Nautical Colours

Boating in Broad Bay – Buy 

When the New Zealand Company’s chief Surveyor, Captain William Mein Smith left Otago Harbour sometime in the early 1940’s, he wasn’t too impressed. 

Having been sent down from Wellington to report on the suitability of the harbour as a place for a settlement, Captain Smith spent five days taking a boat around the harbour before departing with the view that there was ‘little arable land in sight’ and not many ‘desirable places’ to build a town. 

In the years preceding Captain Smith’s visit, the Otago Harbour had become a busy place. There had been local Māori iwi living in tribes along the coast for some time but the arrival of Europeans, brought to the area to hunt Seals and Whales, meant a steady stream of boats started to grace Otago Harbour. The whaling station which was operated by the Weller Brothers from Sydney had based their operations near the harbour entrance at a place called Otakou and it had grown to be one of the biggest in the country. At its peak producing 310 tons of oil in 1834. However, by the early 1840’s the whale population had been hunted so extensively that there remained little money to be made and population numbers in the Otago Harbour significantly dwindled. 

When Captain Smith arrived a few years after the whaling industry ceased, he came to survey the region as a place for potential further colonisation. He found small pockets of both Europeans and Māori living in the area but he concluded that there were very limited suitable places to build a town. Before departing the Otago region, he did make one recommendation however, he concluded that if any region would be favourable for a town it would be the areas now known as Portobello or Broad Bay.  

Postscript: A little bit of Ōtepoti ….

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