To the Emigration Board, Napier
Remarks from the Emigrants on board of the Ship, "Hovding" -
We contracted to go to New Zealand in this ship bound to leave Christiania, Norway, the 5th August 1873.
The contract states that we should be allowed good and substantial food. This we have not got; it is also mentioned in the Rules that the Master should conscientiously hear all complaints and deal with us accordingly; but about six days after coming on board when lying off a small Town 4 miles from Christiania, he stated that if any of the people complained he would put them under arrest. This was against the rules, and what use was it then to complain to him?
One of the emigrants got a list of food from him after some trouble - there is much to complain of in that itself - but what stands is that we have never got - and what we have got have we always been obliged to quarrel to get. Potatoes as we should have had, have we not got and no substitute.
Weights and measure have we also been deceived in, and for reason of the Master not having shipped an Emigrant cook. The miserable food we should have had has been for the most part spoiled and not eatable - Coffee we should have had about 7&1/2 lb per day, but for a long time we only got 5lb and more times less, in fact such has been the case with all the rest of the food - Sunday when we should have fresh meat 1/2lb per man have we, many of us not got more than about two ounces and no one has got the full weight - the salt beef that has been served out to us has been quite rotten - that no one could eat it - and this he tried to give us on Sundays - the only days we should have fresh meat. Puddings we did not get till we were several weeks at sea and then only once a week. When in the tropic we should have had an extra allowance of water and lime juice but we got none for several days and then only on quarrelling for it, the Captain maintaining we should have none - several times he said when we came on shore in New Zealand we would be slaves, and drove with the lash. For a long time we did not get the prescribed quantity of water for cooking and also we received too small a quantity of water for drinking purposes.
Sick children lying in fever and near death crying for water, but there was none to give them. Two stoves set up for the use of the Emigrants were taken down by the Masters orders that the poor people should not get anything warmed or cooked for the children not able to eat the food that grown up people could hardly eat. We had been out a long time before any food was allowed for the children, and when it was given out one of the most unconscientious girls in the ship was appointed to serve it out, one that stole and used much of it for herself. The treatment of the sick has been very bad and no difference in the food has been made for them. When we were on shore it was told us that everything necessary for sick people was sent on board but shortly after we came out to sea the Doctor said there was nothing for them.
We should also have said when complaints were made to him about the food that it was good enough for Poorhouse people. None of the rules the Govt. has sent on board have been kept - no order of discipline. The Master has never held Church service but only kicked up rows. He has been quite careless about the Emigrants, in fact we have been treated more like wild beasts than Christians. We beg to recommend that Mate Olassen as a straight forward honest conscientious man who has treated the people with the greatest kindness and as a man who our country man can safely trust if he should be in command of a vessel and we shall advise our country men not to ship on board any vessel, Capt. Nordby commands. We the undersigned testify on honor and conscience to the truth of this and that we have not been persuaded to sign it by anyone but have done it spontaneously. We beg that the Government if they intend to send more of our Country men will take every precaution in order that they may be spared similar sufferings. A copy of this complaint is to be sent to Norway.
1st December 1873 Signed E.Greiner & 78 heads of families, single men & single women.Archives New Zealand File73/1426