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Aurora

The Aurora, a barque of 550 tons, left Gravesend on 18 September 1839, under the command of Captain Theophilus Heale, with 148 emigrants (58 males and 90 females) and 21 passengers aboard. They crossed the Equator on 5 November, and apart from some heavy gales encountered off the Cape of Good Hope and in the Southern Ocean, had a mainly uneventful voyage. In the gales she lost a topmast or two, and a yardarm, but she was a good sea boat, and came through it well. There was plenty of entertainment on board, including dancing, and like all ships of the New Zealand Company, "the Aurora was well victualled, including supplies of 'wine, spirits, and porter', which were described as ample".

The South Island was sighted on the evening of 16 January 1840 and the next day the Aurora dropped anchor in Port Hardy, D'Urville Island, as had been arranged before Tory had left England. One account relates that Maoris in canoes delivered a letter from Colonel Wakefield, and another reports that a whaler named McLaren gave Colonel Wakefield's message - which was to go on to Port Nicholson. The Captain ordered the anchor weighed and the Aurora headed in that direction. She was off the Heads on the 20th, but a nor'wester kept her out for two days, during which time she was visited by Colonel Wakefield, who had returned form his travels.

Well-known whaler, Captain "Georgie" Young, piloted the vessel into port on 22 January, and she anchored between Somes Island and Petone Beach, 126 days out form Gravesend. Her arrival was acknowledged by a salute from the Cuba's guns. Although not the first of the settler ships to leave England, she was the first to arrive in New Zealand.

Disembarking carried on over the next week - by now the surveyors had run a small jetty out into the water. Sites for tents and temporary huts were allocated near the beach. Reverend James Buller, a Wesleyan Missionary, was visiting the settlement at this time, and on 26 January he conducted a service on board the ship.

The Aurora's next voyage was to be her last - "in April of the same year, she left Port Nicholson for the North, and was totally wrecked on the northern head of the Kaipara Harbour when leaving the river loaded with kauri spars, and carrying Port Nicholson mails for England".

William Whitewood arrived on this vessel.

References:  "White Wings Vol II" - Sir Henry Brett; "Early Wellington" - Louis E. Ward.

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