THE FATE OF THE ASSAYE.
FilE HINEMOA AT THB CHATHAM& THE STORY OF THB ROCKETS.
[By our Spkciai. Reporter.]
Almost aa soon as our boat left the •Vestern Beef steam was got np on the Bineinoa, the anchor was lifted, and when we stepped on board she moved off on her •our— to Waitangi, the principal settlegueut In the Chatham group. Our purpose lv going to Waitangi was to allow Captain V;—-child to investigate the story of rut—eta being seen ascending from the reef we had just visited, at about the time when the Assaye was supposed to have been wrecked, and to interview the Magistrate about other matters connected with the wreckage of the ill-fated barque. We —earned towards a red point of land which juts from the south-west side it Petre Bay, and rounding this point dropped anchor in a fairly well sheltered bub shallow cove about half a mile from the Waitangl beach. -Our first sight of Chatham Island was disappointing, tor until we rounded the point we saw nothing but the low sand aunes which fringed the cove, and some _igh dark land in the distance; but when —» dropped anchor we could not but admire the view that stretched around us. It was evening, and a so It warm rain was falling from a soft grey sky. The stretch ot water on which tne steamer floated was like a plain of silvery mist and from its fringe or red sandy beach rose gently sloping hills, green as rich fresh grass could make them, dotted here and there with homesteads and patches of scrub. Nothing like the idea we, had formed of the island, for we had heard it described as a land o£ swamps and lakes—a place impassable as an Irish bog for the greater part of the year; and there before us were hills aud dales as ilrin and solid-looking as any iv New Zealand. It was late ou bunday evening when we reached the shore. The water is shallow for some distance out, and our boat grounded a few yards away from the beach, but the people who were gathered on the beach carried us ashore on their backs. People were coming in from all directions to see us, for visitors are a rarity there, as a Steamer only calls about once every three months. Our arrival caused great consternation amongst the Maoris, for they had been obstinately refusing to pay the dog tax, and they actually supposed the New Zealand Government had sent people by. the Hinemoa to enforce it. Their consternation was not owing so much to their terror of the Governmental Sternness, but they had planned an expedition to an island known as the Pyramid for the pnrpose of obtaining young moliymawka. and they thought the Hlnemoa's people might upset their arrangement. When it was known that we had come to _eke inquiries about the wreckage of the Assaye and about the story of the rockets, we soon had plenty of information. Captain Fairchild questioned the young -nan who had reported seeing the rockets. fie asked him where he was standing when he saw them, and then pointed out that from that place no rockets could be ieen going up from the Western Beef •bless they went up about seven mites ; lor the reef was sixteen miles away, and between it and the place named by the young fellow a point of land eighty feet wgh intervened. The young fellow stuck to his story of having seen what he had J&ken to be rockets; but denied saying that they went up from the Western Reef. The men to whom he reported the rockets, and who climbed the hill and lit a beacon - fire of kerosene aud straw remarked that they had seen a Ashing boat golng.out of the bay after they had lighted their beacon, and then came the explanation of the rockets. The fishermen 'described how one of their party lost his knife in the bottom of the boat, and struck .matches to look for it, and when the matches burned low he tossed them over the side. The night being perfectly calm the matches would bum as they fell through the air, and the watcher on the beach had mistaken these matches for tuckets.
Captain Fairchild then asked where the wreckage of the Assaye was found, and on learning that it was spread at intervals all round the coast of the island remarked that had the Assaye'been wrecked on the -Western Reef nearly all the-wreckage would be found about Waitangi'and the reef. According to the statements of the man.' who thought. he' saw the rockets and of those who lighted the beacon fire the night was perfectly calm, and a' vessel like the ( A»*aye could not go down without making some stronger efforts than the __4 Hiring of rockets, for she would no doubt possess boats, which on such a calm night could have been, launched, and as the land was In sight there was no reason Why a ship's crew should not reach it. It Is almost certain that the Assaye did not go ashore on the Western Reef. The fate of the Assaye is less undecided than that of the Kakanui. It is almost proved —at she went ashore on the IT—tern; sidei of the Snares, for whilst searching those islands for traces of the Kakanui, Captain Fairchild saw wreckage—part of a threshing machine, a gun carriage, a topmast with halliard chains, and" piecesof deck fittings—ln a gulch, tha only place where wreckage could find _* resting place ou the precipitous western shores of the island. It is known that there is an ocean current setting north-east from the south of r New 3-ealand. Telegraph poles washed into the Haa off the Bluff have been fodhd on the JChathams six weeks afterwards. Wreckage, drifting from the Snares would be distributed according to its buoyancy or fcta grip* in the water, and' this would nccot*tnt for tho wreckage being, found on various parts or the Chatham Island coast —he.' The time occupied in drifting wbuld ♦©count for the barnacles being found on ihe wreckage, and the fact of the similarity of candles taken from the Snares with those found on the Chathams is a Jptrong proof of the vessel, having- gone Lahore on the former place. The general *v—diet of those on board the Hinemoa . Who had searched the seas thoroughly and |_ew something of the ways of ships •—a was that the Kakanui had foundered at sea; that the Assays bad fan right against tha rocky coast of the ra-ares; and that every soul on both vessels ■Bad perished. V &* did not see much of Chatham —land, But we saw sufficient to impress us with ,the idea that It possessed some remarkably good soil, and likely to make one of ithe richest grazing countries south of the line. The Chatham Islands are 355 miles east of Cape Pa-User, or about a thlrty-slx 2ours' run by steamer from Wellington. They were discovered on the SBth of November, 1791, by Lieutenant William R. Broughton, in command Of _,_. brig Chatham. There are 'two large islands, Wharekauri, or Chatham Island, and Rangiauria, or Pitt $a_nd, besides several detached islets and socks. Chatham Island is the most important of the group, and Waitangi is the Xnost important place in the island. It fcas no pretensions to be called a town. It 4as only one hotel, one store, a tiny -Magistrate's Court, and several dwellinglious—. It was raining heavily when we were ashore on Sunday night, and, after ,we had made our inquiries about the '-(opposed rockets and the wreckage from the Assaye, we stood under the verandah «f the Magistrate's office and held a desultory conversation with a crowd of Maoris, Who had gathered— front of the building Apparently for no other purpose Jbut to case at us. The conversation was very funny, bat not productive of much infor-.-nation, so we broke it off and went on bond expecting to sail that night or early next morning, and left all the white inhabitants who knew-of the steamer's presence writing letters as if they had a tremendous lot of news for the outer world. A boat was to go Ashore at ten .o'clock to bring the mail, out the weather became so thick that we postponed sailing until next day. Then we steamed out fef Waitangi intending to visit some rocks known as the Sisters, but when we got Clear of the shelter of the laud we met a heavy sea, which not only prevented us carrying out this intention, but caused us „ turn back and run for Waitangi again.
Permanent link to this item
THE FATE OF THE ASSAYE., Press, Volume XLVIII, Issue 7829, 6 April 1891
THE FATE OF THE ASSAYE. Press, Volume XLVIII, Issue 7829, 6 April 1891
Using This Item
Fairfax Media is the copyright owner for the Press. You can reproduce in-copyright material from this newspaper for non-commercial use under a Creative Commons New Zealand BY-NC-SA licence. This newspaper is not available for commercial use without the consent of Fairfax Media. For advice on reproduction of out-of-copyright material from this newspaper, please refer to the Copyright guide.
This newspaper was digitised in partnership with Christchurch City Libraries (1921-1945).