St Pauli

A bargue of 388 tons, built in Hamburg, Germany in 1841 by Johannes Marbs and under the command of Captain P Schacht on its voyage to Nelson. Measurements were: 107ft long, 25ft wide and depth 18ft (these are estimates). It left Hamburg on December 20, 1842 and arrived in Nelson on June 14, 1843. This 1/48 scale model by local modeller Peta Raggett is in the Motueka District Museum.

The St Pauli was a virtually new vessel at the time she left Europe for New Zealand, and although a three-masted ship-of-war, it had been converted for the lucrative emigrant business. Paid passage was a deal costing the equivalent of 300 English Pounds, in which was included passage, ship-board rations, and at least 50 acres of land at their destination, purchased from the New Zealand Company Agent, one Johann Niholas Beit. The company also guaranteed there would be employment in New Zealand in road-making or other development work for those who required it.

What happened on the voyage, and subsequently, is detailed in Lynly Yates account: St Pauli Voyage At the time of the passage of the St. Pauli there was a trickle of emigration from Germany to Australia, in particular to what is now South Australia and also to New Zealand, South Africa and Samoa, with the bulk of emigration to America. This trickle soon became a flood as economic and political conditions in the European homelands forced people off the land.

Thanks to St Pauli descendant Sheila Natusch of Wellington who supplied some of this information for the book Square Rigged Sailing Ships Visiting Nelson 1841 to 1914 written and published by P D Raggett 2002. Also thanks to Adelaide Bensemann and others involved in the Bensemann Family Reunion Booklet, published in December 1956.


A 566 ton barque under the command of Captain Ennis which left the Clyde docks in England on January 8, 1856 and arrived in Nelson on May 21, 1856, (also recorded as May 19), 13 years after the St Pauli. The 98 passengers included Johann Diedrich Bensemann, Cordt's older brother ,who was born in 1801 (Cordt was born in 1810).


The following is a thumbnail sketch on the voyage to New Zealand of the Skiold using archival information drawn from the Nelson Public Library, the Alexander Turnbull Library and the Nelson Examiner. Thanks also to Mike Subritzky:

The 500 tons Danish barque brought the second migration of German settlers to the Nelson region of New Zealand. This second shipload fared far better than the first (ie on the St Pauli) as their voyage had been set up and 'bankrolled' by a German nobleman, Count Kuno Rantzau-Breitenburg. He specified that the passengers on this second voyage to New Zealand were to be given 'kind and fair treatment' unlike those of the St. Pauli. These German settlers founded the village of Ranzau (in honour of Count Rantzau-Breitenburg) at Waimea East, however due to ill feeling towards all things German during the Great War (1914 -1918) the name of the village was changed to Hope.

The Skiold sailed from Hamburg in the Kingdom of Hanover (now part of modern Germany) on the 21 April 1844 under the command of Captain C. Claussen and followed virtually the exact same route as the St. Pauli, including a seven day layover in the port of Bahia in South America. The ship sailed with a qualified surgeon aboard, Doctor Franz B. Braun and also a Doctor (Dr F. Qualmaan). There were 141 passengers on board and a crew of about 20.

Six of the passengers were berthed in the cabin and 135 in steerage. There were two deaths during the voyage and two births, and the Skiold sailed into Nelson harbour on September 1, 1844. She was later wrecked on the coast of England in 1849 on a return voyage from Singapore. Passenger list at: Skiold Passenger List