NZ Company ship Tory arrives

17 August 1839

The sailing ship Tory dropped anchor in Queen Charlotte Sound to pick up fresh water, food and wood before proceeding to Port Nicholson (Wellington Harbour). On board were representatives of the New Zealand Company, sent to smooth the way for organised settlement.

Their objectives were threefold: purchase land, acquire information about the country, and prepare settlements for the emigrants the Company was recruiting.

The party was led by Colonel William Wakefield, brother of the Company’s leading figure, E.G. Wakefield. He was joined by his brother’s son, E.J. Wakefield, naturalist Ernst Dieffenbach, draughtsman Charles Heaphy and interpreter Nahiti, a young Māori who had been conned by a whaling captain into working his passage to France. Dr John Dorset had been appointed as Colonial Surgeon and Captain Edward Main Chaffers was the ship’s master.

With the voyage to New Zealand in mind, the Company had purchased the Tory from Joseph Somes, deputy director of the Company, in late 1838. The ship’s name, which now graces the channel that forms part of the ferry route between Wellington and Picton, expressed Somes’ political leanings.

The Tory made the journey to New Zealand in just 96 days. Haste was important as the Company intended to send its first ships with settlers to New Zealand before receiving confirmation that the expedition had been successful. The New Zealand Company migrant ship, the Aurora, arrived in Wellington Harbour on 22 January 1840.

Image: New Zealand Company poster (Te Ara)