Underwater Heritage Group New Zealand
Joseph Banks’s Brass Patu in New Zealand
Joseph Banks had 40 brass patu made in Eleanor Gyles’s brass foundry at 9 Shoe Lane, Fleet Street, London, in March 1772 in anticipation of taking them and other gift and trade items on Captain Cook’s second voyage of exploration to the Pacific. They were 14.43 inches (36.5 cm) long and were engraved by Thomas Orpin with Banks’s name, general family crest and the date 1772. When Banks did not go he “ordered everything belonging to [him] to be removed from the ship.” [Beaglehole, 1961: 937.] Charles Clerke, his protegé and friend, had been master’s mate in the Endeavour and was second lieutenant in the Resolution. He thanked Banks for his assistance on 31 May 1772, and added “Wish you’d send a Venture by me, of one of your small Cags [casks] of large nails, for by what I hear, they are much better than any of my freights.” Banks had ordered eight casks as nails were highly prized in the Pacific. They were flat spikes, usually four or five inches long, which Maori would grind to a fine edge to make chisels or to a point for drilling holes or use as spear points. While nails provided by the government would carry its broad arrow symbol, those taken privately by officers would not. Banks met the request and Clerke wrote from Sheerness on 17 June: “am very much oblig’d for the Cagg of Nails - think I am now set out completely freighted for the South Sea Marts, hope to make a good trading voyage of it ... and show away in a curious Cabinet of Miti curiosities at my return.” [Chambers, 2008: 121, 128.] He is the only officer, apart from Cook, whose correspondence with Banks has been published. There is nothing in his log of the voyage, or letters after it, to show that he (or anyone else) had any of the brass patu on this voyage.
This brass weight was found while diving at Niue Island. Would the person who sent the photo to us be able to tell us if it was on one of the known shipwrecks at the island or someething discarded as rubbish many years ago.
Graeme Doherty, a relative of the sole survivor Arthur Doherty, is seeking information regarding the possible location of the scow Lena which sank in the Hauraki Gulf in 1957. An account of this sinking is in the shipwreck section. Additional information supplied by Graeme is below, that was in the National Archives when a fishing vessel fouled their gear.
This Department was informed by Mr Cole of Kia Ora Fisheries that on the 10th October 1957, that one of his Company’s fishing vessels, M.V.”Lister”, had Fouled part of her gear on an obstruction which they believed to be part of the “Lena”. The position given was South-East of the Tarakihi group of Islands and since the “Lena” was last seen just off Bass Rock, this position could possibly be correct.
Before any further action to be taken by the Department it wanted a Mr L.W. Subristsky of Auckland ,Skin Diver to complete an investigation of the area.
The Collector of Customs----16th January 1958
In reply to your memorandum of the 23rd December 1957.
I have to advise you that arrangements have been made with the Hydro graphic Branch of the Navy to carry out a sweep of the area with a survey launch.
You will be informed in due course of the result of the Navy’s investigations.
In the meantime it is not proposed to employ Mr L.W.Subritsky.
If anybody fishing or diving this area and suspect they have seen or snagged the remains, any information would be greatly appreciated by Graeme.