Tom Canes Bay

The original European name for this bay was Tom Caves Bay. Cave was reportedly a cooper.1



1. Loreen Brehaut, the Bays of Port Underwood (Picton: Picton Historical Society, 2012) 8.


The original European name for this bay was Tom Caves Bay. Cave was reportedly a cooper.1 The bay was also named Harriet Cove after the ship the Harriet, wrecked off the Taranaki Coast in 1834.2 At some point the name was altered to Tom Canes Bay.

The wider Te Whanganui / Port Underwood area has a long history of occupation by Māori. The iwi or tribe, Rangitāne o Wairau had settlements in the harbour until 1829, when by right of conquest, Ngati Toa Rangatira became dominant.3 Māori used the area for collecting kaimoana or seafood and for trade with whalers and settlers.4

Shore whaling began in Te Whanganui / Port Underwood in 1830 at nearby Kākāpō Bay. The right to start these stations, awarded by the chiefs of the local iwi, was often the cost a barrel of gunpowder and a barrel of tobacco.

By the late 1830s, six shore whaling stations had been established in the harbour, including two at Tom Canes Bay. These were managed by an American and an Englishman respectively.5

At this time, Te Whanganui / Port Underwood was one of the busiest whaling hubs in the world. Ships with international crews would frequent the harbour and it is reported that sometimes up to 70 boats would compete for a single whale.6

Tom Canes Bay attracted some notable inhabitants, including William Deakin and Mary-Ann Baldick.

William Deakin was a rope maker and whaler who jumped ship in Te Whanganui / Port Underwood. Born in England, William Deakin had been living in America. Arriving in New Zealand in the 1830s, he was present at the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi at Horahora Kakahu Island.

William Deakin lived at Tom Cane's Bay, where he met Mary Ann Baldick, nee Sherwood, the widow of George Baldick. She had arrived in June 1840 on the barque Hope, with her husband who had been employed to stock a farm on the Wairau Plains.

Mary Ann Baldick and her children remained at Tom Canes Bay while her husband began work at the Wairau, returning each fortnight for provisions. In September, six men, including George Baldick, drowned while trying to cross the Wairau Bar in a leaky square bottomed boat. Mary Ann Baldick was left a widow with four young children, at the age of 26.

In December 1840, William Deakin and Mary Ann Baldick were married. They set up home at Kura te Au /Tory Channel where their first son was born in November 1841. By August 1844 they had returned to Tom Canes Bay for the birth their second child.

It is said that the nearby bays, Whangatoetoe Bay and Pipi Bay were given to Mary Ann by local Māori for saving a young Māori girl from rape. William and Mary Ann moved to Whangatoetoe Bay and lived there until several years later, William deserted Mary Ann and retuned to America. Mary Ann remarried twice more and remained in the area, until leaving her final husband and moving to Blenheim where she established and ran a nursing and maternity home.7


1. Loreen Brehaut, the Bays of Port Underwood (Picton: Picton Historical Society, 2012) 8.

2. James R. Eyles, Place Names of Port Underwood- a post European History (Picton: October Enterprises, 2002) 19.

3. Brehaut, 'Bays of Port Underwood', 5.

4. Marlborough District Council, Nelson City Council and Tasman District Council, “Te Tau Ihu Statutory Acknowledgements 2014”, accessed July 18, 2018, .

5. Nigel Prickett, the Archaeology of New Zealand Shore Whaling (Wellington: Department of Conservation, 2002), accessed September 12, 2018, .

6. Jenny Pierson, “William Deakin: American and Port Underwood Whaler”, Journal of the Nelson and Marlborough Historical Societies, Volume 2, Issue 5, 1993, accessed December 12, 2018, .

7. Ruth Simonsen, “Maryann Baldick in the 1830s”, Port Underwood Association, accessed December 12, 2018, .