Friday, July 31, 2009

Chinese Digital Community website

A very good addition to the online collection of New Zealand history websites: the Chinese Digital Community. More information is being added as time goes on -- I'm very honoured to say that there's a link to Timespanner on the site as well. Thank you very much.

List to date of Auckland Chinese history posts on the blog here:

The Ah Chee family on Rosebank

Wakefield Street.

W. T. Murray versus the Chinese growers

Yan Kew / Ah Kew of Auckland

Early Chinese immigrants to Auckland

The Auckland "Chinese Markets" controversy

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A mural soon to be no more in Kingsland

This is a bad news / good news kind of story. I came across it quite by chance, while looking at the recent agenda and minutes for the July meeting of the Eden-Albert Community Board. The words "mural", "Kingsland Station", and "decommissioning" sprang out at me. I investigated.

A long mural decorating a wall at the Kingsland train station, fronting Sandringham Road, was painted by Daniel Tippett and unveiled in October 2006. The wall, however, is part of Ontrack's rail facility there, leased to the Auckland Regional Transport Authority -- and with plans for the 2010 Rugby World Cup at Eden Park proceeding, the train station is to be altered from the end of this year. This means, the mural will have to go.

There's no way of removing and resiting the mural, which is painted on the wall itself. Where it is today, is scheduled to be covered by a concrete block wall. That's the bad news -- a really beautiful mural will be gone from the end of this year.

However, here's the good news. According to the item report on the Board's agenda, a new mural by Daniel Tippett is in the final stages of commission by the Board, at the rear of the Sauvarins Building which backs onto Kingsland Station. Plus, Auckland City Council officers have suggested a replacement mural could be commissioned for the new wall, if the council decide to pursue that option.

I'm pleased that some suggestions for replacement have been put forward, even if nothing further happens regarding the new wall. The mural, as it is today, is truly gorgeous.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

2009 "Big Night In" fundraising from Waiheke Island

Another uncommon departure from things remotely historical, but for a very good cause. A great friend of mine has put up a page as part of the fundraising campaign in the upcoming "Big Night In" in August, for the Kids Can Stand Tall Charitable Trust.

WIKD (Waiheke Island Kindly Donates)

Click the link, have a look, there's a donation link at the bottom of the page (donations from overseas are apparently handled as well). And if you can, pass the link along to your contacts. Your help, dear readers, would be very much appreciated, cheers.

Monday, July 27, 2009

More New Lynn control box art

A milk delivery cart, outside the local KFC. From the corner of Veronica Street and Great North Road.

Heritage down a set of stairs

Behind the modernity of the Onehunga Community Centre and Library complex, there is a bit of local heritage which, while I can't say it goes unappreciated by the locals where it is, I think it should have perhaps a better site. Head through the entry doors, turn right, then left to go down the stairs towards the entry doors leading to the carpark on the western side of the buolding -- and you'll find some of Onehunga's past.

Hung on the block wall, descending/ascending as you do on the stairs, are the following gems. Each image is on ceramic tiles designed and made by Thomas Barter, 2005 (according to some of the captions).

"A car cross the Mangere Bridge towards Mangere Mountain, 1913."

"The Carnegie Free Library, 1912."

"Looking up Queen Street, 1909-1910."
(Queen Street in Onehunga is known today as Onehunga Mall.)

"Making Kits for the Visitors at King Tawhiao's Tangi, 1894." Photo by Enos Pegler.

"Mrs. Harriet Beswick and her six children outside a cottage at 40 Galway Street, 1860."

"St. Peters Church (situated at the corner of Queen and Church Street), 1860s."

"Roman Catholic Church of the Assumption (Onehunga)."

"Bacon Pigs unloaded from the wharf cross Queen Street in front of the Manukau Hotel, 1908".
(Actually, I'd always heard this was a shot of the pigs which had broken loose and decided to do some free ranging at the hotel grounds ...)

"The Onehunga Wharf with Mangere Mountain. Loading supplies on the scow for the garrison at Slippery Creek (Drury)."

"Te Toki a Tapiri, docked at Mechanic's Bay, 1860s." Original image by John Kinder.

The caption goes on to read:

"Carvers of the Rongowhakaata iwi in Wairoa completed Te Tolki a Tapiri in 1836. The waka later passed to Nga Puhi and then to Ngati Te Ata. During the New Zealand Wars, General Cameron ordered the destruction of all waka, and Te Toki a Tapiri survived a bomb blast to the hull during the campaigns. The waka was so badly damaged by the end of the war that the government paid Ngati Te Ata £600 in compensation.

"Te Toki a Tapiri featured in the 1869 Auckland Regatta when the Duke of Edinburgh visited Auckland. At the conclusion of the race, Paora Tuhaere of Orakei cared for the waka until 1885 when it was presented to the Auckland Museum where it is currently on display."
Update 5 November 2011: As I'm finding out now, while researching Te Toki a Tapiri -- the regatta was in April 1868, not 1869. More on this soon.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Another member of the endangered species

A detail from a traffic control box that I photographed (while inadvertently walking in a construction area) at the corner of Park Road and Carleton Gore in Grafton, just opposite Outhwaite Park and the Auckland Domain. Why inadvertently? I got off at a bus stop across the road by Outhwaite Park, to head cross-country towards the museum a couple of weeks ago. I noticed that the old service station on the corner was undergoing either a doing-up or a doing-down/demolition, but because I was concentrating on what I wanted to look up at the museum library, I wasn't paying really close attention to the fact that contractors are doing up the corners of that intersection right now. I was about to cross over Park Road to correct the mistake -- when I spotted the box.

The paintwork was already chipped when I spotted it, and knowing that this intersection was being upgraded just as they done at Avondale -- probably, the next time I see this control box, it will be that same, plain greeny-grey paint all over it. If it's still there at all, that is.

On the topic of folks beautifying street boxes, Phil Hanson sent through a snippet from the Western Leader of 23 July about Mark Whyte of Glen Eden painting a power generator box out there, near Waikumete Cemetery. There's an earlier photo of him working here. He terms his work "a public mural that enhances the visual environment."

I agree with him wholeheartedly. I must see about heading up there to take a photo of it.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Massacre at Surafend, 1918

A bit of history that neither New Zealand nor Australia can be proud of -- the 1918 massacre of Palestinian villagers at Surafend. The NZ Herald have come out today with an article on a book published on the episode.

I also found a messageboard thread here. Wiki includes it here (but NZ gets the blame, as at time of reading).

Monday, July 20, 2009

The senior citizen militiaman

1857, and Auckland was preparing in case there was trouble (which, in six years' time, indeed there was) by calling up the able-bodied to serve on citizens militia. This included 61 year old, near-sighted Benjamin Turner, who expressed his surprise in a letter to the Southern Cross.

To the Editor of the Southern Cross.

Sir, — You will excuse me asking advice, through your columns, how I should act in getting my discharge (with a good pension) from No. 4 Company of the New Zealand Militia. Yesterday evening, as I was lying on my sofa, groaning with pain, and thinking more about the next world than war, to my surprise I was served with a notice dated January 31, 1857, to inform me that my name was placed on the Militia roll of No. 4 Company by the Magistrates. I am sure they must be new chums of Magistrates, who don't know me, nor yet the duty of a soldier, to place a feeble, worn-out old man, turned 61 years of age, to be a soldier.

I am very near-sighted, and obliged to wear spectacles, which would be very dangerous if I should get shot in the eyes, — as the glass might blind my comrades. I am rather hard of hearing; I have only one hand that is of much use to me; and worse than all, bad teeth to nip the cartridges; and, if I was ordered by my officer to "bolt," it would be impossible for me to run, as it is a trouble for me to walk.

It is not because I am a coward (which I never was in my life) that I do not wish to be a soldier, nor because I have any dislike to the officers belonging to my said Company No. 4: quite different to that— I have so high an opinion of those gentlemen that I have no fear of their leading me into any danger against the enemy; and to make myself further secure, I will do all I can to stick close to their backs.

But now, Mr. Editor, if I am forced to be a soldier, and am posted opposite the Pound at Newmarket, I should very much like, along with my brother comrades, to get up a petition to his "soul of honour" the Superintendent, to have a blockhouse built at Newmarket, so that we could bolt into it when informed the enemy was coming, and let them pass on to Auckland, to No. 1 Company; and we will be ready for them, if there is no danger, when they come back.

Your Humble Servant (if required,)
Benj. E. Turner.
Newmarket, 24th March, 1857.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Sheep's trotters! Oh, no, not the sheep's trotters!!

From one of a number of articles over the course of the 19th century which served to illuminate for the comfortable middle-class of Auckland what fate befell those inhabitants of the city's slum areas (in this case, the area around Chancery Street) -- comes this piece of rather curious piece of journalism.
"I have only told a very little of what I had to tell. It may be I will yet tell more. In the meantime, after seeing what I did see in my night's adventure, let me earnestly request the readers of this most respectable journal not on any account; not for a fortune; not for any inducement which can be held out to them : not for the love of anything, or the hate of anything — to eat SHEEP'S TROTTERS.

"Don't ask me why ; don't ask me any questions concerning them ; but for the love of everything beautiful in this world, and for the hate and detestation of all that is vile and ugly, I implore — I beseech— l entreat— no one in this city of Auckland to buy or eat sheep's trotters.

"Some day I may breathe my reasons to the world. But not just now — not just now, on any consideration."
(Southern Cross, 19 August 1872)

Posterity is left to wonder what the heck that was all about.

The Southern Cross four years later published a handy recipe for sheep's trotters, so apparently all must have been forgiven between the paper and Auckland's ovines.
"Sheep's Trotters — Clean, scald and skin four trotters, boil them in salted water until the large bone can be easily removed. Next put them in a saucepan with fresh water and salt, and let them boil away till quite tender and glutinous ; pour off the water, leaving just enough to make the sauce, add a piece of butter rolled in flour, a dozen button mushrooms sliced, and some white pepper, then stir in the yolks of two or three eggs beaten up with the juice of half a lemon, and strained. Let the whole simmer away gently until wanted, but on no account boil."
(Southern Cross, 9 September 1876)

Pt Chevalier Times No. 6

Link to the latest newsletter for the Pt Chevalier History Group.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The U.S. Consuls before Connolly

After finishing the post on American Consul to New Zealand John D’Arcy Connolly, I wondered what was the story behind his predecessors to the office here in this country. Just about the only one I could have named off the top of my head would have been Captain James Reddy Clendon, back in the early 1840s.

As it turned out, and it usually does – there’s much, much more to the topic.

Captain Clendon was the first diplomatic representative for the United States here. Indeed, he was the second foreign representative of any nation here, after James Busby (for the British Empire). On 12 October 1838, the U.S. State Department appointed him as the United States consul at the Bay of Islands. Two years earlier, ten American shipmasters had petitioned their government to provide a representative in order that something could be done about the disorderliness of that country’s whaling crews. Bearing in mind that New Zealand wasn’t a country as such back then, the choice of a resident British merchant who had dealings with both the whalers and local Maori probably wasn’t thought to be a silly one at the time. It did prove somewhat embarrassing later when, in 1840, Clendon was apparently not only involved to some (still debatable) extent with the preparing of the Treaty of Waitangi, he was a signed witness to the document which established British rule in New Zealand, thus potentially acting against the wishes of the nation paying his salary and providing him with the flag flown over his place of business. To Washington, after all, Britain was a trading rival when it came to the whaling and sealing industries, and then there was the matter of trade with China and around the Pacific Rim to consider. A British New Zealand government would also soon impose regulations on foreign shipping – that of the United States included. To add salt to the wound, Clendon went on, still as a U.S. Consul, to accept office as a Justice of the Peace from the new colonial government, and served as a member of the first Legislative Council under Hobson.

Washington found out a year after the Treaty was signed exactly what Clendon had been up to, and on 20 April 1841 the Acting Secretary of State Fletcher Webster reprimanded Clendon and directed him to resign his commission forthwith (I imagine via a memo which began to make its long journey back down towards New Zealand. It crossed with a final despatch dated six days before that from Clendon saying that he was resigning.)

At this point, it’s worth mentioning a point raised by author Marie King in her book on the history of Russell in the Bay of Islands: all sorts of titles were used for America’s consular representatives here. There were Acting Consuls, Vice-Consuls, Acting Vice-Consuls, Consular Agents and Commercial Agents, as well as the fairly straight forward title of Consul. Clendon himself was more a Commercial Agent than a full consul, because there was nobody here with international recognition to accept his papers of commission on behalf of a home government back in 1838.

Clendon’s successor was, briefly, Captain William Mayhew. He originally hailed from Martha’s Vineyard in the United States, and had established a business at Te Wahapu to cater for the American whaling fleets. The regulations in the wake of British annexation of the country helped to kill off Mayhew’s business. He apparently wasn’t impressed to learn, as well, that Clendon really hadn't done all that much as a consular official for the benefit of Americans in the colony.

John Brown Williams, from Salem, Massachusetts, who had served as consul in New South Wales from around 1839, took over in the Bay of Islands as Consular Agent from 10 March 1842, promoted to Consul the following year. He left the colony in March 1844, and Mayhew was once again in charge – except that he, also, had left, and another American, Henry Green Smith was now the acting Vice-Consul.

Smith, according to Marie King, was more than a shade on the anti-British side when it came to international relations. He had no hesitation, apparently, in telling local Maori all about the heroics of George Washington and a certain War of Independence in the previous century against the British Empire. Smith presented an American flag to Hone Heke who “tied it to the sternpost of his war canoe and refused to remove it.” (King, p. 181) Historian Claudia Orange in her book on the Treaty of Waitangi wrote: “It was probably no accident that Heke’s first attack on the flagstaff had been made soon after American Independence Day …The United States consuls at the Bay of Islands had been regarded as agitators by officials … American nationals may well have promised Heke more support in his stand than the United States government itself would have given.”

Williams returned to the colony in September 1845, but by December he had set himself up in the safer town of Auckland, so until 1848 there was the odd situation of the consulate officially based at the Bay of Islands, while the consul resided and ran a store at Auckland. He next headed to Fiji to be the American consul there, and died in the islands in 1860.

Marie King noted that a Charles B Waetford was given a recess appointment as consul in 1849, but in the end didn’t qualify. James Busby seems to have stepped in as vice-consul. In Auckland, Thomas Lewis was vice-consul in 1852, and James Burtt followed him in 1853. The Governor of New Zealand recognised George B West as United States Consul in February 1858. According to Marie King, West suggested that Auckland become the consulate site, until he had a good think about it, and realised that “Auckland, at present, cannot become a resort for whalers, mainly on account of the numerous inducements for seamen to desert.” He died from consumption in May 1859, aged just 34, and was buried at Russell.

Another gap, filled by Busby again, then George Henry Leavenworth was appointed as consul in 1860. He seems to have kept his head down, during that period which coincided with the American Civil War, and resigned in 1865, replaced for a time by someone named Merrill as acting-Consul. During Leavenworth’s time, a consular agent named Henry Driver was appointed at Dunedin in 1862, while another was set up at Wellington later (Daniel McIntyre, 1868). Marie King lists a Frenchman named Vilcoq as Leavenworth’s replacement (a commercial agent who suffered a mental breakdown), and a Herman Leib (who was commissioned in April 1866 but declined the appointment in July.)

Captain W G Wright (commissioned December 1866) reached Dunedin in August 1867 and the Bay of Islands two months later. In December 1869, he officially commissioned David Boosie Cruickshank as his "attorney and consular agent in Auckland" (this after the Colonial Secretary had gazetted in September that year that Cruickshank was not authorised to act as a consular agent. Indeed, he wasn’t authorised by the U.S. State Department, either.) Wright retired in 1870, succeeded by a native of Cork, Ireland, but naturalised American citizen, James G White. It was during his term that the consulate finally made its official move away from the Bay of Islands, after White submitted a despatch to Washington in March 1870 pleading the case (one main reason being the gum and flax trade from Auckland) and a large list Auckland businessmen petitioned the Colonial Secretary thus:
“We are informed by Mr. J. M. Dargaville that he has been appointed Consular Agent here, subsidiary to the Consul at the Bay of Islands, for the United States, vice D B Cruickshank, both gentlemen being British, subjects, and consequently disqualified for the more important office of Consul. In view of the relations now existing between the colony and the United States in the matter of the postal contract, and the probable commercial interests arising there from, we think the American Government should be asked to appoint a Consul at Auckland, and we respectfully beg you will agree with us and ask them to do so.

We may mention that there will be no difficulty in finding a suitable person, as we have an American citizen, Mr. Harlan Page Barber, of the firm of Rolph, Sterry, and Co., New Zealand, gum and flax merchants, New York, resident amongst us.”
(Southern Cross, 17 April 1871)

Joseph McMullen Dargaville saw that a nice little earner as consular agent in Auckland was about to slip from his grasp. He wrote to the Colonial Secretary himself, telling the Government that those who had signed the petition were misinformed, and they thought they’d be disadvantaged by the consulate being in the Bay of Islands, with only a consular agent (himself) at Auckland. Of course, Dargaville reassured the Chamber of Commerce, this wasn’t true at all.

“ … it was signed by most of those whose names are to it under the impression that a Consular Agent could not perform all such necessary acts in connection with commercial matters — consular certificates to invoice shipping, &c. — within his consulate as a Consul could perform, and that therefore business documents in Auckland requiring such certificates must be referred to the Consular office at the Bay of Islands to be completed. This mistake arose probably from the fact that the gentleman who acted here on behalf of the United States Commercial Agent at the Bay of Islands, previously to my appointment, was not legally authorised by the Department of State in Washington, and was therefore incapacitated for exercising all the functions properly pertaining to the office of Consular Agent. Since the memorial referred to has been despatched to you, several gentlemen, his Honor the Superintendent amongst others, have been considerate enough to explain to me the misapprehension under which they signed it, stating that they had done so without acquainting themselves with the real state of the case; which had they known, they would not have signed it. I have now in my possession a written document to the above effect, signed by several of the memorialists."
(Southern Cross, 21 April 1870)

White, himself, was the topic of gossip as to why Dargaville was appointed. White assured readers of the Southern Cross (1 May 1871) that, as “the United States Consular Act of August 18, 1856, provides for the appointment of a Consul or Commercial Agent for the colony of New Zealand, and fixes the Consulate at the Bay of Islands, where it has remained up to the present time,” he was empowered “to appoint a Consular Agent at any port or place within said district (New Zealand) when he deemed the interests of his countrymen would be subserved by the establishment of an agency, subject to the approbation and confirmation of the President of the United States and the Department of State. Upon the appointment of the undersigned as" United States' Commercial Agent- for New Zealand, there were but two Consular Agencies regularly established in this district, to wit, Dunedin and Mangonui. Believing that the interest of his countrymen would be subserved by the establishment of a Consular Agency at Auckland, he recommended such course to his Government, and, nominated Mr. Dargaville for the position. This nomination was duly approved and confirmed by the President and the Department of State. It was several weeks after the arrival of the undersigned at his post before any action was taken by him in the premises, several applications having been made to him in the meantime for the position, all the applicants, however, were British subjects, and from amongst them he selected the gentleman whose appointment has been the subject of so much newspaper gossip.”

Despite Dargaville’s campaigning, the consulate did indeed leave the Bay of Islands and set up in Harlan Page Barber’s Fort Street store from 3 October 1871. White wrote a private letter to Dargaville commending him for his service up to that date as consular agent. This, Dargaville published in the public notices of both the NZ Herald and the Southern Cross, to White’s chagrin: it appears that White was only being polite and cordial to a man he had effectively removed from a source of income. He published his own adjustment to the private letter, also in the public notices of both papers: “… upon examination of the unfinished business in Mr. Dargaville’s hands this day, he discovered that he was mistaken in endorsing the manner in which that gentleman had discharged some of the duties of his Agency.”

Dargaville angrily wrote to the papers in response, accusing White of just being sour because he owed Dargaville’s firm money and was about to be adjudged a bankrupt. White denied emphatically that this was the reason for his turnaround in opinion: Dargaville, he said, was slow in relinquishing the consulate seal and papers, and refused to part with the former without payment of £2 10s (which he claimed was how much he had to pay Cruickshank in turn). Then Dargaville tried to have White’s commission as consul annulled due to the bankruptcy proceedings in December 1871 – but White countered this by producing evidence of his discharge to the State Department early in 1872. Finally, after months of wrangling, Dargaville’s resignation as American Consular Agent was officially gazetted in May 1872. (Southern Cross, 2 May 1872)

Harlan Page Barber (c.1847-1914) was the United States Consul and commercial agent in Auckland, White’s successor, from August 1872. He was described by White as “a gentleman of good character and standing in this place.” (NZ Herald, 9 October 1971, in an account of the centenary of the Auckland office). American-born Barber was a representative of the firm Rolfe, Sterry & Co, gum merchants. During his period as consul, he became involved as co-respondent in a divorce case at the Supreme Court in early 1874 between William Carpenter and Harriet Eliza Innis Carpenter, with Barber accused of having “intimate relations” with Mrs. Carpenter and even fathering a child out of wedlock (he was still unmarried at the time). His reputation, however, remained unbesmirched. After his time as consul, he appears to have successfully continued his mercantile career as an importer of walnuts and pecan nuts, exporter of gum and flax, and held shares in a number of goldmining companies. He died in 1914, without obituary, and is buried at St Stephen’s Cemetery in Parnell.

Briefly, in 1879, Barber’s successor seems to have been a gentleman named G W Griffith (apparently, a former consul in Copenhagen), before Alexander Hamilton Shipley was appointed later that year. (There's an announcement for a function in the Observer of 3 August 1883 which indicates that Griffith was still Consul at that stage, however. ) Shipley's Vice-Consul was Thomas Tallman Gamble (c.1833-1886), born in New York (although local papers here assumed he came from Morristown, New Jersey). “He took part in the American Civil War, serving in the Federal cavalry in several engagements, and at the close of the war had attained the rank of major.” (NZ Herald, 30 April 1886) Gamble arrived in Auckland in November 1880, taking over the agency of the Pacific Mail Company. He returned to America, then came back here as Vice-Consul, in Shipley’s stead. (In 1883, going by the above Observer notice, he was acting-Consul for Germany as well). He died without warning in his office on 29 April 1886, from apoplexy, and was buried in St Mark’s cemetery in Remuera. His exact gravesite is unmarked today; in 1966 the church authorities at St Marks applied to have all but a few of the notable gravestones removed to turn the cemetery into lawn. Those few headstones that remain are beside one of the cemetery’s walls.

Gamble’s sudden death left the consulate without representation, until Captain Francis Ropes Webb stepped in as acting Consul until the appointment of John Tyler Campbell in January 1887. Campbell was the man promoted to a post in China, leaving the position open for John D’Arcy Connolly in 1889.

A footnote – why we say “American Embassy” today and not “United States Embassy”:
“Mr Hay, Secretary of State, has ordered that the inscriptions "United States Embassy" and "United States Consulate " shall no longer appear on the Embassy and Consular seals, and that all new record books and seals must bear the words "American Embassy" and "American Consulate". Mr Hay likes the dignity and simplicity of the term "American," and, moreover, there are several United States besides those of America and this, he says, leads to a good deal of confusion in foreign countries.”
(Feilding Star, 18 November 1904)

Additional to the post: Terry Foenander, who runs a terrific site on the American Civil War, has advised that Thomas T Gamble's name was given as Tallman on his pension documents. I got the "Tallinus" in my original post version from the online BDM register. I might see what the library's microfiche tell me later today. (I did, and the handwritten death index for 1886 has "Thomas Tallman Gamble". Thanks for setting me straight, Terry.) It's now corrected. There's an entry about his gravesite, also done by Terry Foenander, here. (I found he's buried in site No. 140 -- but his headstone was not one of those retained by the church authorities, according to a list compiled by Gwen Reiher, Beryl Pook and Jack Bray in 1985, "St Marks Church: Churchyard Tombstone Inscriptions".)


“The First United States Consul in New Zealand”, Louis Wasserman, The Pacific Historical Review, Vol. 18, No. 3 (Aug. 1949), pp. 363-368, available via

“Consulate Started With Row”, Elsdon Craig, NZ Herald 9 October 1971

A Most Noble Anchorage: A Story of Russell & the Bay of Islands, Marie King, 1992

The Treaty of Waitangi, Claudia Orange, 1987

NZ Gazettes, NZ Herald, Southern Cross, New Zealander, Auckland Star, Australian Newspapers online, via National Library of Australia

Gun emplacements at Te Atatu

A link to a post, "The guns of Te Atatu" from Reading the Maps. Includes some great photos.

I've seen them earlier this year, before the flash new sign was put up, and was shown the site by Ben Copedo. They impressed me then -- I'd like to head back in warmer weather to take another look.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The first giraffe in New Zealand

Image from Otago Witness, 20 January 1909.

The logistics of conveying exotic wild animals to places where money could be made by displaying them in the 19th century were both expensive and extremely difficult. While New Zealanders saw their first elephant on these shores in 1870-1871, it took nearly another 40 years before a firm of circus entrepreneurs achieved the feat of bringing the first giraffe here. The entrepreneurs were the Wirth Brothers, and the giraffe was one aged nearly three years old and purchased for £1000 from Karl Hagenbeck's Hamburg Zoo. The NZ press simply referred to it as "the £1000 giraffe", but it appears to have been named "Commonwealth" in Australia by a Mr. R. A. Price in May, 1908. (Adelaide Advertiser, 4 May 1908)

Commonwealth the giraffe arrived in New Zealand early in 1909, having already become the focus of attention due to the Wirths' canny advertising. The sheer logistics of transporting the animal fascinated as much as the oddity of the animal itself.
"The giraffe imported by Messrs. Wirth Bros, at a cost of over £1000 requires the careful and undivided attention of an attendant, who is always with it, even to occupying the same truck in the course of its transportation by rail. When the animal is carried on the railway it is placed in a telescopic cage in order to allow of its safe conveyance under bridges. The attendant lowers the roof of the adjustable cage, which reduces the height and compels the tall creature to bend its neck, so that the cage may pass under bridges and through tunnels in complete safety. The giraffe is the tallest animal in the world, and the specimen in question measures 15ft from hoof to head, and it is absolutely dumb. Careful attention must be given to its diet, which consists of porridge and milk, raw onions, salt, phosphates, oats, hay, and chaff. It is given six meals a day. Its natural method of feeding is high up, and when it picks up anything from the ground it is compelled to spread its front legs to enable it to get down."
(Evening Post, 30 January 1909)

Evening Post, 23 February 1909

The menagerie and circus, with giraffe, toured around New Zealand, reaching Auckland by late March 1909. Then, the circus packed up, boarded the steamer Marama, and headed back to Australia. Two animals, however, never made it back alive.
"The death of the giraffe on the Marama on the night preceding her arrival at Sydney was the subject of very general regret on the part of the passengers (says an exchange). It appears from the statement made as to the cause of the loss by one of Wirth Bros' managers that the animal was affected by the motion of the steamer, and seemed decidedly unhappy. It was standing up at the time and being unable to keep its feet fell down and sprawled about its cage. It could not recover itself, and, as Messrs Wirth's man expressed himself, "it was a timorous and nerveless animal, and after a minute's struggling it simply broke its heart." '

"This is an unlucky trip for us," he subsequently remarked, '"as the Polar bear died, on the first night out from Auckland, and we had to throw him overboard. The giraffe cost us £1000 so, you can see we are having a bad time of it." The giraffe was taken onto Sydney and will be stuffed and sent to Melbourne where it will be placed in Wirth's museum of animals that have died."

(Taranaki Herald, 14 April 1909)

So ended the life of the first giraffe to be seen in this country.

Journalist Henry Brett (on board Sydney boat, waking up suddenly at remark from steward):
What's that, man? My pet "Graphic" dead?
Steward: No, sir; Wirth's Giraffe's dead.

, 10 April 1909

The Prince's Elephant

In 1870, Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh and son of Queen Victoria, paid a visit on board his ship the Galatea to India and Sri Lanka. While there, he engaged in one of his favorite pastimes -- shooting elephants. The reigning head of Nepal at the time, Sir Jung Bahadoor, gave him what was probably, therefore, an appropriate gift: a young, four-year-old elephant.
"The young elephant that was presented by Sir Jung Bahadoor to the Duke of Edinburgh has not been allowed to lead an idle life on board the Galatea. His services were utilised at Galle [Sri Lanka] for the purpose of hauling in some 300 tons of coal, which would otherwise have employed upwards of thirty men. He rather objected to the occupation at first, but a little coaxing and quiet treatment soon reconciled him to his fate, and he cheerfully went through his task to the great delight of the Jack Tars."
(The Hull Packet and East Riding Times, England, 24 June 1870)

Continuing on his journeys, the Prince stopped off at Auckland for the second and final time in his life. His previous visit, in 1867, had been a resounding success. This time, the visit was supposed to be more low-key, as it wasn't so much a state visit by a member of the Royal Family as it was just a ship of the Royal Navy calling into port. I'd say his elephant took a lot of the weight of publicity from his shoulders. By this time, the elphant was referred to as coming from Ceylon, rather than Nepal.

"H.M. ship Galatea arrived in harbour yesterday morning, having on board H.R.H the Duke of Edinburgh. On his former visit he came as a member of the .Royal family, but this time he simply comes as a captain in the British navy …

Amongst the stock on board the Galatea, is a live elephant, which, although not fully grown, is yet from six to seven feet in height. During the lengthened stay in this port, we understand that it is intended to land the elephant, and quarter him for some time in the Albert Barracks."
(Southern Cross, 9 December 1870)

"The Auckland correspondent of the Lyttelton Times writes as follows: —

"Tom," the Duke's four-year-old Ceylon elephant and his inseparable companion a tortoise, were conveyed to Albert Barrack Grounds on the 9th. These grounds being well grassed, and enclosed by a substantial stone wall, may be looked upon as forming a small park of about 50 acres. Tom is of a reddish-brown colour, and wears silver rings in his huge flapping ears. He is large for such a mere baby in years, and is of a most gentle, playful disposition. As he is the first of his species that ever visited New Zealand, I have to note his peculiar idiosyncrasies.

In the first place, he is not a teetotaller, for on the way to his present quarters he stopped at a public-house and took a hearty draught of colonial beer with much apparent satisfaction. Later in the day, he indulged in alcoholic stimulants, of which, a temperance advocate might say, he was by far too fond. He likes buns, but does not despise plain bread and butter, and his infantine instincts are displayed by a decided penchant for lollies, with which, and every variety of comestibles, he is liberally supplied by a crowd of juvenile admirers.

He is ridden Mahout fashion by a handsome young servant of the Duke, at whose orders he kneels down for the rider to ascend or get off his neck, performs on his trumpet, and makes fair attempts to master such interjections as ha ! ho ! he! The youngsters take advantage of his good nature sometimes. For instance, not content with hanging on to his tail, feeling his feet and trunk, and taking similar harmless liberties, a crowd of young ragamuffins on the day of his arrival wanted to get on his back, where Tom is not wont to be ridden. Two had mounted the dangerous elevation, upon which others commenced hooting and twisting the poor brute's tail. This was adding insult to injury, and shows how true it is that " familiarity breeds contempt."

For a time, Tom peered round appealingly to his puny tormentors, but getting no redress, and being as is thought a little tipsy, he suddenly blew his trumpet, threw his riders, and rushed after his enemies, who fled in all directions, appalled by the unusual, and to them dreadful sounds. Scattered through the barrack grounds were a number of ladies and gentlemen, who, like the youngsters, quickly absconded. One boy ran between the great stone barrack buildings, and emerged, as he thought, safe. He met Tom face to face in a narrow passage, who overthrow him by a stroke of his trunk. Another boy he pushed over, whilst two urchins who were with him crawled under a wooden building. Tom thought to extract them from their retreat by feeling for them under the house with his trunk. Failing to get them, he bid defiance to all and sundry, by " casting dirt " on the crowd. Fortunately, the arrival of his keeper immediately restored peace, and it was touching to see how poor Tom ran to his friend and embraced him with his strange projection; five minutes later, the children were playing with him the same as before. He has taught them a lesson, however, which is likely to have good results.

Strange to say, no one was even slightly injured, from which I inferred that Tom really had no desire to hurt his foes, otherwise, a stamp or two with his hoofs might have sufficed to crush any one of them to a jelly. On the same night, he broke out of his strong lodgings twice. The first time, he made for some clothes hanging to dry, and which belonged to some of his shipmates of the Galatea. A strong mutual attachment exists between the sailors and Tom, whose aid in hauling on ropes is said to be equivalent to that of twenty men. It seemed hardly fair of him to "rend their garments," but they don't mind it a bit, and say, " It's only Tom's fun."

The second time he got out he went to the residence of a General Government official, and tried to open the door with his trunk, but not succeeding, kept sentry on the verandah all night. The tortoise is a beautifully marked specimen of his genus, and chiefly serves as a pedestal for children to stand upon all day. For that matter, he appears willing enough to fulfill the office of a pedestal in one particular spot for ever. There are several other living curiosities on board the Galatea, amongst them an ethereal looking Chinese boy, and a minute, jet black, negro sailor. They generally run in couples."
(Christchurch Star, 23 December 1870)

"About 6 o'clock yesterday evening the Duke of Edinburgh's elephant was ridden down the Barrack Hill, and past the Mechanics' Institute, into Queen-street, by a marine. The distinguished stranger was accompanied by a numerous concourse of children, who thronged about him, and displayed the very liveliest interest in his movements. Some of the more forward colonial youths ventured to stroke the animal's ponderous legs or to pull his tail, and many of them walked in dangerous proximity to his feet. The tractability of the creature was very remarkable, in the midst of the noisy gesticulating crowd of children. When the driver got into Queen-street, he proceeded along the footpath as far as the Exchange Hotel. Here, however, the elephant was confronted by two of Mr. Branigan's constables, who seemed about to take him into custody, but happily an understanding was come to, the elephant thenceforth proceeding along the roadway. Had the driver been summoned for a breach of the Municipal Police Act, the charge would certainly have been a novel one. Driving an elephant on the footpath is a kind of offence which is not likely to come before our local Bench; indeed, we doubt very much whether such an offence is provided against under the Municipal Police Act. The elephant afterwards went up Edwards-street, and on into Symonds-street. In the former an enthusiastic Maori woman purchased a loaf of bread, which the elephant disposed of as a delicate morsel. A man, apparently under the impression that the animal was thirsty, brought a pint of beer, which the elephant, to the scandal of teetotallers, appeared to "suck up" with the taste of a confirmed toper. A great many other interesting incidents occurred on the way, which was like a triumphal march."

(Southern Cross, 13 December 1870)

"We have a letter from "The Elephant", in answer to the charges made against him and his driver of becoming a nuisance. He contends "that he cannot be answerable for the safety of all who clamber on to his back; and, if people or children cannot hold on, they had much better keep off. He regrets that the other night, from this cause, a little boy was injured, by half-a-dozen men 'slithering' off at his tail on to the little boy. This accident did not arise from having partaken of too much beer, as he is limited to one quart a day. He is always anxious to amuse the children, and feels pleasure in carrying them on his back about the streets."

(Southern Cross, 15 December 1870)

Even when it came to the serious business of governing the Province -- if an elephant was happening to go by at the time, all proceedings ceased for a time in the Provincial Council, as the members scampered like the children they once were to see this strange marvel.
"At this stage of the proceedings some confusion was observable in the Council, hon. members rushing to the windows, and Dr. Nicholson was heard to move that the Speaker leave the chair in order to allow hon. members an opportunity of seeing the elephant, which, it appears was passing at the time."
(Southern Cross, 16 December 1870)

"The Galatea arrived on the 8th, at daylight, whilst yet this city lay buried in profound repose … At 8 a.m., the Galatea band played " God save the Queen," as St. George's red cross unfolded its snowy field to the morning breeze. At nine the Duke of Edinburgh landed, and proceeded to Government House, where he remained until 11 a.m., when he returned to his ship. The remainder of the day, until sunset, was occupied on board the Galatea with getting down royal and topgallant masts, yards, and rigging; the Blanche, at the same time getting up hers, in accordance with orders brought by the Duke for her to proceed forty-eight hours later for Hobart Town. After dark, the Galatea crew amused themselves with singing, loud enough to be heard at a great distance.

Next morning, Tom, the Duke's Ceylon elephant, and a fine tortoise, Tom's chum, were taken to the grassy walled-in space at Albert Barracks, where they will remain during their owner's visit ; there is good feed there since the late rains, and plenty of water, and the place is secure and well- adapted for Tom's recreation. Tom is large, for a four-year elephant, and is the first of his species that has paid a visit to New Zealand. He is so gentle that ladies and children constantly ride him; of the latter I have seen eight at once on his back — he kneels for his riders to mount, and lifts his near fore foot as a step to descend by. He permits juveniles to play with his tail, feet, and trunk ad libitum, as long as they take no unfair advantage; he is very popular, and, I suppose, has visited most parts of the town and its suburbs during his daily rambles; He is partial to buns, biscuits, and jam, and is anything but a teetotaler-— last Sunday he visited various public houses and drank four gallons of beer, besides a respectable modicum of spirits (for an elephant). I never see him without a small crowd of admirers, and sometime their name is " legion." He never has to go far for food, for he is exceedingly well patronised by high and low ; his great ears are adorned with silver rings, and he peers out of his little eyes with a most benevolent expression at his visitors.

It is very amusing to watch the way he cuts his grass, using his trunk as a hand and his foot for a scythe. Like some great men we know, he has no objection "to blow his own trumpet," but, unlike them, he almost always waits until he is desired to do so. I think he can do nearly everything but talk, and in fact he does speak a little, that is to say he has quite mastered such interjections as "Ha!" "Oh!" "Eh?" The sailors idolise him, for he plays with them like an immense kitten, and is ever ready to lend a trunk when it is needful to give a "long pull, a strong pull, and a pull altogether "; but he got angry once since his arrival at Albert Barracks— and not without reasonable excuse. The fact is that the juvenile raggamuffins of Auckland was offering him stones when he looked for bread, not content with which, his young tormentors must needs twist his tail according to the approved mode in vogue for making sulky cows " bail up "; they even pelted the popular idol. He, mild beast, uncomplainingly endured unmerited ignominy and prosecution until fairly wearied. At last he declared war by blowing his trumpet and rushing at his enemies, who fled in dire dismay at the terrific sounds and fierce aspect of the whilom tenant of the jungle — such a screaming and scampering all ways at once. By slight blows of Tom's trunk, two of his foes were immediately stretched supine on mother earth, [an]other two crept for safety under a house, but like crabs went backwards in still further when Tom's trunk appeared with a view of pulling them out.

Fortunately, no one was even slightly injured, and it has been thought that he had no actual desire to do mischief; at any rate, his wrath, real or pretended, vanished the moment his friend the keeper put in an appearance; five minutes after, the elephant was playing with the youngsters the same as ever. "
(Hawke's Bay Herald, 23 December 1870)

"Anyone who visited the Domain on Monday, and witnessed such a large gathering of children from the Auckland Sunday-schools, ! would have come to the conclusion that all i of them had turned out on one occasion j but, as was abundantly proved yesterday, this was not the case …

The presence of the Prince's elephant was again an immense source of enjoyment by the juveniles. Its keeper did all he could to gratify the aspirations of such as desired a "lift” (to the intense delight of not a few) now and then the good-tempered animal would, in obedience to a certain sign, raise itself on its hindlegs, and down would slide half-a-dozen boys— just when they least expected it. Its "salaams" before departing were performed in as polite a way as the elephant knew how ; and it is needless to say that so great a favourite was not forgotten when the eatables were unpacked."
(Southern Cross, 4 January 1871)

On 16 January, the Galatea left Auckland, and headed back to England.

"Tom the elephant, came to the Galatea's port gangway and bade us farewell in a series of grand salaams. He was answered with loud and reiterated cheers."
(Christchurch Star , 30 January 1871)

Once in England, and on the way to his new home at Regent's Park Zoo, tragedy struck.

"The elephant presented to the Duke of Edinburgh in India, and brought home by His Royal Highness in the Galatea, was being conveyed to London last Friday night by the mail train from Plymouth, when it attempted to get out of the horse-box in which it was placed. Its keeper, a corporal of the Royal Marines, while endeavouring to prevent it’s doing so, was knelt upon by the animal and crushed to death …

His Royal Highness, who expressed great regret at the accident to the keeper of his elephant on Friday, directed that the train should be detained a short time at Newton, to give him time to enquire into the circumstances of the accident. The Duke had just bought the deceased, formerly Corporal Paton, of the Royal Marine Artillery, out of the service so that he might remain keeper of the elephant. An official from the Zoological Gardens, Regent’s-Park, arrived at Plymouth on Friday, accompanied by a keeper from that establishment, to assist in conveying the animal to the Gardens. The official did not at first intend to travel with the elephant, but noticing before the train started that the animal appeared restless, stationed himself in the horse van along with the two keepers. The deceased, from his previous knowledge of the elephant in cases of its being conveyed by railway, also remarked that he should have trouble with it for the first twenty miles. The survivors in the van went on with the elephant, which was to proceed from the Gardens to Sandringham."
(The Era (London, England), Sunday, June 4, 1871)

By June 1872, the elephant's home was across another sea, this time in Dublin's Zoo at Phoenix Park, where he was recorded as giving rides to children.

I don't know, at this stage, what finally became of Tom, the second ever elephant seen in New Zealand.

Update 31 January 2011: Liz found Tom, known in Dublin Zoo as "Prince Tommy".

"Tom was known as Prince Tommy he died in 1882.  According the stuff on the Elephant Data Base Tom spent his last years in confinement. His skeleton is now at Trinity College Zoological Museum."

Thanks, Liz. If the early reports were accurate as to his age, he was only 16 years old when he died.

Update 9 November 2012: Initially, I had thought that Tom was the first elephant in New Zealand -- but he had been pre-dated by at least one other, a female Asiatic elephant which arrived in Otago from Hobart in 1868. Liz found this one, and told me tonight.

Performing Elephant.
The public were admitted on Saturday afternoon to view the elephant advertised under the above title, which is now on view at Hurst's Stables, Liverpool-street. The animal is little if it all short of the height of eight feet ascribed to it by its owner, and is evidently quite docile and obedient to the orders given to it. In addition to its interest as a living specimen of the remarkable class in natural history to which it belongs, it possesses, according to the statement of its keeper, the additional attraction of having been, though in a subordinate capacity, an actor in the great Indian mutiny. According to his verbal description it was employed by some of the rebellious sopoys as a boast of burthen, that whilst serving as such it was struck by two musket balls, and that it was subsequently captured by the British troops. In corroboration of this statement he points out two marks on the animal's hide, which present all the appearances of having had their origin in the manner described. Beyond displays of its distinctive natural characteristics in the use of the proboscis as a means of conveying food to the mouth, and brushing flies off its skin with a cloth, both of which actions were per- formed spontaneously, the elephant was not called upon to exhibit any of its peculiar powers; and of the extent to which its intelligence has been cultivated artificially visitors have consequently not yet an opportunity of forming any opinion.

Hobart Mercury 4 November 1867

An elephant has also been a show during the week it goes through the usual menagerie tricks pretty fairly. The animal was imported from Hobart Town in the brigantine Swordfish.

Grey River Argus 7 March 1868

It seems that, whatever her identity, the elephant was reduced to being a sideshow-style attraction for pubgoers. Even then -- she may not have been a successful attraction

GREAT BARGAIN. For Sale, Cheap, the Female Elephant now exhibited at the Hibernian Hotel, George-street. Apply to the proprietor, at the Hotel.

Otago Daily Times 16 March 1868

WANTED TO SELL, Cheap, Elephant, with waggon, before leaving for Christchurch. Apply Smith's Stables, Maclaggan-street.

Otago Daily Times 25 March 1868

And then, she met her death, by poisoning. A death reported from Otago to Auckland as the telegraph keys clacked and word spread from port to port.

An Elephant Killed at the Waitaki.— On Sunday the 21st instant, an elephant which was travelling overland with its keeper from Oamaru to Timaru was killed at the Waitaki very suddenly by eating tutu. From what we can learn the elephant had been exhibited in the Otago province, and the owner arrived with it at the Waitaki about mid-day, intending to cross the river the same evening. For some reason the man was unable to cross the elephant, and had therefore to turn it loose. Soon after being turned out it eat [sic] heartily of tutu and died in less than three hours.

Timaru Herald 29 April 1868 

So -- alive, this likely first ever elephant here created hardly a ripple. Dead, she became a two to three month long sensation. Then forgotten, until Tom the elephant arrived.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

America’s man in Auckland: John D’Arcy Connolly

Image from Cyclopedia of New Zealand (1902)

Researching for the post on the Leading Wind fire and aftermath, and reading the somewhat fiery letter to the NZ Herald editor by the then American consul, I started wondering just what lay behind Mr. Connolly of the U.S. Diplomatic Service. Quite a bit, as I’ve found out. He certainly sounds like one of our country’s forgotten friends.

John D’Arcy Connolly was born in 1854 in County Galway, Ireland. The Connolly family had to leave Ireland in 1867, on account of John’s father Daniel’s affiliation with the Fenian movement, and they journeyed to America. There, John Connolly found work in the coal mines of Pennsylvania, on steam boats and railroad-building in the middle west of the country. Travelling to California, he eventually took charge of the railroad section at Occidental, in California and married Georgina Gilman Blaney. The couple had three daughters.

Connolly’s career of public service began in 1884 with his appointment by the Californian Governor to a vacancy on the board of supervisors of Sonoma County. He served until January 1889 when President Grover Cleveland sent his name for appointment as the United States consul to New Zealand. On the promotion of J. T. Campbell to a post on China, Connolly succeeded him as the American consul based in Auckland from early 1889. (Evening Post, 7 February 1889) He arrived on the Mariposa at Auckland on 31 March 1889, and provisionally recognised by the Government as United States Consul for New Zealand at Auckland in April.

According to a history of Sonoma County, compiled in 1911 (which included a chapter on him):
“Mr. Connolly’s official career in the Antipodes is an honorable and successful one. Starting in on his new duties, he appreciated the responsibility of the position. All his life his days had been passed in a struggle with adversity. He did not have even a fair common school training, and, as he says, about all he knew was how to tackle a job of hard work. His knowledge of diplomacy and statecraft was exceedingly vague, and he was not asleep to the fact that the British Colonials are far advanced in the science of practical government … Here was a delicate situation for an untrained man, and a place where an injudicious act might place himself and his government in a false position.”
Still, Connolly didn’t do a bad job at all of keeping to the diplomatic middle-ground. While he was of Irish birth and descent (and with his father having had a background with the Fenians), Connolly maintained as much of a diplomatic line in the murky waters of the Home Rule question as possible.
“A committee meeting of the Irish Delegates Reception Committee] was held in the Catholic Institute last evening [May 22], and was numerously attended …

The following letter from the American Consul was read :— Auckland, N.Z. May 18th, 1889. Messrs M. J. Sheehan and Wm. Jennings, Hon. Secretaries, etc. Gentlemen, — Your kind note of the 16th inst. at hand, requesting permission to add my name to the Reception Committee, who are to receive the Irish delegates upon their arrival in Auckland. I wish you would express my sincere thanks to the members of the Committee for their kind consideration. Under ordinary circumstances, I certainly would esteem it an honour to have my name identified among the gentlemen who have been appointed to receive the illustrious "Irish Patriots," who are about to visit New Zealand. I regret exceedingly that l am compelled (for obvious reasons) to fore go the honour and pleasure the granting of such a simple request would undoubtedly afford me. I am here the humble representative of a people and a country who, I presume, it is unnecessary for me to state, has always taken a keen interest in the welfare of Ireland, and who has contributed materially toward whatever success may have attended the efforts of those who have been and are to-day doing battle in their country's cause. Rest assured that the sympathy shown by the American people in the past for the oppressed in Ireland will continue unabated. But while the Americans generally entertain the liveliest interest in your ultimate success, the settled policy of the Government is that of non-interference on the part of its representatives abroad with the social or political affairs of the countries to which they may be accredited. Therefore I deem it advisable and prudent (though I do so regretfully) to respectfully decline, lest acquiescence on my part might be misconstrued and thereby lead to unnecessary and unpleasant complications. Were l in the capacity of a private citizen I could gladly and cheerfully accept an invitation to honour and welcome Mr Dillon and his distinguished compatriots, or any man who has the cause of long-suffering Ireland at heart. These gentlemen are devoting their lives and their fortunes in laudable efforts to ameliorate the condition of their unhappy countrymen. Truly they are deserving of such a reception and kind treatment as only the generous and liberty loving people of Auckland can, and will I am sure, afford them. I trust that every man, not only in Auckland, but throughout New Zealand generally, who has the cause of human liberty in their breast, will not only lend their presence on such occasions as may be offered them to hear those distinguished gentlemen in other parts of the colony, but will also contribute of their means. And I sincerely hope the day may not be far distant when peace, happiness, and contentment will reign in Ireland where utter wretchedness, ill treatment, poverty and misrule has so long hold sway. — I have the honour to be, gentlemen, faithfully yours, Jno. D. Connolly, U.S. Consul.”
(Te Aroha News, 25 May 1889)

Still, Connolly’s actions and words in the British colonies attracted some doubts in his own homeland.
“Referring to the sympathy publicly shown by the United States Consul of Auckland to the Irish National League, the Republican Standard of New Bedford, Mass. Writes: “Evidently Mr Connolly is more of an Irishman than an American, and however much we may sympathise with the Irish in their endeavours to gain Home Rule for their country; we think that the representatives of the American nation should hold themselves aloof from anything tending to show a partiality in a matter concerning the politics of the country in which they hold office."
(Bruce Herald, 6 September 1889)

But in Auckland, in the main, he was well liked.
“With this issue we present our readers with an excellent portrait of Mr John D'Arcy Connolly, the United States Consul for Auckland. He arrived in the colony on the 30th March last, and in the interim has done good service for New Zealand by sending home most complimentary, reports on her vast resources, which should do much towards increasing the trade between this colony and the land of the Stars and Stripes. Mr Connolly hails from California, where his wife and family reside, but as his name implies, is of Irish parentage. He is a comparatively young man, being only 34 years of age, and is brimful of energy or "get " as our "Murkan " friends would term it. He is an ardent admirer of Home Rule for Ireland, and thinks the day is not far distant when such a result will come about. In American politics Mr Connolly is what is known as a Democrat, but this is his first appointment in the Consular .ervices, although he has ably filled other State positions. In manner he is one of the most unobtrusive of men, and should make heaps of friends in New Zealand.”
(Observer, 5 October 1889)

Part of his popularity may well have been derived from the several glowing reports to his bosses in Washington as to the state of the colony here. New Zealanders have always warmed to those who say nice things about us.
"Consul Connolly, in his report to the United States Government, says :— " I have no hesitancy in saying that I believe New Zealand will in a few years rank first among the colonies of Australasia owing to her wonderful natural resources and climate." So mote it be! "
(Observer, 16 November 1889)
“Mr J. D. Connolly, the American Consul at Auckland, reporting to the United States Government on the commerce and resources of this Colony, states in the chapter devoted to trade that "the advance is indicative of a healthier and more satisfactory condition of trade than has existed for several years past. For a man with a little capital desirous of taking up land, I know of no better country. There is a healthy and perceptible reaction setting in. Confidence and self-reliance are doing for the people of New Zealand now what the Government sought to do for them, and did to some extent — viz., the building up of a great and prosperous people in this the richest and fairest Colony of them all, and the development of her wonderful natural resources. All that is required is capital to develop these latent resources, and a healthy system of immigration to settle upon the lands, together with continued economy in the administration of governmental affairs. I have no hesitancy in saying that I believe New Zealand will in a few years rank first among the Colonies of Australasia, owing to her wonderful natural resources and climate." The report is supplemented by numerous statistical tables. It is apparent that Consul Connolly intends to follow in the footsteps of his predecessor.”
(Christchurch Star, 25 November 1889)

The Leading Wind incident in 1891 and his reactions to it, however, did not enamour him in the eyes of some here in NZ.
An international difficulty between Now Zealand and the United States, diplomatic relations strained, and the Stars and Stripes insulted ! This seems to be the result of the recent outbreak of fire on the American ship Leading Wind, in Auckland. A firm of "durned colonial Britishers" has dared to invoke the aid of the law to enforce security for a debt claimed from an American citizen, and to use legal process to prevent his giving leg bail. This outrageous proceeding has wounded the tender national susceptibilities of the American Consul, Mr. Connolly, and has led him to modify the opinions he had, he informs us, formed as to the friendly sentiments between the people of New Zealand and those of his great country. We feel deeply grieved at this. There is nothing that New Zealand values higher, we are sure, than Mr. Connolly's good opinion. Our future fate hangs upon it, and we can only hope that His Excellency the Governor will at once tender to Mr. Connolly his personal apologies, as well as those of the Sovereign he represents, and the colony be governs, for the outrage committed in allowing a Colonial Sheriff to lay sacreligious hands on the sacred person of a Yankee skipper.

Unfortunately, "it's a way we have in the colony" of letting the law take its ordinary course, irrespective of persons. We trust to writs and sheriffs, instead of to Judge Lynch. Perhaps it might have been more in accord with Mr. Consul Connolly's ideas of the fitness of things had the Christchurch merchants taken the law into their own hands to obtain payment or security from Captain Hinckley. But he was treated just as a British captain or a member of any other nationality would be treated under similar circumstances. This is the head and front of our offending, and this is what has wounded the national susceptibilities of Mr. Consul Connolly. The idea that the feelings of the respective peoples of New Zealand and the United States of America are involved or represented in this transaction is really too good. It is simply delicious. Captain Hinckley may be a smart man, although in this case the Britisher has succeeded in inflicting upon him the indignity of being held to bail; but Mr. Connolly has fairly written himself down— a Consul. Roman history, we believe, furnishes a very near precedent for the office being so filled. A certain Emperor made his horse a Consul. The United States has appointed Mr. Connolly."
(Evening Post, 27 April 1891)

Still, he was a part of NZ society, controversies or no. He attended meetings of the Auckland Rowing Club, gave addresses to members of the St. Patrick’s Literary Society, and was even, for a time, President and Steward of the Auckland Trotting Club. The Sonoma County history says that “twice the Liberal and Labor committees visited him at the consulate and wanted him to resign his position and stand for Parliament for the city of Auckland. He was given to understand that in the race he would be unopposed and would be offered a portfolio in the New Zealand Ministry within three months after his election. But the Irish-American citizen, though taking an intense unofficial interest in English-Colonial affairs, preferred Uncle Sam to Queen Victoria.”

Yet another report to the US (possibly a bit on the propoganda side):
“Mr Connolly, U.S. Consul at Auckland, contributes to his Government a report on "Organised Labour in New Zealand." He summarises the condition of labour, the legislation relating thereto, the position and influence of unions, and comes to the conclusion that the New Zealand labourer is, "perhaps as comfortable as any of his class in the world . . . He works less hours m the week and receives more pay in proportion to the number of hours than he would in most countries. He is well housed and clothed; in fact, he is well provided for in every respect. He is not degraded because he toils for a livelihood. His children are educated at the expense of the State."
(Timaru Herald, 28 May 1891)

Through Connolly, the American government were even apprised of details of Hannaford’s lighthouse design.

"In the American Exporter for October last, published at New York, there is a leading article on ' Electric Lighthouses,' which is entirely devoted to a consideration of the Hannaford Light.

From that article we learn that the U.S. Department of State had instructed Consul Connolly of Auckland to keep it posted on the progress of the invention, and we quote from a report made by Mr Connolly in June last: —

'”It appears that Mr Hannaford had not patented his invention at the time of his death, but would have done so had be been possessed of the means necessary to defray the expenses. It also appears that, owing to the death of the inventor, some minor details remain unperfected. . . His widow exhibited the working model, but there were none of the mechanical appliances attached except the bell and windmill ; the former sounds an alarm at each revolution of the windmill. Should the other portions of the mechanism prove as satisfactory as the windmill and bell, there can be little doubt as to its practicability. . . I may say in conclusion that 'the iron tower windmill and bell appeared to be feasible, cheap, and easily erected. Should the electrical feature prove satisfactory,' success is almost certain.”

As we always stood up for the merits of Mr Hannaford's invention, it gives us pleasure to find those merits recognised by the 'cute’ Americans. No doubt, a lighthouse on Hannaford's principle will soon be an accomplished fact."
(Observer, 1 January 1892)

Connolly’s comments on New Zealand’s land laws were contained in a private letter to a friend in America, published in the States, then republished here in 1895.

The following interesting letter, written by Mr J. D. Connolly, United States Consul at Auckland, was sent as a private communication to America to a friend there, who had it published, however, m the columns of the American press : — "The land laws of this country are unique, having no parallel in the modern world, that I am aware of. Of the extension of the franchise to women I can only say that the experiment has proved eminently successful, even beyond the thoughts of the most enthusiastic advocates. Her first effort has raised the moral tone and purified to a large extent the moral atmosphere of politics. Woman has demonstrated here that she is disinterested, unselfish and worthy of the political confidence reposed in her.

As to the country having drifted into Socialism, as you seem to think, it is only fair to say that there is very little need, of apprehension m that respect, at least for the present. At the same time it cannot be denied that the tendency, of legislation appears to be pointing that way. If it be Socialism to relieve the poor, the working man, the artisan and the struggling small farmer and the mechanic from the burdens of taxation as much as possible, and compel the monopolist, the land-grabber, the purse-proud and the affluent members of society to bear the weight of the expense of government, then Socialism is certainly is full swing here.

If it be Socialism to shorten the hours of labour to eight per day, and give him a half holiday in every week, besides at least half-a-dozen full holidays m the year under full pay, thus affording him more time for rest, recreation, and intellectual development than is enjoyed by his fellow-workers m any part of the world, then, indeed, it is undeniable that Socialism is rampant in New Zealand. If it be Socialism to compel the admission of more pure air and genial sunshine into the workroom and factory, under Government supervision, to teach the labourers their rights and how to lawfully and peaceably obtain them, to force the, earth-grabber to either sell, subdivide or improve his land so it will produce what nature intended it should thereby administering to the wants of the people, or place the land within the reach of those who desire homes—if this be Socialism then indeed are the people of this country blessed beyond all other for all I have enumerated, and more, are they enjoying to the fullest extent today.

There is a general diffusion of wealth, no great poverty, and not a single millionaire so far as I know. Although legislation does not directly interfere with the laudable accumulation of thrift and industry, yet there is no denying that the general tendency is towards checking, if not absolutely preventing, the acquisition of vast estates in the hands of individuals or companies to the detriment of the people. This cannot in any sense be called Socialism. The men who have inaugurated these honest, Christian reforms are not animated by any spirit of Socialism, but by a sincere desire to promote the universal welfare, to resist the aggression of the strong and lend a helping hand to the weak and lowly. You may call these principles by that name if you choose, but the facts are as herein stated."
(Timaru Herald, 16 April 1895)

Connolly made a formal consular report on the “Land, Labor and Taxation Laws of New Zealand”, which, according to the Sonoma County history, “attracted world-wide attention.” It led to calls in the U.S. for Connolly’s removal as Consul, but his defenders in Washington fought back, singing his praises. He left New Zealand finally in 1897, lamented by many, including the Catholic NZ Tablet newspaper.
“[30 September] Mr. John D’arcy Connolly, United States Consul in Auckland, to-day relinquishes his office to his successor, Mr. Dillingham. For the last eight years he carried out his consular duties in Auckland. A profound feeling of sorrow and regret at the loss of Mr. Connolly has been manifested by the general public of all classes to whom he has endeared himself by his sterling manliness and unflinching' adherence at all times to his principles. To the old Faith he is inseparably bound, and to the land of his birth, dear old Ireland, he is equally attached. A democrat amongst democrats, he places implicit reliance upon the masses. He will be sadly missed in Auckland, where it will be a long time before an equal to him can be found. To Auckland, and the Colony generally, he has been of incalculable service by reason of his clear and intelligent consular reports in which Maoriland has been repeatedly and eloquently lauded. Though kind to us our climate has been cruel to him, because his health has suffered severely. Mr. Connolly stays with us until the end of the present year when he leaves for his home in Sonoma County, California.”
(New Zealand Tablet, 8 October 1897)

According to Connolly, he once overheard a NZ MHR, an absentee landlord at a time when Connolly was making his views on such things known in Wellington. The unnamed MHR is said to have said:
“This man Connolly is a blawsted hanerchist, and ‘as through ‘is writings and damned-fool speeches raised more ‘ell in New Zealand than all the others put together. ‘E ‘as the ear of this fool government and can get anything ‘e wants. The fellow ‘ad ought to be recalled and deported. ‘E is a menace and a disturbing element.”
The history (in .pdf) goes on: “After ten years’ service in Auckland Mr. Connolly was relieved during the McKinley administration by Frank Dillingham … When the experts of the Treasury Department had cast up his accounts for ten years it was found that eight cents were due him. This he received in a treasury draft, and his bondsmen … were discharged. That eight cents can be said to be Mr. Connolly’s net earnings from his official employment in the diplomatic service of the United States, but while he returned poorer, he returned wiser than when he went away; and he also returned with the love and friendship of thousands of people he met in the far Antipodes.” Poorer in some ways, perhaps, but while he was here, he took out 500 shares in at least one NZ goldmining company.

He ran for office under the Democrat ticket for the Californian assembly, but was defeated. He went on to become the host of the Altamont Hotel in Occidental, Sonoma County, and died in 1920. He lies buried at Druids Cemetery, Occidental.

(From the Observer, 17 August 1895)