berer only had a tale of mutinous desertion to relate to his rescuers a month later.
THE KERMADEC’S HISTORICAL MILESTONES
Possible discovery by the Polynesian explorer, KUPE.
The visit of the canoe ’Aotea’ and the naming of the largest island RANGITAHUA (Rangi - sky, Tahua - mound).
Captain John WATTS, ('Lady Penrhyn') discovers and names the central islands Curtis Islets and Macauley Island.
The discovery by Rear Admiral D'ENTRECASTEAUX of the Group's southernmost island and subsequent naming - Rocher de L'Esperance (L'Esperance Rock).
The first European sighting of Rangitahua by Joseph RAOUL, quartermaster of D’Entrecasteaux's ship 'La Recherche'. The Kermadec Group receives its names from Huon KERMADEC, the master of the ship L'Esperance.
Captain RAVEN (‘Britannia’) rediscovers Raoul Island and mistakenly renames it Sunday Island. 1836: Arrival of the first settler, James REED and family on the whaler ‘Cheviot’. (Departed 1845 for New Zealand).
Daniel BAKER and Samoan wife settle on the north coast of Raoul. (Departed by whaler ' Ganges ' mid 1848 for New Zealand).
First recorded volcanic eruption of Raoul Island.
The American HALSTEAD and Samoan wife settle at Denham Bay. (Departed sane time after 1857).
Arrival of Henry Cook, his wife and two Maori couples by whaler 'Louis'. (Departed for Lord Howe in 1853).
Consideration of Raoul Island for settlement by the expanding population of PITCAIRN Island.
Survey of Raoul Island by Captain DENHAM (H.M.S. 'Herald') and the death of his son Fleetwood on the 8th July.
Arrival of Chris JOHNSTONE and William COVAT with their wives. (Johnstone departed 1863, Covat in 1872).
The visit of the Peruvian slaver and the subsequent death of 100 natives of the Tokelaus at Denham Bay.
The violent ash eruption and temporary creation of WOLVERINE ROCK in Denham Bay.
The stranding of part of the schooner 'VIBILIA'S' crew at Raoul Island during May.
(to be concluded ………. )
SEISMOLOGY IN THE ISLANDS
To most expedition members, the running of a seismograph at Raoul and Campbell must seem like just another chore thought up by the "boffins", although at Raoul enough quakes are felt to remind people that they are sitting in a very seismically active part of the world, and those on the island at the end of 1964 will know that a sequence of shakes can be the forerunner of a spectacular eruption.
To world seismologists, however, these stations plug vital holes in the worldwide network of stations, and Raoul is a name particularly well known to those interested in the seismicity of the "Fiji-Tonga-Kermadec" arc, a region that contains most of the world's deep earthquakes and from whose study the now widely accepted theory of plate tectonics, or "new global tectonics," has arisen. Raoul's importance stems from the fact that it is often the closest station to these shocks and the readings are critical in finding the depths of the earthquakes, which can be as much as 400 miles beneath the surface. Time and time again, in scanning the lists of world earthquakes and their readings published by the International Seismological Centre at Edinburgh, one sees Raoul at the head of the list of stations, only a hundred miles or so from the quake's epicentre, with the next nearest stations in Fiji, Samoa, or New Zealand many times further away. Incidentally, as well as Raoul, often all the stations within 1500 miles or so of the earthquake are part of the New Zealand controlled network in the Pacific at Suva, Afiamalu in Western Samoa, and Rarotonga.
Although Campbell Island is not in such an active region as Raoul, the Macquarie Ridge to the south of New Zealand does have an appreciable number of earthquakes, and though these quakes are closer to Auckland Island than to Campbell Island, Campbell is usually the closest station. The activity in this region is often quiet for several years, and then there will occur a major earthquake with scores of aftershocks. Such a shock occurred at the end of 1967, about a year after the seismograph had been installed at Campbell. At these times the seismologist at Campbell is kept really busy, making up for his long spells of inactivity. One interesting outcome of the seismograph at Campbell has been the discovery of a few, about one a year, small earthquakes on the Campbell Plateau, about 30 to 50 miles from the station. These shocks, although small, are the first ever to be located on the plateau which was previously' thought to be completely aseismic.
Apart from local activity, both Raoul and Campbell are useful in their reports of distant earthquakes, for they are both far removed from other stations, and fill a gap in world coverage of recording.
Preliminary readings made on the islands are radioed to the Seismological Observatory, Wellington as they become available, and sent on the same day to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (formerly U.S. Coast & Geodetic Survey) in Washington to be used in their "Preliminary Determination of Epicentre" service. When the records are shipped to Wellington the final readings are made using earthquake origins computed at Washington as a guide. These final readings are then transmitted to the International Centre at Edinburgh, where, as I have said, they often top the list as being the closest readings to any particular earthquake. I have recently raised the question in the Governing Council of the Edinburgh Centre, that the publication of its Bulletins must not be speeded up to such a degree that there is not time for readings from outlying stations such as Raoul and Campbell Islands to be analysed and sent to the Centre. This proposal has been well received, for the value of readings headed SEISMO RAO and SEISMO CBZ are well realized by seismologists all over the world. To past seismologists on the island, I say "thank you for a job well done" and the present and future seismologists, "your work and readings are used and appreciated - keep up the good work ."
ARTICLE FROM IN GOING O. I. C.
We have now completed six weeks in isolation and taking things all round, the situation is in hand. As yet the enthusiastic tramping fraternity has not ventured very far afield but in the near future I expect to see some intrepid explorers disappearing over the horizon to places unknown.
Two of the older Expedition members are planning an all out attempt on Beeman Hill but are experiencing difficulties in obtaining Sherpas.
Mike, our bird-banding chief, has been busy and sets off twice weekly with various assistants to the nearby colonies. A common question when they return is "did you get chomped?" The answer is often "yes", and although the two medical men hover around, their services have not been required.
The weather was very kind to us during the Servicing, and the turn around went off smoothly. Most of the credit for this must go to my predecessor, Peter Julius for his planning and forethought. Our thanks also go to the rest of the 1969/70 team for their efforts and assistance to us in surmounting difficulties during the Servicing. The assistance rendered by the visiting Inspectors was most appreciated.
We had a railway wagon loaded with four drums of diesel break loose from the cable when about half-way up. It careered down the track and disappeared into the Paint Shop which fortunately was protected to some degree by a stack of coal sacks. Nevertheless, the new siting of the Paint Shop is nine inches to the south east.
An interesting signal has just been received - Quote - "Please run five minute programme immediately until further notice." From your Newsletter No. 7, when this was suggested by previous Ionosphere Observers, he was only saved from lynching by his fleetness of foot. I wonder if the present holder of this exalted position is as agile.
We are lucky as Brian George, the "Graham Kerr of the ·southern outposts" has elected to stay on for another year. Meals are so attractive and cooked to perfection that some members will need to keep a watch on their circumference.
On the local scene - nothing special, as we have had no visitors, but some very pleasant evenings, and some film and slide shows.
The attitude and compatibility of the 1970/71 Expedition bodes well for the future, and a busy, happy, and entertaining year lies ahead.
O.I.C. Campbell Island
"S N I P S"
"Disqualification is not going to have any effect on this man", read the Southland Times article on recent Court Cases. The Magistrate was sentencing a young man who was about to depart for a year on Campbell Island. Seems as though the old "buddy system" no longer exists between Ministry of Transport Officers and other Ministry staff. After imposing a hefty fine and period of disqualification the Magistrate concluded, "I take it you won’t be doing any driving down there, in any event." See you next year Keith!
A pair of Canberras visited Raoul early November in a farewell “chase me Charlie" sequence along the coast and over the hills, prior to being mothballed, with the advent of the Skyhawks. The aerobatics were really appreciated by the. recently arrived Expeditioners.
Thanks to Dr Robin Adams (now in California), for the interesting contribution on Seismology, printed in this Newsletter.
Now that the Pier and Post Office hotels have gone under the demolition hammer, Barretts and the Waterloo witnessed most of the 1970 pre-embarkation revelry.
Shades of the old "Wild West" in a Featherston Street Beauty Salon one Friday night when high-spirited Campbell Islanders trooped through to farewell staff and customers alike, with no hint of discrimination.
Bill Hughes (Ministry of Works), added another notch with his inspection visit to Campbell with the 1970 Annual Servicing.
One could not miss the balding technician Raoul - bound , with arms encompassing a bevy of beauties. Was "truetaful" Fred.
Any members interested in a jet-boat tour of the Wanganui River, for an all-day trip and picnic, possibly February/March, drop a line to the Secretary. If there are sufficient numbers arrangements will be made with the company at Wanganui.
The two "cocktail-bunnies" at the 1970 Reunion have offered their services for next year. ••••••••••••••••••••••••••
Subs are due chaps - for those who are not in the 3 year scheme. Helps to ensure the continuity of your Newsletter.
February 20 1971 will see Ed de Ste Croix waiting at the end of the aisle. There will soon be enough Islanders over in the Wairarapa to form their own sub branch.
Richard Lovegrove - Editor