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The Port Nelson Haven Ahoy! exhibition tells the story of early colonial migration to Nelson in the 19th century. The exhibition is based on the transcriptions of a number of diaries and logbooks detailing the daily experience of the long voyage out from England. Two of the diaries featured in the exhibition, The Gapper Diary and Thomas Hughes Surgeon's Log, were written aboard the same ship, the Clifford, on her voyage from Gravesend to Nelson in 1842.
Over the duration of the exhibition we will publish daily transcipts of both these diaries as well as plot the position of the Clifford, on a Google map, using co-ordinates from the Hughes' Log.
To view the Clifford's progress click here
The exhibition Port Nelson, Haven Ahoy! is based on transcripts of diaries and logbooks held in our archives at the Research Facility at Isel Park. They tell us about daily life on board early migrant ships. The text of the exhibition is largely taken directly from the diaries. These are real thoughts of real people undertaking amazing voyages. What is clear from reading the stories is that they left a country where opportunities were few and far between for a life that involved promises that would be hard won and against significant odds. The voyages themselves often involved incredible hardship and there are stories associated with some voyages that are so harrowing it is hard to believe the human spirit is so resilient.
Cargo in the Hold.
The exhibition, which combines more than 150 objects from our Collections, was designed by Sally Papps. Sally's design work in our permanent exhibition still draws extremely positive responses from visitors. The exhibition technical staff have created a number of lifelike sections of a sailing ship in which visitors can both explore a setting and in other parts become part of it. It is our hope that people will come back and become part of a story that will unfold over the season of the exhibition with live interpretation and other public programming.
The Crew's Cabin.
Collection Services staff have done an amazing job finding Collection objects to illustrate the stories being told in the exhibition. The real value of a regional Collection becomes apparent when you can source paintings, personal mementos, diaries, tools and fabric items all directly related to the story you wish to tell. There are inevitably links to our permanent exhibition and to exhibitions like the one on Appo Hocton, New Zealand's first naturalised Chinese migrant. Within a short period of time from Opening these objects will be described on-line as part of the Nelson Provincial Museum Collections On-line database. This is a new venture for us as part of an exhibition and it has involved some very detailed work amongst our records.
The story begins as the crew and emigrants prepare to leave their home in England to head to the other side of the world. Most of the emigrants had been persuaded to join the voyage by agents of the NZ Company. How much did they know about where they were going and what to expect? We do know that there were some rules and there was advice about what you needed to bring. The NZ Company were looking for strong fit healthy people with skills that would be needed to help the new Colony survive. There will be a lecture on this part of the story on Wednesday 20th of October.
The Nelson Mail will publish weekly excerpts from a diary and Surgeon's log from one of these early voyages. They will also publish the known coordinates of the ship's position as recorded by Thomas Hughes.
The ship we have focused on is the Clifford but it could have been any one of the ships that brought migrants to NZ. We chose to focus on the Clifford because we have a transcipts of the Gapper family diary, and the logbook of Dr Thomas Hughes, the Surgeon Superintendent, both written on board. Starting on 16th October we will be putting the daily thoughts of these people onto our website. The voyage as described took 151 days. Who was Thomas Hughes? more What do we know about the Gapper family? more What do we know about the Clifford? more
The education opportunities are many and varied, geography, ICT, drama, language, science, history and maths at all levels from junior primary to senior secondary.
The exhibition ends with a description of an early meeting between migrants and Maori. A story that is yet to be told in detail is the significant contribution made to survival of the migrant families by local Maori who not only shared the resources and their knowledge about them but were to a large extent in the very early times responsible for feeding and finding housing for those who had just arrived. The 'farmers market' established by local iwi at Matangi Awhio [Auckland Point] as early as 1842 is just one example. Land is another issue altogether but it is not the subject of this exhibition.
This exhibition examines the motivations for leaving Britain, the courage and hardships of the voyage and imagines the first contact with the tangata whenua of Aotearoa New Zealand. Towards the end of the exhibition season when the 'voyage' has concluded we intend to present a lecture that explores those early relationships.
This exhibition has been made possible with tremendous support from businesses and philanthropists in our community. A number of them include family members who migrated to the Nelson Tasman Region with those early colonial migrations of the 1840s and 1850s. Our principal sponsor Port Nelson Limited describes Port Nelson as the gateway to the world. One hundred and seventy years ago the flourishing Port was the gateway to the Colony of Nelson and the upper South Island of New Zealand - Te Tau Ihu o te Waka a Maui.
Ship: 460 tons
Captain: Joseph Sharp
Google the ship. Was Joseph Sharp also the owner? When was the ship built? Can you find out what happened to the ship later in 1842?
Age at time of departing England on 18 December 1841 was 34 years. His occupation is listed as surgeon.
|Bernard Gapper||age 35||Farm Labourer|
|Mary Gapper||age 39|
|Amelia||age 6 weeks|
In response to many requests we have tracked down lists of passengers on the ships arriving in Nelson up to the last NZ Company ship in 1850.
These lists can also be found engraved on the walls at Wakefield Quay on Nelson's waterfront. Lists at that venue include the names of descendant families who helped sponsor the development of the wall.
Tracking individual passenger names can also be done by searching on the Nelson City Council website.here