Norsk Feiring, Norwegian Celebration Weekend.
Stewart Island has had a long historic association with whalers.
This started with the discovery of the “Solander” Grounds to the west of the Island in the 1830’s and continued for more or less 100 years, culminating with the arrival into Paterson Inlet in 1923 of the Rosshavet Whaling Companies factory ship Sir James Clarke Ross and her 5 steam powered chasers.
Headed for the Ross Sea in Antarctica the company established a shipyard in Prices Inlet within Paterson Inlet to service the chasers in the winter off season. This association continued until the summer of 1932/33 with around 50 men employed through each winter.
As can be imagined this had a profound effect on the Island community, with many young Norwegian men choosing to stay on when the base closed, and also several taking local girls back to Noway as brides.
The base was dismantled in the 30’s and little remains other than the old boiler, propellers, remains of the slipway and assorted concrete building foundations. All a poignant reminder of the Islands past. But as well as the decaying remains, several of the bases buildings were relocated to Halfmoon Bay. Islanders were and are, much into recycling.
90 Years Onwards
And so this past weekend the Island Community, with able assistance from whalers descendants NZ wide celebrated 90 years since the Norwegians arrived.
The local community centre was set up with displays and photographs, a day excursion to the base was organised for the Saturday when a plaque was unveiled together with a dedication of the area as a historic reserve, and a dinner on the Saturday evening.
Good News !!
As a post script to the weekend, the news that the World Court had found against the so called Scientific Research Expeditions of the Japanese was greeted with quite approval by the gathering
For a photo album put together by a New Zealand member of the whaling crew together with his commentary click here
The story of the Island and the Norwegian Whalers can be found in Jim Watts excellent books :-
Kaipipi Shipyard and the Ross Sea Whalers …… ISBN 0-9597719-1-3,
The Whalers Base ……. ISBN 978-0-9597719-4-7