Australasia 1846: Colony of North Australia
The 1830s and 1840s saw the phasing out of convict transportation to New South Wales and Van Diemen’s Land. However, this did not end British demands to export their prisoners and in 1846 they authorized the establishment of North Australia as a penal colony. The new colony proved difficult and expensive to settle and was officially terminated the following year.
Oct 1842 Maungahuka▲
In 1842 Matioro, a Māori chief of the Ngāti Mutunga tribe, hired a man named Ellis—who had illegally seized the Sydney brig Hannah—to transport him and his followers from the Chatham Islands to the Auckland Islands (Maungahuka), where he intended to establish a settlement. Ellis deposited forty Ngāti Mutunga and their 26 Moriori slaves at Port Ross on Auckland Island in October or November before fleeing to New Zealand (where he was arrested for piracy and sent to Norfolk Island). Unprepared for the harshness of the islands, this new Polynesian colony soon fell low on supplies and was forced to subsist largely on seal meat.
1 Nov 1842 Annexation of Chatham Islands▲
In 1840 the New Zealand Company ship Cuba arrived in the Chatham Islands and negotiated a truce between the warring Māori tribes of Ngāti Tama and Ngāti Mutunga as a step towards opening the islands to settlement. In September 1841 the company signed an agreement with Karl Sieveking of Hamburg to establish a German colony there, but was overruled by the British Colonial Office. The British annexed the islands to New Zealand in November 1842.
6 Apr 1843 Bau-Rewa War begins▲
In April 1843, alarmed at the growing power of the Confederation of Bau in the Fijian islands, the chiefs of Rewa attacked and sacked the Bau-aligned town of Suva, massacring its inhabitants. After further clashes, Bau formally declared war on Rewa at the end of the year, marking the start of a brutal eleven-year series of wars which pitted Bau against most of the other confederations of Fiji. Initially successful, Bau began facing increasing difficulties by the early 1850s.
17 Jun 1843 Wairau Affray▲
In April 1843 British settlers began surveying land in the Wairau district of New Zealand’s South Island, despite the region being disputed between the New Zealand Company and the Māori tribe of Ngāti Toa. After Māori destroyed a surveyor’s hut in July, 50 armed constables attempted to arrest Ngāti Toa chiefs Te Rauparaha and Te Rangihaeata but were instead massacred in a fight which left 22 Europeans and four Māori dead. In 1844 Governor FitzRoy visited Wairau, ruling in favor of Ngāti Toa’s actions.
8 Jul 1844–11 Jan 1846 Flagstaff War▲
Discontented by the movement of the New Zealand capital to Auckland and other British policies, Bay of Islands Māori cut down the British flagstaff on the hill above Kororāreka in three separate acts of defiance from July 1844 to early 1845. To prevent a fourth attack, the British guarded the re-erected flagstaff with 40 troops, a blockhouse, and the navy sloop Hazard, but Māori chiefs Hōne Heke and Te Ruki Kawiti sacked Kororāreka in March and felled the flagstaff anyway. War between Heke and the British and allied Māori continued until January 1846, when a ceasefire was agreed. It was not until 1858 that the flagstaff was re-erected again, this time by Kawiti’s son as a show of support for the Crown.
1 Oct 1844–17 Dec 1845 Leichhardt’s Overland Expedition▲
In October 1844 Prussian-born explorer Ludwig Leichhardt led an expedition from Jimbour Homestead, the farthest outpost of settlement on the Darling Downs (west of Brisbane in what is now southern Queensland), northwest into the interior of the Australian continent. One year and two months later, after a 4,800 kilometer journey and having long been given up for dead, Leichhardt arrived in Port Essington on Australia’s northern coast. Leichhardt’s successful crossing of the continent made him a hero in Sydney, but his future expeditions were less fortunate and he would disappear in the interior in 1848.
17 Feb 1846–28 Dec 1847 Colony of North Australia▲
The British colony of North Australia was authorized by letters patent in February 1846, separating the region north of the 26th parallel from New South Wales (its western boundary was left undefined). Colonel George Barney was sent to establish the colony’s capital, Port Curtis (now Gladstone), as a penal settlement the following year, but was recalled after a few months due to mounting expenses and difficulties reaching the site through the shoals. Denounced following a change in government in Britain, the colony was revoked in December 1847.