Resolution Bay or Atapu
It has been suggested that the Māori name for this bay, which is off Tōtaranui/ Queen Charlotte Sound, should perhaps be O-Tapu, (a sacred place) or Ata-po (early dawn). Captain Cook named it Shag Cove, during the first expedition, and again on charts by master of the HMS Adventure, Peter Fannin, during the second voyage. The bay was renamed 'Resolution Bay' after Cook's ship from his second and third voyages, probably by Captain John L Stokes in the early 1850s.
There were no Māori reserves set up in this bay with the Waitohi Purchase in 1850, and very soon the land was taken over by farmers. As early as 1869, James Boon bought 10 acres in the bay from William Keenan (for £5.7.6d), and it was said to be William Woodgate, who settled in the bay and whose later history was both sad and scandalous, who first found stibnite, the ore of antimony, on the Resolution beach. Mining this was eventually to become a thriving local industry around the corner in Endeavour Inlet.
When the land was being cleared, there was a thriving timber mill in the bay, and several farms were established, the early names being Turner, Ewing, Vipond and Adams. The Pullmans were there early, engaged at first in milling, and still there during World War I when two of them were called up and one was wounded.
An aided school operated on and off (depending on the number of children) from 1904 onwards, and the teacher would board in a local farmer’s house. In the 1905 election there were 17 voters in the bay, which suggests quite a community. By the late 1920s, when the McManaway family moved there, the school was still running and the Annear family were living on the next farm. The two families, plus children from Endeavour Inlet, made up the 12 or so pupils in the little school.
It was there that they experienced the Murchison earthquake quite dramatically in June 1929: "You couldn’t stand up, and the noise was just deafening. We thought the end of the world had come! Oh, it was terrific – you’d swear the hills were coming down!" recalled John McManaway. Reg McManaway said that, years later, the school was washed away when a flood brought a huge slip down through the bay.
In those days the farmers sent large amounts of their butter up to Picton to be credited against their orders from the local grocers, according to Eric McIsaac up to 130 pounds of butter a week.
Most of the land in the Bay has now gone back to the Crown. Eventually a holiday camp was established, and from the 1960s Douglas and Libby Brown owned and ran this – a big change from an architecture business in Wellington. Today, walkers on the Queen Charlotte Track are pleased to find the Resolution Bay lodge serving coffee at the first stop after Ship Cove.
This story was first written by Loreen Brehaut for the Picton paper Seaport Scene 2016 (updated 2021)
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Further sources - Resolution Bay or Atapu
- Marlborough Sounds, in the The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Nelson, Marlborough & Westland Provincial Districts] (1906) Christchurch: The Cyclopedia Company, Limited. Retrieved from NZETC:
- Antimony at Resolution Bay (1907, May 2) Nelson Evening Mail, p.3
- Marlborough Education Board (1904, June 17) Pelorus Guardian and Miners' Advocate, p.4
- Marlborough Land District (1903, November 17) Pelorus Guardian and Miners' Advocate, p.4