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, Edward Gibbon Wakefield. He was joined by his brother’s son, Edward Jerningham 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 the title Colonial Surgeon and Captain E.M. Chaffers was the ship’s master.

With the voyage to New Zealand in mind, the Company had purchased the Tory from Joseph Somes, its deputy director, 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 reached New Zealand in just 96 days. Haste was important as the New Zealand Company intended to send ships with settlers to New Zealand before receiving confirmation that the initial expedition had been successful. The first migrant ship, the Aurora, arrived in Wellington Harbour on 22 January 1840.

Image: New Zealand Company poster (Te Ara)