Our immigrants continued to arrive, newly ashore and land-fragile.
As I had done, they tended first to stand on solid ground and sway to an internal ocean. After months on water, the new arrivals were reluctant to lose sight of the sea. They walked up and down the long strand with packed sand underfoot, not knowing where to start or how to move on. They scowled at the high hills and dense bush and wrinkled their noses at the earthy smell, complicated and wholesome after brine and bilge water. They smiled hesitantly at fellow colonists and flinched from the inquisitive natives who ran forward to offer vigorous handshakes of welcome.
For the first week or so most did little more than adjust to the fact of arrival, eyes stretched in awe at the lonely emptiness of the place and realising, perhaps for the first time, that we were camping, and that this was the extent of it. The row of tents along the shore was the colony.
Jerningham is my first novel, set in the reckless early colonial settlement of Wellington. It tells the story of the wild Jerningham Wakefield–son of NZ Company founder Edward Gibbon Wakefield–who arrives in New Zealand on the Tory in 1839 and stirs trouble over land and souls and rights.
Jerningham is published by The Cuba Press, printed by Wakefields Digital and is available from NZ bookshops from 24 June 2020.
Forward orders available from: Wardinis