Sunday, 19 October 2014

Bay of Plenty Steam Navigation Company out of the Bay of Plenty

Tauranga Harbour and Mount Maunganui from the Kaimai Range - Photo CRB 2009
The 9th October 1866 was an auspicious occasion for the gentlemen meeting at Mr. Foley's in Tauranga. It was said the room where the meeting was held, was bursting to overflowing.Nearly all the officers of the 1st Waikato Regiment and most of the citizens of the area were there. The reason - a meeting called to start a Steam Company - to be called the Bay of Plenty Steam Navigation Company Limited. 

Steamers in 1866 were beginning to become popular as coasters. Shallow draft they were able to travel up rivers and near to the coastline and small harbours. Not totally reliant on wind and sail, steamers were quicker on the local trade runs. The gentlemen who attended this meeting were keen to see a regular run between Auckland with Tauranga and Opotiki. Newly established sawmills at Whangapoua ( Coromandel Peninsula )  and Tairua along with the longer established mill at Mercury Bay ( Whitianga) in about 1830 by Brown gave opportunity for trade - timber, general cargo and passengers. 

Appointed on to the first Steam Company committee were : -

"Treasurer, Captain Skeene 1st "Waikatos Secretary Captain Fraser, 1st Waikatos, Colonel Harrington, Captain Goldsmith, and Messrs. Henderson, Wrigley and Norris "  ( New Zealand Herald 17/09/1866)

Tauranga in 1866 in
The Cyclopaedia of New Zealand, Vol 2, Auckland Province. Christchurch: Cyclopaedia Company Limited, 1902.

The Herald further reported the resolutions adopted by the meeting :-

"The following resolutions were adopted, to be registered under the “Limited Liability Act" 
1. That a Company shall be formed, to be called The Bay of Plenty Steam Navigation Company. 
2. That the capital of the Company shall be £4,600; to be distributed in 900 shares of £5 each. 
3. That the objects of the Company shall be the purchase of a steam vessel of sufficient capacity to meet the requirements of Tauranga and Opotiki.
4.That the Provisional Committee shall be authorised to commence the operations of the Company on 500 shares of the capital of the Company being subcribed for. 
5.That all applications for shares shall be accompanied with a deposit of £1 per share.
6.That the balance of £4 per share shall be due and payable in four equal amounts of £1 per share on the 10th November, and 10th December, 1866 and the 10th January, and 10th February, 1867, respectively, one fortnight's notice of which shall be given, either by circular, or advertisement in one of the Auckland papers.
7. That it shall be competent for the Provisional Committee, or by the directors, when appointed to declare a forfeiture of shares, in the event of any shareholder neglecting to pay any call on his shares within 14 days of the same being declared due and payable. 
8. That the shareholders of the Company, on commencing operations, shall be called upon by the secretary of the Company to attend a general meeting for the purpose of appointing any number of directors they may think necessary, to manage the affairs of the company. "( New Zealand Herald 17/09/1866)

Page 1 Advertisements Column 4 Daily Southern Cross, 17 October 1866, Page 1
Meeting the Company object of Bay of Plenty Steam Navigation Company, the assistance of Captain Fraser and Captain Daniel Sellars were utilised to procure the company's first steamer.

Scottish born Captain Daniel Sellars had taken up the sea as a profession from an early age. He is said to have arrived aboard the Brigantine Elizabeth about 1855 - 1856 as a First Mate. Elizabeth loaded a cargo of wheat and produce for the Melbourne run. In 1857 Captain Sellars married Jane Faulkner , daughter of John L. Faulkner and settled in Tauranga. He quickly got to know the Eastern Coasts and called at home in Tauranga on his runs. 

View of Tauranga taken by an unidentified photographer, circa the time of the battle of Gate Pa in 1864. The note on the back of the file print reads: "From the right ... the cemetery (with the Mount in the background); Monmouth redoubt; residence of Capt Sellars of coasting steamer Tauranga; school; field H. Q, Durham redoubt,"
Tauranga. Ref: 1/2-022640-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.

Captain Fraser and Captain Sellars arranged a contract with Henry Niccol & Sons - an expert ship builder with yards in Auckland. Niccol - son of a Clydeside, Scotland shipbuilder - was one of those who was ready to adapt to the changes of vessel - from sailing vessels  to coastal steamers. The engines of the twin -screw steamer were manufactured by Fraser & Tinne of the then well known Phoenix Foundry. For Niccol s.s. Tauranga was one of his first steamers. For George Fraser, a first marine engine and for the fledgling Bay of Plenty Steam Navigation Company a New Zealand built vessel and the first local Steam Company to do so.

Fraser & Tinne Mechanics Bay in
The Cyclopaedia of New Zealand, Vol 2, Auckland Province. Christchurch: Cyclopaedia Company Limited, 1902.

 s.s. Tauranga was in the beginning days of coastal steam in Auckland Province. Niccol went on to build more steamers that saw the coastal trade on the Coromandel Peninsula and Bay of Plenty. Fraser & Tinne more marine engines, gold mining machinery and batteries along with engines and boilers for a new  sawmill for the Mercury Bay Timber Company in 1883.

Launch  of s.s. Tauranga

Steamer Launches and Steamer Trials were often large and festive occasions, attended by numbers of people - both the invited guests and interested onlookers. Interested onlookers were often attracted by the bunting strung for the occasion and buzz of activity in preparation for the launch from the Ship Builder’s yard. This was no less so for the official launch of s.s. Tauranga from the yards of Messrs Henry Niccol & Son on 27 March 1867. For the Bay of Plenty Steam Navigation Company their first steamer and for Niccol & Son a first steamer for a local company started for coastal trade. The Herald reported the following:-

“The steamer was gaily decked with bunting, the topmast flag being the house-flag of the company, bearing the initials of B.P.S.N. Co." in the four corners of a St. Andrews cross, on a yellow ground, and beneath it the burgee of the pioneer "Tauranga." ( New Zealand Herald, 28/ 03/ 1867, P 4)

Daughters of the Ship’s Owner or Ship Builder were selected to name the steamer as she slid to the waters of the harbour. This honour for the launch of s.s. Tauranga fell to Miss Kate Wrigley of Tauranga daughter of one of the directors of the Bay of Plenty Steam Navigation Company.

Also present for this launching were Messrs, Winks and Hall the upholsterers and Messrs. Fraser and Tinne, of Phoenix Foundry, who were responsible for making of the engines. Following the launch and typical of these occasions ,all retired to lunch and speeches.
Tauranga Harbour looking towards Mount Maunganui - Photo CRB 2012  Tauranga in 1867 home of the Bay of Plenty Steam Navigation Company

Trial Trip of s.s. Tauranga

Three months later s.s. Tauranga made her Trial Trip.  Trial Trips too ,were occasions. Among those invited to the Steamer Trials were the Ship Builders, Engine Manufacturers, Engineers and other mercantile, financial and government interests.( Provincial Superintendents, Ministers and occasional Mr. Nancarrow Government Chief Inspector of Steamers. For those out of the Auckland Harbours of Waitemata and Manukau, Stewart was present at these trials in his role as Inspector of Steamers. Apart from the more serious tasks of assessing capability and performance for certification, these were also occasions of conviviality and celebration. Following the trial trip over a measured mile the owner of the vessel often put on a luncheon for invited guests on board. This was followed by toasts proposed to the persons involved in getting the steamer launched and running – the Owners, Ship Builder, those responsible for the machinery, the upholsterers and pannelling finishers. 

This was a special occasion for this steamer for it was said”  her engines were the first marine condensing engines constructed in the colony” (Daily Southern Cross, 14/6/ 1867, P 4)  s.s Tauranga met expectations, passed the trials and then was in the hands of Captain Sellars, Engineer Mr. Griffiths and the beginning of the coastal trade along the eastern coasts of the North Island and the Bay of Plenty -  home of the Bay of Plenty Steam Navigation Company.

Tauranga Harbour 2011 photo by CRB
Reference Source:
  • New Zealand Gazette 1 December 1866 - Company Registration
  • Te Ara NZDB Ara NZDB
  • ADVANCE TAURANGA! BAY OF PLENTY STEAM NAVIGATION COMPANY. Daily Southern Cross, 17 October 1866, Page 4
  • STEAM FOR THE EAST COAST.New Zealand Herald, 17 October 1866, Page 4
  • Shipping Intelligence. New Zealand Herald, 28 March 1867, Page 4
  • TRIAL TRIP OF THE B.P.S.N. COMPANY'S S.S.'TAURANGA.' Daily Southern Cross,14 June 1867, Page 4
  •  BAY OF PLENTY STEAM NAVIGATION COMPANY. (FROM THE "TAURANGA. ARGUS," AUGUST 1.) Daily Southern Cross, 26 August 1867, Page 4
  • DEATH OF CAPTAIN SELLARS. Bay of Plenty Times, 5 October 1880, Page 6