Tui Lake: Raoul Island's great beauty spot can be recognised as a minor volcanic indentation when viewed from the main crater wall. Near this peaceful lake is visible the regrowt after the 1872 eruption and the recent scars of the 1964 blast. (photo: J A Henderson 1938)
CAMPBELL-RAOUL ISLANDS' ASSOCIATION (INC.)
NEWSLETTER Vol 2 Number 8 SEPTEMBER 1973
Association Officers 1972 - 73
Air Vice-Marshall A. H. Marsh C.B.E.
|Dave Leslie||John Caskey|
|Bernie McGuire||M. Butterton|
|Peter Shone||H. Carter|
|Robin Foubister||Capt. J. F. Holm|
|Ron Craig||I. Kerr|
|Peter Ingram||C. Taylor|
|Terry Smith||H. W. Hill|
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, CRIA (inc), G.P.O. Box 3557, WELLINGTON, and subscriptions to the Treasurer. Current membership rates are $3 per annum.
To relieve the Editor’s fast disappearing space, BACK NUMBERS of the bulletin are being offered for sale. Of the original cyclo-styled NEWSLETTER: Nos: 2, 3, 4 and 5 are available at 10 cents each. The BULLETIN in its earlier format: Nos: 6, 7, 8, 10 and 11, and the new look 'ISLANDER' as we know it now: Nos: 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 cost only 20 cents each. Those yearning for Newsletter NO:l, Bulletins 9 and 12 and The Islander NO:l to complete their records, may request file copies for photo-copying - but please let us have them back as soon as possible
Campbell Raoul Is Association
C.P.O. Box 3557,
Editorial: END OF AN ERA
Recently, in a conference decision motivated mainly by economics, it was decided to phase out the farm on Raoul lsland over a three to five year period. Hardly a surprising decision in an age of sophisticated industrial and domestic refrigeration - but the disappearance of the ninety year old farm will naturally be mourned by many.
Raoul Island's beginnings in farming commenced in a somewhat crude form when whalers liberated small numbers of goats and pigs on both Raoul and Macauley Islands in the late 1820's. Daniel Baker introduced the first milking goats in 1842 and Thomas Bell had always maintained a good herd for the ever expanding family since their arrival in 1878. These activities were confined to the Denham Bay area and any expansion was prohibited by the semi-circle of cliffs bounding the small coastal strip. Bell soon saw the potential of the north coast plateau and had it cleared and ready to take 300 Merino sheep as early as 1883. His pastures were mainly of Buffalo grass which now forms a three foot deep carpet in any area not now stocked, and covered 200 acres by including the Low Flat region and the western crater rim. He suffered several serious seasonal set backs and retreated to Denham Bay soon after the turn of the century.
Certainly Charlie Taylor, former farm advisory officer to the Agriculture Department, noticed these same difficulties when he took up the reins during the late 1940's and it is with great pleasure that I present the account of his two decades in this bulletin.
Farming is undoubtedly the backbone in the structure of the New Zealand economy. We are all very well aware of the adjacent rural scene which very often commences at the city or town boundary. So much so that the community dweller possibly sees the farmer's way of life and problems far more readily than any other progressive society in the world today. Yet the average Raoul tripper has never milked a cow or stenciled a wool bale. These he will probably do during his term through a mixture of curiosity and team spirit. He attends the slaughter yard and also finds the pig an incredibly disgusting and filthy creature. He could create a reasonable fence line given time, after this small apprenticeship on a farm which mimics Ruakura's neat paddocks and facilities.
Surely the farm has been part of the romance of post-war Raoul. Everyone with a camera has recorded it in the past - there is still a limited period available in the future. The experience draws forth laughter at reunions and a smile for a lone memory. The insecurity of a 'townee’ in the bull paddock or the wobbly mastery of the novice in the cowshed on Sunday morning will soon be replaced by the noise of the cook rasping his way through the deep-freeze frost. At least the farm is permitted to bow out gracefully by the processes of time, as the next few expeditions slowly eat their way from paddock to paddock.
Commencement of an Era
Should a poll be taken amongst the New Zealand public in querying what happened at the massive international convention in Stockholm in June of 1972 (Editorial, September 1972) , a picture of a Scandinavian Woodstock would possibly prevail as an answer over a scene of mostly honest endeavour to set the natural environment at rights - so short can a contented public's memory be.
It was with a high sense of satisfaction to myself and I hope to thousands of fellow New Zealanders, when I read in the 'Dominion’ of 13th April this year that the Minister of Health, Mr. Tizard, had named nine highly competent people to establish the Clean Air Council, a body which is provided for under the Clean Air Act, April 1972.
What must have been one obvious choice for the Minister in setting up the Council, was the selection of Dr. John F. Gabites, recently retired (July 4th, 1973) director of the New Zealand Meteorological Service, a man of wide talents and very much at home in the science of the atmosphere.
Little beginnings perhaps when one reads that the Council will meet on a monthly basis for a start. But the 63 page Clean Air Act is no soft-soaping manual of compromise to either the domestic or industrial sector. Fully implemented by the 31st March 1975, its purpose will create a better visibility by which we may see a brighter and healthier future.
AN UNUSUALLY BUSY AND USEFUL CAREER
During the two evenings of farewell functions (one would hardly term the completion of a successful career as a celebration), a person not quite in the 'know’, might be forgiven for not recognising Dr. John F. Gabites with his youthful appearance, as being the candidate for retirement.
Perhaps a little unreal to his staff also, as it is difficult to think of his 40 years of service to science when talking to this quiet and courteous man. His manner was more to find out what interested you before embarking on thoughtful social discussion.
Against my decade of experience comes his 30 year interest in the development of Raoul and Campbell Islands as modern weather stations. For most of this period he has been at the highest level of decision making and must therefore remain the Association's beet informed member on either island. In wishing Dr and Mrs Gabites a happy and long retirement, I can not do better than quote 'The Evening Post's' concise reporting for inclusion in our bulletin records:
"Born on July 4, 1913, in Foxton, Dr Gabites was the son of a schoolmaster whose grandparents came to New Zealand from Lincolnshire in 1870. He was educated at Palmerston North and Christchurch Boys’ High Schools, and took BSc at Canterbury University and his MSc part-time at Victoria University while working at the Weather Office. He started his service with Government in 1932 with the DSIR Magnetic Observatory in Christchurch, transferred to Wellington in 1935 to the Weather Office, which was then with the DSIR and also joined the RNZAF as a reserve officer and pilot.
"At the outbreak of war in 1939, the Weather Service was taken over by the RNZAF. In 1942, Dr Gabites went into the Pacific to take charge of a joint NZ-US Air Force weather station in Santos in the New Hebrides. From there he went alone to Guadalcanal and was making forecasts for the US Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps flyers battling the Japanese during some of the War's toughest campaigning. He continued with the New Zealand Air Force later when three New Zealand squadrons came north and was invalided home in February, 1943, with malaria. He later returned to the Pacific theatre serving in Bougainville, Emirau, Los Negros and Jacquinot Bay, New Britain.
"He was placed in charge of forecasting in New Zealand after the war, and was part of the Victory Contingent from all parts of the Commonwealth, which marched through London in 1946. Dr Gabites subsequently spent two years in the United States at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on a Commonwealth Fellowship, where he gained his Doctorate of Science. In 1950, before returning to New Zealand, he lectured in the Far East to Meteorologists of the US Air Force, and was at General McArthur's headquarters in Tokyo at the outbreak of the Korean War.
"He has been involved in international meteorological affairs right through his career, taking part in the International Meteorological Organisation which became the World Meteorological Organisation with the establishment of the United Nations.
"In 1946, he spent some time in Paris during the lengthy international meetings which brought weather reason and co-operation out of the chaos of the War. He was also on the panel of experts on tropical meteorology established by the WMO, and one of three consultants who ran a seminar on tropical cyclones in Tokyo in 1962. He has been involved in technical commissions of WMO, particularly the Commission for Atmospheric Science and served as president of this select group for three years from 1965. He has also been the New Zealand representative on the WMO and played his part in linking New Zealand into the world weather reporting and forecasting mesh.
"He will stay in Wellington on his retirement, one of his activities being the Clean Air Council."
GOING NORTH OR SOUTH
The meteorological staff for both islands were named during July. They are: Raoul Island: M.B. Crompton A.G. Leys A.W. Weir I .J. Gall J.J. Stevens Senior Met (already on Raoul) from N.W.F.C. Kelburn from N.W.F.C. Kelburn from Wellington Airport from Invercargill Airport
|Raoul Island||M B Crompton||Senior Met ( already on Raoul )|
|A G Leyes||from NWFC Kelburn|
|A W Weir||from NWFC Kelburn|
|I J Gall||from Wellington Airport|
|J J Stevens||from Invercargill Airport|
Mark Crompton sailed off with Raoul's new Plessey wind-finding radar on the Navy's 'Tui' during early July. The new radar was that peculiar spherical thing atop the Kelburn building in June and is also responsible for increasing the met staff to five. Servicing of Raoul is scheduled for the first or second week in October.
|Campbell Island||R J Taylor||Senior Met from Invercargill|
|N C Arnold||from NWFC Kelburn|
|A G Yule||from Met Office Whenuapai|
Number 4 for summer relief (Deepfreeze Programme) is still to be named and P. J. Wood of the present expedition will stop over for this same term. Servicing for Campbell is in late September.
HOW BIG'S YOUR FRIG
These interesting figures for the 1963/4 party whose appetites were just as bad as ours might give a lead to the size of Raoul's projected deepfreeze system:
|Consumed||Sheep||31 or 1327 lbs|
|Cattle||7 or 2344 lbs|
|Pigs||22 or 2389 ibs*|
|Fowls||20 or 75 lbs|
* 491 lbs of fresh pork was supplied to passing ships as gift
Stock at end of term:
WOOL BALE CONTENTS AT SERVICING:
1) Ewe Fleeces
2) Ewe Fleeces/Lamb Fleeces
3) Crutchings/Ewe Fleeces
4) Ewe Fleeces/Ram Fleeces
5) Hogget Fleece/Pieces
Bales are tramped and not pressed in the normal manner.
In a note attached by Charlie Taylor to his following article, he wishes me to thank all those expedition members who have so ably assisted him over the years. "In fact," says Charlie, "I recall so many helpful people that it would be impossible to mention all by name and to refer to a few only would be unfair to the others."
THE RAOUL ISLAND FARM by C.R. Taylor.*
* formerly Farm Advisory Officer of the Department of Agriculture.
The development of Raoul Island farm was commenced in late 1948 following a three week visit I paid to the island in May, 1948. Its completion - if that word is strictly applicable - took many years and engaged the attention of several different Farm Managers, recruited on a yearly basis, most of whom were intensely hard-working and dedicated young men. A few even served a second term, whilst an odd one or two returned to Raoul several years later in their original capacity, so great was the attraction of the location and the job to these enthusiastic romantics. Strange the appeal a semitropical south-seas island has for most of the young-at-heart, but this does not always refer to age alone as I am only too aware from the nine trips I personally made between 1948 and 1966.
At the time when I first became interested in Raoul Island, its administration was in the hands of the Aerodrome Division of the Ministry of Works and thus it remained until 1951 when the Civil Aviation Administration of Air Department assumed control. More recently, nominal control has passed to the Ministry of Transport.
From 1948 to 1951, the population comprised approximately nine technical and semi-technical staff recruited in New Zealand on a yearly basis, and some eighteen to twenty Niue Islanders engaged on a six-monthly arrangement. These latter folk were mainly employed on various labouring jobs such as road-making, helping with the construction of buildings, water-supplies, loading and unloading visiting ships, helping a nurseryman to propagate thousands of orange trees and later planting them out on carefully prepared contoured strips, now virtually abandoned and reverted to native vegetation, growing vegetables and assisting in hostel duties. On the termination of their contract, the Niue Islanders returned home and were replaced by a fresh draft selected by their own people. It was on the basis of this population that I was required to ascertain the feasibility of farming a part of the island.
The problem of properly feeding some 20 to 30 people located on a small isolated island (7,500 acres approximately) of extremely difficult access from the sea, can perhaps better be imaged that described, especially when it is recalled that practically the only physical communication between Raoul, New Zealand and the Cook Islands was by means of a small sailing vessel named the 'New Golden Hind.' This craft had originally been built just prior to the War for pleasure purposes, was some 80 feet long, two masted, and equipped with a tiny· auxillary engine for use in emergencies. She saw useful war service both in New Zealand waters and the Pacific in the hands of our American allies. At the conclusion of hostilities, she was handed back to the New Zealand Government by the American Authorities and placed under the control of the Ministry of Works. To provide her with a job she was assigned the task of servicing Raoul and Campbell Island Met stations on the basis of approximately four return trips a year to each station with, perhaps two visits annually to Niue and a few other of the Cook Group of islands. She was commanded by a Captain Cole and assisted by a Mr. Clark as first mate. The crew were wholly comprised of Rarotongans. Because there were only two qualified officers on board it became necessary that they take watch and watch about and this routine, as can be easily visualised, resulted in considerable stress and tension - particularly after several days at sea in rough weather. Never the less, Messrs Cole and Clark were very popular and highly respected for their qualities of excellent seamanship by the official passengers they safely transported over a number of years to and Raoul and Campbell Islands. At a later stage her trips to Campbell Island had to be abandoned largely on account of the high seas threatening to severely damage her super-structure. Eventually the 'New Golden Hind' was, I understand, sold to East Asian interests and was soon destroyed by fire following the striking of a reef or otherwise running aground in the vicinity of Singapore.
During my many visits to Raoul over an 18 year period, I travelled in several vessels including two naval ships, 'Endeavour 1’ and the frigate 'HMNZS Rotoiti.’ Whilst all had their special brand of peculiarities, which one I would like to dwell on if time were available, none have excited my admiration and respect so profoundly as the one vessel that so patently could not really efficiently do the job to which she was assigned - the ‘New Golden Hind.’ None-the-less, she was a great little tryer, but in rough northerly weather she just could not handle the then primitive landing facilities offered by Fishing Rock and the Boat Cove landing was virtually inoperative except under dead calm conditions which was not very often.
It was in these circumstances, therefore, that the Ministry of Works, with the welfare of the island personel in mind, decided to investigate the feasibility of developing a farm sufficiently large to provide all the fresh meat, milk, butter, cream, eggs, fruit and vegetables for 30 people without having to depend on regular supplies of canned foods from New Zealand, much of which could not be immediately landed due to unfavourable weather conditions at the ‘port’ of entry. Thus island staff could well be on short rations for quite some time whilst a cargo of goodies and other essentials were so close at hand yet so far away.
My first task after landing at Raoul in the usual time honoured manner was to ascertain the soil type or types involved, the approximate acreage of suitable topography available for farming and the normal (if there is such a thing) weather conditions experienced over a number of years (I actually checked the records over 10 years before arriving at a decision on this aspect alone). I then had to decide as closely as possible the 12 months needs of the men for home grown supplies and the breed and numbers of breeding ewes, rams, cattle, pigs and fowls. Also the likelihood of disease and parasites attacking the selected animals in a very much sub-tropical environaent, the quantity of animal feed that could reasonably be expected to grow in the circumstances and what kind, and lastly but by no means least the quality and regular availability of the human element necessary to manage this costly project.
This latter requirement probably gave me more food for thought than most of the other factors mentioned - for what was the good of having a good farm manager one year and none or a poor replacement the following year. If this expensive and vital undertaking was to get off the ground and satisfactorily stay that way, then of necessity, it was essential for a regular supply of good to above average young farm workers of management potential to be available each year under virtual guarantee. Fortunately, in the event, my fears proved practically groundless, for in all my life, I don't think I've ever come in contact with a better qualified (and here I don’t mean academically) and dedicated group of young people. They were a pleasure to meet and work with and they got the job done.
Having decided on the desirability and feasibility of the farm project and submitted my report to M.O.W., it was not very long before a start was made to develop about 100 acres of cliff-top along the northern coast of Raoul, adjacent to the hostel and other island amenities. The area selected was volcanic in character (pumice) and very long and narrow as no other suitable alternative was available. Its natural growth at this time was a dense, vigorous mass of buffalo-grass, 2 to 3 feet high and ageratum weed (this latter no doubt being a garden escape from the days of earlier settlement). To clear the land for cultivation - ploughing or giant discing, according to the amount of volcanic rock present in the soil - the vegetative cover was burnt of in late winter when growth was at a minimum and took fire readily.
The area thus cleared was then cultivated to the best possible seed-bed and seed mixture sown similar to that employed so successfully on the volcanic (pumice) country of the Rotorua/Taupo region of the North Island of New Zealand. This comprised as a fairly general rule, the following grasses and clovers:
|20 lbs||perennial ryegrass|
|5 lbs||Italian ryegrass|
|3 lbs||red clover (cowgrass)|
|3 lbs||white clover|
|1 lb||lotus major|
to a forty pound lot, all being best quality Government Certified seed where possible.
Fertiliser to accompany this seeding comprised 3 cwt cobaltised serpentine-superphosphate followed in 6 months by a similar application. Thereafter annual treatments of 3 cwt per acre became standard practice. Cobalt in the above fertiliser was used to guard against a possible outbreak of "Bush-sickness" in sheep and cattle, as was experienced under somewhat similar soil conditions in the early days of land development in the Rotorua area. The additional minerals of copper and potassium were also experimented with as a possible means of stimulating plant and animal growth but without positive results.
No special crops were grown to supplement pastures. In the commencement, the stocking rate proposed for Raoul on completion of development was approximately as follows:
300 Romney breeding ewes
3 Romney rams
3 Southdown rams
15 Jersey cows
3 Sows and 1 boar
60 Black Orpington pullets and 2 cockerels
The general idea was to run the 300 ewes at two flocks of 150 each - one to produce replacement ewes by the use of Romney rams, the other to produce "killers" for hostel use by cross-breeding with Southdown rams. In no circumstances, however, were the Romney-Southdown cross female lambs to be saved for later breeding purposes, although this did, unfortunately, happen to a small extent for 3 to 4 years at the very beginning. On seeing what was occurring on one of my tours of inspection, I promptly halted this practice by getting rid of all Southdown rams and replacing them with all Romney rams. This reduced our lambing percentage quite considerably each year afterwards, but was of no significance as, apart from one particular year, we always had a small surplus of natural increase that had to be disposed of in other ways.
The cows were run more along the lines of a town-supply herd in New Zealand - in the case of Raoul farm, the purpose being to so stagger calving as to ensure 5 to 6 cows in milk throughout the entire year. To facilitate this, some 10 of the better milking cows were involved, whilst the remainder produced and reared calves for hostel use. Only the very best of the milking cows calves were saved for replacement purposes, the balance being allowed to grow into meat or got rid of in other ways.
Pigs did exceptionally well at Raoul and, because of a general liking for pork by Island personnel, they supplied an abundance of meat out of all proportion to the number of sows on hand at any one time. Their food supply was mainly unwanted skim milk and kitchen scraps from the hostel - a very cheap source of delicious meat indeed.
In the main, very little trouble was experienced with grown or mature poultry and eggs were usually fairly plentiful. However, the raising of chicks for replacement purposes and table meat was most difficult - rats being the problem, no matter what precautionary action was taken. If actual access to eggs, chicks, or sitting birds wasn’t completely cut off with netting, then the rats seemingly scared the young chicks to death by their near presence. Never the less, the situation never became really critical, although quite a little worrying at times.
(to be concluded.)
1973 Annual General Meeting of the
CAMPBELL-RAOUL ISLAND ASSOCIATION, INC.
Further notice is hereby given that the 6th A.G.M. of the Association will be held in the Lecture Hall of the New Zealand Meteorological Service's Head Office, Salamanca Road, Kelburn, WELLINGTON on Saturday, 22nd of September, 1973, at 2:00pm. Members are requested to support this meeting and later, a general Get together at the 'Lion Tavern’, Molesworth Street, Wellington at: 4:00 pm. The Secretary, Campbell-Raoul Is. Assoc., P.O. Box 3557, WELLINGTON.
FILM EVENING ••• FILM EVENING
The 6th Annual Film Evening will be held in the Lecture Hall of the New Zealand Meteorological Service's Head Office at Salamanca Road, Kelburn, WELLINGTON, on: Saturday, 22nd of September, at 8:00pm. Films that will be shown are:
CAMPBELL ISLAND: NZBC 16 mm (black & white). Recently sound-tracked by the NZBC studios in Wellington, a copy of this film is now the property of the Association. A contemporary coverage of the island is given by the film team that travelled with H.M.N.Z.S. 'Endeavour’.
SCOTT'S LAST JOURNEY: BBCTV 60 minute documentary. Story of the expedition from England to Antarctica led by Robert Falcon Scott in 1910. The hazardous voyage south on the 'Terra Nova’, winter spent at the camp base, journey to the South Pole and hardships encountered on the return journey. Film sequences and stills taken by Herbert Panting, the Expedition's photographer, are used throughout.
ONCE UPON AN ISLAND: NFU 16 mm (colour). Many requests have been received for a further showing of Derek Wright's popular 1970 documentary.
No charge is made for admission and members are very welcome to invite friends for this evening showing finishing at 10:00pm. FILMS COMMENCE: 8:00pm SUPPER: 9:30pm EVENING ENDS: l0:00pm.
LEVIN MAN NOW SOLE SURVIVOR OF SHIP WRECK
'The Chronicle' (Levin),
Tuesday, March 7th, 1972.
It was just 65 years ago yesterday that a Levin man, Mr. Alfred Roberts, was wrecked on the Auckland Islands and spent the next eight months awaiting the arrival of a Government ship which it was known called regularly at the Auckland group. He is now believed to be the sole survivor of the wreck.
They knew the Government steamer was due to call soon but as it happened it had already called the day before. One other ship was seen in the bay one evening some months later, and they made frantic signals to it. Then a storm blew up during the night and in the morning it had gone. It was believed to be a ship that disappeared in the vicinity about that time and it· may have been wrecked in the storm.
Alfred Roberts survived this adventure, spent many years as a port official at Wellington, and retired to live in Levin where he plays bowls for the RSA Bowling Club. At the time of the wreck of the 'Dundonald', he was a boy, only 13 years of age and he had run away to sea a year earlier, not as a cabin boy, but as able seaman in a ship whose captain had not been able to sign on a full crew. The 'Dundonald' left Cardiff with him a little before he had reached his 12th birthday. He told the 'Chronicle' that he had always longed to go to sea in one of the lovely sailing ships he had seen at the docks and when he was offered a place in the crew he was not slow to take the opportunity. He sent a note to his parents which he took good care did not arrive until after he had sailed.
The ship had a complement of 26, including the captain and his son, who was two years older than Albert. They went first to South America and then to Australia to pick up a cargo of wheat. On February 7th, 1907, 'Dundonald' sailed from Sydney for Cape Horn and a fortnight out in thick weather, the captain had to plot his course by dead reckoning and found a marked irregularity in the compass. By midnight on March 6th he reckoned he was 40 miles north west of Auckland Island, but within an hour a rocky point of land was sighted and though he tried to beat off the island, he failed and 'Dundonald' struck the island stern first.
She was thrown broadside onto the rocks still carrying mainsail and topsail and the masts were canted toward the shore. The seas were very heavy and most of the crew followed the master aft. In the morning, the captain and 10 others, including his son, had disappeared, but three men got ashore when they found the jigger mast rested on the cliff. The first man to try this fell and was killed. One of 12 men on the royal yard managed to throw a line to the men on the cliff and they got ashore. Two others who had reached a ledge of rock were also hauled up the cliffs. The exhausted men were only able to rescue some rope and some of the sailcloth from the ship. There was no provision depot on the island, which had the suitable name of Disappointment Island.
The party of 16 men was soon reduced to 15 with the death of the first mate, who was older than the others and was badly affected by exposure on the wreck. For the next eight months, the men lived on sea birds and a few roots and berries. There was no timber to make a boat as the island had only light scrub for vegetation. No tools or equipment were rescued, but one man had a few matches which were conserved carefully throughout the party's life on the island.
The men finally made a boat as best they could with the materials at their command for the purpose of rowing seven miles to the main island, where it was known a depot was established for the benefit of ship wrecked sailors, but it was July before they were able to make the journey. The remains of this flimsy craft may be seen in the Canterbury Museum as a testimony to a brave but abortive effort to find the cache. The men returned unsuccessful and another effort was made a few months later. This succeeded in finding the depot and the men returned to Disappointment Island in the boat housed at the depot, but they had a long 30 mile row from the depot on the far side of the main island.
Once the whole party reached the main island, the second mate took charge of rations, six biscuits per day, but there was a gun and ammunition to kill wild cattle on nearby Enderby Island within easy reach with the boat. It was probably Enderby Island, which has a strong metallic content, that was the cause of the men's predicament by upsetting the ship's compass in the first place.
On November 16th, the Government steamer, 'Hinemoa', under the command of Captain Bollons, reached Auckland Island for the first time since it left about five hours before the 'Dundonald' was wrecked. 'Hinemoa' went on to complete its mission at the Campbell and Antipodes Islands and then came back to pick up the survivors of the 'Dundonald'. They visited Disappointment Island and marveled at the dugouts made by the men, with domed roofs and looking rather like Kaffir kraals in which the men had lived for months. The survivors, were brought to Bluff on November 30th, 1907, to find they had been given up for lost and Alfred Roberts, was one who was able to see his own death certificate which had been forwarded to his parents a few days before he was found.
THE CASTAWAYS OF DISAPPOINTMENT ISLAND.
by Rev. H. Escott-Inman,
Partridge, London. Circa 1910.
The 'Dundonald' was tenth* in a line of ill-fated ships to be wrecked at the Auckland Islands. At the time, under the command of Captain James Thorburn, the 'Dundonald' was a fortnight out of Sydney bound for Falmouth with a cargo 32,700 bags of wheat. She was a large (284 feet, 2205 tons gross) steel, four masted barque built in Belfast during 1891 and owned by the Dundonald Shipping Company of Glasgow. Soon after midnight on March 7th, 1907, she was carried onto the western rocks of Disappointment Island after a vain attempt had been made to beat away from the island. Eleven members of the crew, including the master, were to lose their lives as the ship broke up. The survival and final rescue of the sixteen remaining sailors on November 16th, 1907, is perhaps one of New Zealand's best known maritime tales.
The 'Dundonald' temporarily laid her topmasts on the towering cliffs of Disappointment and afforded the necessary escape route during the daylight hours of the seventh. The men went ashore in little more than shirtsleeves and it is incredible that only one of their number, Jabez Peters, died from exposure. They dug into the eastern elopes until they had created a village of two-man pits which were covered with a frame-work supporting a layer of grasses and peat sod. A continuing diet of mollymawk and seal flesh washed down with swamp water kept them on their knees through the sub-antarctic winter, until in desperation they created a coracle of sticks and canvas trousers during September, in which four men successfully crossed the six miles to Auckland lsland to locate the ship-wreck depot. The following cross-country dash to Erebus Cove and their arrival at the depot will be heralded by the reader with some relief. From here they took the depot's boat back to Disappointment to bring the others ashore. The following two months were comfortably spent in creating a massive flag-pole and sewing their own flag, as well as creating a substantial jetty, both projects being of questionable commercial value, but providing the necessary industry to combat boredom. The story fortunately does not terminate with Captain Bollon’s arrival with the NZGS 'Hineaoa’ but continues with a two chapter account of the 1907 scientific expedition to Campbell lsland which took one of the castaways, Charles lyre, along as cook. It is of interest to note that Dr. Kidson, the first director of the meteorological service when it was contained within the Marine Department, was also in attendance. Mention is made of Captain Tucker's sheep station and the shepherds and what tale of the sub-antarctic islands would not be complete without a run-down on our little Lady of the Heather?
Charles lyre was interviewed at length by the Rev Inman upon his return to England in 1908, and it has been from these discussions that a remarkable lucid and accurate story of those eight months was constructed. Whether a common literary style of the period or whether his book was aimed for appeal at the adventure seeking schoolboys of Merrie England is not known, but his wave by wave account and every tussock tripping step swells the volume out to some 320 pages. A general knowledge of the sub-antarctic islands is desirable to appreciate Inman's uncanny ability to create an accurate geographical backdrop of an area he was never to visit. If one can tolerate his enthusiastic nautical utterances, it can be seen that the good reverend might secretly have wished that he could have clutched a salt-streaked bridge rail rather than the cool polish of the pulpit. But all things considered - his contribution to New Zealand history is excellent.
*1833: unidentified, 1864: Grafton, Minerva, Invercauld, 1866: General Grant, 1887: Derry Castle, 1891: Compadre, 1895: Stoneleigh, 1905: Anjou, 1907: Dundonald.
The Association's AGM is on Saturday 22nd September at Kelburn (2pm)
Part 3: ON THE ROCKS AT RAOUL
In the last two issues of the bulletin we have read of the brief naval actions which involved the steamer 'Wairuna’ and schooner 'Winslow’ with the raider 'Wolf' in Kermadec waters during World War One. The account comes from Roy Alexander's excellent book, 'The Cruise of the Raider Wolf', which in turn, was reviewed in Vol 2, No 3 (June '72). In tying up the technicalities, I add from Ingram & Wheatley's 'Shipwrecks' (Reeds, 1951)
The WAIRUNA, No:ll8,495, was a steel, screw steamer of 3,947 tons gross and 2,530 tons net register, built at Newcastle-on- Tyne in 1904 by Messrs. Armstrong, Whitworth and Company, and her dimensions were: Length 360 feet, Beam 47.5 feet and Depth 26.7 feet. She had three engines of 396 h.p. nominal, and 2,400 h.p. indicated. The Wairuna was owned by the Union Steam Ship Company and was under the command of Captain H.C. Saunders. Her cargo, at the time of capture was valued at £1,250,000.
The WINSLOW, No: 81,657 (U.S.A. Registry), was a wooden four mastted schooner of 567 tons gross and 497 tons net register, built at Port Blakely, Washington, U.S.A., in 1899 by Hall Brothers, and her dimensions were: Length 110.4 feet, Beam 37.6 feet and Depth 12.8 feet. She was owned by Mr. G.E. Bailings, of San Francisco.
The 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 64,000 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 cm) guns, four torpedo-tubes and 458 mines. Also included was a small float aeroplane of 150 h.p. (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 management ship to Messageries Maritimes. Her extraordinarily fine seaway characteristics did nothing to save her from the Italian ship breakers in 1931, to whom she was consigned as an ageing maritime cripple. ('Wolf' notes are mine - Ed).
With reference to the escape attempt of Chief Officer Steers and Second Engineer Clelland (p 162) of the oil tanker 'Turritella', I have this note from J.A. Henderson, recently Chief Surveyor, Wellington, who was 2 i/c for the K.I.E. Survey in 1937-8: "In November 1938 while passing through Fiji on ay way to Gardner Island, Gilbert & Ellice Group, I met the father and mother of one of those two of the 'Turritella's' crew who escaped and were lost on the North side of the island, after being captured by the 'Wolf'. I also found by very second-hand information, that they did not jump overboard, but lowered themselves over the stern and sat on the rudder in the propeller wash until they reckoned, when off the North Beach, they could swim ashore. They took off, but evidently did not make it. I think they left getting off too late and the strong east to west current took them westwards, either to where they could not land on the rocks of Hutchison Bluff, or were swept westwards beyond the Island. It must have been a good try."
Two other ill-fated ships that share in Kermadec history are the barque 'Malmen' and the schooner 'Columbia River.’ once again from Ingram & Wheatley:
The MALMEN: Advice was received in Auckland on January 8th, 1903, that the barque, bound from Nukualofa to Europe with a cargo of 800 tons of copra, was abandoned off the Kermadec Islands. The crew left in the boats and landed on Sunday Island, but, finding no inhabitants, (the Bells had just recently returned to Denham Bay, having sold the 275 acre freehold to J.C. Cameron in 1901- Ed) they left again for Tonga, where they arrived after a voyage of 12 days. The men suffered no hardships, the boats being well provisioned. The master stated that the 'Malmen’ encountered squally weather and a heavy head sea, which caused her to leak. On December 13th, 1902, the ship's hold was flooded to a depth of ten feet. On that day it was also discovered that a portion of the cargo had caught fire. The flames spread rapidly, and soon enveloped the whole ship, and it was decided to abandon the vessel. The ‘Malmen’ was a wooden barque of 647 tons gross and 595 tons net register, built at Grimstad, Norway, in 1892 by J.F.Fryde, and her dimensions were: length 156.3 feet, beam 33.2 feet, depth 17.2 feet. She was owned by Mr. J.E. Jahnsen, and was registered at Lillesand, Norway. Captain Nilson commanded the barque.
The COLUMBIA RIVER: When on a passage from Auckland to Portland, Oregon, the schooner struck on Sunday Island, Kermadec Group, at 4am on September 8th, 1921, and became a total wreck. On the 11th, the master and six of the crew set out in one of the boats to obtain assistance, and after a voyage of 750 miles, and occupying 14 days, arrived at Suva on the afternoon of September 25th. The remaining members of the crew remained on the wrecked vessel for two days after the boat party left, then an equinoctial gale blew up and the 'Columbia River' began to pound and slowly go to pieces. A boat was launched over the bow of the schooner and a line taken ashore through the heavy surf. By means of the line the crew were cradled ashore, and it was subsequently used to land stores, tents and water. In response to the master's request for assistance, H.M.S. 'Chatham' left Suva Harbour on September 26th for Sunday Island, and conveyed the six members of the crew there to Auckland, where they arrived on October 6th, the master and party arriving at Auckland on September 30th in the steamer 'Niagara.' The 'Columbia River', No: 214504 (American Registry), was a five masted wooden schooner of 1,200 tons gross and 1,064 tons net register, built at Aberdeen, Washington, U.S.A., in 1916, by A. Peterson, and her dimensions were: length 231.6 feet, beam 42.8 feet and depth 17.0 feet. She was owned by the Fife Shipping Company, Incorp., and was under the command of Captain Neil Murchison.
Most Raoul Islanders are in the know that the 'Columbia River’ ground up onto the rocks between Smith Bluff and D'Arcy Point with a bilge-full of whiskey. This cargo was evidently a ‘round tripper’ serving as ballast as it merrily matured for the American palate (which was being sharpened on bath-tub gin at the time). Surveyor J.A. Henderson gave it the OK when he came upon a small cave of the goodies during his K.I.E. survey of 1937-8. The boys of HMNZS 'Achilles’ gave a similar recommendation a few years later. But a ship load of matelots would probably knock off the entire stock and I have yet to hear any more tales about it, apart from contemporary Sunday excursions of high hope and fruitless endeavour.
No one knows the topography of Raoul Island better than J.A. Henderson, so there would be few tricks that nature would play on his eyes. He has told me in the past of a weird discovery relating to the Hutchison Bluff area. When he was surveying this high bluff, he looked down on the solidified lava swirls some hundreds of feet below. He was surprised to see the vague form of a small ship jammed into the flow, weathered beyond any method of visual recognition as to age or origin. So great was his desire for material proof, that he made a painful and dangerous descent and secured a piece of the darkened timber which he retained for many years. Unfortunately he never got around to having D.S.I.R. carbon date the specimen and so the mystery must remain at this point. And then there was the time that I came across the bolted timbers of the ill-fated 'Winslow's' keel deeply embedded in the pumice tufts of Bell's Beach. Given a couple of days of sober reflection, I more clearly recognised the stamp of a P.W.D. patent in raft construction to bear our D7 shore wards from the 'Miena.'
The second Bell homestead on the North Coast of Raoul photographed by members of the 1907/08 Kermadec Expedition. A faint smoke trace coming from the tin chimney indicates the expedition was in temporary residence, the Bells having returned to Denham Bay at this time. Note the young Norfolk Pines which accurately place this scene on the present farm. (photo via Sir Robert Falla)
THE ISLANDS REPORT IN
Part Three of the Adventures & Stirring Moments of the Mad Mob of RAOUL
April & May: Well the letters certainly came, from the North Cape to the Bluff, all applying for membership to the exclusive Raoul Swingers' Club. They varied from a dear old soul of 55 to a 16 year old who practices Judo. Some photo's were filed for future reference in the very distant future, while others have been replied to quite rapidly. Ex-islanders would be well aware of the strange letters and requests that arrive with regular monotony but this one must take the cake, being addressed to "The Cultural Officer, Curtis Island, Kermadec Republic."
The arrival of the 'Acheron' in early April brought the Wildlife team, a great bunch of chaps, together with two Lands & Survey bods who, in the space of a couple of days had to place markers over the island for an aerial survey, and during their brief stay, we all became pack horses.
Two yachts called in, the 'Marire' from Whangarei and the 'Freyja' from Los Angeles. The latter had a young married couple and it was ‘way out' talking to a young 'bird' face to face after seven months of pure living - COUGH. A little embarrassing when Keith and myself boarded their yacht at Boat Cove, as someone had a mini-skirt on, not her though.
The social event of the year was held on the 29th April, that being Wooly's 21st. It was also a fancy dress in which costumes ranged from a cave man - sheep skin and bones in the hair (bones stolen from the pigs), big busted birds, mothers-to-be, miners and the Archbishop of Canterbury Hosery, and not forgetting the Mad Hatter, the Birthday Boy himself. Four birthdays in this period in which our chef, Gavin turned on some great spreads - no doubt he is glad they are out of the way but certainly appreciated by us.
For originality, we gave Wooly not only the traditional key made by 'Englander John', but a door as well.
Last on the visitors' list was a Korean fishing vessel who attempted to anchor off Fishing Rock, but the pick would not hold so it was up and away. A pity, I believe they are like the Russians in having a part female crew.
With the Wildlife party making their presence felt very strongly amongst the goats, there is little change in goat tally positions other than Andy being only one behind Bruce, with Bwana in front. The fishing is a different story with Gavin landing a large hark at Denham Bay (but no scales handy) to Colin's registered lead now equaled by Keith. For trying the hardest- definitely "The Grocer", 'Fred' Lloyd, who is fishing irrespective of weather and still to Wooly for shooting who managed to miss a goat at six feet.
Work wise, everything has gene exceptionally well, with the other major project, the filling and concreting of Bell's Ravine now complete with over 30 tons of concrete been poured. It will last for ever, that is of course, if it never rains again.
Problems are being experienced with the Raoul fowl, as there is another Heron here. The first did a dead on us and is now a full size model skeleton in John's room amongst many other dead, dried and dying specimens. This new Heron is very belligerent having herded the chooks into one run while he chomps on their tucker in the other. A sad fate became the bull calf we brought up, no longer is he with us having fallen down a cliff face. 'Angus ', who ex-islanders will recall, now has an extended pardon.
Another social occasion was held, this being a Greasy Evening slopped by Unkl Sam (Keith) and Cus ( Wooly) in true restaurant 'a la gutter ' style. Signs were hung around the kitchen to dining room servery, most of them unprintable - tattoo's on Sam and Cus in the same style and our Greasy served in the well remembered, not be forgotten, newspapers.
June & July: Fishing is of course, a very popular pastime on Raoul, but some methods and the use of a rod are indeed strange. The first incident involved Bruce who dreamed up a simple non-effort requiring method of casting. Firstly skyrockets left over from Guy Fawkes are required, a bottle, matches and a sense of direction. The fishing line all baited up is tied to the rocket and the fuse ignited. The first attempt resulted in the rocket going straight up in the air and landing at Bruce's feet, the second attempt had the rocket streaking out to sea, but its thrust had burnt through the nylon. The third abortive attempt became a near disaster when the rocket swiveled around and shot off along the beach scattering unsuspecting fishermen in all directions. The next incident involved Gavin who was returning from Boat Cove after a fishing trip along the crater rim. He walked into two goats and having no weapon other than his rod he attempted the dispatch of one of the goats by belting it on the swede. We understand the goat had a headache for a time.
While on the subject of goats, John again has pet goats, both white and appropriately named 'Portland' and ‘Cement’. They may well end up with concrete overcoats if they persist in eating Gav’s Gladiolis. After the 'Lachlan' had left, Andy discovered he had been sent a large number of golf balls. Accordingly the 'Norfolk Pines’ Golf Club would reopen and once again the beach below the farm will become the most dangerous place on the island.
Black and Bwana discovered a new feeling of light headiness and not by application of fluid, merely the removal of our hair. It is growing back slowly but surely, having gone past the stage of being a skating rink for flies to now s they land they are immediately skewered.
In early July we said farewell to our neighbours on Low Flat, they being the Government hunters who have been on Raoul for over three months. They certainly made a hole in the goats with 600 less for us amatuers to have a go at. They have been good company and we wish them well on their return to New Zealand.
You know how warm Raoul is, but there has been a rumour floating around that one of our technicians, and we only have one at this time, has an electric blanket.
Shortly our band will increase with the arrival of Mark Crompton (Met) and Neville McCloud (Tech) on the 'Tui’. Apart from the pleasure of their company, weekend cooking rosters will take longer to come around especially when some people dye potatoes yellow and apple sauce blue.
Our resident artist John has completed a new 'Welcome to Raoul' sign replacing the old one which had reached a stage of collapse. Animal life is pictured together with a new way of spelling. The sign is in black and gold and apart from this minor error in grammar, it is a pretty fine effort. From what information can be gathered, the Denham Bay Hut to Hostel Back Door Record has stood for a number of years. The old record from all accounts stood at 49 minutes, Colin and Bruce had an attempt on it and lowered it to 39 1/2 minutes. Assuming this is a new record (unless someone can contrary it) we, or John is, preparing a shield for future teams to try and beat. Personally, it takes me about a day to climb that hill. Possibly this is a record for the slowest trip. So let's hear from anyone that can throw definite light on any past experiences.
Our chef Gavin had his birthday in early July, so it was a combined effort to provide all the necessary goodies. The main problem was the cake. Andy volunteered and turned out quite a master-piece, we named it after a current hit song- "Rubber Bullet."
Cheers for now folks and those foolish enough to read these rantings. Maybe we will see you at one of the Reunions. (P.S. We have lots of maidens' addresses going cheap.)
Unfortunately Campbell Island's newsletter has not reached us at the time of going to print. We do hope to catch up with the back chat and present it to you in the December issue. Our quarterly thanks to Les Collins for tuning in to Raoul's Newscast.
Reading Bwana’s account of rocket powered fishing, taps a distant note on one of our more inventive members in 1962. This particular lad, anxious to get to the man-eaters beyond the surf at Oneraki (North) Beach, produced a neat little cannon fired by blasting powder. Firmly embedded in the sand and plenty of 150 pound mono-filament snaked out on the beach, the fuse was ignited and everyone focused on the far horizon. There was a satisfactory explosion and the tethered projectile's incredible progress out to sea was clearly seen as it had a fish-head riding on its back. This was followed by a brief scream from a well-oiled reel and then silence. Perhaps this prototype shot could have done with a further quarter-mile of line. Anyway, the thought of a hoped-for prize catch having a free feed of all that mono-filament was too much for the inventor and he shelved the project for all time. Fortunately I wasn't at the controls - his minute mix of powder for the shot was in my estimation, only a fraction of what should have been used.
New Zealand Farm Methods Successful in Lonely Kermadecs
New Zealand Dairy Exporter.
Tuesday, June lst, 1948.
" … The colony on Raoul is well housed in wooden buildings and the object in establishing a farm on the island was to provide them with fresh milk, butter, fresh meat and vegetables. The only easily ploughable country on the island is a patch of approximately 100 acres on the north side adjacent of the main colony. This is gently rolling country, the soil type being a fine pumice which makes for easy working. When a start was made with its improvement, this area was carrying a dense cover of buffalo grass. Mature cattle get some measure of nutriment from this coarse grass, but it is useless for young stock.
When Mr. Taylor (Tom Taylor now of Makara, Wellington - Ed) arrived on the island to take over from his predecessor, 50 acres had been put under the plough and sown down to permanent pasture, the mixture including paspalum, perennial ryegrass, white clover, timothy and brown-top. During his term as manager, he introduced lucerne and there is now a two and a half acre stand which provides green feed all the year around for the milking cows.
In this sub-tropical climate, where the temperature ranges up to 80 odd degrees in summer and never falls below 50 degrees in winter, and in an area blessed with a well-spread rainfall averaging about 60 inches a year, lucerne does particularly well. Under these conditions, too, there is a measure of pasture growth all year round and the stock are never short of a good fresh bite. Despite difficulties of transport, it is the practice to top dress with super-phosphate and lime each season, the average dressing being two cwt of lime and one of super. The lucerne has benefited particularly from the liming. Under their conditions it is not necessary to make either hay or silage and all lucerne is fed green, after wilting. Each day sufficient is cut for the next day's requirements and is fed out.
The eight Jersey and Shorthorn grade cows, which were the foundation herd are calved down at dates staggered to provide an all round the year milk supply. The New Zealand practice of milking for nine months prior to calving is followed. A jersey bull heads the herd and there are four yearling to eighteen months heifers and four heifer calves coming along as replacements. Bull calves are castrated and fattened to augment the fresh meat supply.
A comparatively recent addition to the farm is a piggery. Two Berkshire sows and a Tamworth boar, bred by Mr. A.T. Rogers, Mountley Stud, Ngaruawahia, were acquired by the Public Works Department and ehipped to Raoul, where they are now doing well and home-grown pork and bacon will be a welcome addition to the colony's menu. An acre of bush has been enclosed with a two-wire electric fence and the sows have the run of this, with an open-fronted house provided for shelter. They get a concentrate ration in the form of 14 parts of whey paste to one part of molasses mixed with water and fed twice a day, together with the balance of the skim-milk after the calves have been fed. For green feed they get cut lucerne, plus the bark and leaves of a palm very similar in appearance to the nikau, which grows on the island, and which they consume with relish.
The balance of the livestock carried comprises 25 crossbred sheep and 60 fowls. The wheat for the fowls has, of course, to be shipped in.
A large vegetable garden is maintained and fresh vegetables are in ample supply. Tomatoes ripen all the year round and cabbage, silver beet, beetroot and certain special varieties of potatoes all do particularly well. Cape Gooseberries and passion fruit flourish in the climate. Crops estimated to yield 18 tons to the acre have been grown of two American strains of potato - Kathacin and Chippewa - while the New Zealand varieties - Arran Banner and Arran Chief - also do very well. Insect pests of various kinds are numerous, and regular spraying is called for. It is interesting to record that the ubiquitous cabbage butterfly has found its way to Raoul.
Many years ago, a type of Valencia orange was introduced in Raoul which did very well and developed certain new characteristics in its new environment. When the Public Works Department colony was established on the island, these oranges were growing wild, but in recent a nursery was established and superior strains were developed under cultivated conditions."