Contributions to The Early History of New Zealand


Settlement of Otago


  • Thomas Morland Hocken (author)


Sampson Low, Marston and Co.


London, UK

Publication Date



From one of the two survivors, now nearly eighty years of age, the author has received an interesting account of the hardships they underwent and the Crusoe-like life they led in the solitudes around them. They consisted of two families, connected by marriage—the Andersons and the McKays—who arrived at Koputai from Nelson after a three week's passage on the 30th of December, 1844. There were Mr. James Anderson, his son John, and John's wife Isabella; also Alexander McKay and his wife Janet. Their descendants now number a yearly increasing throng, spread chiefly on the broad Taieri Plains—the Andersons, McKays, Allans, Thomson, McCaws, and others.

Finding on their arrival that the tide was not in flood and that there was little prospect of employment, yet having youth and strength and faith in the future, they determined to remain and encounter the certain hardships of the new condition. McKay decided to stay at Koputai in readiness to do business whenever the first vessels arrive, or any accrued from the survey staff, or from chance whalers. He opened the first first public house at Koputai, to which he gave the name of the Surveyors' Arms. It was on the same site as the later and present Port Chalmers Hotel.

The Andersons circumnavigated the harbour, or the river, as the whalers then called it, and finally decided to pitch their tent in that pretty little inlet known after them as Anderson's Bay. Here was a strip of clear land running from bay to ocean with plenty of good bush in the vicinity. Upon this they hoped to run a few sheep, and perhaps cattle. They built a hut of rushes and rough timber on the rising piece of forehsore near the junction of the two roads, and forming now the Cintra property. For food they had plenty of wild pork, potatoes and other vegatables of their own raising; they also carefully eked out half of ton of flour which they had brought from Nelson. There was abundance of quail which young Mrs. Anderson, who soon learn to shoulder a gun, quickly brought to earth in a sportsmanlike fashion. Her sister down the river, not quite so accomplished, was content to carry the gamebag for her husband and Mr. Davison when they went a-pigeon-shooting. Time hung heavily on their hands, almost their sole occupation being gardening, fishing, and boating.

On their boating trips they frequently visited the future Dunedin, then covered with scrub and of uninviting appearance, but teeming with wild pigs and quail. Here dwelt two runaway sailors in a little hut by the side of Kaituna creek close to the old Maori landing place. They made a living by the sale or exchange of wild pork to the whalers at the Heads. These runaways were their only friends, and with them they exchanged many a visit. But one day one of these poor fellows died, presumably from a long course of wild pork, and then the spirits of the remaining three, never high, became deplorably wretched, and the bright future so intently hoped for seemed immeasurably removed.

Thus passed a weary time, when one bright summer day in February of 1846, to their amazement and delight they saw a fully-manned whaleboat pulling swiftly up the silent harbour. It contained Mr. Kettle and a party of his surveying staff so long looked for, and at last speeding to the scene of their future labours. To complete this short story, John Anderson got immediate employment amongst the surveyors, and built a small house, which was long afterwards occupied by Mr Pelichet. Here was born on the 10th of December 1846 his son, the first child born in Dunedin. Old Mr Anderson, the father, closed his eyes in his son's house in August 1848, six months after the arrival of the first settlers. He sleeps in the old cemetery in York Place, which always will overlook Anderson's Bay. A Mr. and Mrs. Lewthwaite came from Taranaki early in 1844. To them was born a son, and the first at Koputai. With them came one David Scott who had a sad story to tell of faith broken by the New Zealand Company. Three or four more complete the list who so early came down to linger and to wait.




Date Known

December 1844

James, John and Isabella Anderson and Alexander and Janet McKay leave Nelson, New Zealand. Sources: 2

30 December 1844

James, John and Isabella Anderson and Alexander and Janet McKay arrive at Koputai. Sources: 3

December 1844

James Anderson is born to Isabella Allan and John Anderson in Port Chalmers, New Zealand. Sources: 3


John and Isabella Anderson settle at — and name — Andersons Bay. Sources: 2

August 1846

James Anderson dies in Dunedin, New Zealand. Sources: 1