Shore Whaler's Wahine

My research objectives are to:

  • Raise the general public’s awareness of these wahine/women.
  • Stimulate others interest in, and the ongoing research into, the lives of shore whalers and their Māori and Pākehā partners.
  • Demonstrate the important role that the whaling couples played in shaping New Zealand’s early race relations.
  • Document the different categories of relationships between Māori wahine and Pākehā men.

    Apart from partnering the shore whalers some of those wahine involved had also previously partnered sealers. In the North Island other partners prior to the shore whalers were the pelagic whalers and the timber and flax traders. Cumulatively these wahine/women were the pioneers of cross-cultural relationships in Aotearoa.

  • Ensure a more balanced account of the shore whaling period by recording these women’s details. This will bring a more “personalised face” to the history of the shore whaling.
  • Provide an easily assessable source of biographical essays on the lives of the partners of some shore whalers.

    Currently published information relating to the wahine/women is fragmented. Where accounts have been compiled they relate to a very limited number of better-known individuals. The best Pākehā example would be Betty Guard, wife of John Guard. John was the owner and manager of the Te Awaiti shore station situated in Tory Channel and then later the Kakapo Bay station located in Port Underwood (both situated in Marlborough, South Island of New Zealand).

  • Enable any descendant of a New Zealand shore whaler’s partner to gain a better appreciation as to the life that their ancestor lead.
  • Attempt to draw a comparison between the lives of wahine that had Pākehā partners with that of their contemporaries who had Māori partners. Were their lives markedly different and if so why?
  • Ascertain whether there are descendants of other Iwi that hold a similar view to many modern-day Kāi Tahu in respect of these wahine. Many Kāi Tahu descendants consider them to be the matriarchs of their whānau. Because of this they often have special significance from a genealogical standpoint.
  • Give some idea of the personal interactions that took place between the various employees that comprised a typical shore whaling station.
  • Address the day-to-day operation and seasonal rhythm of the shore stations generally and the impact this had on the lives of wahine/women.
  • Ascertain whether or not there were any marked differences in the lives of those wahine from shore stations from other locations around New Zealand when compared to their southern contemporaries.
  • Document the life that these women lead following the decline of shore whaling.

  • This is a tentative list, which will be added to/modified during to course of my research project.