First Commercial Shipyard in Horeke

The story of Horeke shipyard - Deptford as it was sometimes called - is one of shipwreck and seizure, bankruptcy and death. Yet so far as actual shipbuilding was concerned the enterprise was a notable though short-lived success. Promoters of the venture were prominent Sydney merchants, Thomas Raine and Gordon D. Browne: David Ramsay, Raine's partner in other undertakings, seems also to have had an interest. Superintendent of the yard was Captain David Clark.
    A small piece of land on the foreshore at Horeke was bought from Muriwai, chief of the Popoto tribe, in November 1826. In October 1827 the first vessel from the shipyard, the 40-ton schooner Enterprise, reached Sydney under Clark's command. Returning to Hokianga after a second voyage under another skipper, the Enterprise foundered in a storm north of Hokianga heads on 4 May 1828 with the loss of all hands.
   The Enterprise was not the first European vessel launched in New Zealand. Over 30 years earlier, in January 1796, a small vessel called Providence sailed from Dusky Sound where she had been built - begun in 1792-93 by a sealing gang and completed by another party whose own vessel had been wrecked at Dusky in 1795; and in January 1826 the 55-ton schooner Herald was launched at the Paihia mission station in the Bay of Islands, only to be wrecked at Hokianga heads, but without loss of life, two days after the Enterprise disaster.
   

Photo: Drawing by Augustus Earle's: water colour of Horeke 1828

The next vessel laid down at Horeke was the brigantine New Zealander, 140 tons, which may be seen on the stocks in the above sketch, redrawn from Augustus Earle's watercolour of Horeke in March or April 1828. The New Zealander arrived in Sydney on her maiden voyage in December 1828. In March 1829, on her second voyage, Clark made the Tasman crossing in six days which earned for the brigantine the reputation of the fastest sailer out of Port Jackson.
    The largest of the Horeke built vessels was the barque Sir George Murray (named after the Secretary of State for the Colonies). Arriving in Sydney on 18 November 1830 she was immediately seized by customs officers for sailing without a register. New Zealand not being a British possession, the New South Wales Government had refused a register to the New Zealander (although one had earlier been issued to the Enterprise and possibly also to the Herald), the question being referred to the British Government and the vessel meanwhile being permitted, at her owners' risk, to sail between New Zealand and New South Wales. After the seizure of the Sir George Murray the matter was again referred to Britain. By this time however Raine, Browne, and Ramsay were all bankrupt, their failure having followed Raine's inability, because of the severe drought in New South Wales, to fulfill his government contracts for the supply of bread and milk. At an auction in Sydney in January 1831 the Sir George Murray, together with the Horeke establishment where she had been built, was sold for 1,300 to Thomas McDonnell, an East India Company commander and formerly a lieutenant in the Royal Navy. Risking the want of a register, McDonnell fitted out the barque, and on 30 March 1831, with his family, servants, and a number of settlers, sailed for Hokianga. A "register" supposedly issued to him later that year by the Hokianga chiefs Patuone and Te Taonui stated that the vessel was "three hundred and ninety two 64/94 Tons English measurement", with two decks and three masts, 109 ft in length and 28 ft 8 in. in breadth, barque rigged, with a standing bowsprit, square sterned, carvel built, no galleries, and a scroll figurehead.
    Although the New Zealander had apparently already changed hands, she remained under Clark's command until 10 April 1831 when, after an eightday crossing and with the usual cargo of sawn timber, pork, and potatoes, Clark for the last time sailed her into Port Jackson. The brigantine, of which he had once said he would much rather part with life than see her destroyed, then went into the whaling trade, and Clark returned to Hokianga where he was drowned six months later at the age of 65. His infant son grew up to become Hori Karaka (George Clark) Tawhiti, member of the House of Representatives for Northern Maori.
    In January 1833 the New Zealander in her turn was seized in Sydney for sailing without a register. Her owner entered into sureties for double the value of vessel and cargo and once again the question of registers for New Zealand built vessels was referred to the British Government. Apart from a Pacific cruise later that year, the New Zealander remained in the Sydney - New Zealand run until wrecked on the Mahia peninsula on 7 August 1836. Meanwhile the Sir George Murray was rumoured to be sailing under a foreign flag. In 1833 she obtained an East India Company clearance at Macao, and this was endorsed in 1836. Her subsequent fate is unknown.
    Several small craft may have been built at Horeke during McDonnell's reign, but the name of only one has survived, the 35-ton schooner Tui. During his stormy 12 months (1835-36) as honorary Additional British Resident, McDonnell sailed in the Tui to Kaipara, a voyage which he claimed opened that harbour to European shipping. McDonnell was primarily a timber trader, and throughout the 1830s Te Horeke - to give it its correct name - was the principal trading establishment on the Hokianga, until the house on the hill, originally built for Clark, then occupied by Gordon Browne and afterwards McDonnell's home for over 10 years, was burnt down in 1842.
    McDonnell was a keen horticulturist and among his other introductions to New Zealand was the Norfolk Island pine, the well known trees at Waitangi and Te Wahapu in the Bay of Islands being the sole survivors of a box of seedlings given by him to Mrs Mair in 1836 or 1837. The large pine in front of the Horeke hall was probably planted about the same time, in what was then McDonnell's garden.


Photo: This plate can be found in Horeke at the entry to the parking of the Horeke Lodge. It mentions the superintendent David Clark,  who's head stone is in the graveyard of the Mangungu Mission House.

The shipyard plaque stands as nearly as can be determined on the site where the Sir George Murray was built, the Enterprise and the New Zealander having been laid down a short distance upstream. In the old Wesleyan mission cemetery at Mangungu, about a mile down harbour, the tombstone of the first superintendent David Clark, may be seen lying flat on the grass. The quotation from Lamentations I:12 is still appropriate: Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by?

Source: New Zealand Historic Places Trust
  

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Chapel at Mangungu 


Wairere Boulders


Mangungu Mission, Horeke


Buildings over Water in Horeke


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Chapel at Mangungu


Hokianga Sunset


Wairere Boulders


Chapel at Mangungu 


Wairere Boulders


Mangungu Mission, Horeke


Buildings over Water in Horeke


Natural Pest
(Opossum)


Chapel at Mangungu


Hokianga Sunset


Wairere Boulders

 


Chapel at Mangungu 


Wairere Boulders


Mangungu Mission, Horeke