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Sealers

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  1. Sealers

  2. Context • Time and place • First arrived in 1792 in Dusky Sound, Fiordland. • Also around Foveaux Strait and Stewart Island. • Later around Macquarie and Campbell Islands. • 1803-1810 the ‘heyday’ of sealing. • By 1830 sealing was no longer an activity of economic advancement.

  3. Context • Sealing gangs came from Australia, Great Britain and America. • Major sealing gangs were organised by Australian companies who were ex convicts, such as Simeon Lord. • An Australian based sealing gang on the Britannia were the first commercial operation in 1792 and mostly around Dusky Sound. • ‘Tasmen’ were sailors, wandering workers and sealers who crossed the Tasman readily and did not see Australia and NZ as separate places; the Tasman Sea was more of ‘a bridge than a barrier’. Sealers were part of a social and cultural entity that didn’t see NZ and Australia as separate.

  4. Factors/Causes • Skins and pelts were crucial for economic activity. • The big fashion at the time in England was seal fur hats. • 1790s and early 1800s saw seal fur trade with China to pay for tea for the English market. • Oil for fuel, tanning and lubrication. • Meat • Repair ships rigging.

  5. Consequences • Some contact with Maori. • Conflict • Trade • Maori workers • European settlement within tribes. • Seal population • 4500 skins the same year as arrival • 1805 one ship, ‘The Favourite’, took 80,000 skins from Foveaux Strait. Between 1806 and 1810, 250,000 skins were taken from the Antipodes Islands.

  6. Consequences • King • Northland and Murihiku Maori were recruited for sealing expeditions with English, Irish, Scots, Aborigines, Tahitians and Portuguese. • In the early 1800s sealers defect to Ngai Tahu communities and raise pigs, grow veges and sell/barter.

  7. Consequences • Belich • Britannia crew had some violent clashes with Maori. • Initially frequent outbreaks of violence between sealers and local tribes but relationship settled down from 1820 – changed pattern of sealing and Maori economics. • 1816-1820 – 100 sealers semi permanently in and around Foveaux Strait leading to contact with Ngati Mamoe and Ngai Tahu. Hybrid communities were fromed on Codfish, Ruapuke and Stewart Islands.

  8. Consequences • Teara • Long term the impact was more on seals than the evolution of NZ society. However the trade did bring over 30 ships to the south of NZ and exposed Maori to European people and technology • A number of sealing gangs were attacked by Māori after 1810, but in general the contact was harmonious. • Some sealers like James Caddell joined the Māori community, while others began trading from coastal settlements. • Sealers were the first of the trans-Tasman communities of hard itinerant men – the work gangs that played a significant role in establishing a footloose masculine tradition in New Zealand, subsequently carried on by groups like whalers, gold miners and bushmen.