GOSSELIN, Hellier Robert Hadley (1849-1924)
Manuscript diary recording an Englishman’s outward voyage to New Zealand via Hobart Town, his tour of the North Island, and homeward voyage on s.s. Ruapehu, June – October 1894.
Small pocket diary (163 x 113 mm), limp roan covers with later handwritten paper label ‘Old diaries / Hellier Gosselin’, approximately 75 pages neatly written in ink, recording the owner’s journey to New Zealand, out via the Cape of Good Hope and Hobart Town, home via Cape Horn (both voyages on s.s. Ruapehu), and his 4-week tour around the North Island; clean and legible throughout.
Hellier Gosselin (1849-1924) was a member of the Hertfordshire gentry. He was the owner of Bengeo Hall in Hertford and served two terms as Mayor of that town (1897-98; 1917-19). He was also a member of the Royal Archeaological Society, and a gifted linguist.
Gosselin states on the first page of the diary: ‘Having been advised by my medical man to take a long sea trip in hopes of getting rid of a long continued illness, I settled to make a start for New Zealand, by what is called the Direct Route’.
The Ruapehu left Tilbury on 30 June 1894. The entries in the diary describe the outward voyage; a two-day stop in Hobart in order to load a cargo of silver ore, where Gosselin visits the brewery and the Catholic Cathedral and witnesses snow on Mt. Wellington; the Ruapehu arrives in Auckland 5 days later (August 11) where he stays at the Albert Hotel; takes a carriage to top of Mt. Eden, Mt. Hobson, and One Tree Hill; visits Lake Takapuna (“very dreary in the winter”); attends services at the Catholic cathedral (“a somewhat poor building; the music was, however, excellent”); train trip to the springs at Okoroire, sharing a compartment with a politician who “amused himself by making speeches in Maori”; visit to Tapapa Maori village; carriage to Whakarewarewa, remarking on the deforestation of the landscape, with “thousands of logs scattered around”; buys kauri wood souvenirs and stays in Whakarewarewa (“the hotel is kept by a Norwegian, a most intelligent man, a great anthropologist and good Maori scholar – he has collected a vast amount of material for a Maori dictionary, which he hopes will be published some day”); given a tour of the village by a female guide (“I am told her character is anything but reputable”); carriage to boiling springs at Waiotapu; views devastation caused by eruption of Mt. Tarawera in 1886; visits Rotorua; Taupo (“most beautiful”); Waikato River; Huka Falls; Waipahihi (Terrace Hotel); coach via Rangitaiki to Napier, where it is snowing (“the Masonic is the best hotel I have come across in New Zealand”); train to Wellington through the Manawatu Gorge (“much spoilt by the railway”); on board train are “a lot of shoddy looking men, said to members of Parliament”; stays at the Royal Oak; “The Prime Minister … made his money in a gold field grog shop”; from Wellington by the steamer Tarawera to Lyttelton (a terrible passage during which all the passengers are seasick); in Lyttelton he visits the museum (“the only interesting place in town – there is a good collection of Maori carvings”) and rejoins the Ruapehu, which departs for England on September 6 and arrives at Plymouth on October 18 1894.