Over a mile to go: DSIR Ecology Division's proposal to erect a fenceline
on Campbell Island and free the island's northern half from feral sheep,
becomes a reality as the first posts gp in.
(photo: Dr M F Soper, 1970)
CAMPBELL-RAOUL ISLANDS' ASSOCIATION (INC.)
NEWSLETTER Vol 2 Number 3 JUNE 1972
Association Officers 1971 - 72
Air Vice-Marshall A. H. Marsh C.B.E.
|Ian Bailey||John Caskey|
|Ralph Hayes||M. Butterton|
|Len Chambers||H. Carter|
|Robin Foubister||H. Hill|
|Tom Taylor||I. Kerr|
Peter (Pierre) Ingram
"The Islander" is the official quarterly bulletin of the Campbell-Raoul Islands' Association (Inc.) and is registered at the Post Office Head quarters, WELLINGTON, for transmission through the Postal Services as a magazine. All enquiries should be addressed to: The Secretary, CRIA (Inc.), G.P.O. Box 3557, WELLINGTON. Contributions to the bulletin should be forwarded to the Editor, and subscriptions to the Treasurer. Current membership rates are $2 per annum or $5 for a period of 3 years.
DR FALLA KEEPS ON KEEPING ON
It is not so very long ago now as we sat in the sauna heat of Ken McBryde's gas fired Aogen office, when the departure time of MV ‘Holmburn’ was down to plus or minus one day, that Ken would ask his final question. ''Now, have you chaps anything further to do?" "We've still got to go up and see Doc Falla", would come the reply from the new-born naturalists in the group. This necessary duty was never least but always last due to the geographical distance between Bunny and Buckle Street. From the following meeting with the good doctor would become known the requirements of ichthyologist Jock Moreland or ornithologist Fred Kinskey. At the time would come the fascination of going out into the field not knowing quite what we were looking for. For the future would come a deeper interest and respect for the natural wildlife that lives around us.
It was therefore with some pleasure that I noticed the 'Evening Post' acknowledge Dr Robert Alexander Falla's quiet industry and contribution to the natural sciences through its 'Profile' column of January 29, from which I now partly quote.
“Returning from World War 1, Robert Falla entered service with Thomas Cook and Son as a shipping clerk, it being the next best thing to a career as a deck officer for which there were just no openings at the time. A side tracking desire to enter university was fulfilled by post-war rehabilitation adjustments being made in trainee teacher programmes. Although science degrees were discouraged for these ‘late starters’, he applied as many science units as possible to his arts degree and tackled natural science for his MA thesis. Later, travelling with Douglas Mawson's 1928 expedition , he managed to take in a two year study period in the Antarctic and by the mid-thirties he was director of the Canterbury Museum at only 35 years of age. He retired as director of the Dominion Museum in 1966.”
Today, at a youthful 70 Dr Falla is well known in his capacity as chairman to the Nature Conservation Council, having recently been elected for a further three year period. This small advisory board was created by Government in 1962 to examine any natural environmental upset caused by major industrial developments and to direct in the conservation of the country's natural features. Based in Wellington, Dr Falla has a small salaried staff of three, himself taking an honorary capacity in conjunction with nine others scattered throughout New Zealand. Hoping for staff expansion, he will probably be granted a public relations man and a secretary before the year is out. Small price for the country to pay for such a valuable service.
As a sideline, Dr Falla is working in association with the National Film Unit to present a series of half-hour nature documentaries in colour for overseas television companies. NZBC has purchased three of these for black and white screening in a 6pm slot. This project will be followed by a similar series dealing with the Sub-Antarctic region.
Myth - or the Great Truthological Beast:
Some years ago when I developed a desire to bridge what I thought to be an historical gap pertaining to the history of the Kermadecs, I was undermined by a fear of generating a maze of inaccuracies which would be totally unholy to the professional historian whose fine analytic mind can sort and store the minute references which lock the final structure into a thing of permanency . In fact, I saw myself as a potential mythmaker.
In such a position, one could only take heart from Sir Francis Kitt’s well informed after dinner speech at the 3rd Reunion. He stated that the myths of the past were a real part in the compilation of a country's history and was referring in this case to Campbell’s Lady of the Heather and Raoul's incoherent and eccentric hermit whose displays of nudity were witnessed by a very few. Both characters were successful in generating an air of wonderment at the time which has misted over with the years - but their contribution sticks. In the former case we know the tale to be wholly inaccurate due to Ian Kerr's research, but a greater section of the public may possibly hold to Will Lawson's fanciful account in a book which had a reasonable Australasian sale and is held as a permanent source of reference in our greater libraries. With the latter, there is a possibility of uncovering an equally fanciful account in the future which may have no counteracting force. To stick, it would have to hold with what we know of the past and to present the colours of the period without blemishment.
How valid is the myth in modern history then? The dictionary quotes it as being a "tale of supernatural characters or events; invented story; imaginary person or object". Not so, indicates TIME magazine in a recent essay. "Though not true in a literal sense, a myth is not what it is considered to be in everyday speech - a fantasy or a misstatement. It is rather a veiled explanation of the truth". The latter obviously provides for the myth in modern history. The Greeks may hold with the former.
This certainly provides the amateur historian with no license for lackadaisical work, hut perhaps a better lit alley for retreat and further research.
And there is little doubt that the degree of docility in the Great Mythological Beast as it browses in the pastures of history, is definitely in the hands of its keepers. May they remain a sober lot.
Nights to Remember:
The 5th Annual Film Evening comes up on Saturday July 22 at 7,45 pm and is once again to be held in the Lecture Hall of the Head Office for the Meteorological Service - that is the new grey concrete building next door to Carter's Observatory on the heights of ·Kelburn, Wellington. Central members will receive a mailed notice as a reminder after the first week in July, but once again - anyone who has chosen to live on the parallels North of Palmerston or South of Blenheim/Nelson will have to ring the 22nd on the kitchen calendar. Two high spots for this evening will be NFU’s 'Once Upon an Island' (the 1970 film on Raoul) and the NZBC’s two recent films on Campbell Island - now the copy property of the Association. Perhaps in time will come Gordon Surrey's Campbell Island film recently blown to 16mm and sound tracked by the Denver Museum, Colorado. Supporting these will come two or three other islandic films from the NFL catalogue before the usual supper and get-together. There is no charge made at this evening.
And of course the Reunion makes its annual appearance in October, this time Saturday night the 7th and possibly at the normal venue of the Conference Hall at Wright Stephenson's in Wellington. I say possibly, because we are booked in at this place - but we are open to alteration of venue for another month or so - if someone knows of a better enclosure which will take the smoke, noise, music and laughter with no outside complaints.
THIS QUARTER'S CONTRIBUTIONS:
It is indeed a pleasure to include Brian Bell’s "The Wild Sheep of Campbell Island" in this issue. It is a ‘key’ article which can be added to some of our outstanding contributions in the past and make the Bulletin a valuable source of reference; not only for ourselves - but in several of the country's most important libraries. The companion piece to "Wild Sheep" will be the recent goat eradication project on Macauley Island, promised by Brian at an early date.
Poetess Tolla Willament has a seasonal contribution to our pages in "The Summer Bird". The occasion may be marked by a definite physical reaction in some - like the shaking out of a pair of long trousers when the ‘shorts’ have hit the washer for the last time. But most will reserve a mental moment for regret when the realisation that cooler days will mothball our beaches and picnic grounds for some months to come. Mrs Willlment’s verse, however, is not intended by my inclusion and her kind permission, to accentuate this hibernation, but rather to demonstrate how lovely our language can be in the hands of the literary sculptress - and bring the balm of a raoulian autumn into our pages.
Many people confuse Count Felix von Luckner with the raider ‘Wolf’ and will subsequently be surprised when they read of Karl August Nerger's unexcelled leadership amongst the raider class during the first World War, in this bulletin's book review. Von Luckner had the ‘Seeadler’ (Sea Eagle), a three-masted full-rigged American sailing vessel, 'captured' off the neutral USA in 1915 whilst bound for Archangel, Russia, and converted into perhaps the cleverest design of raider that Germany ever produced. Von Luckner embarked on a not too unsuccessful tour of piracy and with the Allies hot on his heels, finally fled into the Pacific. He was taken into custody by a policeman whilst in the Fijis; which was truly in style with the Count's other odd-ball mishaps. It is another story however. Sufficient to say that von Luckner escaped from Motuhi Island, Auckland, in the camp launch, swapped that for the scow ‘Moa’ and made off at the few knots a New Zealand scow will allow. He was abeam Macauley Island when rounded up by the cable layer ‘Iris’ (later ‘Recorder’ ), approximately a year later than Nerger’s brief 1917 term of residence off Raoul.
“Is our D7 really square?" inquired Raoul's 1961/62 OIC Geoff Kape over the RT, "Yes, because it doesn't dig rock", countered Aogen’s alert Lawson Whisker on the next sked.
The near- empty ‘Holmburn’ was taking a licking in the gale-force westerlies of the Furious Fifties in November of ‘64. After a particularly heavy fall onto her side from a wave of abnormal height, a spread-eagled Cliff Dow calmly spoke up, "I thought we were gone that time, chaps". "Worse things happen at sea, Cliff", came from the upper bunk. Seems this chap was reading the hurricane chapter in the Caine Mutiny.
Then there was the time that the roof ladder upended during painting operations on the fowl house roof in 1962. It could have been a dignified accident had not one side of the access ladder shot up the OIC’s shorts. Secured by the same principal as a vaulter's pole may be to his singlet, perfect balance was maintained in the vertical until an appreciative audience could be notified, He then crashed from sight to the roars of applause – ah, but the different ways the mighty might fall.
Looking back over the correspondence files, I came upon an interesting letter sent in by Bryant Haigh as far back as June of 1969. Mr Haigh of Lands and Survey Auckland, wrote a brief and concise history on the Kermadecs in 1968 for the Whakatane Historical Society. The article drew comment from the Governor General, Sir Bernard Fergusson at the time, and it is from this note that I now quote: "I was particularly interested this time in the account of Raoul Island. It is probably true that I was the first Governor General to land there, but again I was anticipated by my grandfather Lord Glasgow, who visited there in the nineties, (once again with Captain Fairchild in the ‘Hinemoa’) as Governor. The Bells were in occupation at that time and my mother and her sisters met them. When I landed there in 1964, the occasion was reported in the press and I got a letter from a woman in Vancouver whose name I unfortunately forget (Edna Burrow - Ed), saying that her mother (Ada Edington - Ed), was living with her at a great age, had been a Bell, and had been on the island at the time of that visit (Lord Glasgow's - Ed) and she wanted to know whether any of the ‘girls’ were still alive. They were my eldest aunt the Dowger Lady Caldecote aged 90 and I sent the letter on to her. She has since died, as has her youngest sister, Lady Cranbrook, so that link is severed at last,"
When one notes that I had to dig back to 1969 to locate the above and so launch Member's Comment for this quarter, it will be known that contributions have really slipped - and there are 150 of you out there somewhere. Actually, I would like to develop some sort of 'project corner' into this section - to fill some of the past's vital gaps. Let us consider the old Tucker Cove camp for instance. There is a large number of you that could contribute here, having previously lived at the 'hostel in the valley'. Two clear drawings, one of hostel layout and the other a plan of building dispersal could be done and backed up by photographs in the centre pages. Accompanying text would preferably cover the whole period of occupation with, say, emphasis on the wartime period where certain extensions to programme were required and camouflage techniques were in vogue.
Although the station at Raoul can be easily visualised during this early period, there is a most interesting wartime section to be recorded there too. Story in point would be Tom Taylor's 'Raoul of the Postwar Years' , if someone is seeking format inspiration. And what of the earlier efforts in the scientific field? Just what was the ionospheric equipment like in the 40's and 50's - what was the principal of operation - what sort of power supply? RT and CW systems - met obligations - 'house-mouse' ordeals - give them thought now and get them down on paper. Length of article is not important - accurate description to 'feel the scene' is. Help your old Ed chaps.
THE WILD SHEEP OF CAHPBELL ISLAND
An inter-departaental expedition organised by the Wildlife Service, Department of Internal Affair, visited Campbell Island in January 1970, to build a fence across the island, shoot feral sheep, and make various scientific observations. The following article describes the work of the expedition in the 6 weeks it was on Campbell Island and the possible effects this may have on the island's vegetation.
Campbell Island, about 400 miles south of Bluff, is the most southerly of New Zealand's sub-Antarctic islands. It was discovered in 1810 and was at first the haunt of sealers and whalers and then became a sheep run for 35 years. During the Second World War coastwatchers were based there, but in recent years the only regular inhabitants have been annual parties of about 12 men. The 42 square mile island is the main breeding ground of the southern royal albatross and, because of its climate and isolation, supports many other interesting animals and plants. It was declared a reserve for the preservation of flora and fauna in 1954.
The New Zealand Government first granted a pastoral lease for the island in 1894, and it was then stocked and burnt and sheep increased to about 8,000 from 1910 to 1916.
Gradually, as the moat palatable plants were eaten out, the island's carrying capacity dropped, and when the run was abandoned in 1931 only 4,000 sheep and about 30 cattle were left to run wild.
After the island was reserved in 1954 controversy arose over the future of the sheep. Besides being of much scientific interest they were also a source of fresh meat for the meteorological station. Since 1931 their numbers have dwindled steadily and when, in 1961, fewer than 1,000 remained it was concluded that they were slowly dying out. One suggestion made then was that an experiment should be made by building a fence across the narrow waist of the island and eradicating the sheep on one side of it (P.R. Wilson and D.F.G. Orwin: "The Sheep Population of Campbell Island", "New Zealand Journal of Science", September 1964 issue).
No immediate action was taken and the sheep were not counted again until 1969. When it was found that they had increased to about 3,000, further misgivings about their possible effects on the native flora and fauna were voiced. Yet, over the same 8 years the number of breeding albatrosses had doubled. The cattle, however, have remained fairly static for the last 40 years, both in number (fewer than 30) and in range, having stayed in one small area, in the South (R.H. Taylor, B.D. Bell, and P.R. Wilson: "Royal Albatrosses, Feral Sheep and Cattle on Campbell Island", "New Zealand Journal of Science", March 1970 issue).
To protect a good part of the island's vegetation from sheep and simultaneously to study the long-term interactions between the sheep, vegetation, and albatrosses, the Sub-Antarctic Reserves Committee of the Department of Lands and Survey adopted in May 1969, the renewed proposal by Ecology Division, Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, to erect a fence across the island and kill all sheep on its northern side.
Personnel of Expedition
To start this programme the 1970 expedition visited the island. Its members were: B.D. Bell (Wildlife Service, leader); C.R. Veitch (Wildlife Service, deputy leader and in charge of fencing); A.R. Thorpe (Department of Lands and Survey reserves representative); Dr M.R. Rudge (Ecology Division, sheep research); R.H. Taylor (Ecology Division, establishing permanent photographic points); C.D. Meurk (University of Canterbury, sponsored by Ecology Division, botany and establishing permanent quadrats); C.J.R. Robertson (Wildlife Service, bird records); P.D. Ross (Ecology Division, assistant on sheep research); Dr M.F. Soper (medical officer); K.P. Horgan, R.W. Simpson, and J.C. Smuts-Kennedy (Wildlife Service, hunters and general assistants).
The party travelled to the island on HMNZS ''Endeavour", leaving Lyttelton on January 22 and arriving, after a brief stop at the Snares Islands, on the evening of January 25. As the result of considerable help from the meteorological staff, it took only a day to unload the gear and stores and to get established.
Three rooms in the old Tucker Cove camp (built by the coastwatchers in 1941 and abandoned by the weather office in 1958) were cleaned up and made habitable as sleeping quarters. Doors were made or refitted, and the windows, all of which were broken, were covered with polythene. A small detached building in good condition became the cookhouse and "dining room". One tent was erected as sleeping quarters and another as a food store. The store tent soon blew down and the sleeping tent was once strewn over a radius of 30 yards by a whirlwind. An old shed with a bench became a useful laboratory for sheep research.
The officer in charge of the meteorological station arranged shower facilities for us there. The meteorological staff also kept us up to date with news and messages from the mainland and showed us much hospitality throughout.
Work on the fence began on January 27. Some of the posts and wire had been taken down by the "Holmburn" in October and the rest had been dropped by an RNZAF Hercules just before our arrival. "Holmburn's" load had been stacked on the jetty at the eastern end of the fence line by the meteorological staff and was available for immediate use. The air-dropped materials, however, were widely scattered in three dumps each weighing between 1 and 2 tons. One landed right on the fence line at 500 ft, one near our camp in the valley to the north of the fence and almost at sea level, and the third in a valley to the south at about 100 ft.
The fence began at the western cliffs and proceeded eastwards for 1 1/4 miles over an 800 ft ridge to Tucker Cove, near the head of Perseverance Harbour. This ensured that the sheep population was divided as early as possible, and for practical purposes this division was accomplished once the fence reached the top of the dense scrub on the eastern slopes. Shooting then began on fine days, and on the "impossible" days work continued on the fence. It took 5 days for the fence to reach the scrub and a further 5 part-days to complete it.
All fence posts were of treated Pinus radiata. Every 8 chains diagonally stayed strainers, 7 ft 6 in. long, were dug in. Between them, at 5 yd intervals, pointed posts 6 ft long were driven into the soft peat with a two-man driver. Seven-line high-tensile boundary netting, 3 ft high with a 12 in. stay, was stapled to the posts between a top and bottom 12 1/2 gauge high-tensile galvanised wire. Two stiles were put in where the fence crossed tracks near the head of Tucker Cove.
The sheep to the north of the fence were shot with .22 and .222 rifles. This was done systematically, a block at a time. We began with the Col Ridge, then Lyall-Moubray, Fizeau-Azimuth Azimuth-Upper Hooker Valley, Hooker-Courrejolles, Bull Rock, and finally Faye Ridge. At first everyone took part in the drives and shooting, but later some of the party had to concentrate on research.
The plan was that all the country would be covered by at least one major drive and one mopping-up shoot. Owing to the time limit and weather the main party, which left Campbell Island on HMNZS "Endeavour" on February 18, had to be content with only a single coverage of most areas. However, the five who stayed until the USS icebreaker “Disto" arrived on March 4, were able to cover all the country again, but they still did not have time to get "the last sheep". About 1,300 were shot and, of an estimated 30 which escaped, 26 have already been accounted for by the meteorologists.
The meteorological staff have also agreed to check the fence regularly. This summer a small party of hunters will return to the island to ensure complete eradication of the northern half.
As sheep were shot information was collected from each animal by the shooters. Lower jaws were removed and labeled so that later each animal could be aged accurately by sectioning its teeth. Mortality rates will then be calculated for different age classes for comparison with mainland populations. It was possible to recover and examine 86 percent of the animals shot but a few that fell from cliffs could not be checked . The jaw bones were boiled clean in the "laboratory" in the evenings and on days when shooting was impossible. A small sample of sheep was weighed , measured, and studied in more detail. Their Merino ancestry was very evident from their fine wool and the large horns on many of the rams.
Permanent photo-points and vegetation quadrats were established on both sides or the new fence to compare long-term changes in the vegetation with and without sheep. This photographic record includes more than 800 black and white exposures and is held by the Ecology Division, DSIR. The sites of a number of historic photographs, some taken as early as 1907, were relocated and permanently marked. By repeating such photographs vegetation patterns and erosion can, in places, be compared with those of 60 years ago. Botanical work also included sampling the age distribution of Dracophyllum stands and setting up a number of paired quadrats in .comparable plant communities on both sides or the fence.
Work on birds was concentrated on filling gaps in our knowledge of their distribution on the island. By chance while we were down there, the M.V. “Tuatea" visited the island to investigate the crab population for the Fishing Industry Board , and through the generosity of her crew we were allowed 2 days of observations of the eastern coast from the sea.
Now that the programme has begun we hope that Campbell Island will be revisited at fairly frequent intervals and that other scientists will become interested in the research possibilities afforded by this unusual ecological experiment. Photographs show that the vegetation of the island has been changing over the last few decades, and some changes, such as increasing Dracophyllum scrub, could well be independent of the continued presence of sheep. However, it is confidently expected that the magnificent sub- Antarctic endemic plants such as Pleurophyllum and Stilborcarpa polaris will now increase to the north of the fence.
With the island divided and sheep present in one half only, as a continuing control it will now be possible to measure the effects of sheep on the vegetatlon, on soil erosion, and on birdlife - especially the albatrosses - and to isolate the influence of sheep from other factors affecting the flora and fauna. It will also be possible to continue to study the long isolated population of sheep and the small herd of cattle, both of which are of interest to scientists.
(This article was compiled by B.D. Bell (Wildlife) and R.H. Taylor (Ecology Division, DSIR) in November 1970 for 'Forest and Bird' and is reprinted in the bulletin by kind permission of Brian Bell. Ed.)
THE SUMMER BIRD.
We could not hold it;
It left while we still
Dwelt in summer's myth.
Slipstreams of wind
And cloud pointed
the direction of its going.
While we in rousing
Sleep were half aware
It had crossed continents,
Seeking the stranger
Of the northern shore.
Now we beneath
Our five dim-angled stars
Fire torches in the night
The burning wing
Of boomerang in flight.
It's not all Field Work: Dr Robert Falla, first chairman to Nature Conservation Council
forges ahead with the paper work in his office atop the State Insurance building in
Wellington. Dr Falla receives mention in this issue's editorial.
(photo: P M Ingram 1972)
An Island by Any Other Name ? Haszard Islet off Macualey Is., probably
named after H L M Haszard, assistant surveyor to S Percy Smith in 1887, was
originally recorded as Roache's Isle after Charles Roach, Captain Sever's
quartermaster on the Lady Penrhyn.
(photo: W L Wallace 1908)
A two man pile driver in action above North West Bay, helps create the new
cross country fence line on Campbell Island. In the subsequent shootout on
the fence's northern side, 1300 sheep were kiled.
(photo: Dr M F Soper 1970)
ON THINGS HISTORICAL
This fourth section in the Kermadec history series deals with Thomas Bell's arrival in 1878 and the initial period of the family's residence up to the time of the reading of the Proclamation which officially annexed the Kermadec Group to New Zealand during 1887. Previous articles have dealt with discovery (1788), whaling, and the first period of settlement (1836-72).
CHAPTER FOUR: A King For The Kermadecs
Thomas Bell of Birmingham was as hard and as tough and every part as restless as his brother pioneers in their new hemisphere. He benefited from a tall and strong frame and was as God-fearing as the best of his fellow Victorians. But his business life was of a typically erratic nature, a characteristic of the time when a country could offer a thousand different and confusing job opportunities to a people who had never participated in change. Bell had deserted his ship for Ballarat and Bendigo, and the gold of Gabriel's Gully - but to no avail. He tried his hand at sheep; soldiered against the Hau Haus after they had burnt down his Nuhaka flax mill and bought a pub at Ohiwa in a display of stability to his young Londoner wife, Frederica. The dream of fortunes to be made by trading in the up and coming business world of the South Pacific sent them to Samoa. But the German influence predominated in this field and he settled for Emma Farrel's Apia hotel as a source of sound income while he brooded over the imaginary injustices of the New World.
Chris Johnstone who had fled Sunday Island's tremors in 1863, now sat out his days of visual darkness in Bell's pub, slowly rubbing his knowledge of the Kermadec jewel off on to Tom's discontented mind. In December of 1878, McKenzie's ‘Norval’ stood in the harbour, ready for her dash South. Tom Bell didn't hesitate - he sold out, gathered his flock (Hettie 11, Bess 9, Mary 7, Tom 5, Harry 3, Jackie 1 and wife Frederica) and sailed with her. The state of the sea denied them a landing on Sunday Island's Oneraki Beach, so they moved around to the south side and were landed at Denham Bay - then West Bay - and the site of the earlier settlers. After McKenzie had sailed across the southern horizon for New Zealand, Bell found that his food purchased from the ‘Norval's’ stock were all but useless from rot and mold within their containers. He was naturally furious but not frantic, for McKenzie was due back within three months. But McKenzie never returned. The 'Norval' was sold in New Zealand and sailed to North America at a much later date, its new crew totally ignorant of the Bell family plight. The 'make or break' period of the next eight months neither made nor broke the family, but left them in a twilight of semi starvation. The Polynesian rats ate out the sparse vegetable crops and the older Bells barely had the strength to climb the bay cliffs to chase the wily goat. By year's end they had straggled over to the north coast. A visitor in July, the American whaler ‘Canton’, had reprovisioned them but they could not adjust to the rigours of the bay area.
They settled in the late afternoon shadow of Fleetwood Bluff on the very edge of the bush-line as we know it today. It became an elaborate camp, one of three thatched huts parallel to two substantial wooden dwellings with iron roofs. The hand sown pastures of ‘buffalo’ grass started here, climbed to the western terraces to progress along the flats. With the damage created by a tropical storm (they recorded 9 in their 35 years of residence) on this camp some years later, it was decided to move up to the terraces - not only to gain better shelter from the North, but also to be closer to their gardens which flourished from the better soil. The site of the second camp is marked today by the tall avenue of Norfolk Pines planted by the Bells ninety years ago. The orchards spread bearing not only English fruits, but limes, citrons, mandarins, pineapples, peanuts, tree tomatoes, passion fruit and bananas. A case of Tahitian oranges from the steamer 'Richmond' was the beginning of the famous orange groves. The 'Richmond' sailed with Bell's first shipment of Pohutukawa 'knees', the naturally curved limbs of the tree used in small ship-building. And the family was milking a herd of thirty local goats.
In 1881, Raoul (Roy) Sunday Bell was born after Frederica, eighteen months previously, had suffered the loss of a six week old son. Roy made the seventh in the growing family. Three others were to follow, Freda, Ada and William (King). Bell returned to New Zealand in the schooner 'Rhino' in 1883 and came to arrangements with the ship's owners, Henderson and McFarlane, to service the island every three months. He then left with 300 Merino ewes and several rams from Dunedin. Once again he was forced to land at Denham Bay and the track formed by his kanakas (six Niue Island lads) to bring the sheep to the North Coast, partially exists today. A later trip in the whaler 'Splendid', introduced a further 600 head of sheep and run stock. Bell evidently built his shearing shed in Denham Bay, despite the fact that his pastures were on the North Coast. Possibly the steeper beach and shelter afforded by the Bay were far more ideal than the northern shores for loading baled wool, and if his flocks were used to shepherding, it would be a fairly easy matter to drive them over a well formed track to the southern side for shearing, the sheep bearing the burden. But there it was - and claim was later laid against the 1891 settlers in Denham Bay who destructively pulled the structure down for building materials they lacked themselves. The necessity of providing education for the children, brought an Aucklander, and old Ohiwa friend, John Avent, to the island in the middle ‘80s, but he was forced to return on the 'Hinemoa' in 1890 with a head injury sustained by a fall, and he died soon afterwards in New Zealand.
Thomas Bell in December of 1878, had dreamed almost overnight in the balmy latitude of Apia, that he could conquer and would claim the 7200 acre spread of Sunday Island as his own. In his first three years, his ‘kingdom’ had put the family on hard labour and short rations. His original thinking was almost reversed to thoughts of repatriation to New Zealand, but no south-bound saviour ever came. Hard-gut determination had eventually won through, so that in the following year, he was in a position to trade in a small way with the outside world. Ownership of the small volcanic speck had never caused dispute from outside interests or inf1uences - Bell assured himself he was his own 'His Majesty O'Keefe'. And as his confidence in the future took heart, so did that of the German traders to the north - in his old home-town of Apia - where the flag of Germany had been fluttering since August 18, 1885. This latest colonial development did not go unnoticed by the New Zealand Government who approached the Imperial Authorities on the question of annexing the Kermadec Group to New Zealand as a matter of defense. The British Admiralty could see no objection to the annexation, although they could not imagine any possible use , commercial or military, which the islands in question could have. It was with some surprise then, that one morning, the two oldest Bell girls happened to see the Union Jack adding an unusual touch of colour to the Denhan Bay beach. Hurrying down the winding cliff track and pushing through the sedges they carne to the mast bearing its glass-cased proclamation It had been erected by Captain F.S. Clayton, R.N., of HMS 'Diamond', on the 31st July, 1886. The Kermadecs were part of the British Empire.
During January of the following year, Letters Patent were issued by Her Majesty, Queen Victoria, authorising Governor Jervois to proclaim the Kermadec Group as part of New Zealand, and subsequently, Parliament passed the ‘Kermadec Islands Act 1887’ on the 6th of June. An official party was dispatched to Sunday island aboard the Government steamer ‘Stella' and on the 17th of August, 18871 the Union Jack was broken out by Captain John Fairchild at the front of the Bell's Low Flat dwellings, there to half fill in a fair breeze cutting inshore from the north-east. The finale to the simple ceremony was a reading of the double jointed wording within the Proclamation… "Now, therefore, I, William Francis Drummond Jervois, the Governor of the Colony of New Zealand in pursuance and exercise of the power and authority conferred upon me by the hereinbefore in part recited Letters Patent, do, by this Proclamation under my hand and the Public Seal of the said colony declare that from and after this day of August next, the said group of lslands, situated in the South Pacific Ocean and commonly known as the Kermadec Group, shall be annexed to and form part of the Colony of New Zealand." Then those compelled to witness the occasion were officially listed for all time:
|Mr Tomas Bell||Captain john Fairchild|
|Mrs Frederica Bell||Second Mate Norman Henderson|
|Miss Henrietta Bell||second Engineer A W Bethune|
|Miss Bessie Bell||seaman William Reynolds|
|Miss Mary Bell||Seaman A reynolds|
|Miss Frederica Bell||Seaman William Ashwell|
|Miss Ada Bell||Seaman H McFarlane|
|Master Thomas Bell||Seaman W McKenzie|
|Master John Bell||Seaman James Hughes|
|Master Raoul Bell||A H Hutton, Treasury Clerk|
|Master Henry Bell||S Percy Smith, Assistant Surveyor General|
|Mr John Avent||H D M Haszard, Assistant Surveyor|
|H Kensigton, Chainman|
|T F Cheeseman, Curator Auckland Museum|
A few days later, the 'Stella' took the party south where Macauley Island received similar treatment on the 24th August and Curtis on the following day. The sea conditions were too rough at the latter to land, so the Proclamation was read onboard, the ship's anchor taking firm hold offshore, while the Union Jack was flown from the masthead.
After the official party's departure for New Zealand, Thomas Bell soon realised the danger to his holdings and wrote the Minister of Lands asking for a grant of "such parts of the Island as I use and occupy as cultivations or runs for my sheep and goats, etc., and this I ask be given me free under a Crown Grant". Upon his return, the Assistant Surveyor General, S.P. Smith, was asked what he recommended be granted the Bell family. He subsequently recommended an area of 275 acres for cultivations and 1,200 acres as run. A Land Act of 1887 authorised 100 acres as freehold, free of any cost and an occupation license for 21 years on a run of 1,200 acres. This was well below Bell's hopes. Prior to the act being passed a letter was received by Parliament, from L.D. Nicol, who signed himself: Managing Director, Thomas Bell and Company, Ltd, and laying claim to the complete island. The company had evidently been formed in 1885 and the terms of agreement were:
a) Bell agreed to sell and company to purchase all his interests in the island.
b) Total assets of 4,850 pounds contained in 200 pound and 5000 pound fully paid shares.
c) That Thomas Bell manage the Island's business at 100 pound per annum as from April 1885.
Messrs Nicol, Elder and Hogg again went forward and petitioned Parliament in 1889, requesting that the Company's claim to the island be recognized or compensation be paid and in all fairness to the favour of the Company. Mr Bell had always claimed that, by reason of pioneer occupation of the island before its annexation, he had obtained the legal title to it. This contention was never supported by the Government . Sunday Island's relationship to the Crown had always been in doubt before 1887 , but "the Crown retains, notwithstanding any such possession or settlement, the right to annex that territory as a British Possession and the lands within it, become Crown Lands, free from any rights, title of claim on part of the occupant . " And so the stage was set for many years of bitter legal wrangling which was never satisfied for Thomas Bell.
The Cruise of the Raider 'Wolf' by Roy Alexander
Publisher Angus & Robertson, Sydney, 1939.
No bibliography on the Kermadecs will ever exclude Roy Alexander's excellent coverage of the life and times of the successful raider 'Wolf'. Under the command of Germany's finest raider captain, Fregattenkapitan Karl August Nerger this vessel and her 400 crew members managed to rack up a total of 135,000 tons of allied shipping sunk within 15 months, during the latter stages of World War I.
By late April of 1917, the ‘Wolf’ had come to the Kermadecs and lay off Raoul's Fishing Rock panting for coal. The fair ‘Wairuna' approached (USS Co's 4000 tonner bound for San Francisco). The ‘Wolf’ pounced with a howl of gunfire that echoed back from the high cliffs and the Kermadecs were officially plunged into war. Roy Alexander 'sparky' to the 'Wairuna', was not backward in throwing his complete wireless installation forward over the rail, so that only a maze of assorted bolt and screw holes were presented to the naval boarding party. His logs and codes were in the smoke trailing away from the ship's high raked stack. Nine months of near impossible hardship lay in front of him - he was about to embark on a round the world cruise which would have no equal.
For two weeks the ships could be seen lashed together off Meyer Island, the ‘Wairuna’ daily showing a little more red lead, the 'Wolf' a little less marine growth. On shore, Tom Bell's orange trees bent to the weight of the sailors aloft in their branches, while North Beach fish eyed the quaint curves of steel which were to carry them to the surface in an orgy of hand line fishing that these men of the Baltic had never known before. On Sunday, June 17, 1917, the ‘Wairuna’ was laid to rest, two miles to the north of Raoul. And barely had the sea covered her over when the American four masted schooner 'Winslow' was blown over the horizon into the wolf's lair. Her cargo was planned by fate to be one hundred percent useful to the Germans. Petrol for the aircraft, firebrick for the furnace and more bunker coal. And the Americans carried the finest of crew rations, never the dry tack of the British ships. She took five days to strip and fifty shells to sink. The wolf had a full belly and she was on her way.
The incredible tale of the raider's wanderings from this point fill the reader's mind with a fervent wish to see the enemy safely make their home port of Keil. Nerger was a clean-cut leader moulded perfectly to the more efficient side of the German war machine. Totally sane, he could equal the eccentric Adolf Hitler's rantings from another war, and author Alexander reveals this characteristic as an essential emotional ingredient in restoring the high pressure mental balance in ranked Tuetonic stock. Nerger was the only man who could get the ailing 'Wolf' home through the Atlantic and blockade in the later months of the voyage. Apart from his own crew of 400 personnel, he had 400 prisoners crowded into his aft holds.
Not one of the latter could be released or the tale of the ‘Wolf' would be prematurely known and she would never escape an Atlantic search. The sufferings and bravery of these people was great. Every person was ill in some form or other. A happy madness prevailed amongst the worst cases of scurvy before a merciful release by death. The ship now beam on to the full winter fury of the northern latitudes was on the point of foundering. Forty tons of sea water an hour forced its way past the smashed plates and fountained from a hundred holes vacated by recent rivets. Under a screen of snow, she ran the blockade to the peace of the Baltic Sea.
Karl August Nager was a national hero. Germany needed one badly, the Western front was bogged down, the country was at an economical standstill before slipping into reverse. He was promoted and honoured with the highest decorations. But his blood by birth would never be as blue as the sea he knew so well. He was reappointed as officer commanding Armed Trawlers, North Sea Division - the foulest job in the service. Sufferer Roy Alexander, who was hospitalised throughout most of the voyage, had a final word for him. "Karl August Nerger is one of the greatest seamen this world has known. He is one of Germany's most valiant sons. He is the hero of a saga of the sea and whose memory will live for ever". Surely the full reward would lie in such a tribute.
Writing twenty years after the event, Alexander has put his story together with care and honest research to make it an easy reading 335 page document of facts and shipping fashions which coloured the period. In point, one is sharply reminded of Somerset Maugham’s observations and writings as the 'Wolf' makes her sweaty progress through the Far East and Indian Ocean. A sensible foldout map of the World is easily displayed to the left of the reader, so the positions of the raider throughout the story can be detected at a glance. With little extra cost to the publisher (but with a good possibility of increased sales), he should have included a few photographs for the record. What beauty of line the 'Wolf' had will never be known to the average reader. Nor the appearance of the antique biplane which waddled faithfully away from its parent ship to complete sixty flights in the service of the Imperial German Navy. It is my only complaint.
The S.M.S. 'Wolf' was originally the ‘Wachtfels’, a single screw steamer of 5809 tons built for the Hansa Line of Bremen in 1913. Commissioned as an auxiliary cruiser for the German Navy in 1916, she left Germany on the 30th November of that year and did not return to Keil until 24th February 1918, 15 months and 64000 miles of steaming later, her original 11 knots practically reduced to 5 by marine growths and general hard wear and tear. She carried seven 5.9 (15 em) guns, four torpedo - tubes and 458 mines. Also included was a small float aeroplane of 150 hp (No 841 make not known) for spotting and ship interception duties . Transferred to the French Government in 1919, she did an 11 year spell as the ‘Antinous’ sailing between Marseilles and Noumea, under the company managementship to Messageries Maritimes. Her extraordinarily fine seaway characteristics did nothing to save her from the Italian shipbreakers in 1931, to whom she was consigned as an aging maritime cripple.
REPORT FROM RAOUL
The Raoul Island Marrow Club Competition was not a success due to lack of co-operation from bees pollinating flowers. The eventual winner after two month extension period was Bill Whitley with a three pounder.
Leader in kingfish stakes was Ian Lavin with a 53 pound specimen. Overall leader in the general fishing competition was Colin Wellington with a 73 pound bass from Boat Cove. First in the six monthly goat shooting section was Moki with 114. This included 28 goats shot on April 30 along the main ridge from trig 5 to Hutchinsons Bluff. Best trophy head to date, Bill Whitley.
Works programme progresses satisfactorily. The main water supply line is now alkathene pipe, buried two feet deep embedded in deep sand. This means that we have very few water leak problems this year. Fishing Rock now has a diesel engine installed in winch house. A Lister HR2A diesel generator installed and connected to national grid. A mighty midget when compared With the J.P. 27/3 machines. The lounge and dinette have been redecorated and with new drapes installed they look smart and fresh.
March was a very busy month with visitors. Prior to the Staten Island visit and mini/servicing, we had a visit from the yacht Kochad II with Dr John Evans and Noel Barrott, both from Whangarei. They stayed until after the departure of the Icebreaker. Good use made of them in unloading helicopters etc. The highlight of tour so far was the visit of USCGC Staten Island. She anchored off Meyer Island at 0720 on March 18 and the first chopper, with Skipper , Medical Officer and Stores Officer, was on the chopper pad by 0750. The Skipper and H.O. were shown around the station by Ian Lavin. With two choppers operating, activity on chopper zone was all go . Relays of tractors and trucks kept zone clear and the cargo ranged from general stores, through 5 ton of cement, 42 lengths steel mesh , to 13 bags of mail.
Ian and self visited ship at 10.30 where I visited their dentist. We were well entertained by the Captain and the contents of the ship's shop were made available for purchases. Cigarettes, cigars etc. were main items of interest. The Captain presented us with a bottle of brandy liqueur and two of wine plus the ship's crest on behalf of the ship. We reciprocated with freshly killed pig, and plants along with a bottle of Naval Rum. The cargo was cleared from ship at noon and the executive officer, flight crew, plus four others were guests for buffet lunch and canned beer . They were highly delighted with Ron’s culinary efforts and spoke very highly of the table. The Captain came ashore after lunch with three shooters who went for a walk on Boat Cove Road and bagged three goats and one rat.
Ian Laven spent an hour airborne and burnt off many rolls of film taking aerial shots of the Island. Incidentally, Ian also holds the resident record for Denham Bay trips, ten minutes return, by helicopter. The helli landed on the beach and the Captain was conducted round the Denham Bay motel. The Captain extended an invitation for as many as possible to visit the ship for barbecued steak and beer, six of the team went plus Noel, from Kochad, and were treated to a royal time and entertained legally in the Wardroom. Duty met and self as fire watcher remained ashore. Team returned prior to dusk and watched ship depart just after dark from flagpole vicinity. Farewells were exchanged and acknowledged by aldis lamp. All the lads retired to their rooms to catch up on the mountain of mail a fitting climax to a fantabulous day. Among the mail received were two bottles of Cold Duck Sparkling and two Whiskeys from Alan Wright, now with Wild Life Division.
We have had several visits from the RNZAF since February. Two C130’s dropped newspapers, apple pie, fresh bread from Lautoka and several cartons of ice cream, al of which went down very well. A veteran DC3 made a round trip with beer, magazines and hundreds of paper backs and bombed us with a free fall.
At our half yearly dinner on April 15, with a slap bang feast with the wine supplied by Staten Island and shipwreck party afterwards. This was a real swinging evening.
Thursday April 20 the fishing vessel "Picton", under command of Captain Alan Aberdeen, anchored off the flagpole anchorage. We were able to entertain them Friday afternoon and evening, Raoul Island style. Picton took on 200 gallons of fresh water, fresh vegetables and eggs, in exchange for case of frozen poultry, pork sausages, ice cream, frozen crayfish and a case of Chatham island cod fillets and two large bunches of bananas. They departed for New Zealand via Macauley and Curtis Islands on Saturday night, taking our outgoing mail with them. Wrong, but happy remarks overheard at a beach party:-
"He was single before he was married".
Evening of half yearly dinner -
"I have not had too much to drink, I have only had five cans of wine"
A hospital casualty -
"I have strode on something sharp".
"Anyone seen Moki?"
"Yes, I just saw him come down from the flagpole".
Evan McGregor, Leader
REPORT FROM CAMPBELL ISLAND
Towards the end of February, shipping in Perseverance Harbour became almost chaotic. The Marine Department research vessel, James Cook made a very welcome visit with the marine supplies plus two female technicians. Despite the very generous employment offers of secretaryship for us Campbell Islanders, we were very surprised these young ladies declined. One scientist of this vessel gave us a crate of live oysters which we liberated in Tucker Cove. When the Campbell Island oyster fleet puts to sea in years to come, I hope they will remember the great 71/72 expedition.
The very next day that the James Cook departed, another seismo oil survey ship named the Fred H. Moore from Mobil Oil came scurrying into the harbour to shelter from what turned out to be several days of one of the better sub-Antarctic zephyrs.
With two ships of this nature in this area in as many months and from information gleaned, the possibility of oil in this area seems very real. It is interesting to speculate how offshore oil rig crews will enjoy the storm conditions of these latitudes.
Finally the United States coastguard cutter, North Wind, pulled in on her return trip from Antarctica and the Commander took the opportunity to have the ship scrubbed down in the shelter of the harbour. New Zealand personnel returning on the icebreaker, took the opportunity to come ashore for a look around which soon terminated in the lounge with can in hand.
The North Wind departed after a night and a day with Neville Brown and Keith Herrick who had both completed a 16 month turn of island duty. We were all sorry to see them go as they were fine expedition members.
All staff really returned to work in earnest and while the scientific programme has been maintained in a high order, a number of projects have been completed. In no small way however, the weather had been a controlling factor with many days of gales and snow early in the season. A system with the pressure dropping to 957 millibars, coupled with a very high tide rise the water level to the top of the wharf jetty.
Under the direction of Jazz Plummer, our electronics technician and chief gardener, a hothouse enclosing 250 square feet was built. This solid framed structure was covered with plastic nova reefing and completely sealed. A lamp supplemented by a kerosene heater when the outside temperature drops to around freezing, maintains a temperature inside at around 60 degrees fahrenheit; an ultra-violet lamp substitutes enough sun and plant and seedlings are growing exceedingly well.
The ionosonde transmitting aerial mast has been well overdue for painting and is now a gleaming red and white monster again. Pop Glasson, the ion technician, however, would give us no respite from the ionosonde's dreadful burping, and the mast was painted in position during one day with no loss of records. It is interesting to note that this day was the only day that we had not had rain for over two months. Met observers Dave Rowell and John Wilkinson will challenge anyone who thinks that they may have applied more Densotape than them. The many years or worsening roof leaks to our aluminium building was taken in hand and after applying a bitumastic compound to every rivet and seam, they completed a tremendous job by applying Densotape over the lot. We have, of course, a cloth covering over the roof, but at least all roof leaks have been remedied and it is hoped that all is well for a couple of years.
George Money, station telecom technician, has be en very busy with radio aerial re-rigging and mast painting. Mast raising and lowering is now down to a fine art. Rust chipping before painting, has been the frustrating work of mechanic Bill Clark, but the wharf crane looks fine now. And as well as regular cooking and turning on birthday treats, Bruce Mexted has made a very neat job on the vertical wooden slats around the base of the hostel. Hen Crompton, now senior met, also continues to put a fantastic amount of work into the wildlife programme. Under his direction, the majority of expedition members have made frequent trips to the Bull Rock mollymawk colony and 1500 birds have been banded. The royal and sooty albatross colonies are visited almost daily, as mierometeorology programme is being carried out in their area. Amongst numerous other projects, the Marsden matting has been relaid, and a busy and happy team now finds that it is with only four months to go.
Vince Sussmilch, Leader.
Awondering about the slimness of my rough draft for this bulletin I suddenly became aware that my Island Report section was missing . I really should have you closer to the front chaps, as your contributions are star items and one of the main reasons why we publish the quarterly. Moving down to Les Collin's (SCR&C) office with some speed to pick up the articles, I was informed he had just gone over the horizon on leave, but the promised reports were in his 'out' tray so the day was saved. Best wishes to both expeditions - we look forward to seeing you back later in the year.