I trust everyone had an enjoyable and relaxing time during the summer holidays. I was in Wellington for a few days at the end of 2015 and was able to attend the anniversary picnic to celebrate the arrival of the barque the Blenheim in 1840. I spent New Year in Waipu with the intention of attending the Highland Games but unfortunately it rained heavily and the Games were cancelled.
In December 2015 it was 175 years since the barque Blenheim arrived at Port Nicholson (Wellington), having departed from Greenock in Scotland four months earlier. On board were 197 Scots mostly from the Northwest Highlands but with a large group from Paisley, near Glasgow, who joined at the last moment when some of the Highlanders pulled out.
The passengers were selected by my great, great, great grandfather Donald MacDonald, in his capacity as a representative of the New Zealand Company. His role was to recruit people suitable for the Company’s enterprise of colonising New Zealand. He brought his wife and eight children out on the Blenheim.
The Blenheim passengers were landed at Kaiwharawhara which was purposely done by the New Zealand Company because most of the emigrants had been engaged to construct a road along the foreshore from Wellington to Petone. Donald MacDonald was in charge of building this road which was finished in the spring of 1841. Donald also took charge of the building of the roads to Karori and Porirua.
These Scots were therefore part of the very early settlement of New Zealand. Besides being involved in the building of roads, they worked in many of the early exploration and surveying parties until farm land became available. From there they developed and farmed land mainly around the lower North Island, some opened business according to their skills, while others went further afield.
To mark the arrival of the Blenheim, a picnic was held on 27th December 2015 at Onslow College, Johnsonville which is not far from Kaiwharawhara. It was a glorious, summer day with a good crowd in attendance to enjoy a day of celebration of many things Scottish and also to acknowledge the hard work, resourcefulness and perseverance of our ancestors in their part in helping to establish New Zealand.