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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Nelson, Marlborough & Westland Provincial Districts]


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The shipping trade of Blenheim dates back to 1849, when small coasters, such as the schooners “Triumph” and “Old Jack,” called at the port of Wairau. The cargoes discharged inside the Boulder Bank were afterwards brought up the river in boats towed by horses. Wool was also taken down the river, and up to Port Underwood, where it was loaded in English-going vessels. The earthquakes of 1855 so improved the rivers that navigation became less difficult, and a few years later a fleet of small vessels, engaged in the colonial trade, sailed up the Opawa to Blenheim. Among these were the “Gipsy,” “Mary,” “Rapid,” “Necromancer,” “Alert,” “Supply,” and “Falcon.” Small steamers afterwards made their appearance on both the Wairau and Opawa rivers, the paddle steamer “Tasmanian Maid” being the first to ply on the Wairau, and the paddle steamer “Lyttelton,” the first on the Opawa. The paddle steamer “Napier” was a regular trader for many years. Small screw steamers now ply regularly between Blenheim and Wellington. The amount of pilotage collected at the port of Wairau during the year which ended on the 31st of March, 1905, was £217 8s 3d, and the amount of light dues, £21 15s 11d. The total expenditure for the same period was £514 3s 2d, of which £320 was spent in protective works; but this sum was of a special, and not of a recurring, nature.

Captain Henry Fisk, who formerly traded regularly between Blenheim and Wellington, with the s.s. “Pania,” and is now (1905) pilot at the Wairau bar, was born in Suffolk, England, in 1842, and served an apprenticeship to ropemaking. He afterwards went to sea, and served his time at South Shields in the barque “Emily,” which was engaged in the Mediterranean and Baltic trade. At the expiration of his apprenticeship, he visited St. John's, New Brunswick, and shipped in an American vessel. During the American civil war, he was trading on the American coasts, and in the West Indies. In 1862, Mr. Fisk left the American trade, and shipped in the “Star of Tasmania,” and after making a trip to London, he sailed for New Zealand. On landing at Dunedin, he left the sea, and went with many others to the goldfields, where he spent three years, and was fairly successful. Mr. Fisk, however, returned to the sea, and entered on a course of study which enabled him to take his certificate of competency for the coasts of New Zealand. He was
Capt. H. Fisk.

Capt. H. Fisk.

afterwards in charge of various well known sailing vessels and steamers, and was most fortunate, largely owing to his careful and steady navigation. So competent a mariner has he proved to be, that in 1896, he received from the New Zealand Government the appointment of colonial pilot for the whole of the New Zealand coasts, and is now stationed at the bar of the Wairau. Captain Fisk has been a Freemason for more than forty years. He has six sons and three daughters, all grown up.
Captain North was born at Gravesend, England, in the year 1848. When fifteen years of age, he went to sea, and sailed to all parts of the world. In 1870, he came to New Zealand in the barque “Rapedo,” and left her at Nelson, but shortly afterwards entered a steamboat service, in which he eventually secured a master mariner's certificate. Captain North was for many years in the Union Steam Ship Company's service, as well as in other colonial lines, and is, therefore, well known throughout the
Capt. North.

Capt. North.

New Zealand and Australian ports. His seafaring life has not been without hardships, trials, and adventures; on many occasions, he was dismasted while in wid-ocean, and he was once shipwrecked on the East Coast of England. Captain North is a Freemason and an Oddfellow. He was married, in Wellington, to a daughter of the late Mr. Duncan McIntosh, who came to New Zealand with Colonel Wakefield, in the “Will Watch,” and has two sons and three daughters. He resides at Blenheim, and is now (1905) master of the steamer “Blenheim.”