Friday, 10 March 2017

The Cutters Half Caste, Tararawa and Kataraina Borrowdale and a shipbuilder - Murray, near Tairua

Te Karo looking towards  headland which leads around to Otara Bay and Tapuaetahi Bay (Boat Harbour) where the cutters Half Caste and Tararawa were built by Murray  - all places near Tairua - photo courtesy Chris Ball 2015

The small 16 ton cutter Half Caste and larger 44 ton cutter Tararawa  ( AKA Rawawa ) are accredited with having being built by one John Alfred Murray AKA Alfred John Boradale ( AKA Borrowdale). Newspapers attribute John Murray with being the ship builder ( NZ Herald, 1888) Others attribute the building of the cutter Half Caste to a Captain Cotton Murray ( Riddle, 1998, p 114)  Official records including Watts Shipping Register, record Half Caste and Tararawa as being built by Alfred Murray. Watts Shipping Register also records a 19 tons register  cutter Katarina Borrowdale built in earlier years by Alfred Murray.  The names of these three cutters reflect the family links of their ship builder who settled in  New Zealand in those early pioneering days before the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi. Initially in the Hokianga by 1837 and then near Kaitaia in the far north of New Zealand.

Entrance to Hokianga Harbour, Far North, New Zealand - photo courtesy Chris Ball February 2014
Katarina Borrowdale was recorded as a  46.3 ft vessel built at Ahipara, Northland in 1868. Ship builder Alfred Murray's son David Murray and also William King were recorded as masters of the 19 ton cutter in this year.

Ahipara Bay. Northwood brothers :Photographs of Northland. Ref: 1/1-011241-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.   PLEASE DO NOT COPY PHOTO

Photo shows Ahipara where it is said the cutter Kataraina Borrowdale was built by Murray.
From official accounts it appears the owner of Katarina Borrowdale, was James Watt , an Auckland merchant , recorded in the Register of Australian and New Zealand Shipping 1874 and  in the Mercantile Navy List 1875 of British Registered sailing vessels. Other vessels owned by James Watt were Mary Ira, Wave ,  Miranda, Augusta, Southern Cross, Falcon and Iona. In 1874 John Francis was listed as master of Katarina Borrowdale. July 1874 saw Katarina Borrowdale, laden with ship's timbers wrecked at Motu, Katikati, running on to the rocks while making a tack. ( New Zealand Herald 23/07/1874) Fortunately crew and passengers were rescued by Captain Kaspar and the steamer Lady Bowen.

Looking toward Katikati from ANZAC Bay Southern end Waihi Beach - Motu  Katikati being where the cutter Kataraina Borrowdale laden with ship's timber was wrecked. Photo 2012 courtesy Chris Ball
Built at the time of the early years of the Thames Goldfields opening, newspaper shipping reports, record voyages of Katarina Borrowdale  to Thames, Waiheke, Taupo ( Northland coast) Wangapoa, Waiheke, Mercury Bay, Wairoa. Typical of  the coastal cutters of that day, cargoes recorded were timber from Mercury Bay and Wairoa and firewood from Waiheke to sustain the needs of a growing Auckland. 
Built at Boat Harbour near Tairua in 1881  by Alfred Murray , the cutter Half Caste  fast gained a reputation for the carrier of  cargo of illicit spirits and with the reputation  she was said to be a very fast boat. Her life was shortlived when  wrecked on September 22nd, 1883 ironically near where she was built - Boat Harbour. Fortunately no lives were lost , including that of the Captain - Cotton Ngatote Murray son of  Alfred  John Murray / Boradale. According to the Marine Report in the AJHR's, " the vessel went ashore in attempting to beat out of  Tairua Harbour, the jib having carried away and subsequently the anchor chain" ( AJHR 1884) Newspaper reports indicated that the crew had been able to rescue the sails and their clothes.
Boat Harbour, Eastern Seaboard Coromandel Peninsula
 Built also  at Boat Harbour by Murray in 1885, was the cutter Tararawa AKA Te Rarawa. Initially Cotton Ngatote Murray, son of John Alfred and Kataraina was recorded as master of this larger cutter 1885 - 1887, John AKA Alfred and sons Cotton, David and Joseph the owners.

A much larger cutter than Half Caste, Tararawa was said to be then owned by J.Smith and Company Limited of Auckland and in 1890 was converted to a ketch rig. Tararawa was raced in the Auckland Regatta of 1913.
Showing the ketch 'Tararawa', built at Tairua in 1885 by Alfred Murray as a cutter and converted to a ketch rig in 1890, shown during the Auckland Anniversary Regatta in 1913 on Waitemata Harbour'  

Both Tararawa and Katarina Borrowdale appeared in newspaper reports of   Auckland Anniversary Regatta results for the Trading Vessels section: Katarina Borrowdale in 1869  and 1871 ( DSC 30/01/1869 p3 ; NZ Herald 31/01/1871 p2) Tararawa in 1907 ( NZ Herald  30'01/ 1907 p 5 ; New Zealand Herald   30 January 1920   p 6. 

The Auckland Star was to report in 1937 :

"From 1900 'until 1914 the sailing events were well patronised. Among the fastest during those years were the schooner Greyhound, ketches, Will Watch, Tararawa, Endeavour, Albatross and Edna, and the scows, Vesper, Vindex and Vixen. In' 1907 the Vesper and Vixen sailed a dead-heat, but the ketch Moonah was placed first on time allowance. The course was sailed round Tiritiri in a strong easterly with a big sea running. The traders made a splendid picture, and on the race back all kites were carried a low and aloft, the competitors being driven to the last ounce. Conditions the following year were quite the contrary and the "race" developed into a drifting match. The craft were 1 out all day and night, the Vesper being first home the day after the regatta. Throughout calms and flukey winds were encountered. A hard sou-'wester made the race of 1911 a most exciting fixture. Cracking on canvas was the order of the day and kites were not taken in until, in some cases, they were blown right out of their bolt ropes. In that race the Vindex lost her fore topmast for the. second year in succession."  ( Auckland Star  17 August 1937   Page 11 (Supplement)
 In 1920 the, by now ketch, Tararawa, was registered at Port of Auckland, E. A Steinbeck her master. 1921 saw Tararawa registered at Port of Suva, Fiji.  In  1928 the register closed with the vessel sunk in the harbour at Vavau, Tonga.
'Wrecks' off the coasts of Tonga - photo August 2015 courtesy Chris Ball

Born in Moffat, Scotland in Dumfrieshire County in 1813, John Boradale AKA Alfred Murray  ,  was one of seven siblings. John's father, Joseph is said to have been a shipbuilder from Cumberland. 

Alfred AKA John Boradale AKA Murray and
Kataraina Te Koni Boradale Murray
By 1837 Boradale had arrived in Hokianga on the Western Coast of Northland. An area newly settled by European with a mission station, shipbuilding and timber felling. Where, from 1826, Sydney Shipbuilders Raine, Ramsay and Gordon Browne ( later of Mercury Bay Whitianga) established a ship building operation, with more than fifty people involved in spars, planks and flax and in first vessels from the Horeke Shipyards.  By 1828 Raine had gone bankrupt and by 1840 - the year HMS Buffalo was visiting Mercury Bay Gordon Browne and William Stewart were there also. 

After landing in Hokianga Alfred John Boradale changed his name to John AKA Alfred  Murray.  Boradale AKA Murray was to marry Kataraina Te Koni who was of Te Rarawa descent and moved to Kaitaia where it is said he was involved in shipbuilding there. There Murray stayed until about 1870 when there was a move to Mercury Bay. It was also in 1870 that William White another ship builder moved to Mercury Bay.  By then, there were saw mills established at  Mercury Bay ( Whitianga) and Tairua supplying sawn timber,  along with plentiful kauri in the area,  suitable for ship building. 

ca1865. View of mills & portion township, Tairua / Webb & Webb courtesy State Library of Victoria, Australia
 By 1881, when the cutter Half Caste was built, Murray was living at Boat Harbour further down the Eastern Seaboard near Tairua and Te Karo, along with his family members. They were also involved in occupational activities - Cotton Ngotote Murray was master of Half Caste  which plied the  coast with cargo. David Rawawe Murray, the eldest son, was attributed with  gold discovery and gold mining at Te Karo ( Sailor's Grave) nearby.

Map showing Boat Harbour, Neaves Bay, Te Karo and Tairua on the Eastern Seaboard of the Coromandel Peninsula
Map in Bell, James Mackintosh, and Fraser, Colin New Zealand Geological Survey Branch. 1912. The geology of the Waihi - Tairua subdivision, Hauraki division. Wellington, New Zealand: John Mackay, Government Printer.

Another son, Joseph Hepa, also worked on the Eastern Seaboard settling finally at Matakana, near Tauranga. Ani Ngawhini AKA Annie daughter of Alfred and Kataraina married another Far North settler Samuel Yates.Their grandaughter, Annie married Thomas Stewart Bowman, son of Henry and Iris Bowman ( nee Berghan). Thus typical the interlinkedness of those early North families in both occupation and family " kith and kin" moving up and down the early Auckland Province for work in the timber and ship building industries.

A reporter visiting the Boat Harbour / Te Karo area  on a trip  wrote on December 9: 
" Unfortunately, there has been a deal of sickness in Mr Murray's family of late. Dave, one of the original prospectors, has been seriously ill for tho last month, and since the death of his eldest daughter, about two months ago, on or more of his children have been ailing. His father, an old man of 78 years, is, I fear, rapidly sinking, and " Jimmy," a native of New Caledonia, who had been working with the Murrays, is also ill.(Te Aroha News  19 /12/1888 p 5 )

By the time the Te Aroha News  was published on the 19th, both Alfred AKA John  Murray and his eldest son David Raawe had died, Alfred on 13th December 1888 and David the following day on the 14th.  Thus ended the life of a pioneer shipbuilder on the Eastern Seaboard near the township of Tairua - who built fine vessels ,exhibited in Tararawa, which continued to trade for many a year and race with creditable results, in the trading vessel section of the Auckland Regatta. 

Boat Harbour continues today to be reached mainly by sea.Nearby Te Karo still harbours the grave of William Samson, looked after by many like the Murray family  who worked and lived in the vicinity over the last 175 years - an important Part of the Past of New Zealand history.

Te Karo near Boat Harbour and where grave of William Samson is - photo 2015 courtesy of Chris Ball
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1 comment:

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