A paragraph in the Ship News of the Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser, exactly 200 years ago today, signaled the departure of Thomas Kendall, New Zealand’s first Justice of the Peace, en route for Bay of Islands. His appointment as J.P. had been gazetted a week earlier.
This morning the brig “Active”, for New Zealand, with the various Gentlemen and other persons comprising the Mission to that place, under the direction of the Rev. Mr. Marsden, whose toils for the accomplishment of the object has induced him to accompany the voyage.
The brig "Active' by Richard Horner
“Gentlemen and other persons” referred to above included a total of 35 aboard “Active”: Captain Thomas Hansen, crew, members of the Christian Mission led by Samuel Marsden (with Thomas Kendall and family), intending settlers, and six Maori returning to New Zealand.
Captain Hansen's family members were among intended settlers, several convicts were included in the Mission’s team as helpers and Maori, led by Ruatara, were to introduce native chiefs to the Mission on its arrival at Bay of Islands.
Also carried was a collection of animals. Goats, horses, cats and dogs plus poultry and a bull and two cows, the first cattle in New Zealand, Governor Macquarie's gift, specially selected from the Crown herd of New South Wales.
"The "Active" is a bit like Noah's ark", passenger John Nicholas recorded in his journal.
[In hind-sight we know this was a false start to the Mission. “Active” did not clear Sydney Harbour as scheduled: a storm blew up and Captain Hansen was obliged to take shelter, delayed for more than a week just inside the Heads in Watsons Bay awaiting favourable conditions]