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Editor’s forebear as a foreigner

by 9 Feb 1844Regatta 2011, Regatta history2 comments

Salvatore Cimino

Foreign Resident: Salvatore Cimino was Wellington’s first Italian resident, having settled there in 1841, following an apparent flying visit to Aotearoa in the 1830s. image Te Papa

The following letter has nothing whatsoever to do with the Mahurangi Regatta. The editor’s excuse for publishing it here is that it was written by his great-great-grandfather, and is not otherwise returned by an internet search for “Salvatore Cimino”. And, with Cyclone Wilma precluding a 2011 Mahurangi Regatta, a paucity of regatta stories prevails.

Prior to the contentious 1844 Wellington regatta referred to below, Salvatore Cimino’s schooner Fidele won first prize for craft under 30ft, against two other schooners and two cutters.

Salvatore’s later and best-known vessel was the fleet-footed cutter Fly, and a later craft, the Catherine Ann, was named for his daughter—the editor’s sister, fashion designer Annie Bonza, is her namesake.

To the editor of the New Zealand Gazette and Wellington Spectator

Salvatore Cimino Wellington 9 February 1844

As a foreigner, and one of the earliest settlers here, I respectfully request the liberty of answering the untrue statements in the letter which appeared in your paper on Wednesday last, in reference to the late regatta.

In that letter they state they took pains to procure satisfactory evidence of the race. Such is not the fact. I was wholly ignorant of any intention to oppose my right to the first prize until I attended on Saturday night to receive the money with the exception of being struck and abused on the race ground by the crew of the Happy Jack, and was only saved from further ill-treatment by the chief constable, for the crime of beating him in the race.

Salvatore Cimino

Original Correspondence: As published by the New Zealand Gazette and Wellington Spectator 17 February 1844. image PapersPast

When the claim was raised by the crews of the loosing boats before the members of the committee present on Saturday night, my imperfect knowledge of the English language rendered me incapable of explaining or defending myself when so unexpectedly opposed; and then Captain Rhodes publicly stated that I was the winner—and Mr Bethune told me to bring evidence of my winning or the match should be sailed over again; or if not, the 2nd and 3rd boats should have 1st and 2nd prizes. I certainly declined doing so after the meeting broke up, well knowing as a subcommittee they usurped an authority they had no right to.

On my road home, several members of the committee induced me to consent to sail the match over again; and on Monday morning I wrote to the treasurer my wish to do so, or abide the decision of the general committee. Instead of doing this, as the council of three decided on, they gave up the money to the owner of the pet boat before 11 o’clock on Monday morning, without my presence or knowledge, and at least 14 out of 20 of the committee not knowing anything of their doings.

I now ask those gentlemen, and the public, if I did not win the first prize? Why give orders to publish me as such? Why write the cheque in my favour, or why the indecent haste on Monday morning?—so much anxiety to sail again, or hear evidence as expressed by them on Saturday night? and yet on Monday morning they have acted in the unjustifiable manner described!

They state, in their Siamese letter, that I fouled twice during the race. I could then or now disprove this statement. It is true my foresheet got entangled with the bowsprit of the Royal William, which was instantly hauled in, and this is the miserable pretext they have for depriving me of my right,—while they sagaciously overlook the fact of the Happy Jack fouling the City of London astern of the Gannett brig—which disqualified her from being a winner.

In taking leave of certain gentleman (not in black,) who, like the Welsh Justice, if they hear one side they can decide, but hear both sides they are puzzled.

I now beg to inform them that I will never again trouble them, and I believe no other boat owner, and they can now ask each other ‘when shall we three meet again’, being fully aware that rowing and sailing is held in contempt here, where every man who owns a horse or donkey is anxious to exhibit his animal.


Footnote The editor thanks his sister-in-law Rosemary for the coordinates of this gem.