The story of the Irish Convict tells the tale of many true NZ stories pulled together into one character; Maurice O’Brien. It follows his adventures from Ireland to New Zealand via Australia. He befriends ‘Cannibal Jack’, marries a local Maori woman, becomes a whaler and fights Te Rauparaha among many other adventures.
In the late 1950s the remnant walls of a little rammed earth farm shed on the outskirts of Nelson were finally demolished. The door and two small windows appeared to come from an old sailing ship. Locals knew it as the home of an Irish settler and his Maori wife but their names are no longer remembered. Investigations for this amazing and true story started here.
In the early 1800’s Irish convicts were often sent to Australia, many escaped to New Zealand. Some were adopted by Nga Puhi at Hokianga and others met and fought with Te Rauparaha and his Ngati Toarangatira in Marlborough. They also joined whalers on Kapiti Island.
The story of the Irish Convict is true history told in a novel, woven together by a fictional character; Maurice O’Brien. It follows his adventures from Ireland to New Zealand via Australia.
Maurice marries a local Maori woman in Hokianga, joins a whaling crew on the Kapiti Coast, builds a rammed earth cottage in Nelson and became involved in the first armed conflict over land between Te Rauparaha’s tribe and European colonists in Marlborough.
Most other characters in the Irish Convict are genuine people. They include; Captain William Blogg who died at sea after being thrown overboard by William Secker and the crew of the Industry. Secker and the others were hanged in Sydney a year later. ‘Cannibal Jack’ was John Marmon an escaped convict who joined in with the Nga Puhi people of Hokianga including their wars and subsequent cannibalism. Nene the Ngapuhi chief who took the baptismal name Thomas Walker and became Tamati waka Nene
Te Rauparaha and Te Rangihaeata are well known Maori leaders in New Zealand history. The relatively unknown details of the gun battle at Tuamarina in 1843 come from old newspaper reports and tribal legends.
There is plenty of reading in this book, it could have been split into three publications.