Country of origin: Middlesex, London, England
Area in New Zealand: Foveaux Strait
Source: website- Pre 1848 settlers of Otago and Southland
John Kelly arrived in New Zealand in 1824 on the St Michael- a whaling ship. He settled in the Foveaux Strait area. In 1849 he was living at Taieri Mouth. (The ship is wrongly named, should be the Samuel).
Biography - In the Wake of A Sealer". (thanks to Robert Kelly)
"John Kelly" was a common Irish convict name in the 1800s - there were more than 100 of them. My great-grandfather, John Kelly, was "... indicted for feloniously stealing, on the 23rd of September, 1815, 13 yards of printed cotton, value 13 shillings, the property of draper, John Waller, of 13 Aldgate High Street, Whitechapel, London." He was transported for 7 years to New South Wales. He was only a youth of 15 years, and his first 8 months were spent on a hulk on the Thames before being transported in the vessel MARINER which arrived in Port Jackson in October 1816. He served much of his time at Windsor barracks, and was later sent to Newcastle for running away. He received various floggings for the crimes of "...disobedience of the repeated orders of the Commandant..." and "... absenting himself from church ...". He received his Certificate of Freedom in 1824, and left the colony as a seaman on the Sealing ship 'SAMUEL' in April 1824. It was destined for the sealing grounds of Foveaux Strait, New Zealand, but strong southerly winds forced them off course, and they sought shelter at the northern tip of the Marlborough Sounds, in Cook Strait. Captain Dawson and six crew members were replenishing their water supply when they were attacked by Maori warriors, and killed. John Kelly and 5 others were left as guard on board, and witnessed the massacre. They quickly weighed anchor, and sailed the Samuel back to Port Jackson. John Kelly signed on again, and left once more for the sealing grounds of Foveaux Strait in October 1824. This time the voyage was successful, but John, along with at least one other seaman, left the Samuel and remained as a settler in New Zealand. John married a Maori chief's sister, Hine Tuhawaiki, and was based on a small island in Foveaux Strait called Ruapuke for the next 31 years. During that time he was employed in various positions - as Sealer, Trader, Whaler, and finally Boatman and guide. He had three children to his Maori wife, and after her death in 1849, he eventually met, and married a widow from the new Otago settlement of Dunedin, Mrs Christian Niven (nee Swan) in December 1850. The three families of children, hers, his, and theirs, moved over to the mainland in 1855 with their cattle and goods, and built their home, first at Bluff, then at an estuarine headland called 'The Point". This turned out to be the chosen site for the southern city of Invercargill, and John and Christian's family were its first citizens. (March 1856.) John never discussed his convict past, and generations of descendants have not been aware of this until recently. He was one of the earliest European pioneers in the deep South of New Zealand.