Wellington Province


MEECH, Henry

Page 769

Mr. Henry Meech

Mr. Henry Meech, one of the earliest settlers in Wellington, was born in England, learning the trade of a shipwright in Portsmouth Docks. In 1836 he came to Australia as one of the carpenter's crew in H. M. S. Buffalo, which vessel arrived in Adelaide in December of that year. After the crew had erected houses for the Governor, the ship came to New Zealand, where for some months the men were engaged in procuring spars at Coromandel. After returning to England, Mr. Meech married and accompanied the first emigrants to Wellington in the ship Oriental, landing with his wife on the 1st of February, 1840. He was present at the hoisting of the British flag and the reading of the proclamation declaring the country a British colony, on the 4th of June of that year. For many years subsequently Mr. Meech worked at his trade in Wellington Harbour, and was the senior partner in the firm of Meech, Oxenham and Whitley, shipwrights. Mr. Meech assisted in building the first surf boats and lighters used in the harbour. As a tradesman he was always respected, and as a settler was much beloved for his great kindliness and willingness, often at great inconvenience, to assist others. Mr. Meech was a devoted churchman. A diary kept by him in the early days has since become of great value. Mr. Meech is credited with having reared the first fowls in New Zealand, the first hen being set in December, 1840. His first wife died in Wellington, and his eldest son was drowned in Palliser Bay in 1866. Mr. Meech afterwards married Mrs. Sancto, whose husband had been lost at sea in the schooner Young Greek. This lady survives him, residing at the time of writing at Te Aro Swimming Baths. Two of Mr. Meech's sons are in business in the City, and one lives in Hawkes Bay. A daughter by the second marriage also resides in the Empire City. Mr. Meech died in Wellington on the 8th of May, 1885, much respected and deeply regretted.

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