1840s - Canoe visit by govt official

Thomas Henry Smith

An official from the Protectorate of Aborigines

Local historian Paul Monin recounts the visits by canoe of a young government official to Whakanewha in 1845 and 1849. "In June 1845, a 21-year-old Englishman with a good education, a gift for languages and a bad knee [good thing he wasn't walking], was travelling back to Auckland from the Firth of Thames, with a fleet of five canoes.

"He was Thomas Henry Smith, newly-appointed official with the Protectorate of Aborigines."

Monin continues, "Smith visited Whakanewha a second time in March 1849, a canoe again being his mode of transport. 'A very light and shifting wind' resulted in 'a very pleasant day on the water….'

"Sails were essential to canoe travel over longer distances, Monin notes, "since paddle-power, soon exhausted, had to be conserved for close-quarter manoeuvres."

"Smith's record also supplied a glimpse of the Maori canoe trade with Auckland: 'The next day the principal part of the male portion of our friends at this place set sail for Coromandel Harbour from where they were to freight their canoes with peaches for the Auckalnd market."

Smith had to wait a week on Waiheke, to get a lift back with them to town, on their return trip. To fill his time he said, "We walked and talked, paddled a canoe, bathed in the sea."