Broadgreen Historic House’s Mahina Marshall and Captain Phil Pinniger with the plotted chart of the Buxton’s 245-day-journey. Photo: Sara Hollyman.

Exhibit plots early settler journey


A local maritime tutor has helped piece together an epic journey of one of Nelson’s early families.

Captain Phil Pinniger, a nautical tutor at International Maritime Institute of New Zealand, has managed to plot the exact journey the Buxton family took on their 245-day journey from England to Nelson, using research provided by Broadgreen House.

The Buxton family, of Buxton Square fame, arrived in Nelson in 1851 and set up their business where Farmers sits now.

That family’s, along with other early Nelsonian immigrants’ experiences, are explored in the new exhibition, “A Passage to Nelson: Unpacking the Past” at Broadgreen Historic House.

“The journey was epic,” says Phil. “By digging into the research a little deeper I was able to link up, say a child’s birth, with a position because the entry would say they’re off the Azores or something like that.”

Four people died on the journey, another four were born and four couples got married on board the Castle Eden during the voyage.

After almost six months, the ship reached New Zealand, but Captain Thornhill could not find a safe passage through the Cook Strait due to a raging storm.

He made the decision to make for Port Jackson in Sydney, causing Edmund Buxton to complain, as Sydney was “no fit place” for his daughter.

After arriving in Sydney, the Buxtons chartered the brigantine William Alfred to get to Nelson, finally arriving on May 29, 1851 – 245 days after leaving London.

The new display, delves into what early immigrants brought with them and their arrival in Nelson, with a special focus on the costumes and textiles.

Phil says he “loved” the task of plotting the journey.

“If the truth be known all seafarers are romantics at heart. We’re all caught up in the passion and the love of the sea otherwise we wouldn’t go there.

“I love history and I think I’m just in awe almost, this day in age you can get on a plane and be nearly anywhere in the world within 36 hours.

He says the journey was “huge undertaking”.

“To leave a country to an unknown place and the conditions and the actual living on board was heinous in some cases.”

He says it’s amazing what the Buxtons then had to go through once they arrived in New Zealand and the current display at Broadgreen House is a good look at what early life in Nelson would’ve been like.