Where memories of a massacre dominate:
Senior Press writer Mike Crean has been writing about South Island settlements for nearly a decade. The collection is now published in full online in an interactive map, including this story about one of Christchurch’s favourite holiday spots, Duvauchelle.
Did you hear about the French settler who escaped an angry Maori chief by floating in a barrel on Akaroa Harbour? It may sound far-fetched but Hotel Duvauchelle proprietor Steve Smyth has evidence to back the story.
Smyth told tourists from a cruise liner anchored at Akaroa that one of the two Duvauchelle brothers, who had arrived at Akaroa with the first French settlers, had an affair with a Maori chief’s daughter. When the couple quarrelled, the fiery Frenchman picked the woman up and sat her on a hot stove, scorching her derriere.
The woman complained to her father, who demanded utu (revenge). The panic-stricken Frenchman jumped into an empty barrel, which his brother rolled into the sea, where it bobbed its way to a ship in the harbour.
The ship weighed anchor and, some weeks later, landed at Hawaii. There Monsieur Duvauchelle married and made his home.
As Smyth finished talking, one of the tourists exclaimed that he knew a man from Hawaii who claimed an ancestor had escaped death in New Zealand by floating in a barrel.
The tourist had scorned the Hawaian’s claim. Now he felt he owed the Hawaiian an apology.
Some months later, a car pulled up at Hotel Duvauchelle and a Hawaiian couple entered the bar. They explained they were descendants of the Hawaian Duvauchelle and had come to seek their Akaroa roots.
It is not surprising the hotel at Duvauchelle should have some stories to tell. Smyth claims it is the oldest pub in New Zealand. Its licence was issued before 1850 and a hotel has traded on the site ever since.
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