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WELLER Brothers. Traders, merchants, shore whalers, and land speculators.

New Zealand

WELLER Brothers: Edward, George, and Joseph.

Traders, merchants, shore whalers, and land speculators.

The Weller family of three brothers, like so many more of the oddly assorted company of Europeans who first brought trade to New Zealand in the days between 1827 and 1840, achieved scant biographical mention in the contemporary reports and writings which provide most of the information about that era. When they came to the South Island of New Zealand from Sydney, they were known as eager and enterprising traders in any field that promised reasonably safe and remunerative returns. The early sealers and whalers had been operating on the New Zealand coast for some years when, in 1831, the Wellers cast their eyes across the Tasman and decided that there were business prospects in the new land. They fitted out the ship Lucy Ann, of 214 tons, loaded it with muskets, gunpowder, grog, hardware, clothing, stores, and whaling equipment, and set out for New Zealand. From the outset they concentrated on the South Island and had interests from Banks Peninsula to Foveaux Strait. In a very short time they had whaling stations in operation and had established a brisk two-way trade between Sydney and New Zealand.

From 1831 the brothers made Otakou, on the Otago Peninsula, their headquarters, and in doing so may be said to have founded the port of Otago 17 years before the first Scottish settlers arrived. They built jetties, storehouses, wharf buildings, and dwellings. Their investment was a substantial one, but it was not long before they had evidence to justify it. The Dublin Packet and the Joseph Weller made up the trading fleet with the Lucy Ann, and soon their oil and whalebone were being shipped out in large quantities. In addition they built up a steady trade in timber, spars, flax, potatoes, dried fish, Maori artefacts, and even tattooed Maori heads which were in keen demand in Sydney.

The Weller enterprise was not satisfied merely with trans-Tasman trade. The English market beckoned, and in their efforts to develop it they were pioneers in the tariff and customs relationships between this country and the United Kingdom. Right at the start they experienced tariff difficulties. Edward Weller foresaw a profitable market for whale products on the other side of the world and in 1833 sent a trial shipment to London. The cargo arrived safely, but as New Zealand had not yet been proclaimed a colony it was classed as a foreign country, and the English revenue authorities put an impost of

People related to this content: Edward Weller (Born:1814-07-06), George Weller (Born:1805-12-26), Joseph Brooks Weller (Born:1802-08-01),

Published by Malcolm Weller | Forum