Ever since we brought you the story of Carl Weber - whose name was given to a little Southern Hawke’s Bay township, we have come across others whose names are familiar to us, even if their stories aren’t. So we thought we would tell you a few. Here's one.
James Heberley was a whaler, boat pilot, settler, mountain climber and liked to forecast the weather.
But it was how he did it that captured attention.
Every time he was asked about the weather he said it would get worse.
Eventually he was nicknamed Worse Heberley - then Worser.
Which led to that name being given to Worser Bay in Wellington, where he had lived in the pilot’s house which still stands today.
Heberley was born in Wyke Regis, a coastal town in Weymouth, England on November 22, 1809 to Johann and Elizabeth Hebley. The spelling was later changed.
Johann himself was a master mariner and it did not take long for James to set out to sea, running away at the age of 11.
He started sea life as a captain’s apprentice and cabin boy, sailing out of London. He kept a diary (now at the National Library) of a great deal of his life.
The early section of the diary recounts Heberley's experiences as a captain's apprentice and cabin boy on vessels sailing out of London to many destinations including Hamburg, Sydney and the West Indies. Much of the later narrative describes whaling and the life of a whaler in Cook Strait and the Marlborough Sounds.
Accounts differ of when he arrived in New Zealand, either 1825, 1827 or 1830.
But by 1830 he was living in Queen Charlotte Sound where he knew Māori chief and war leader Te Rauparaha and witnessed many fights.
He was a whaler at Te Awaiti and Port Underwood and later became a ship’s pilot for the New Zealand company, piloting the Tory into Wellington in 1839.
In 1842 he married Maata Te Naihi Te Owai at Cloudy Bay. She was also known as Te Naihi Te Owai, Mata Te Naehe or Te Wai Nahi. She was the daughter of Aperhama Manukonga and granddaughter of Te Irihau.
Heberley spoke Māori well and was often included in negotiations over land.
After Maata's death in 1877, he went on to marry Charlotte Emily Nash.
Heberley, along with Johann Karl Ernst Dieffenbach became the first European men to climb Mount Taranaki (Mount Egmont), standing on the summit on Christmas Day, 1839. His account of this climb is in the National Library. Local Māori thought they were nuts to do it.
In June 1843 Herbely gave up his role as a pilot operating in Worser Bay and began fishing and returned to whaling.
His death at the age of 91 in 1899 was just as dramatic as the rest of his life. He went missing from his Picton home and was ultimately found in Picton Harbour - according to one account “standing upright in the water, his feet just touching the bottom, his eyes open and his walking stick in his hand, the water just covering his head. The only thing giving a clue as to his whereabouts being his hat, which was floating on the water nearby.”
He is buried in Picton Cemetery. His descendants have been celebrated Māori carvers and many have retained their connection to the sea.
Have you ever wondered how somewhere got its name. Tell us and let's see what we can find.