Early settler's property up for sale

Slice of history up for grabs

NEIL REID
Last updated 10:00 01/06/2014
Cutters Bay
FOR SALE: The view of Port Underwood from Cutters Bay.

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A special slice of New Zealand history has gone on the market.

The 42-hectare Cutters Bay property, at Port Underwood in the Marlborough Sounds, is one of the earliest sites of European settlement in New Zealand, and the base of two whaling stations.

In 1843, American whaling captain Daniel Dougherty set-up his whaling operation and family home, with his wife Sally, at Cutters Bay. Their daughter Ellen, born there the following year, would become the world's first fully registered nurse in 1901.

The land has million-dollar views from Cloudy Bay, to the Cook Strait and across to the North Island.

Regular visitors in the mid-19th century included famed Maori warrior Te Rauparaha and Colonel William Wakefield, the leader of the first colonising expedition to New Zealand and one of the founders of Wellington.

"It is fascinating what happened there," current owner Gerard Malcolm told the Sunday Star-Times.

"[The Doughertys] set up their whaling station and Te Raupurahau would stop by on the way past and have a drink of rum. All of that sort of thing was going on there - you have got a sense of the history of it, that all of that stuff happened right here."

The Cutters Bay property is being sold by tender by First National Mark Stevenson's office in Blenheim.

Aside from piles of stone signifying old fireplaces, little remains of the original property. But just metres off its private beach are the remains of ships Alameda and Holmwood which were scuttled there in the early 1940s.

Previous archaeological investigations of the Cutters Bay land have found traces of earlier Maori occupation, as well as the property's rich whaling history.

Malcolm said Cutters Bay's proximity to the entrance of Port Underwood, and the views from its highest point, had made it a prime spot for whalers.

"They used to have someone at the top of the hill, keeping an eye out over the strait.

"When they would see one spouting, they would run back down and they would all jump in their boats and away they go."

Almost 50 years since whaling operations in the Cook Strait ended, marine experts report increasing numbers of whale sightings in the region. Humpback whales migrate past the property during May to July.

Malcolm said other marine life around the Cutters Bay property - which currently only has boat or helicopter access - was plentiful.

"You can walk 20m along the beach and pick paua off of the rocks. There are a couple of [shipwrecks] in the bay and there are paua on them. There are crayfish and all the usual fish species [in the bay]. If people were keen fishermen, they would be out there."

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Malcolm said there was plenty of "potential" for Cutters Bay to be transformed into a tourism operation or a private hideaway.

First National Mark Stevenson salesperson Mark Tschepp said he believed the privacy the section afforded meant it had the makings of a great site for a resort or a secluded home.

"From a privacy point of view, one of the things about it is that it is basically boat access only," he said.

Tenders are being accepted on the Cutters Bay estate until July 11.

Tschepp said he had never "seen anything like it come on the market".

"The owners and myself haven't really got a handle on where it might sit in the market . . . so we are just saying, 'Tell us what you think'. There is nothing comparable that we can come up with a value."

- Sunday Star Times

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