Shore Whaler's Wahine

Project Facilitator: Stephen J Donaldson

  • I am of Kāi Tahu, Kāti Māmoe Waitaha and Pākehā descent. I was born and educated in Dunedin and raised at Broad Bay on the Otago Peninsula.
  • I am a qualified valuer and employed as a Senior Property Consultant and Property Manager in Wellington.
  • My interest in my whānau’s/family’s whakapapa and history (my paternal line) dates back to 1990. Since 1992, I have spent the majority of my leisure hours actively researching this area and other inter-related topics.
  • By way of background, my tupuna (great great great grandmother) Meriana Tētē or Tei Tei was the partner of two whalers. Her half-caste daughter (my great great grandmother) Susan Pōkiri Harwood/Donaldson/Milne also partnered a shore whaler Joseph Donaldson. Tētē’s two sisters (Hineawhitia and Te Raukaio) also partnered whalers both of whom were formerly sealers. Tētē and her sisters were of high rank.
  • Meriana Tētē, Hineawhitia and Te Raukaio were all daughters of the Murihiku warrior rakatira Pahi (or Tahupahi). His kāika (kāinga in the North Island) or village was located at Pahia located between modern day Riverton and Tuatapere. Pahi was brother of Tāhatū, the leading Ōtākou chief when the Weller Brothers arrived in late 1831 to establish their shore whaling station at the head of Otago Harbour.

    Tētē’s, Hineawhitia’s and Te Raukaio’s mother was Piki (or Pikirauraho) sister of Te Maiharanui the last acknowledged upoko ariki of all Kāi Tahu and the tribe’s spiritual and hereditary head prior to his death following capture by Te Rauparaha and his warriors assisted by the British brig Elizabeth.

    Tētē and her sisters were also cousins of Topi (Toby) Pātuki. Pātuki became the leading Foveaux Strait rakitira in the late 1840’s following the death of Tuhawaiki.

  • The challenge of researching Hineawhitia, Te Raukaio, Meriana Tētē and Pōkiri kindled my desire to learn more about other Māori and Pākehā women who partnered the shore whalers. It also made me appreciate what a fascinating collection of women they were.
  • My own interest in shore whaling originates from the fact that three of my Pākehā ancestors were employees at shore whaling stations. They were:

    1.  James or John Russell (my great great great grandfather) either a headsman or boatsteerer at Rakituma or Preservation Inlet, Fiordland.

    2.  William I Haberfield (also my great great great grandfather) oarsman or pulling hand at One Kakara or Moeraki (he was also at Ōtākou, Otago Peninsula and Purakaunui, north of Dunedin).

    3.  Joseph Donaldson (my great great grandfather) carpenter, blacksmith and probably also an oarsman or pulling hand at the One Kakara station.

    Other whalers and descendants of early whaling families were connected with, or married into my forbears’ family/whānau and vice versa. This was common amongst the whaling families of southern New Zealand and possibly in other parts of New Zealand.

  • Aside from this specific project my other leisure time interests include the whakapapa and history of the Kāi Tahu Whānui, maritime history, current affairs, listening to music, natural history, walking and sea fishing.

  • Web Site Designer: Gina Mills (Nee Donaldson)

  • I am Stephen’s Donaldson's daughter, recently married to Toby Mills.
  • My interests are Graphic Design, Art, Computers, Web Design, Programming Languages, Japanese Culture and Language, Films and Music.
  • I have completed a Bachelor of Design (Visual Communication Design) at Massey University.
  • I designed and constructed this web site. I have also been responsible for the graphic input that accompanies my father’s text.
  • I set out to create a website that was artistic, creative and dynamic: something that would generate enthusiasm amongst my father’s proposed target audience. We have attempted to present the graphic material and historic photographs in an interesting and innovative manner that compliments the text, which it accompanies.
  • Stephen Donaldson


















    Gina Mills