Underwater Heritage Group New Zealand
The Stolen Island: Searching for Ata
Review of “The Stolen Island: Searching for ‘Ata” by Scott Hamilton
‘Shock History: A sensationalist fictional horror story not to be taken seriously’
By Dr Rosanne Hawarden
In this slim book ‘The Stolen Island: Searching for ‘Ata by Scott Hamilton, a claim is made for a New Zealand/Australia slave trade in the South Pacific during the early 1860’s. The tale revolves around the purported capture and sale of 144 people at an unknown date in 1863 from the island of ‘Ata and the later resettlement of the remaining inhabitants on ‘Eua Island, south-east of Tongatapu. The small and remote island of ‘Ata is now part of the present day Kingdom of Tonga and was discovered by the Dutch in 1643. It was named Pylstaart Island by Abel Tasman after the many tropic birds frequenting it. The villain of the slaving tale is Captain Thomas James McGrath of the Hobart whaler, the Grecian. If the author is to be believed, McGrath resembles a dastardly pirate from his looks to his behaviour, having forsaken whaling for the more lucrative occupation of slave trading.
Bureaucracy and the Buried Bottle
Bureaucracy and the Buried Bottle by Lynton Diggle
In 1772 two French vessels Le Mascarin and Marquis de Castries visited the Bay of Islands and set up camp on Moturua Island. Before leaving on July 24th 1772 they buried a bottle containing the arms of France (used from 1589 to 1792) and a declaration of possession.
Act of Possession.
“In the year of Grace one thousand and seventy two, the eleventh of July, we Captains and Officers of the King’s ships Le Mascarin and Marquis de Castries, have taken possession in the name of His Majesty Louis XV, our King, of the Continent to the Eastward of New Zealand, named by M. Marion DuFresne, our Commander, France Australe, being in a harbour to which he gave his name, situated 35 degrees 21 South latitude; and one hundred and seventy-one degrees of longitude observed to the East of the Paris Meridian; the Castries lying on 164 degrees. We arrived and anchored in the harbour on the fifth of May and we intend to depart therefrom on 13 July of the same year, have lost in the said harbour through assassination by the Natives of the Country, Mr Marion, two officers and twenty four men of the Crew, forming the complement of the long boat of the Castries and of our gig which we have not seen since.”
Preserving Our Heritage Shipwrecks
PRESERVING OUR HERITAGE SHIPWRECKS
Like wearing multiple Condoms
Legislation regarding our historic shipwrecks is a mess. No fewer than seven departments have regulations affecting the ability to excavate our ‘historic’ shipwrecks, creating a web of complexity. While our wrecks may be historic, few are significant. A shipwreck like the Tasmania, built in 1883 and wrecked in 1897, may be historic in a New Zealand context, but by no means significant. The plans are available, as is its cargo manifest! It’s just another wreck.