Sordid Welcome For Newcomers to New Zealand
The BERAR arrives in Auckland September 6th, 1873.
Under charter to the Shaw Saville Shipping line, the BERAR, a vessel of 902 tons, was considered to be rather a small ship to board the number of immigrant passengers travelling on the long journey to New Zealand. The vessel made only three voyages to New Zealand from England, the first to Wellington in 1865, the second to Auckland in 1873 and the third to Wellington in 1874.
On her first voyage to Wellington, under Captain Hall, the vessel left London on the 5th February, 1865 and arrived in Wellington on the 10th May after 93 days at sea. She carried 308 immigrants of which 108 were children. There were three infant deaths during the voyage according to the report of the ship's surgeon, Dr. Cunningham.
Her next voyage was to Auckland on May 22, 1873. Sailing from the Port of London, the vessel arrived in Auckland after 103 days on September 6th, 1873 with 311 passengers. [See the newspaper report below]
On her last voyage to New Zealand, the BERAR left London on the 18th October, 1874, under Captain Heiho, arriving in Wellington after 96 days on the 22nd January, 1875. On this voyage the ships surgeon reported that there were twenty-one deaths during the early part of the voyage due to an outbreak of scarlet fever.
Extract from the New Zealand Herald, 11th September, 1873.
"The Immigrant ship BERAR arrived in Auckland waters on Wednesday last with 311 passengers from London. On Thursday all were landed on the wharf. There was no official to receive them, none to render them any information and all they could learn was that there were barracks in the vicinity of the city where they could be quartered.
The single men found their ways to the bars of the public hotels and also, we fear, several of the females. Towards afternoon, the married couples with their families found their way to the barracks and were shown a long room with a row of rough pine bunks, resembling large candle boxes. Here in this room without any partitions for dividing off the families.....over 40 married couples with 108 children were huddled together to pass the night.
There was no nourishment beyond dry bread and tea without milk for the children and no provision made for quiet or refreshment for the exhausted mothers after a long and weary voyage. Yesterday, raw meat and uncooked potatoes were served out. Only one small stove was allowed for the cooking necessary for over 300 people, and it was not until late afternoon that a supply of fuel came to hand.
Quarters were found for the single men........they were allowed to smoke and return in a state of semi-intoxication and conduct themselves in wild disorder, while several of the single girls had absented themselves from the barracks and had not returned last night. The fate of these, we fear for, but the Government are only to blame for the loose manner in which control has been exercised over the immigrants.
Many and bitter were the complaints of the married women at being unable to obtain proper food for their children, or decent sleeping accommodation for themselves or fuel to cook with.